gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show

Practice Makes Permanence ft. Jim C

October 27, 2022 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 108
Practice Makes Permanence ft. Jim C
gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
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gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
Practice Makes Permanence ft. Jim C
Oct 27, 2022 Season 1 Episode 108
Steve Bennet-Martin

Steve welcomes Jim to share their experience, strength, and hope with you, along with advice on getting and staying sober.

Thank you for listening. Please join our Patreon family for the post-show, along with more exclusive content at www.Patreon.com/gAyApodcast

Follow Jim on Instagram @jcorn104 and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast

If you are interested in sharing your story, getting involved with the show, or just saying hi, please e-mail me at gayapodcast@gmail.com

Listeners, I NEED YOUR HELP! This podcast is growing rapidly, and I want to make sure we can all grow together, so take this survey and let me know what I'm doing right and where I should focus my attentions going forward to provide the best podcast for YOU possible! CLICK HERE!

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes Jim to share their experience, strength, and hope with you, along with advice on getting and staying sober.

Thank you for listening. Please join our Patreon family for the post-show, along with more exclusive content at www.Patreon.com/gAyApodcast

Follow Jim on Instagram @jcorn104 and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast

If you are interested in sharing your story, getting involved with the show, or just saying hi, please e-mail me at gayapodcast@gmail.com

Listeners, I NEED YOUR HELP! This podcast is growing rapidly, and I want to make sure we can all grow together, so take this survey and let me know what I'm doing right and where I should focus my attentions going forward to provide the best podcast for YOU possible! CLICK HERE!

Support the Show.

Steve:

Hi everyone. And welcome to gAy A. A podcast about sobriety for the LGBT plus community and

Jim:

our allies.

Steve:

I'm your host, Steve Bennet-Martin. I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for my in-laws. As of this recording, I am 454 days sober and say, we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you.

Jim:

Welcome to the show, Jim. Hey Steve. Glad to be here.

Steve:

I am so glad to have you. Why didn't you start off by introducing yourself to our listen. Yeah.

Jim:

So my name is Jim. I am a private music teacher and musician living in Memphis, Tennessee. And I have been sober from all alcohol for 655 days or 21 and a half months. If you're counting. That is awesome.

Steve:

Congratulations. Thank you. And what are your, some of your favorite hobbies or things to do in sob?

Jim:

Yeah, so I am a musician, not just by trade, but I'm a pianist, I'm a singer. So I enjoy playing and listening to music. I am a CrossFitter I drunk the Kool-Aid last December. And I am also a cyclist and I also enjoy reading and cooking. Excellent.

Steve:

Sounds good. Well, why don't we dive right into it then? And tell us a little bit about what it was like with your.

Jim:

Yeah. I think I'll also share a little bit about what it was like in my family, because that plays a huge role in my own alcohol history. So I grew up in an alcoholic home. My father was an alcoholic. My mother was the enabler of that alcoholism and my dad was also a Vietnam war veteran. PTSD that was untreated. So alcohol was his coping mechanism of choice. I also know through family stories that his father was also an alcoholic. I never knew my granddad, but anytime I would say to my mom that sure does think that dad drinks a whole lot. Then my mom would just say, well, ain't nothing compared to his dad. So I know that alcoholism was a part of my. I would say that my first drink was provided by my dad when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. It was very much in the here son have a taste of his beer or his wine. Or his margarita. And it was always very small, small amounts, but it was enough to get a taste of it. And I would say that for me, I never even thought I had an alcohol dependency problem. I would compare my drinking to say my dad's drinking and think, well, I certainly don't drink like him, or I would compare my drinking to other people in college. And I think, well, I don't drink. Like they do. I waited till I was 21. I can't be an alcoholic. That would be the stories I would tell myself, even though at home, when I would go home for break, I'd be drinking with my family. Eventually so my dad died when I was 22 years old. It was 2008. And right at that point, I was moving from Memphis where I went to undergrad. To North Carolina to do my grad work in conducting. So I was hundreds of miles removed from any community. I had any friends I had, I had just buried my dad. I was just starting a competitive music program. Interestingly, I don't really remember drinking all that much my first year to the point where I lost a lot of weight, which probably indicated how much I was drinking in college mm-hmm But just grad school was really hard. And I started drinking more and more. I can think of several nights in the second year of my master's program where I don't remember what happened. I don't remember how I got to bed. I don't remember what happened really the night before came back to Memphis after I finished it. And again, I would say that for many, many years, I did not think I had a drinking problem. Even though so many of my friends would comment that I drink a lot, or I kept a lot of alcohol in my house, but again, I was always comparing myself to how other people drink or I would always say like, I've got a high alcohol tolerance I can deal with. 5 6, 7 drinks in a night, even now listening to myself, say these things I'm like that. No, that's insane thinking. So I think that's kind of the, the summation of what it was like up until about two or three years ago that I would claim that I didn't have an alcohol dependency problem. Even though it was in my family, even though people would comment on how much I drink, even though I could tell you. There were some nights I don't quite remember. And some nights that I definitely remember, I drove home when I certainly should not have.

Steve:

Yeah. And what changed?

Jim:

Yeah. So for a few years, I'd say starting around 20, I don't know, 2015. I would start doing things like dry Januarys. Right. So 30 days sober in January. Cuz I knew some other friends were doing it. And I would think to myself, oh, I just need to detox from the holidays, right? I'm a Christmas gay, not a Halloween gay mm-hmm so Christmas music, Christmas parties, eggnog, all of it. So I would do the dry January thing. The first week would be a lot of headaches and then I would get through it. And I was like, actually, I kinda like how this feels. And then I would get to the end of dry January every year. And I would think, okay, I'm gonna start managing how much alcohol I drink. I'm only gonna have like four drinks a week or six drinks a week. Well, I would bust through that real fast. And this would happen year in and year out. I would do a dry January. I think I really like how this feels and I'm gonna like limit my alcohol intake. And then I would reason my way out of all of that. And. Yeah. It was summer of 2020. You know, when we were all locked in at home or in my case, I decided this is when I'm gonna go to the grand canyon, cuz why not? Mm-hmm and it was just that summer where I realized I'm I'm not happy with the way alcohol makes me feel. I don't like how bloated it makes me look. I don't like how inflamed it makes my skin. I don't like. This constant management of I'm saying I'm gonna limit my alcohol intake. But then I always bust through it. I don't like saying I can only, I can't have only one drink. So on labor day of 2020, I poured myself one more drink. I said I was gonna do another 30 day break from alcohol, but I was gonna get real curious about what it was like to be sober. And my, the therapist who I was working with, then who I work with now, she was incredibly helpful in helping me think about how much money I was spending on alcohol and how much time I was spending thinking about alcohol. The answer to how much money I would spend on alcohol in a year, had a comma in it. And I didn't like that. Yeah. 30 days of sobriety turned into 60 days of sobriety in the fall of 2020. I did my first trip sober. Like I drove from Memphis, Tennessee to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I took my bike with me and for four or five days, I was just living my best cyclist. Hiking mountain man life. I did a tally of how much money I would've spent on alcohol. If I spent it, I probably saved a good$300 over 72 hours by not buying alcohol. And it just felt really good. I was like, man, maybe I, I should keep this sobriety practice going. Mm-hmm I had also read this book called this naked mind by Annie grace that I know other of your guests have referred to as well. And it was practically reading my story. It was talking about how for her, she kept playing this alcohol management game and that it was like advanced calculus for her. If I have one drink tonight, then it means I can have two drinks tomorrow night. But if I have two drinks, then I was like, oh my gosh, this is me. This is what I do all the time. And it's exhaust. I guess Steve, I needed one more field experiment. With alcohol because the day, November 6th, 20, 20 you're more politically savvy listeners will remember. That was the day that it was announced that Joe Biden with our president elect and that Donald Trump had lost. I told myself I was gonna have two drinks to celebrate. Mm. Two drinks turned into at least six. No, there was no resistance after that first sip, it also turned into a side of COVID exposure and I woke up with a horrible, horrible hangover on the morning of November 7th. Just thinking I have just thrown away 60 days of good sobriety and really important soul searching and joy for what six drinks. Aside a COVID exposure. So I cleaned up my hangover was glad that all my work was online so that nobody could see what this was. my busted face was. And on November the eighth, 2020, I made the conscious decision. Alcohol has no place in my life anymore. And I've stuck with it ever since.

Steve:

That's awesome. And how has your life changed since being sober?

Jim:

Yeah. So I'm gonna tell you that the first six months of sobriety sucked, like, it was just the honest truth. Cause it was that first winter of COVID before vaccines were widely available. So I was stuck in my house alone, me and the cat working online, teaching piano lessons online. The only time I left the house was to get a massive chess piece tattoo done. We would put our masks on and hope for the best it worked out. By the time, you know, me and my friend group had gotten vaccinated. It was April of 2021. And it was my first social gathering. It was a friend's birthday party for their two yearold daughter, which was advertised as come get cake and beer. I was like, yeah. Okay. Nobody except for a handful of people knew that I was five, six months sober by this point or whatever, April. I just remember being angry. I remember being angry at so many people who were drinking and could seemingly manage their alcohol and that there was alcohol at a two year old's birthday party and I'm not drinking. And I don't know what to do with my hands. like, that was the biggest realization. I always had a drink in my hands at these parties, and I don't know what to do with them anymore. And are people noticing that I'm not drinking this monkey brain went wild. I remember seeing my therapist at the very next session afterwards, basically projecting my anger at her and she was graciously receiving it all. So yeah, those first six months of sobriety was just really moody, really angry no community, cuz we were still in isolation at that point. But somewhere around June of 20, 21, about six, seven months sober, I began to realize, oh I don't, I mean, I do have to be sober, but. I prefer to be sober. That just feels better that way. And about a year ago, last summer, I realized I. Just like it. And once I realized that I preferred to be sober, I didn't think about it as much. So I don't think about my sobriety date as much anymore. I don't think about my count of days anymore. What I do think about is this thrillingly boring life of teaching music and performing music and going to the gym and riding my bike and I still work with my therapist. So there's still a lot of soul searching and internal work there. But clearing alcohol out of the picture has given me a new layer of understanding about me and who I am. And I appreciate that.

Steve:

Yeah. That's great. And reflecting back, how do you feel your sexuality played a role in your a.

Jim:

That is a great question, Steve. So we gotta back up, I've been in therapy with different therapists for since whenever 2014 was, and it was originally for what we were calling sex addiction. And I, as a gay man, have a lot of feelings around that word. I remember actually in college doing an intake interview for an XGA ministry, which I'm putting in air quotes here in Memphis. So sex addiction has a, a very Troublesome complicated history for me, cuz I think it probably does for a lot of gay men, but nonetheless in my alcohol dependency, I was absolutely acting out in really dangerous sexual ways. Just a lot of anonymous sex. A lot of compulsive pornography viewing late into the night. I am a pretty sex positive dude, but staying up every night to two in the morning to get your. Of either alcohol or. Not a generally healthy lifestyle. So a lot of my own sense of my sexuality in my addiction wasn't my own. It was either religious based shame or growing up in south central Texas, where I didn't know a lot of gay men. Or really any, it was growing up in a military household. Again, my dad was a war veteran. So having those ideals of hypermasculinity always in front of me at all the time, I really didn't know who I was. I just had like this. TV based porn based religious shame based idea of what homosexuality was. And because I was generally just ashamed of myself, even though I was publicly out of the closet, I was ashamed of who I was. Alcohol kind of became this easy way for me to drown all of that. I cannot tell you how many times in my work with my current therapist that she's drawn the link between when I would feel lonely in social setting. And then I would just keep drinking. So I would say that my sexuality as a gay male was completely the shame I felt around being a gay man was completely exacerbated by my own dependency upon alcohol. Which my drinking of whiskey drowned that shame out until the hangover in the roaring shame came right back.

Steve:

Yeah. And what kind of changes or developments have you seen in your place in regard to the community since your recovery? Yeah, so,

Jim:

This is probably the part where I've written the most notes. To that question. One, I liken my sobriety to being queer, which is to say for me, being queer is a form of gentle opposition. If as a gay male, I have a predisposition to finding men beautiful and fi falling in love with them. I like to borrow the wisdom from bell hooks who wrote queer as not about who you're having sex with. That can be, that can be a dimension. But queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live. My therapist has helped me to understand that to be sober is to begin from a position of choice. And I think being queer is the same way that there may be these heteronormative standards for us to quote unquote aspire to or assimilate to. But for me as a queer man, I get to run my own business and make my own schedule and have my own life. So on the one hand sobriety has really helped me to get in touch with a deeper, richer, inner landscape of being queer. It has helped me to begin to understand that being gay isn't. You know, lusting after men, although, Hey it is also that there is an intimacy and that there is a, a profound connection that can be built with another man that being said, I am still single and I don't have much of a dating history. Again, I won liken that to religious shame based trauma. I, I link that to my own use of alcohol. And so for the last, nearly two years of my sobriety, I have finally begun to unpack. And I guess I would say too, I've heard other listeners on your, or other guests on your show. Talk about how hard it can be as sober, queer folk to be in the gay community because of how alcohol drenched. It is not just the bars where we often meet each other. I was on a gay kickball league last fall. and, you know, we would play games in the suburbs on Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM. Jello shots are being shoved in my face, and I'm being told that we can't win games unless we have two jello shots in us. And I'm sitting there thinking again, none of you, except for my friend who invited me on this team know that I'm sober two. No, yeah. Not need jello shots to win a, a, a kickball game. This might explain our track record so far, actually but like, I haven't been back to that league since then because of how prevalent jello shots were in a suburban athletic park on a Saturday morning, all last fall. So Yeah, I I'm still finding my place in, in the gay community. I will say though, I am grateful that in both the gym where I work out a good third of us are members of the queer community. And it's been so wonderful to work out with them and get to know them and to let them get to know me through a more competitive alcohol free space. And I'm a ch musician I'm surrounded by gay. All the time, us section leaders for the choir I sing in, we had dinner the other night and it was just so good to be with them and to laugh with them and talk all star seven and how they need to stop doing the freaking lip sync showdown to crown the winner. But that's another episode for another day mm-hmm So I am grateful that through my sobriety, I am able to build friendships with other members of the queer community. Aren't rooted in sexual expectations and B aren't drenched in alcohol.

Steve:

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And what are some practices you use in your daily life to help keep you sober?

Jim:

Yeah. I've talked about my therapist a lot. I generally see her about twice a month. So I don't know if that's so much a practice, but it is very important to me. I have been journaling since 2005 and I, I just bought a brand new one and started it a week ago. Journaling has been very important for me to stay grounded in the moment and also to be able to pull those out and to see how far I've come and also. How much the same. I still am. yeah. Fitness is incredibly important to me. Whether, again, like I said, CrossFit cycling, yoga is a somewhat regular that might practice. Music is incredibly important to me, both professionally and personally. Whether it's the listening to music. Beyonce's Renaissance has been on permanent repeat mm-hmm since July 29th the playing of music, whether it's new music or stuff. I love I, you know, I'll be back in rehearsals next week for the first time in a couple years. Thanks to COVID and now we're vaccinated. So yeah, fitness music and supportive community to, to have friends who know that I'm sober, who support that I'm sober, especially to have that one friend on the kickball league who solve the jealous shots being shoved in my face. Mm-hmm he was able to say to the captain, Hey, Nope, he's good. Jim's good. Back off. Yeah.

Steve:

Yeah, it certainly does. And Jim, what is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is sober, curious, or newly sober?

Jim:

All right. If you're sober, curious, especially if you're doing like those dry Januarys or 30 day breaks I would advise you to truly be curious view, curious as its own practice. So get curious as to how sobriety feels, get curious as to why you are practicing sobriety for this moment. Get curious about differences in your body and your sleep patterns and your eating patterns. And. Spending patterns in your sex drive, like get curious about yourself through this period of sobriety, because if you pay attention to yourself you'll meet different layers of who you are. And then for those who are newly sober I would say one, take it one day at a time and be open to trying anything. I did work both AA and ACA. So alcoholics anonymous and adult children of alcoholics. Did the 90 and 90, you know, went to 90 meetings in 90 days. I went to rehab as part of my recovery journey. Again, more for trauma and compulsive sexual behavior. If I were to go back, it would be to more deeply investigate my own history of, of alcohol. So yeah, if you are newly sober, just be open to whatever your therapist, your sponsor, more sober, people are telling you to do. And to know that a relapse may very well may be a part of your process. It's not a failure. It actually. Might be what you need to, to get to the sobriety that you're looking for. Yeah.

Steve:

I, I hear, I hear that from relapse stories all the time. I find'em some of the more inspiring ones.

Jim:

Yeah, absolutely.

Steve:

Yeah. And no matter how we get and stay sober, we tend to always find like a

Jim:

lyric or a quote

Steve:

or something we like to live by. Do you have a favorite mantra?

Jim:

I have two one comes from music. My music making is practice makes permanent mm-hmm you always hear practice makes perfect. I, I don't believe that but practice does make permanent, which is to say whatever it is that you're doing. I tell my students all the time, what you're practicing at home is just what you're doing here in the studio. Right. So that goes both ways. If you are mindfully, practicing and working towards good healthy habits or good healthy music making, then that's what you're gonna make permanent. If you're practicing. Stakes. If you're practicing unhealthy living patterns. Well, you're gonna make that permanent too. So in rum of recovery, you know, keep practicing the principles of sobriety one day at a time, pick up the phone, get outta your head practice makes permanent any other comes from my cycling coach a guy named Clark. He will always tell a cyclist control the controllable. So in cycling world, you can't control the weather. You can't control the traffic in other motorists, but you know what? You can control, you can control what kind of food you're bringing with you and how much water you're bringing with you. You can't control whether or not you get a flat, but you can control whether or not you are prepared to take care of the flat. So for me in recovery control, the controllables looks like I can't control whether or not my students have practiced. I can't control whether or. My neighbors are mowing their lawn or not. But what I can control is my side of the street. I can control my own responses. I can control, not control my emotions, but I can navigate them because they are my emotions and they don't have to be dependent upon somebody else. So those are my two practice makes permanent and control the controllables. I love

Steve:

both of them and they're things I definitely need to, to continue to learn to live by. right. Me too. Yeah. And do you have any last bits of words or of wisdom for our listeners?

Jim:

I would say whether you are sober, curious, newly sober, or if you got more sobriety than I do. So what am I doing? Giving those folks advice? Just to be prepared that sobriety can completely change everything about you from your sex drive to your relationships, to your money, to your career aspirations. But I would say it would change it to what is more authentic to you. And I would say that yes, for the long term sobriety is the best thing that at least has happened to me up until this point. It just didn't always feel that way, especially in the first, you know, five or six months of sobriety. So that's what I would say. Excellent. Well,

Steve:

thank you so much for coming on Jim. I really appreciate it.

Jim:

Appreciate the invitation. Thank you, Steve. Yeah. Do you have

Steve:

a Instagram where, where you feel comfortable sharing? So our listeners can find.

Jim:

I do so they can find me my full name is Jim corn foot. There aren't many of us in the world. You can find me at J corn 1 0 4.

Steve:

Excellent. I'll be sure to add that to the show notes. Thank you. And stick around for our post show. Absolutely in the meantime, thank you for listening to another episode of GAA podcast. You can join our Patreon family to head over to the post show and exclusive content weekly by going to www.patreon.com/gaa podcast. Meanwhile, if you're interested in sharing your story, you can email me@gaapodcastatgmail.com or find me on Instagram GA podcast. Be sure to follow us wherever you're listening so you can get new episodes when they come out every Thursday. And until next time stay sober friends.

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