gAy A: The Super Soberhero Show

Do Over ft. Brad

March 02, 2023 Steve Bennet-Martin, Brad Shreve Season 1 Episode 128
gAy A: The Super Soberhero Show
Do Over ft. Brad
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes Brad 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 Craig on Instagram @thebradshreve and follow us while you are at it @gAyApodcast

Also check out his podcast, Queer We Are, wherever you are listening to us!

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 

Until next time, stay sober friends!

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 having learned to love myself in sobriety. As of this recording, I am 607 days sober, and today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom, and hope with you. Welcome, Brad.

Brad:

Well, thank you for having me on. Yes, it's

Steve:

a pleasure to get to get to know you better. I know I've enjoyed following you on Instagram for a little while now. So why don't you introduce yourself to the listeners and tell

Brad:

us more about you. Okay. Well, I am Brad and I have 19 years of sobriety since December. And I don't usually say the date, so I had to get out my calculator. It's 4,428 days, which makes me sound, feel extremely old. Mm-hmm. I live in the California desert. I lived in Los Angeles for about 20 years and hopped around the country. And this is something different that wouldn't have happened before I got clean and sober. And that is, I'm living in the desert cause we're here to take care of my mother-in-law. So the fact that I'm actually taking care of another person, that's a big deal. I am an author, written a couple books, and I am a podcast.

Steve:

Excellent. And tell us more about some of your other hobbies or fun things you like to do to keep busy in sobriety.

Brad:

Well, I'll tell you, the writing and the podcasting really are part of my hobbies. Those are really my first loves. I do love, I, I write mystery novels and I love reading mystery novels. I am an avid mystery buff. Mm-hmm. I am a YouTube junkie. And I'd say the only other thing, I love to take a walk in the desert. It's very peaceful. Excellent. Well

Steve:

unplug yourself away.

Brad:

Tell us about your podcast. My podcast is called Queer. We Are, and it's, we try to keep a positive tone on the L G B T Q community. I have entertainers, athletes, activists, authors, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and everyday people, and we talk about success and it's not, you know, get rich success. Any kind of doing mantras, it's each person defines success for themselves. Talks about how they achieved it and what obstacles they overcame to get it. So.

Steve:

Excellent. Yeah. And why don't we jump right in then and tell us a little bit about what your journey with addiction was like.

Brad:

Oh my goodness. Let's hope we have about three hours here, I would say my first drink, my first beer, and I think my first joint was when I was 10 years. And that was, that was the beginning. I immediately, I, I'll say it, I thought it was great. I, if nothing else I thought was cool. Mm-hmm. and throughout elementary school, I drank pretty heavily for, for an elementary school kid. Well, I guess any could When I got to high school is when I really went on a run, I, there was a, a stream, even though we lived in North Carolina, there was a really cold stream directly behind our house and I kept Most of the time vodka and orange juice. So I would make myself a screwdriver before I went to work, as every kid does. And through high school I was like always at the parties. It was my identity. I thought I was funny. I was really a sloppy drunk. I'm the type, I was the type of drunk that every drunk hates to be around cause it's just, I was so sloppy. But I thought, you know, that that's who I am. Everybody thinks this is cool. Drugs are a big part of it as well. And mostly cocaine back. I am a blackout drinker, and I can tell you there are huge chunks really of my whole life, missing massive chunks of my school years missing. I never remember driving home. I know that friends drove me home one day and took my car, and the next thing night, they knew I showed up at the party. I don't remember any of that. I hope and pray I didn't kill anybody. I don't think I did. and eventually I, I wound up working in the hotel industry and the, well, I don't wanna generalize too much. I was gonna say there's a lot of drinking and drugs going on in there, but after every shift we always went to the bar and closed the bars. Now, I did eventually marry a woman. I've always been gay, but I did eventually marry a woman and Toned down for a while. And I convinced myself I wasn't an alcoholic, which I, I hear is pretty common that people think, oh, I, I've stayed away from alcohol, therefore I'm not an alcoholic. But after coming, we drank we, and we drank to excess, but nothing like my old sloppy days. And after coming out, my wife and daughter moved back to her hometown. Everything, everything's changed. I mean, the whole company now experience is, is a whole different story. But there were parties at my house every night. I. at that point, I was an executive level and I had employees that I, you know, and when you're in that position, you aren't supposed to be mingling too much with people because you can get in trouble. But I had employees at my house partying every night. I lived in a small town in California about 80 miles from San Francisco. We had one little gay bar that was the everything bar. And I spent many, many night there as. and then, you know, One day my boss who happened to be gay and I was going through a live depression because of, you know, the divorce and everything. He said, you need to go to the bathhouse. And so I drove to San Francisco. Now in San Francisco, the city bathhouses have been illegal since the AIDS epidemic epidemic. Mm-hmm. or aids, I'm sorry, the AIDS crisis. But they're right outside the city. There's a couple of them. There are a lot of drugs that go on at the bathhouses for those that don't know. And I really fell in love with that. I, I did end up in a relationship from a guy that met at the bathhouse and wasn't he wasn't much of a drinker or a drug user. And again, I tapered off. But that relationship ended. It did end up end amicably. It just, we're friends today, just didn't work out. But boy, all of a sudden the whole thing went back again. The partying and sex was very much a part of it. I was just as addicted to drugs as I was to sex, as I was to alcohol. I had a revolving door in my bedroom. My, my roommate was actually my landlord, said, you know, you are my, you are my idol. And, and what's sad is he didn't understand it. The revolving door was because as soon as one guy. I had a hole to fill and, and Mm-hmm. a bad analogy, but you know, I felt empty and I immediately had to get online and get somebody else to come over and, and it's just, just like a drug or, you know, drinking, drinking, drinking. As soon as that feeling starts to go away now, when things really got out of hand was I met a guy in well, my job performance was really going downhill. I'd always been like the the wonder guy at work. And my job performance was really going down and the vice president flew out and she said, tell me where you want me to transfer to and we'll make it happen. And two weeks later he said, I'm leaving. I had no idea. I had no job set up. But as luck would have it, a company that I had worked with through my company heard I was leaving. They, I don't, we'll say it was luck, they recruited me and brought me down to the LA area. I actually, at the same time, started dating a guy from the LA area. And this is when things really spelled outta control. I thought moving to LA was when things were fixed. And the reason for that is I had a very handsome partner. He'd been a model, he was a dude, tj, he wasn't the sharpest, but he was very, very charming and therefore very popular. And he, we went to bars three or four nights. We never had to stand in line. We walked right past the crowd. We very rarely had to pay for our, well, about half the time we only had to pay for our drinks. And there was a lot, I, that's when I found meth and I was doing meth a lot. Either we'd be as far as the drinks were going, I, we either were given free drinks or we would hide meth in the bathroom, and therefore our payment was that the bartenders would give us free drinks. So that was kind of an ongoing. Now he was abusive back in my previous job or I had driven many. I lived in a town that was pretty, pretty poor and pretty violent, and I had driven many women to the shelter. And every time I, not to be judgmental, I thought, why in the world did they stay? I just didn't get it. And here I wound up getting beaten up pretty regularly and there was a lot of mental abuse. He would pretend he was gonna kill me, and then he actually convinced me that. I was hallucinating. I was losing my mind. And you know, if it wasn't for the drugs and the alcohol, he wouldn't have been successful doing that. Mm-hmm. and my job performance nine 11 hit and the hotel industry was de devastated. They really tried to keep me, my boss was fighting to keep me, but my job performance, because of all this partying, was going downhill. and they finally laid me off. They were nice enough to say it was because of the reduction of business, but it was become because of my job performance. Unfortunately, because of that, I was totally dependent on him. So, and he took full advantage of that. He loved that. And again, lots of drinking. When the bars closed, we would either have a party at our house every night. we always had an after party with the bartenders staff after the bar closed. That was, that was my life four nights a week. And again, I thought it was glamorous and nothing could have been further from the truth. So anyway, the way that relationship ended was him being a driven away in a police car. And I packed up what we called tweaker luggage, which was putting everything into garbage bags. And I wound up homeless. For a while I was sleeping on friend's couches and when everybody just kind of got tired of this tweeted out guy on their couches, I had nowhere to go. I slept in two places very frequently, and that was either usually on the Santa Monica. There. I know the bench that has, I can tell you the best bench to sleep where there'll be the least amount of wind coming off the ocean. And I also can tell you the number one bus for the longest route so you can sleep longer before the bus turns back around. So if you ever need that information, hopefully you never will. I can actually give it to you. Now, what happened was the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center at that time was the first and the only center that had. Domestic violence therapy program. I, they may still be, I hope not the only one. I hope there's more. So I did get involved with that and it was a sliding scale, so I only had to pay a dollar per visit. And sometimes that was very hard to come up with. And I saw my therapist, I think three times. And the third time he started telling me this story. And for the hour he was talking. Being involved with mobsters and meth dealing and his drugs and alcohol and his, his really messed up. And I was getting angry. I'm like, what the hell is wrong with this guy? I, this is my time. And he's sitting there, I'm not his therapist. Why is he going on and on and on. And then he started talking about, you know, I, now I have a life, you know, I have this, I'm a therapist. I have, I work for the Gay and Lesbian Center. I make a good, I have a good career. I have a house in Hollywood Hill. He. That's where I am. Where are you? And then he said something most therapists would never say, he said, get the fuck out of my office. But he, he added to that, here's a map where the next, to get to the next day a meeting here. Here's the bus route and here's where you need to go. And I actually, I followed his instructions. I walked out, I got on the bus and I went to my very first AA. And I will tell you, I, the woman that spoke, her accent was so thick I couldn't understand the damn thing that she said, but I cried nonstop. I knew, I felt, I felt where I needed to be. I felt where I needed to be. And so I started getting sober. You know, they say 90 millions of 90 days, and a lot of people say that, and it's not in the big book, but it's a pretty growth roll. I actually was going to three meetings a day cause I had nowhere to go. I would go to a meeting in the morning, go do some resumes, me or not resumes. My sponsor said, don't do resumes. You need to do applications, you can't handle a resume job. And he was right. Mm-hmm. So I would go to a meeting in the morning, go do some applications meeting in the afternoon, go do applications meeting in the evening, go to applications, and somewhere I would have to live that was a little more stable than I used to. So I will say that one thing on after I left the recovery house, my friend's jobs were, my friend's lives were getting better and mine was actually getting worse. And I actually wound up in a mental health ward for 10 days and it, I got a little bit better. I understood that I had a mental health problem. Kind of go over the years. I struggled quite a bit after sobriety, mentally and getting mental health is, is pretty hard if you don't have the money. I'll say even to the point that in Hollywood, I was on my hands and knees at the mental health center begging them to take me. And there's a reason I'm bringing this up. I did eventually get a mental health the mental health system to take me in. And the reason I like to talk about it is because I owe that to sobriety. If I. Been sober, I would never have sought that help, and I would never have known that I had a mental health problem. I have, I have bipolar disorder. I got on the proper medications. My life is stable and through all that chaos my life today, man, it's so good. I have a husband who I love and adore. We've been together for 13 years and the one thing I like to say, I don't need. and that's the good thing. I don't depend on him financially, I don't depend on him to validate me. He's here because I want to be him, and I want to be with him, and I'm gonna want to be with him. I'm, I'm pretty sure the rest of my life mm-hmm. and that's different than when I had to, I needed a person to keep me feeling like I was worthy and to keep me stable and, and, that's a great feeling. I, as I said, I've published two books in a short story. I've got another book I'm working on, though it's going very slowly. I've got my podcast that I'm doing full-time not making any money mad, but I'm doing it full-time. Mm-hmm. and it's, it's an extension of my being service because of, of, you know what the theme is. Mm-hmm. and, you know, every morning I go for a walk in the desert without my hand spinning. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And that. It's, it's a good feeling. Yeah.

Steve:

That's excellent. I can relate so much through your experiences. But now, today, what would you say are some of your favorite things about being sober?

Brad:

My favorite things about being sober. One, I'm gonna go back to having a relationship that is not of desperation, but out of love. Mm-hmm. The other is having clarity. Not all the time, none of us do but there are times like, I, I really understand what's going. And I would say the third is having learned to accept I can't change the world and letting go of that control. It's like this, it's, it was the day that I, I remember going into somebody and I said, I feel like the whole world has been lifted off on my shoulders. And he said, because it has and, and it's a wonderful. Just a wonderful feeling.

Steve:

Yeah. It, it certainly is. And especially having come out later in life you know, compared to a lot of younger kids nowadays coming at very young ages mm-hmm. how do you feel your sexuality played a role with your addictions?

Brad:

Yeah. I, I came out at the age of 35. Mm-hmm. I would say it had a lot to do with it. I mean, I do believe that. alcoholism is a disease. But yeah, there's a lot of factories that can be involved in that. Toes. Self-loathing. I wasn't raised in a family that, I wasn't a religious family. I wasn't taught that being gay or homosexual or whatever is wrong, just we didn't talk about things. And there was a lot, I would say there was it was very dysfunctional. A lot of, a lot of drinking at my household and a lot of yelling, screaming, that sort of thing. But as far as that goes I was never taught that yet at the same time. I knew the things I was feeling were really wrong. I'm the youngest of seven kids, so my sister was 15 years older than I am, or is 15 years older than I am. And she would come home with her boyfriends and I even, I, God, I remember probably before I was 10 looking at them. And I didn't know it was last. I had no idea what it was. Maybe it wasn't that age. But I would look at them and I felt something. And again, I knew it was wrong and I just hated. I would beg and I would pray to not be gay.

Steve:

Mm-hmm. Yeah. And when, when would you say that that shifted or changed?

Brad:

It changed a little bit after I came out. Coming out was an incredible experience. But it, not right away. First of all, I didn't feel, feel. not right away. I didn't feel remote fit the mold. Mm-hmm. I'm part of, I, I'm bearish. I used to be much more bearish when I was much larger. Unfortunately I've lost weight and so I hated being gay for the longest time. At the same time, I hated that I didn't fit the gay stereotype, so I didn't feel like I felt in anywhere. And now, once, once I got sober and realized that I, again, I didn't need that validation suddenly the world just opened up to me. I, I, I came out and it wasn't always perfect. I think everybody needs to come out at their, at their own time when they're ready. I was ready and it worked out pretty well, and I'm I'm thrilled to be gay. I love it.

Steve:

I do too. And what's it like being part of or navigating the queer community today, now that you're sober?

Brad:

Well, right now it's a little hard cause I've moved to the desert and I still don't know where things are yet. Mm-hmm. And the pandemic is, is, we're still taking it pretty seriously up here. But as part of my recovery, I can tell you I was in Hollywood and West Hollywood during that time. There are hu You know, we, we think, if you think of West Hollywood in any kind of neighborhood, you think of the party in the nightclubs and all that and that's there. But there is a massive group of sober individuals and they didn't, I didn't wanna say they took care of me. I reached out to them and they helped. And it's just, you know, and they were there. I, I'm lucky, I was lucky enough to live in a place where there were people that understood me. I mean, I used to go to a, a AA meeting every Saturday night. There, there were probably three to 400 gay men and lesbians here.

Steve:

Wow. Yeah, I I've, I can agree. I certainly have enjoyed finding the community in sobriety that I never really felt a part of beforehand. Yeah. And what are some practices that you use in your daily life to help keep you sober and.

Brad:

I do meditate. Not as much as I used to. As my husband points out, he said, I can clearly tell the difference when you meditate, when you don't. Generally I try to meditate every morning. I do take inventory every day, which is really important to me. I, I'm not real great at always making amends, but I do say, what did I do wrong? And, and, and work towards getting better. And an odd thing that you don't hear a lot is I've. time management. And so I schedule things, which is so different than my old life because it's not ca well, sometimes it's chaos, but usually it's not chaos like it used to be. I'm actually able to say, okay, this is what I'm gonna do and get it done. Yeah, and, and that's nice. Yeah, it

Steve:

certainly is. And what is one piece of advice you'd give to someone listening who may be either newly sober or sober curious?

Brad:

Okay. This is easy. It's, it's a little bit different than what you normally hear. It's what I tell my SPEs, and that is study Budd. And I'm not trying to convert anyone. I, I'm not a Buddhist myself, but it doesn't matter if you're Christian, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, still do it. You don't have to believe in your incarnation, be a vegetarian, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Most Buddhists will tell you that you don't have to do all that. But if you study Buddhism, you'll find the philosophy is it's aa. Mm-hmm. it's totally aa. It's all about acceptance. There was a, actually, I wish I can remember the name of the book, but it's. Sober while being Buddhist, and it, it correlates the, the two together. And it also talks about the Lord's Prayer, which a lot of people have a difficult time in AA meetings. I don't know about other parts of the country in California, meanings usually end with the Lord's Prayer and makes a lot of people little uptight. And this book spells out how to see that in a Buddhist philosophy point of view. So when I have a sponsee that's really struggling with the whole higher power part of it, I, I suggest it for them and I give them that book. And it, it gives them a, it gives them clarity of, of trying to find a higher power of their own. So that's that's what I would say.

Steve:

Yeah. I, I love that answer and how, how different it is. It makes me wanna check out too And no matter how we get sober we te we generally have cling till like one or two quotes or mantras that we try and live by. Do you have any favorites?

Brad:

I can tell you my favorite that you hear in the rooms all the time is don't stop before the miracle happens. Mm-hmm. because that is so, so true. There are many times I wanted to stop but my own personal one do and I need to ask, do kids still yell Do over when they're, when they're doing games?

Steve:

I think so. Have you ever heard that? I don't know. Yeah. I try and distance myself from children Okay.

Brad:

Well for those that aren't aware, cuz I talk to somebody and they're like, what's a do over when your kids. You're, you're, you're dared to do something and you fail. Yeah. You yell, do over, do over, and then you get to try again. Yeah. And so what I like to say is every day is your opportunity to yell, do

Steve:

over. Mm-hmm. I like that. It certainly is. And any less words of wisdom or advice for our listeners?

Brad:

Yeah. keep in mind when, if, if you join AA or, or whatever kind of meeting, if you choose to go that route, remember that just because somebody gets cleaner or sober doesn't mean they're suddenly an angel. So if you, when you're looking for folks to hang out with, look out for the ones who have what you want. And if you're looking for a sponsor, if you're going that route, seek outs, the ones that have what you want. Mm-hmm.

Steve:

Yeah. That, that is great advice. I know that I love like everyone in my home group, but there was like, like a couple months in where I was like, oh, not everyone's perfect. And like, just because we all have the sobriety thing like figured out or at least like for today, doesn't mean that we have life figured out or if you always what we're doing.

Brad:

Yeah. And yeah, I don't wanna go too negative on it. I know in California we have what's called a couch commitment. Now, other people in the country have said, I don't know what a couch commitment is. I know Couchman is, if you're sober and you're dealing with somebody that is homeless, you allow'em to sleep on your couch. Mm-hmm. Well, there are those in the world that like to take advantage of couch commitments, and so some of the, a meetings would have a sign that says A couch commitment doesn't mean you have to have sex with them. Mm-hmm. so. Now we're not. And, and the, the folks would be honest, they would say in the meetings and make their amends. But again, just stick with the, if, if somebody's not right for you, go to somebody else. There's a, you're gonna find some good folks there.

Steve:

Yeah. Excellent. And how can our listeners find you and your podcast or your books? Uh,

Brad:

Well, to find the podcast again, it's where we are, and you can find it on any podcast app or you can make it easy. And go to queer we are.com and you can listen to all the episodes there, or you'll find a link to pretty much every app or links to one that everybody uses. And press the link and you'll go right to the show. You can find me on Instagram. I'm at the Brad Sri and I, that's not my title because. Arrogant, it's because somebody else had Brad Shreve. Mm-hmm So it's at the Brad Shreve and I'm also on TikTok mainly cuz I do Instagram reels and they're just easy to throw over TikTok. So you will find me there as well. Okay,

Steve:

excellent. Well thank you so much Brad. It was great getting to know you better. Stick around cuz we'll have our post show, but in the meantime, say goodbye listeners.

Brad:

Thank you. I enjoyed it. I always love to tell my story. Yes. Excellent.

Steve:

And listeners, you can head on over to our Patreon page and check out our post show by going to patreon.com/gay podcast. Meanwhile, if you're interested in sharing your story, like Brad here, or just saying hi, I'm an email away at gay podcast@gmail.com. And be sure to follow us wherever you're listening so you can get new episodes when they drop every Thursday. Until next time, stay sober friends.

Podcasts we love