gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show

Give It Your All Ft. Jason

February 16, 2023 Steve Bennet-Martin, Jason Ruda Season 1 Episode 125
Give It Your All Ft. Jason
gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
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gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
Give It Your All Ft. Jason
Feb 16, 2023 Season 1 Episode 125
Steve Bennet-Martin, Jason Ruda

Send us a Text Message.

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

Check out Jason's podcast, Sober Solutions, wherever you listen to gAy A!

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

Find Jason on Instagram @rudabega82 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 

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

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

Check out Jason's podcast, Sober Solutions, wherever you listen to gAy A!

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

Find Jason on Instagram @rudabega82 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 

Support the Show.

Steve:

Hi everyone, and welcome to Gay, 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 how clean my office at work is for now. I cannot guarantee it'll still be like that when this episode airs. But it made me happy today. And as of this recording, I am 598 days sober, and today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom, and hope with you. Welcome, Jason. Hey, Steve. How you doing? I'm doing great. How about you?

Jason:

Doing well, doing well. Had the day off today, so it was nice to just sit back and relax. I haven't done that in a couple weeks. Work's been pretty busy, so, you know, I, I need that for my mental and physical health, you know. Oh yeah.

Steve:

I love me. My days off where I get to do nothing but hang out at home.

Jason:

Yep, exactly. Netflix was on all day

Steve:

Excellent. And why don't you introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about you for your.

Jason:

Sure. So my name's Jason, r I am an alcoholic and a drug addict. I follow the steps of aa, although I am also part of the C M A fellowship. I live up in northern New Jersey and as of today I have just over 900 days sober. So coming up on my two and a half years mm-hmm. Which I never thought would be possible at all. I have so many challenges for recovery in my backstory that actually I'm, I'm 40 years old and I never thought that I would hit this age because I was using and drinking so, Yeah, I

Steve:

can imagine. And before we jump into all of that, why don't we start with just telling us a little bit more about some of your favorite hobbies or things to do in sobriety and in life?

Jason:

Sure, sure. Absolutely. So I really started to discover what my hobbies were since I got sober. one of my new hobbies has been getting into fitness. I always grew up as that high metabolism, you know, twink body, that I could eat whatever I wanted and never have to work out. And so I didn't learn how to go to the gym. And then around my mid thirties, you know, especially when the, the alcohol started kicking in, I, I started gaining weight and gaining weight and gaining weight. And I went into rehab and. just found recovery and found the gym. I didn't know what I was doing, but that really became a hobby of mine. So the gym, yoga, meditation really making sure that my mental, physical and spiritual help were all in aligned. Really made sure that it was something that. Kept pushing me forward. And in fact, as of today, I've lost 70 pounds. And so in 2023, my, my goal is really to start building that muscle. So it's really become a lifestyle for me. More than a hobby, I would say. But really, I, I really love to go out to shows. I'm about, Maybe 15 miles away from New York City. And Broadway's a, a huge part of my life. I love to cook. I just start using a, a home delivery service that allows me to cook. And, you know, it's, it's something that I'm still learning. But it's fun, it's fun for me and, and it keeps me busy. And I just like going out with friends. I never had a community. I never had friends. They were either drug dealers or other alcoholics that were still actively using and drinking as much as I did. And there was one point that I just woke up one day and there was no one around me. And so to go out with people and go to dinner and go to movies and go to comedy shows, it's just been such an enlightening experience for me. So my hobbies tend to. Really go towards those group activities because I never used to do that because I was so alone all the time. Yeah,

Steve:

no, I can certainly relate. And another thing that I can relate to is we also have podcasting about sobriety and recovery in common. Right.

Jason:

We do, we do. So I am the host of Sober Solutions Podcast which you and your listeners can find on Apple Podcast or any other major podcast streaming network. We have a link trace. So even if you Google Sober Solutions Podcast, you can find us on all our social medias on Instagram and Facebook. So that's, that's become a, a huge passion project for me. I started that with two. Friends from, from rehab. We started it as a way to keep ourselves sober and really we thought, Hey, if, if we stay sober through this and help maybe one other person, then that's what we're doing this for. It was really around our early journey in recovery, and as of today, we're in over 33 countries, so it's really become something greater than our wildest dreams could have ever have. Imagine. Yeah. That's

Steve:

awesome. I can relate. Like, cuz I started recording these even when I was like day counting and like launched on my 90 days and like during that 90 days I was like, this is keeping me, like, there was one or two times where I was like, is it all worth it? I'm like, I put so much effort into this podcast, I have to stay sober. But like, yeah, exactly. Since then, it's also just been like, like you said, like if I just help one person, it helps. And it's also just been cool. Like talking about recovery, I mean, how has it affected your sobriety?

Jason:

It, like you said, it's, it's kept me sober. Yeah. Because I know that I'm accountable not to my, just my own actions, but I have this community and like I was talking about before, if it's not with the people who listen to our show, it's to the people that I do the show with. Mm-hmm. And it's really brought a sense of pride in my recovery. I have been very open on that show. More open than I think a lot of people who listened to it, like friends and family members. Mm-hmm. were expecting me to be. Yeah. But in that honesty and in that vulnerability, I found freedom and I was able to talk about things that were holding me. whether it's past relationships or the resentments that I was still holding onto or the things that I did that I. I was branding myself as like this bad person, but through the journey of the podcast, listening to our guests talking about their own recovery, I got to learn that I might have done bad things, but that doesn't make me a bad person. And so it's really opened up my recovery in in a whole nother way because I think. The 12th step, you know, giving it out and sharing it and you know, talking about it, just like we talk about in meetings. I just have a different platform for it and it's really been something that's transformed who I am as a sober person.

Steve:

I couldn't agree more. So why don't we jump into it then and tell us a little bit more about what it was like, what happened and what it's like.

Jason:

Yeah, sure. So, you know, I, I think we can all relate to the war stories and the feelings of loneliness and the feelings of just, Pure desperation. Just to give a little background, you know, I grew up in a, in a upper middle class family. I'm a, I'm adopted, but I look just like my parents, my adoptive parents. So there was none of that outsider kind of feeling, which I'm sure my sister felt because she was adopted from South Korea. But I never, I never felt. you know, we had everything that we needed and wanted growing up. There was no abuse or alcoholism running through. So I really grew up in a, in a very normal, loving family. And it wasn't until I was 18 that I went to a party that a friend was throwing on his farm in, you know, upstate New York. And that's when I had my first drink and. At the party. His parents took all the keys and they bought us a bunch of kegs, which I thought was so cool because I never drank in high school. I was part of those kids that that never drank, never partied, never did anything same. So to be there was like, oh yeah, I'm actually here at one of these parties. Well, I think I parked my tent right by the keg. There were boxes of cigars because we just graduated and that was the first time I drank. And the first time I blacked out. I specifically remember waking up from a blackout, apparently had vomited all over my tent, and the first thing I said was, where's the keg? And so it was like from day one that I should have known that I was an alcoholic, but I chopped it up to, it was my first time, you know, I didn't really know what was going on. And you know, I've, I've never been in this situation before and I'm young and you know, it'll just, what it is, what it is. It's funny. Well, situations like that happened. over and over and over and over again. The next four years of college, I don't really remember. I actually technically failed out. I had to graduate late because I'd gotten thrown out because of a low gpa, a and I just really lived to drink. Now drugs weren't really a big part of my story back then. I'll fast forward to moving from upstate New York's small, small town to New York City. So huge, huge change in my life. And you know, I really learned like. what they meant by the New York City energy. It's always going. Always going. And I couldn't keep up. I mean, I would be laying in bed and my mind would still be racing from the day's activities. And what I found is that to quiet, that would be a drink or two or three. And I was with my boyfriend at the time. and he, one weekend he was like, Hey, let's, let's go to a party. But I have to warn you that it's a sex party and there's going to be drugs around and you can try them if you want, but I think they'll be more fun if we do do them together. And that was the first time I was introduced to crystal meth. And throughout the years before that, alcohol was becoming more and more of an issue for me. I had lost. Friends, I had lost jobs. I had started to lose trust with my family, but it was crystal meth. That really brought me to my knees because over the course of the next six years, I started to lose everything. I'd married that boyfriend and got divorced from that boyfriend and through it all, my father my, my mother had passed away by this point, but my father was there supporting me and supporting me and supporting me, and at one point he was like, I, I can't do it. I'm paying your rent, I'm paying your bills, and you're using the money from your unemployment checks to go get bags of drugs and bottles of vodka. And so I cleaned up for a little bit while I was in New York. I, I started going to meetings and this is around like 12 years ago. So I started going to, to meetings, you know, 12 years ago and it was, I'll clean up for 30 days. I'll clean up for 60 days, I'll clean up for 90 days, get people off my back, get a new job, have my dad kind of, you know, start trusting me again and then, you know, go right back to it. So I'll fast forward to I, I moved to Central Pennsylvania to get out of New York. This is right before Covid and. my last run had me so desperate. I, I remember prior to the story, I'm about to say, I was so weak. from the drugs and the alcohol that I was only laying on my couch and I could barely pick up the bottle to drink it. I wouldn't sleep in my bed. I ordered in food. I never showered. My apartment was a mess and I just was really dying. I wasn't living, I was, I was just existing to die. And so this next. Was such an eye-opening experience for me. I was in a six day blackout, which I didn't even think was physically possible, but even to this day, there are six days that I just don't remember. And I remember, you know, being on my couch. And the next thing is a flash of being in a hotel room doing whatever I was doing. And then I woke up out of this blackout driving on the highway. and I was driving on the highway and I, I didn't know where I really was, and then I saw a sign, and so I kind of got oriented to where I was and, and I said to myself, I said, you know, Jason, you can, you can do one of two things. You can take this exit and you can go back to a hotel or find another hotel and keep doing what you're doing and, and really just do this till you're. and, and at this point I'd already started telling people that I had a terminal disease because I didn't want them to think that I died from addiction and overdose and like all this stuff. It was this disease that killed me, not the drugs and alcohol. So I could go right and, and keep doing that until I died, or I could drive home and go to. And fortunately I decided to drive home. On the drive home, right before I got home, I called my dad and I said, Hey, I, I need help. I need to go to rehab. And my, my addict's brain was like, okay, if you go to rehab, you really have a problem because you've done like iops and you've done groups and you've done aa, but if you go to rehab, you really have a problem. And so I got myself into rehab and I spent 28 days there. really ensuring that I listened more than I talked. You know, when I, when I started to sober up, I, I just really started to talk to myself and say, you are here for a reason and you need to make this work. And fortunately I did and, and now I have two and a half years. That's excellent.

Steve:

And what are some of the improvements you've seen in your life or the perks of being sober?

Jason:

Yeah. So while I was still starting to drink a little bit more, but not as heavily addicted, I, I'd gotten a master's degree somehow. But I loved it. And now in recovery, I am getting a second master's degree in clinical psychology with an addiction. and substance use disorder certificate to really help underserved communities, specifically the LGBTQ plus communities because I think addiction runs so RAMP in our community and, and a lot of, you know, a lot of gay people think that. It's just part of who we are. It's part of our community, and it doesn't have to be. You know, one of the things that has been the biggest thing for me in recovery are true friends and true relationships. I, I have friends today that I can count on. I have a loving partner who I've been with, and it's not based in drugs and alcohol and sex. And those two things are, are really. important to me. I'd mentioned before that I'd lost jobs and I've been with my company for, this is a new company for me. It's, I, I've been there for about two years. I think it's the longest I've been with a company so far because I haven't, you know, fucked it up and quite honestly, and I am getting more responsibilities at work and senior leaders are, are trusting me with things. You know, there's still times where I have this like imposter syndrome a little bit, where I'm like, okay, do I have to let them know that I'm gonna step away for an hour? And, you know, I, I have a therapist, which has been great, and she's like, you know, you're not your old self. And, and that's been a huge learning for me. And I just get to, I just get to live authentically. And, and that's the last thing that I want to mention. That's, that's really been the biggest win for me in, in recovery is, While I was actively using drugs and alcohol, I had built layer upon layer upon layer of these falsities of this armor. And in rehab, that's when I started to break it away. I didn't know who I was. And I had someone in in rehab say, do you love yourself? And I was like, what kind of question is that? And then I was like, I don't know how to answer that actually, because I. even know what love is. I've told people I was married, you know, and I told people before, I love you, but I could never say that I love myself. And so finding myself and being able to truly live authentically, instead of looking at one person and saying, okay, this is what you want me to be. I'm gonna mold myself into that and looking at another person and molding myself into. I get to live my true self today, and that has been the biggest gift of recovery for me outside of all the cash and prizes that I've, I've gotten over the last two and a half years. living authentic, authentically has really been my biggest gift so far.

Steve:

Yeah. Excellent. And I'd like to go back to something you were mentioning, you know, which was actually one of the questions I always dive into is like, how oftentimes sexuality, like plays a role in addiction or recovery, or like, it kind of goes both ways on whether the sexuality plays into the addiction or the addiction plays into the sexuality. But how did it, how was that kind of relationship for you person?

Jason:

Yeah. It's a complicated one for sure. So I grew up, like I said, in a very small town. It was blue collar, conservative kind of town. Really great for like that building of family values. Not so great for someone who's just figuring out that they like, And so when I moved, you know, especially to New York, I started to explore that more and that also brought in my insecurities even more. So I was comfortable with being gay even though I thought I was bi at one point, but I was comfortable with being gay and that wasn't necessarily. what was it was I liked this type of guy and I needed to be this certain way for him, and then I started dating another guy and I needed to be that way for him. Just like I was talking about that, that chameleon syndrome. And so I never really figured out who I was as a sexual person. Mm-hmm. And. and, and I say sexual, not just in like sex, sex, but also like intimacy. Mm-hmm. you know, intimacy in terms of like really having meaningful connections. And it wasn't until I got through rehab that I was able to really understand who I was as a gay. you know, my preferences both sexual and, and non my identity. I, I would hide my identity from my coworkers because I work in the healthcare industry and, you know, it's, it's more or less conservative than, than most other industries. And now I'm not, you know, overt. Making out with people in, in the Christmas party or making out with my partner at the Christmas party, but I am who I am and I'm proud of who I am. And I could never really say that because it goes back to me never being able to love myself. And so I used, I used relationships specifically with sex to manipulate people. while I was actively using, and now I get to be a role model. I had, you know, a friend's child come out to me. I had my cousin come out to me and because they felt comfortable and they saw how I really lived my truth, and so I think that now it's, it's not so much a something I need to hide. It's something, it's a part of who I am. You know, it, it's, it's everything of who I am and it plays a, a huge role in how I relate to myself.

Steve:

Yeah. I can certainly relate to that. I know that like, I always struggled with like feeling comfortable like in my own skin, but like as part of the community and then like, kind of like when you put like gay and sober together and like queer and sober, like I was like, this makes sense. Like this is my place. Yeah. These are my.

Jason:

Yeah, it's interesting because a lot of, like I was saying earlier, a lot of people think, you know, queer gay equals drugs and drinking and, you know, I, I was part of the circuit party scene and you know, that whole, that whole idea. However, I know sober people who go to circuit parties and they stay sober and, you know, it's all about. are you on good spiritual ground? What are your motives like, you know, all of those good things. But I never thought that I would be able to have friendships in the gay community if I wasn't drinking, if I wasn't doing drugs. And that's so not true because I've met so many amazing people in Philadelphia where I was starting to get sober in New York, where I have a, a big community of, of sober friends, and. we could still have fun. You know, we still go out to dinners, we go to plays. We have a ski event coming up next month. Like, there's so much more to life that we get to do with my people. So, you know, I, I go to straight meetings, but I feel more comfortable in gay meetings because I can talk about certain things a little bit more freely. And it's not like I've ever had people kind of like, calm down over there talking about the The gay sex stuff. No. Yeah, I haven't had that, but all the gays are like, yes, I totally get what you're talking about. Popper's. Okay. Yeah. And so it's just, it's just that community and just as, as bad as I thought gay equals drugs and alcohol. Now I've changed that too. Like you said, gay can equal sober now too. Yeah. And that's a beautiful.

Steve:

Yeah, I love that. And what are some practices or things you do in your daily life to help keep you sober?

Jason:

Yeah, so I do a daily gratitude list. I started that out of recovery, so that one's been going for two and a half years. I am a very proud sponsor of three individuals two who have completed the steps and one I'm taking through right now. I go to both in-person and online meeting. I am on the the Roundup committee for Rohoboth Roundup in Rohoboth, Delaware. I, I love to stay in service. Mm-hmm. and I love to be active. And, you know, I think that one of the other big things is that for this year specifically, I decided that 2023 would have a word associated with it. And that word is balance. And I'm very big on the yin and yang symbol, and that balance also carries into my sober life. And so am I balancing myself with the number of hours that I'm working. Because honestly, I could work, you know, 10, 12, 14 hours days every single day. But that's not healthy for me. That's not healthy for my relationship with my partner. That's not healthy for my relationships with work, right? And so balance has been a, a big thing for me. my boss gave us a, a daily journal where we get to write down our accomplishments for that day. And so it's like a 365 day journal. And that's something that has really, really shifted my thinking because I think so often I was used to what do I need to fix? What was broken? What, what do I need to go back and, and clean up? and I forgot that I'm accomplishing things on a daily basis now. Two, you know, I, I make my bed every single day and I do small things like that because just like my gratitudes, it's not all big stuff. And by making my bed every day, I start my day with a win, you know, and, and have to remember those accomplishments before I dive into those opportunities for improvement. Mm.

Steve:

That's awesome. And I'm like thinking like I should make my bed, but then I'm like, I always get out of the bed before my husband, so that wouldn't work. That's exactly, that'll be my excuse at least. Anyway, there you go. Excellent. And what would you say are one of your two of your favorite mantras or quotes that you like to try

Jason:

and live by? Oh, that's a very good question. So I would say that, and actually I posted this today and I might butcher it, but it's by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And the quote, or at least paraphrased, is it's never too late to do the right thing. Mm-hmm. and I really take. Into perspective because I can go through half of my day just being upset and sometimes pitting myself or being in an argument with someone and I can stop, I can clean it up. I can reshift the way that I'm thinking. and start my day over. And so I can always do the right thing and take a step in the right direction, which will always take me away from a drink or a drug. Yeah.

Steve:

Excellent. And any last words of wisdom or advice for our listeners?

Jason:

Oh, that's a, it's a good question. There's, there's so many, there's so many. The biggest piece of advice I would have would really be to give it your all. Mm-hmm. I spent 10 years half-assing it. I would stop doing drugs and I would start drinking. I would stop drinking and do drugs, and I was never in it to win it, and it wasn't until I made the commitment to it and really, Dove into the process and did it fully rigorously. Honestly, that is when I got it for today, and that would be the piece of advice that I would give. That

Steve:

is a great note to end on. So why don't we let our listeners know just how they can find you and your podcast.

Jason:

Sure, absolutely. You can Google Sober Solutions podcast and find our link tree. You can find us on Apple Podcast and LinkedIn at Sober Solutions podcast. Same with Facebook at Sober Solutions Podcast.

Steve:

Perfect. Thank you. I will add that to the show notes so listeners can find you. It was a pleasure getting to know you better, Jason. Same Steve,

Jason:

thanks so much.

Steve:

Yes, and stick around cuz we will have our Paton after Show. Listeners, if you're not already Paton members to head on over and join today at patreon.com/gay podcast to continue to hear more about Jason's experiences in sobriety. Meanwhile, if you're interested in sharing your story, we're just saying, Hey, I'm an email away@gaypodcastgmail.com, and be sure to follow us wherever you're listening so you can get these episodes when they come out every. Until next time, stay sober friends.

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