gAy A: The Super Soberhero Show

More Than One Way to Get Sober ft. Chris

January 05, 2023 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 119
gAy A: The Super Soberhero Show
More Than One Way to Get Sober ft. Chris
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes Chris 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

Find Chris online at www.atriptolove.com and on all the socials @aroadtriptolove. 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

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Steve:

Hi everyone, and welcome to Gaya, a podcast about sobriety for the LGBT plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennett. Martin, I am an alcoholic and I'm grateful for the opportunity to bring my dog to work with me sometimes. Now, as of this recording, I am 537 days sober, and today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom, and hope with you. Welcome.

Chris:

Hi. Thank you for having me, Steve. It's great to be here. Yes, I

Steve:

was very pleased to have you reach out to me. It always makes you feel special that like people find me, but what I know you, you did a great job of introducing yourself to me. Why don't you introduce yourself

Chris:

to the listeners? Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. So my name is Chris and I am a life coaching therapist and I work with primarily gay men and I help gay men to heal past pain, to gain a better sense of acceptance, self-acceptance. And connection with themselves and others. And I wrote a book called Raising LGBTQ Allies. That's very much a parenting book as much as well as a book for members of the LGBTQ community themselves.

Steve:

Excellent. Yeah. And how, how long have you been sober Living in recovery?

Chris:

I have been sober since for eight years. November, November 1st is when I, when. Eight years ago was the last last time that I drank or used drugs.

Steve:

Congratulations on that. Thank you. And what have been some of your favorite hobbies you've found in sobriety?

Chris:

Gosh so many. It's funny, after I got, after I stopped using drugs and alcohol I started writing a lot and I started having articles that were published and that eventually led to writing my book. But it was funny cuz when I started doing that, I never, I never wrote. Before it was never like I was a writer as a child or you know, anything like that. And so after I stopped using drugs and alcohol is really when I discovered writing for me.

Steve:

That's excellent. Yeah. The new hobbies we find to fill the time that drinking took out of us. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And why don't we jump into the thick of it then and tell us what your journey with alcohol and addiction was like.

Chris:

Yeah, yeah. I think, you know, for me it was very much I never considered myself an alcoholic or an addict or anything like that. Addiction was very prevalent in my family. I was raised in a family. My parents divorced when I was very little. My dad always struggled with addiction and so ever since I was a child, that was sort of part of my experience. My father would relapse and he'd go away. Our visits, our visits with him would change and then he'd get sober again, and then we'd go back to sort of everything as usual. And so for me, that was really my experience of what it, of what it was like to grow up with someone with addiction. And that very much contributed to myself and my identity and, and my feelings as they related to sort of navigating a mine you know, a minefield. Then when I, when I grew up, I didn't drink in high school. In fact, I hated the taste of alcohol. I remember going to high school parties and doing a shot cuz I didn't wanna drink cuz I didn't like the taste of it. And so if I wanted to be drunk like everyone else, I would just do like a shot. And then I felt somehow that I fit in. And then when I got to college, I was in a fraternity and that was just very much a part of the, the experience drinking. And so, Just kind of drank like a college person, I guess. I went to a, a school that was very much a party school and, and it was very normalized, and so that was just sort of labeled college. Mm-hmm. And, and then after college, I didn't come out until I was in my mid, my early twenties, like 23, 24 ish, like 24. And so for me, after I came out of the closet, I immersed myself into LGBTQ advocacy work. That for me was part of where I really started to sort of, drugs and alcohol were connected to my experience of coming out. I sort of came out and then went to the bar and, and so that's where I socialized. That's where a lot of I met my friends. That's where we would go if we wanted to do anything. That was fun. And, which was interesting cuz I was never like this huge bar going out person. And so I had moved around after I graduated college and I wound back. I, I, I went back to Arizona, which is where I'm from. And my cousin had some gay friends. She's a straight woman, sister and woman, cisgender woman. And so she was like, oh, you're gay. I have gay friends. I'll introduce you to each other and you're all, you're gonna automatically be friends. And so, So that really was kind of my first introduction, you know, with going out and just the drinking and it was just, that was labeled as lgbtq, like fun community you know, those sort of bar nightlife scene. And then I wound up, kind of a long story short of it, is that I moved out to Los Angeles. 14 years ago to work for a large LGBTQ media organization. I was doing a lot of advocacy work and I remember one of the organizations or the organization I worked with, one of the events that was responsible for coordinating was a new member recruitment event. And it was for our target demographic, which was gay men, 25 to 35 years old. For our me. And so our events would always, at different markets across the country, San Francisco, New York, Florida, et cetera, they always were at bars. And I remember I found an event, we had a new market in Atlanta, Georgia, and I found a location for an event that we were gonna do. And it was at a it wasn't a bar, it was at a non-bar, but it fit all the criteria of what we look for. And I remember the, the president at the time of the organization, Found out where it was, it was gonna be held. And he was like, you can't have an event for gay men 25 or 35 at a non-bar. He said, the bar is for church. The the bar is for gays with the church is for straights. And so for me that was really kind of like this Whoa. Of, part of that is true. And I think that it, it speaks to a lot. In my experience being gay, gay man just the bar scene, the nightlife scene, and, and finding a sort of wanting to fit in or wanting to be a part of something, feeling like I'm gonna miss out if I don't go. And I wound up, ironically working at a gay bar, a pretty large, a very large gay bar here in West Hollywood, and I worked there for 11 years. That's really where I really started to, I, I, I felt like I was a fly on the wall. I was an observer and I just really observed that this either is gonna go one way or another way as far as my continuing to drink and use drugs. You know, I live in Los Angeles and cocaine is very prevalent. And it was just very accessible and it was just kind of the norm. To use while working. And, and I just, I, I, I, I just, I realized like, this, this story doesn't end well.

Steve:

Yeah. Yeah. And how has your life changed since getting sober, you know, eight years ago?

Chris:

Yeah. Gosh, so much has changed. My life is completely different. It's, I think one of the best things that ever happened to me was giving up drugs and alcohol. I think that that's, that I, I'm grateful every day for being a, for being sober and for my sobriety and for my recovery and my willingness to, to never look back. Yeah,

Steve:

certainly. And with so much of, especially near the end, you know, drinking was kind of hand in hand with being part of the L G B T community. How has your relationship with our community changed in sobriety?

Chris:

Mm, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, I think that for me, you know, I sort of came out. In addition to coming out as gay, I, I sort of went on my own spiritual journey. You know, one of the things of living in Los Angeles is people know LA for like the glitz and the glamor and the kind of shiny, you know, celebrity all, you know, all that kind of stuff. And what I realized living here for as long as I have, is that that was my first, like, the first half of my experience of living here was very much. and what I realized a few years after living here is that LA has a lot of very spiritual roots and a lot of, there's a lot of like, just thought leaders in spiritual, different spiritual communities. And so I found myself going to all the lectures and the workshops and, and learning meditation and all of that kind of stuff, and. That for me. I remember being in a bar one night after work and normal kind of shift. You know, you get off work, we'd go to the A bar down the street and sit at the bar and do shots or drink or whatever. Sometimes do bumps in the bathroom. And I remember I was sitting at the bar and I was telling a friend of my coworker about this, all this, you know, these lectures that I was going to about spirituality. And he was like, wow, Chris, you really lead two different. And that was the moment I really realized, like, yeah, who I'm becoming is no longer the same as who I was. And I share that with you because how my role, how, how I feel like my work today is with LGBTQ community is coming out spiritually and coming out really with wanting to share the, the, the things that I've learned by being sober and living a life. Is, you know, emotional sobriety and spiritual sobriety. And I think there's more than just the giving up the substance sobriety. And so I feel like that is where I feel like my LGBTQ advocacy work has sort of shifted in that way. Yeah.

Steve:

And tell us more about the work that you, you do today.

Chris:

Yeah, yeah. I think, you know for me, you, you had asked like, what are, what are some of the things I discover? Being sober, and I mentioned writing and so I, I started writing a lot and I felt like I had something to, to say and to share. And I was speaking to a lot of parents and caregivers, and I started teaching social emotional learning, and I really found that I have a role to play as a teacher, as a mentor. My, my, my siblings started having kids and as an uncle, like how am I showing up as an uncle? And I really felt like, you know, I can only take others as far as I've gone myself. And so if I'm an LGBTQ advocate and I'm inviting the community or people I work with to love themselves or to heal, maybe pass shame then I have to go far in my own life. And so the work that I do today is very much about that. It's about feeling. The misguided beliefs that a lot of the people I've, I've worked with that contribute to the, the, the rates of substance use and drinking and, and drugs, you know, a lot of the shame and trauma thinking that we're not good enough or we, we need something to sort of connect with others that involves substances. Mm-hmm. So that's, that's sort of how. The work I do. And I, I kind of jokingly say that I wrote myself into graduate school cuz the process of writing my book was very much the catalyst that that led me to applying to graduate school and eventually finishing and, and now working as a therapist.

Steve:

Congratulations on that. Yeah, thank you. And if you were speaking with someone who was sober curious or newly sober, what kind of advice would you give?

Chris:

I would give the advice that in my experience, and this is my experience and a lot of people, when I, cuz I worked at a bar for 11 years and most of the time when I worked there I was sober. So I was there, I worked there seven years sober. Four years of that, I was not sober. And so when I did get sober it was a journey for me that in my experience when I, when I came to terms. My own sobriety in deciding to give up substances and that that wasn't, no, that was no longer a way that I wanted to, to live my life. I didn't feel strong enough or confident enough to sort of stand up to the questions that maybe people had or the jokes, you know, that people would have. You know, like my friends a lot of my friends, we were so used to just drinking or going out, and so I. Had to come to the, the terms to, to term. I had to come to those terms on my own and be comfortable with myself and my sobriety. And then once I got comfortable with my decision, I was able to open and share with others, close friends and family members that that was, that was something I, I am and doing. That was sort of the second phase. And then the third phase was where I felt confident and grateful and I wanted to share it and, and I was like telling other people about it. And then that's when people started to, you know, would reach out to me and ask me like, how did I get sober? What did you do? So I guess to answer your question, for anyone who's out there, who's sober, curious, you know, There's, in my experience, there's not only one way to get sober. And, and so listen to if, if you thought about it, give it a try and be mindful maybe of who you do share it with. Cuz in my experience, a lot of my friends. Make, would make fun of people. Like you've heard of people who do dry January or, you know, sometimes people go a week without drinking and, and then they would sort of get peer pressured, oh, come on, let's do, you know, come back, you know, you're, oh, so you're so boring now. Or, you know, a lot of those sort of just tea being teased. And so my invitation for anyone who, and I say this to people is that, you know, try it out yourself and just maybe. Don't tell anyone and see how it feels. And there's, there are other ways of getting sober. And everyone's journey I think is important to, to, to, to honor and to, to pay attention to.

Steve:

Yeah. And with so many ways to get sober, what are some ways that you've liked things that you do in your daily life to help keep you sober when you might feel tempted?

Chris:

Yeah. Yeah. You know, I gotta say like, I really am grateful cuz I do, I I don't have any, I mean, I, once I like, I just knew I was so clear. I think for me it was my spiritual, my spiritual journey that really sort of, Took over my life and you know, I have a strong spiritual practice. I think for me to be able, when you ask to not give up subs or to not use or to drink or anything, for me, it's to be able to be sane living in the world. So I have a strong spiritual practice. I have about every morning I have an hour of prayer meditation journal. And that's just to sort of keep me connected, you know in, in the world and, you know, to be able to take care of myself. And I think that for me, that's, that's so important to my emotional sobriety. And I think that for me and my experience, I'm not, I don't have any temptations to, to drink. I think it's more about the, the negative thoughts that I. That can contribute to how I feel about myself. And so I think that that's where my, my spiritual practice, you know, having a connection with the higher power is really, really important

Steve:

for me. Yeah, I can certainly agree. I, you know, had to first stop drinking and then I had to work on my thinking.

Chris:

Yes, there you go. Yeah.

Steve:

Yeah, that's good. And no matter how we recover, people generally find like a mantra or quote that you like to try and live by. Do you have.

Chris:

I do, I think, you know for me, and I kind of mentioned this a little bit in, in some of the things that we've talked about, but I really do believe that we can only take others as far as we've gone ourselves. That's a sort of like mantra that I use because I feel like how I live my life, the, the impact that I want, make, the sort of legacy that I wanna leave with my nieces and nephews. The influence that I want to have on the people that I love. I feel like I could only take others as far as I've gone myself. And so whether that's conversation or learning how to love myself, like all of that is demonstration to others. But I can't do that if I've not done it myself.

Steve:

Yeah, I can cer certainly agree and understand that. And so why don't we, do you have any last words of wisdom or advice for our listeners that you'd like to?

Chris:

I, the last thing you know, I, I will say, if there's anyone out there who's listening and, and struggling or even thinking about sobriety, you know, I remember someone who, a friend of mine, a coworker of mine that worked at a bar, that worked at the bar we worked at I remember he said, this is very much an AA thing, I think, but he said that I remember he was talking to a coworker. We were three of us walking after a shift one night, and our friend. Sort of struggling with, with giving up substances. And he had relapsed and, and my coworker said, you know, you don't ever have to feel like that again. And I think that that's always for me, like I am so grateful. One of the great, like the best things about sobriety for me is not ever having to be hungover again. Like that's just like the best, you know, sometimes when. Drive or go somewhere and I'll see someone who's like clearly hungover. I'm just like, I do that. I do not miss at all, and I'm just so grateful that that never has to be my experience.

Steve:

I, I'm like trying not to laugh cuz just the other day at work, like we, there was a happy hour and I saw someone and I was like, what happened to her? She's looking really rough. And they were like, she's hungover. And I was like, oh, I don't miss

Chris:

hangovers

Steve:

at

Chris:

all. Mm-hmm. at all? Nope.

Steve:

Excellent. And so why don't we share with their listeners where they can find you if they wanted to connect.

Chris:

Yeah, so my, my, I have a website, it's a road trip to love.com and I'll on all social media, Instagram, Facebook Twitter, a road trip to love.

Steve:

Excellent. I'll be sure to put that in the show notes. You make it nice and easy for us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And stick around cuz we're gonna head over to the Pat Post Show. But thank you everyone for listening. You can continue on with this episode by joining our pat family at patreon.com/gaya podcast. Meanwhile, if you're interested in sharing your story or getting involved with a show, I'm an email away@gayapodcastgmail.com. Lastly, be sure to you're following us wherever you're listening, so you can get these new episodes when they come out every Thursday. Until next time, stay sober friends.

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