gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show

The Next Right Thing ft. Paula

January 12, 2023 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 120
The Next Right Thing ft. Paula
gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
More Info
gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
The Next Right Thing ft. Paula
Jan 12, 2023 Season 1 Episode 120
Steve Bennet-Martin

Send us a Text Message.

Steve welcomes Paula 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 Paula on Instagram @ilovelr69 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 , and you can reach Paula at ilovelr69@gmail.com

Stay sober, friend!

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Steve welcomes Paula 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 Paula on Instagram @ilovelr69 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 , and you can reach Paula at ilovelr69@gmail.com

Stay sober, friend!

Support the Show.

Steve:

Hi everyone and welcome to Gay a, a podcast about sobriety for the LGBT plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-martin, I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for all the new opportunities 2023 will present to me. As of this recording, I am 587 days sober and say we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom, and hope with you. Welcome, Paula.

Paula:

Well, hello. Thanks for having.

Steve:

It's always a pleasure when I get people reaching out saying they want to be, and I love helping people that are excited to share their stories. So why don't you start by introducing yourself to the listeners.

Paula:

Well, I'm happy to. I'm Paula Ciar. I'm from H Town, Houston, Texas. And my sobriety date is 5 18 20. Thank goodness, congratulations. Oh, I got sober during the Thank you. I got sober during the pandemic and my a eight club here in Houston. I go to the lamb, this center, come on by if you're ever here. Mm-hmm. they they call me a Zoom baby. Yes. But uh, yeah. So. I wasn't a one chip wonder. It was my third time coming back into the program and just looking for sobriety. And this time it worked and I'm very grateful for that and happy to be here with you today. Excellent,

Steve:

wonderful. And what are some of your favorite hobbies or interests you found in your sobriety?

Paula:

Wow, that's a great question. So the awesome thing for me, that I actually got to get back into some of the things that I lost. Mm-hmm. or you know, really just things that I used to enjoy. but I, I would think that it would be more way, way more fun if I had one drink or two Mm-hmm. of course, I never had one drink. So those things just weren't fun to me anymore. And I had forgotten how to have fun without alcohol. So I'm into kite flying again. Oh, excellent. So we go down to Galveston. I fly heights. I have a lot of kites. I'm just getting back into roller skating. I'm a child of the seven. Mm. I used to put on my xou roller skates in the summer and I would leave the house at 8:00 AM and not come back till the, you know, the sun was starting to go down. And I have picked that back up again. So that's a lot of fun. And my wife and I are going back to concerts and we've been dancing a couple times. Oh, oh, nice. Yeah. Yeah. Getting back into the groove of things and picking up things that I left behind that I.

Steve:

Yeah. Wonderful. And so why don't we get into the thick of it with what it was like and what led you here.

Paula:

Yeah, absolutely. So I'll tell my quick story. You know, I, I, I wasn't a one chip wonder. As I said, I first came to look for help when I was about 18 or 19 years old, and by then I had been drinking. I think we did the math in like five years. So do you know Yikes. Mm-hmm. But you know, it was what it was. I came from an alcoholic family. I came from a family of a lot of addictions and a lot of mental health issues and that's just who we were. I like, I used to laugh and tell people that I knew I would be a drunk. I just didn't know what kind. Cuz we had all flavors and varieties in my family. Things happened for me pretty quickly. I started to have con consequences pretty quickly and at a young age, but I was able always to sort of find my way and keep going. I. Scott was my wife at a very young age, so I've always had somebody with me, which is probably why I'm still here talking to you today. Hmm. But of course, my, my drinking was progressive Over time, there will be good times and bad times through the years. I came back to the program at around age 27, and I managed to stay sober for maybe six months. But that was Dr. I mean, it was just a dry drug really. Mm. I had a lot of problems and when I went back to AA that second time, while I did manage to stay away from alcohol, I never reached out to anybody. I never got information about the program. I just kind of sat in meetings and really didn't take anything from it, and therefore it just did nothing. And eventually I was back out. And as things progressed, as my life went on, I. just sort of lost a sense of who I was and when those down times would come. I didn't really have any tools or anything. to help me get out of bad situations, and I would take shameful things that I had done and just harbor them, keep'em all inside, and try and drink that pain away. So a lot of times I may have had help around me, but I never asked for it. I took it to the bottle. That's, that was what I thought was my solution. In 2014 my wife and I decided to get married after having been together. 1986, we ran away together. And at that time, I, I had gotten my life together a little bit. I, I always had problems keeping jobs since we ran off together at such a young age. I always had jobs close to alcohol. I would work in the bars, in the clubs. I used to go go dance. I mean, I, you know, I, I like to be near the, near my people and you know, in the eighties and nineties we, the club was our home, so, Not only was that convenient for me and my drinking ways, but it really was where community was for us. I, I remember back in the day, you know, we didn't take cameras into clubs. Who you saw there, you really did not talk about when you left there. Right. It was our society. I grew up in the clubs in Denver, in Houston. So when I came back to a, well, excuse me, let me just go back to 2014. I had gotten a new job and I was really. get myself together. I was gonna get a, get a therapist this time, but I had been feeling sick almost that whole year. And I'd gone to the doctor a couple times and I told them different pains I was having, things I was seeing, like blood in my stool and things like that. And though I had a lot of the signs and symptoms, I was told that I was too young. But in fact, I did have colorectal cancer. And it was diagnosed. My wife got, and I got married in October of 2014. That day after we got married, I was sick pretty much from then on, and I was in the emergency room in January of 2015. In the emergency room, they found a baseball size tumor. And I was, I'm very, I was very lucky at that time to be alive. But what happened with me was, I, I hadn't fixed anything in my life. I. went through this car crash of cancer, and then it was like, here you go, you're alive. Be happy, be grateful. And for me, it was a downhill spiral into just a darker place. I've now come to realize this has happened to other people, survivors of cancer. It just, you know that avalanche of things can really hit you. And I already was an addict, so I took it, enrolled with it. I started drinking. actually more. Hmm. And by the time 2020 rolled around, I had been working elections here in Houston. I'm worked as an election judge. My wife and I were poll workers. I just let the, tried to take on the problems of the world. Mm-hmm. and at night I was going around to the local store, stealing bottles of cheap wine. I mean, I, I had really was living two lives. I did not know who I was by day or by. Hmm. And I ended up in the hospital in May of 2020. I was having pains, I didn't wanna say anything. I was afraid it was cancer. Again, I was afraid that it was my fault. And we went to the emergency room this time. We went to the emergency room. The doctor came out and said are you gonna tell me how much your it's homie, how much you're drinking, or are we gonna play games? And he said, I'm gonna tell you honestly, you don't have time. I don't know why. But for the first time ever in my life, I told the truth. Mm-hmm. and I, I was like, all, all the liquor, all all the liquor that I could find out weekend I drink. And he said I can see that you're in a lot of trouble. Your pancreas numbers are bad. And what had happened was I had almost destroyed my pancreas. I didn't even know that was a thing. Mm-hmm. I, I was like, Hey, I thought if lost your liver's, okay, you're good. Right. So in May of 2020 I was put in a hospital. It was during you know, lockdown had just started in Texas. We were doing things differently down here. Mm-hmm. So we went into lockdown a little later than y'all, and I spent two weeks. Full lot down detoxing in the hospital with emergency, five emergency surgeries to try and save my pancreas. They ended up putting a stent in. For that two weeks I did not eat any food. ice cubes and IV bags were my food. And the doctor actually, when he did the first surgery to go in and see what was wrong, he couldn't get through cuz I was so swollen. I woke up. Right as he was done, I kind of came outta the anesthesia earlier and I heard the doctor saying, I won't cuss, but y I heard the doctor say she's an effing alcoholic. Mm-hmm. I heard him say that I was woken up at that time for a reason. Mm-hmm. Of course, I went back to my room and called my wife and said, he called me a drug. Get me outta here. I mean, I, I had a fit. Mm-hmm. I'll tell you later, six months later. I gave him my first six months chip. Yeah. He in, he's one of my best friends in the world and he saved, helped me save my life. Mm-hmm. because I heard him loud and clear. And then we found out that my pancreas was really bad. I have to have a stint stint therapy for six months. And so what I was told is he can never drink again. You can never drink again. You can never drink again every day for 14 days. The nurses, the doctors, the people who brought the pills in, the people who swept the floor, they told everybody. Mm-hmm. They would remind me nonstop. So when I got home, I had missed two weeks sober. It was locked down, so we couldn't go anywhere and I was still healing. So I healed up for about two weeks. So it's about a month I was sober, and one day I just looked at my wife and I said, Hey, I don't know how to be sober. I don't know how to live sober. She said, what do you wanna do? And I said, well I don't wanna go to an in person an inpatient program cuz I've been sober month. So we just got on Dr. Google. Mm. We found some places that might be open. One place was open and they took our insurance. and we called them up and I was in i o P outpatient the next day. And that started my journey. I had to learn how not to, to live and not drink, and I had to learn quick. And so I went in this time with the mindset of I'll at least try because I actually have everything to lose Yeah. And so that's how I got here.

Steve:

Yeah. I was gonna say, and, and what are some of those changes and like positive changes in your life since you found sob?

Paula:

Wow. I mean, it's like night and day. I I remember when I first heard the, them reading the promises and I was like, this is just ridiculous. what, what are these people talking about? But at that point I was like, okay. I had been told by my first sponsor, He said, just take what you need and leave the rest. Paula, I can tell you're gonna ask a lot of questions, And I was like, okay, we can work from there. Mm-hmm. I could work with that. But these promises have started to come true in my life for a long time. I Couldn't get the help. I would seek mental health counseling for a lot of the trauma I had gone through as a child, but I could never really stick with it because my perspective was just doom and gloom. I really always thought that I deserved a lot of the treatment that I got and the things that have happened to me throughout life. I just figured everything was my fault. That's what I was told. So I could never really get the benefits of treatment because I was always self-medicating on the side. Without alcohol. I am getting really great mental health treatment. I do take outside help and I use medication for a d d, but it's changed my life. I'm actually able to get the benefits of it. Yeah. I keep a steady job. I contribute and I, you know, I was doing some of those things before, but it was halfway. Mm-hmm. and I'm not proud of. and you know, I'm proud when I wake up. I'm proud when I do inventory, even if something's bad that happened that day, everything to me happens for a reason now instead of woe is me. Mm-hmm. it's, oh my gosh, what can I learn from it? Honestly, my perspective on life has completely flipped, and yet I'm more of. every day and more comfortable in my skin than I've ever been in my entire life. And I just, I don't know what I was waiting for, but I'm sure happy I got here. I'm the happiest I've ever been.

Steve:

Yeah, I can re relate and it's just beaming from you and I love that. But like I, I'm able to relate to all of that just because of how grateful I like I am in how we get in recovery. Now earlier, like you touched on a little bit about with the club and the bar scene, but let's talk more about like how you feel your sexuality played a role in your addiction.

Paula:

Yeah. Well, you know let me see if I can put this to you. In the most honest way possible, I knew who I was as a child. Mm-hmm. and as I'm, you know, I have actually lived long enough to realize that probably so did. all of the adults in my life from the time I was a child. Hmm. And they were uncomfortable with it. Hmm. And so from the time I was a child, there was a lot of, no, no, no. Don't, don't, don't. Stop, stop, stop. Change, change, change. girls don't do that. You shouldn't do this. Right. And there was always a kind of this pattern of trying to change behavior that wasn't necessarily bad or unnatural. Mm-hmm. So I knew that there was, I guess, a problem with me from the time I was a kid. I knew I liked girls. I, I knew I liked some. mostly girls. And so, you know, in our family church it wasn't allowed. There was some issues with that and being told like, well, God does not accept this as a young kid. God sees you. God sees your thoughts. And so a lot of these things I just took to my head and said, well, if that is the case and I already know who I am and I can't change it, God's already, your God has already made his decision. These people over here seem a lot of fun. Hmm. They're like me and they say, Hey, we'll all go together. See y'all later. Mm-hmm. in the club. Not everybody probably was partying, but I wouldn't know because I, I bel, I believe that I had a predis. In my family to drug and alcohol abuse. That's just my belief. Mm-hmm. When I had my first drink as a kid, I remember my dad was in a Vietnam vet and he would come home with his buddy Army buddies I remember, and they'd give me little sips of beer. I remember that from being a kid and how that made me feel. Mm. So I always had that. And growing up I had a fake ID cuz I needed to work. So when I was 14, I had a fake ID that said I was 16 so I could get a job. The only job I could get was in a restaurant as a bus girl. So all the waiters were older than me and would take me out with them. Mm-hmm. So I started partying young.

Steve:

Yeah. I mean, certainly, and I can relate, but you know, going into your sobriety now, h how has that changed your relationship or what, how, where have you found your new place in the queer community?

Paula:

Yeah. Well, so I'm so blessed. First of all, I, I've been so invested in my community here in Houston when I. My wife and I left here together in the eighties and we came back in the nineties and we just got really stuck into the community and have been part of the community that whole time. So the community's always been here for me. And Lamba was always there. I used to just pretend like I knew where it was cause I knew I'd end up there one day, but I didn't really wanna go there. which is so funny cuz in my life, all the things I. Wanted to be and things I used to joke about. I used to say, I'm never gonna be an a aa. Mm-hmm. that's my middle name. Is Paula a aa Yeah. But I find myself here in the queer community at Atlanta Center. We have so many wonderful people here in the queer community who live sober lives and who are doing great things and, you know, It's just for me, my sobriety is something that is for me to be conscious of, me to be aware of. And. I don't really exclude myself from being in certain places. Mm. I've learned now my limits and my barriers, and I let nothing come between me and my sobriety. Right. Yeah. So I do a lot of volunteer work. I'm a advocate for colorectal cancer, knowing the signs and. Symptoms so you don't end up in the emergency room. Sad, like me drinking your sorrows away. Yeah. And I do a lot of it in the queer community, queer spaces. So I get to meet a lot of our communities in those areas. And I am, I'm very open about my colorectal cancer as well as my sobriety. Excellent.

Steve:

Yeah. And what are some other things you do in your daily life to help keep you sober? Besides all of that? Not that, that's not

enough

Paula:

or a lot Well, so you know, For me, it was a blessing lockdown. I tell people my higher power knew it was gonna take a, a pandemic to get this woman to stop. Mm-hmm. So that's what it took, what it took. and I, during that time, just learned a whole new way of living. I had a friend who taught Verde meditation and before I used to think like, what is he into? What kind of woo stuff is that? Well, during lockdown, I was like, whatever that is. Could you show it to me? Cuz I'm sitting here doing things in aa I never thought I would do and I need a way to, A way to calm these voices in my head that have always been with me. These negative voices. What? RuPaul calls a inner saboteur. Yeah, mine. I call A B I T C H. Yeah, because mine was just relentless and really hated me. Mm-hmm. So I needed to find ways. to counteract that, and I had never looked into that, so I started Verex meditation, still doing it to this day, 20 minutes a day, twice a day. I, my sponsors taught me take pen to paper. Mm-hmm. And I, I, I do it every day. From the very first day, my very first day in aa, all of those names and numbers I took down. I still text gratitude lists to this day. Mm-hmm. I do daily inventories. I say prayers. I made a God box. Mm-hmm. I made Mm-hmm. I use it. I get a lot of inspiration from nature. I, I work out. I try and go to a lot of online meetings, newcomer meetings, newcomers keep me sober because I'll never forget those first 90 days. I didn't think I could do it. I remember hearing people say they had 20 years, and I was like, excuse me, can I call you now? Because that makes no sense. So yeah, those are the kind of things I do and they help me every day if I'm of service and I'm keeping my own side of the street. I'm good. Yesterday before I went on a meeting, I went and cleaned my toilet and then I felt better. Yeah. And then I was able to go on the meeting.

Steve:

Excellent. And speaking of meetings, no matter how we get sober, we generally find one or two quotes or mantras that we love to live by. Do you have one you'd like to share?

Paula:

Yeah, absolutely. The old school ones work for me. But you know, in those first 90 days, I kept saying to myself, just do the next right thing. Mm-hmm. how about that? How about if you don't lie and you're just kind to yourself and you just do the next right thing, just over and over and over, slowly one step at a time. And yes, you're right. I, I do realize not everybody goes to traditional AA or 12 step. Yeah. But whatever you do, do it. keeping in mind that you've gotta be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. None of what I was able to accomplish I could have done on my own. Mm-hmm. I had to reach out and ask for help from somebody. Yeah. And I just had to be honest with myself on the times that I needed. To not be stressed and to not feel like I was gonna lose it. I had to have the boundaries and the space to be able to be in that, in that place, and I was the one who had to take it. Yeah. So, you know, be kind to yourself. Keep it simple. Do the next right thing. Yeah. The

Steve:

excellent, wonderful. And how can our listeners find you if they wanted to connect?

Paula:

Yeah, so I'm gonna give you two ways to find me and I'll, I'll also email you these two, but I'm on Instagram and you can certainly message me on there. It's I L O V E. l r 69. I love l r 69. And you can just, anytime you can send me an email at I love l r 69 at gmail.

Steve:

Nice and easy. I love it when it all matches up. That's just like us listeners. You can always get in touch with me@gaypodcastgmail.com or on all the socials, especially Instagram at gay podcast. Thank you so much, Paula. Stick around because we're gonna be heading on over to our after show. But thank you so much.

Paula:

Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me, and thank you for your service. Oh, I

Steve:

appreciate that. And listeners join our Paton family today to get some more bonus content with Paul and I as we continue this conversation. And be sure to follow us wherever you're listening right now so you can get new episodes when they commit every Thursday. Until next time, stay sober friends.

Podcasts we love