gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show

Be Still and Know ft. Dallas

March 23, 2023 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 132
Be Still and Know ft. Dallas
gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
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gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
Be Still and Know ft. Dallas
Mar 23, 2023 Season 1 Episode 132
Steve Bennet-Martin

Steve welcomes Dallas 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 Dallas on Instagram (and everywhere else) @drdallasbragg 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 

Until next time, stay sober friends!

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

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes Dallas 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 Dallas on Instagram (and everywhere else) @drdallasbragg 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 

Until next time, stay sober friends!

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

Support the Show.

Steve:

Hi everyone, and welcome to Gay a, a

Dallas:

podcast about sobriety for

Steve:

the LGBTQ plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-martin, I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for my sponsor, Ken. As of this recording, I am 612 days sober, and today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom, and hope with you. Welcome Dallas. Thank you very much. Yes. Why don't you introduce yourself to the listen. Sure

Dallas:

Dallas and I live in Charlotte, north, North Carolina. I am father of two adult children now. And yep, that's about it. My full-time job is in nonprofit. I find housing for homeless veterans here in this area, and just started a coaching business for. Recovery Coaching. Yeah.

Steve:

Excellent. And tell us about, a little bit about what your favorite hobbies or things to do are.

Dallas:

Yeah. Hobbies I like to read. I'll write a lot. I'm an outdoor person, so always out doing something outside, hiking or swimming or kayaking or whatever. I also just do a lot of metaphysical. Meditation of a hobby. I'm learning to read the Akasha records and just all kinds of Gulu stuff like

Steve:

that. Very cool. My husband's into all of that, so he would definitely love that more. Yeah. And why don't we jump into it then? Tell us what your journey with addiction and recovery was like.

Dallas:

Yeah, so for me, I, what my drug of choice was crystal. and I waited until I was 39 years old to try any type of drug. And crystal meth was the first type of drug I ever tried. And tried it and then just became completely addicted to it immediately. And was in active addiction for about three years. And in that three years at the time, so, Right before I got into my addiction, I had graduated with my doctorate and was working with for a law school and so it was doing really well, making a lot of money. And so within three years I lost the job and got evicted. The kids and I were evicted from our home. car was repossessed and I was arrested four times. Mm-hmm. So that was all in the three year period, which I have found now that that's actually a pretty common story. Mm-hmm. Among, among gay men, especially older gay men that come out later in life. So I had came out at 36, so it took three years. Kind of waffling around and until then I found the drug. And so that's kind of the overall broad story of it. So I was homeless for a while and had to call my mother from West Virginia to come and just come and get me because I had. At that point, lost all my friends and was living kind of under a tree for a while and different little, little sketchy things like that. And so she took me to West Virginia to get sober, which is probably the worst, one of the worst places to get sober. And so things got a little worse and I ended up coming back to Charlotte and I had already had an a p out for my arrest, so I just turned myself in and that was the, that was my sober. which my sober date is August 4th, 2018. So it's been four and a half years now.

Steve:

Excellent. And how has your life changed these past four years? Yeah,

Dallas:

I think quite a bit. It's, for me, what I had to do was just when the we, when I got rid of the substance, it just made everything more raw for me. And the, the, the issues that led up. Up to meth were present and I had to deal with them. And so, to be honest with you, I've done so much work in the past four and a half years. I had to trace it back. I traced my problems all the way back till I was a situation when I was four years old and I was four. And I remember I had seen, this is funny, but I had seen Dolly Parton on the tv. and I was in this room of the house and I was pretending on it to be performing on a stage. And I had, it was on my tiptoes, like I was on high heels and I had this audience and I was just dancing around and my mom came in the room and just immediately started just yelling at me and What am I doing? And put your feet down and you're not a girl and just berated me. And you know, I, I. Didn't realize then, but it was just implanted and, and etched in my brain at that moment that I had to hide who I was and I wasn't normal and I got, I, I took on this belief that I wasn't enough and I wasn't too good, and showing who I am was was bad. And that's the kind of result I. Also started really searching for affection and love and connection cause I wasn't getting it. And so I traced it all the way back to there. And, and so that showed up in in my life. And so I was married, I I'm married, not one but two women. And the second one I had the, the children. And by 36 I was just miserable and decided to come out and and when I came out, I didn't know anyone who was gay. The only thing I knew about gay culture was Will and Grace. And so I just had this vision that, and, and this belief that I could finally be myself and that all my problems were to be answered. I wouldn't be depressed anymore. Everything would be fine. And. I came out and I immediately left my wife within two weeks and just injected myself into the gay community. And what happened was very different than what I thought was gonna happen. And I, you know, I remember walking into a gay bar for the first time, and actually that was the first bar I was ever in Because I live such a straight American Christian life. That, that was the first bar I walk, ever walked in and I just had this vision walking in. I was like, here I am. You know, just kinda looking around like, who's gonna greet me and where's the rainbows and the glitter, and all this stuff. And it was just like, it wasn't like that. It was kind of like, you know, some side eyes and some comments and I was just, all of a sudden everything imploded in, in me because I, I, I left crying. I was like, I still don't know where I'm supposed to. and I'm still, I still can't be myself. And I, you know, nothing changed and that was just, that was hard for me to, to process that nothing had changed, even though I had, I was trying to be who I really was, and I just didn't realize that, you know, that I had things to, to heal from. I had this fear of abandonment, this, this rejection, and all these the stories that I. about not being myself and not being good enough. And that's what I had to overcome in the past four and a half to five years. And that's been, that's been a, a very long journey. But when I came out and, and realized that nothing was gonna change, that's when I decided or not decided. That's when I started realizing that I could get instant gratification and instant love and acceptance and connection through. And so since I discovered Grinder and that's when I went, you know, like on a rampage of sex and I became a sex addict. It was just the only way I could feel like someone approved of me, and it's the only way I felt at home. And so, but the problem was that, you know, it was just a one time thing usually, and I would never see them again. But then when I tried crystal meth for the first time he stayed for four days and I was like, wow, I have finally found the answer here, you know, this is what makes them stay for me. And I had all this money and all this and, you know, and all of a sudden I was just in it. And I didn't realize, of course at the time that why was, why they were staying, but they would all stay and they would come. And it was men that I never would've thought that. A track before. And it was just this whole new world for me that at first I thought I could do recreationally and of course it didn't work out that way. And I started using iv using it intravenously, and that's when it went really downhill. And I tried to, to live a life that, that seemed fun. you know, I would be doing a drug deal at 4:00 AM and then have a presentation at 8:00 AM to the board. And I just thought it was so risque at the time. But of course I was let go from that job pretty quickly because in my mind I thought no one noticed. But of course it was ridiculous. You know, so so in the past four and a half years, I have, it's been a journey back to. And a journey to really figure out what it means to love yourself. Because I kept getting told throughout my, my, even before meth by gay men and, and by peoples, you, you don't love yourself. You can't be alone. You, you learn to love yourself. I don't, I, I have to be talked to like a two year old. Like, I don't know what that means to love yourself. I didn't know where to start and, and. you know, it was talking about spiritual experiences. So there was a day when I finally you know, I had been from homeless and one of my kids back. And so I got the money to get us a house down the deposit the rent. And I worked and I, and I went through rehab and I went through drug court and I got my charges expunged and dropped. And, you know, I had everything built up to a. And then life was normal again. And I remember walking into the kitchen and seeing the dishes and all I could think about was texting my, my plug and trying to use again because normal life was just scary to me. And the pressure of making the bills. And I was like, I had a, a mission for a while. And then when I got there it was like, this is uncomfortable for me cuz it's normal and boring. Mm. And I just started crying and I was like, I don't, what am I gonna do now? You know? And so I just ran outside and I ran into the woods and I was just standing there and I was just like asking anybody, it was like, what is next for me? Like, what can I, how can I break myself with this? Because I knew I was gonna relapse. And it was just like this voice said to me. And I looked over and this voice said to me, look at this tree that's dying. That's what you have. you have to die to everything you've ever known about yourself because every story and every belief that's been given to you and through conditioning, through your life is untrue. And underneath all of that is who you really are. And I just like fell to the ground and I was just like bawling and crying. I was like, finally an answer. You know? Cause this is what it means. And so I just started peeling away layers of. that I'm not, you know, about me not being good enough and me not, I can't share myself and I am, you know, I'm this and I'm that. And that turns into fear of rejection and fear of abandonment. And so just had to peel away layer by layer by layer until I finally figured out and, and confronted who I really am underneath all of that. And that's been my journey for the last four and a half years.

Steve:

Excellent. And with all of that self-discovery over these past few years, what's it also been like trying to navigate the gay or the queer community after spending so much time of it, kind of having it entwined with sex and

Dallas:

drugs? Yeah, yeah. You know, it's Charlotte, North Carolina is a big city, but it's not. And so, you know, I. it, it was challenging at first when I started to put myself out there because I already had kind of a reputation of being a meth user. And then I would go out and see people and places and, you know, houses and streets. That just reminded me and it just triggered me abusing, and so I actually closed myself off from dating. Like two and a half to three years and just really focused on the kids, you know, cause I had to rebuild our relationship as well. You know, the last time I got out of jail, they, they picked me up and they were the only ones that would answer my call after that time. But they picked me up and just said to me like, we need a parent back. We need you back, so you have to make a choice here. It's us or this drug. And so I did spend a lot of time. working on our relationship and and just being there, just being present for them as they went through their, the last part of their teenage years. And so the dating part, I've just started back and so one, one factor of this is that in the midst of all of the, the Matthews, I also contracted hiv. Mm-hmm. And. There. At first, when I first went into the, the dating scene, I still carried a lot of guilt and shame and I would open up with, okay, well I'm a former meth user and I have hiv. Do you still wanna talk That would be how I would open up conversations on dating apps. Some people took it okay, and some people didn't. But what I was doing. Presenting my shame and opening up with that and that it was all about me and the fact that I hadn't overcome that yet. And, and honestly I got rejected quite a bit because there's, you know, there's just some people who haven't been around drugs and they don't really understand what that means, and there's such a stigma with crystal meth. And then the H I V part adds another dimension to dating. There's some, there's a lot of men who haven't done the research or they have done the research and they still feel uncomfortable. And so there's some rejection there too. And so rejection is hard, was really hard for me to take it in any way, shape or form. And so after that for you, I stepped back again and I thought, I'm just gonna be alone. and then I just realized that, you know, I am who I am and I'm going to try to be the person that I would want to date, and I'll attract the right people that way. And so that's what I've done, but I still am not dating It's, I, it's, I just, I've just been trying to be very careful about boundaries and there's certain things that I won't do, which is one thing is, you know, I want someone who's sober. I don't, because of my sex addiction and the triggers, I wanna wait for sex. There's certain things that I, you know, I do lay out there in the beginning and it's seems like so far that, you know, there's been a, certainly a few. interested takers, Yeah. And so I, I don't know if the blocks on dating is, has anything to do with me and my beliefs about myself, or if it's just the fact that it's just takes some time. I'm not sure.

Steve:

Well, I hope it works out when it's meant to for you, you see?

Dallas:

Yeah. A great catch. It's been, yeah, and I'm not really, I don't really seek it. I'm not really pining away about it either. Which is a good place to be for.

Steve:

for once. That's awesome. And tell me more about what it was like rebuilding those relationships, like with your family.

Dallas:

Well, so my mom took a while because, you know, when she picked me up and brought me back to West Virginia to be sober, I just really lost her trust and did a lot of sketchy things. And I had to, you know, I, I had to just basically, Prove to her through my actions that I was, was better. There wasn't any words that would help. There wasn't any letters or, you know, great reunion. It was just after six to eight months of me supporting the kids and, you know, building my life back, that she just came out of the woodwork and said, can I come down? Can I come see you? You know? And so then we had, then we had a long talk the, the kids was, it was easier. But for me, I came at it in a way, from a place of guilt too, based on what I had, you know, I had put them through and what I had exposed them to. And so a lot of my parenting decisions was letting them do, kind of rule, rule, the roos kind of to, for lack of better words just come from it, from a place of, well, I'm just lucky to have'em, you know? And that wasn't the right, that wasn't the right way to be because it still didn't show them that I was a parent. So when I realized where it was all coming from this guilt, I started being a parent. And just being present, like I said, I mean, the best thing I could have ever done for them is just be. Be here for them in case they need me. I've just, there's nothing specifically I needed to do was just be present. You know, because while I was in the active addiction, I would disappear for several days or, you know, be held up in my bedroom for several days. I mean, there's, you know, a lot of, a lot of stuff like that happened while I was on active addiction that they, you know, they ended up having to go back to their mom's a lot. And so the repair. When you're repairing relationships, for me, it's not a matter of effort, it's just a matter of changing yourself and everything else comes along with it naturally.

Steve:

I can relate to that. I know I had a lot of rebuilding with my husband when I got sober, especially, but also other family members too, we're just like, you know, cuz when when we're in active addiction, we'll say whatever. So they've heard it all before. Yeah. Yeah. So you'd have to Yeah, show by actions. Excellent. And what are some things you do in your daily life today to help keep you sober? Yeah.

Dallas:

Well, I, I have, for me, routine is good. I have a morning routine. I, I use this soap I wrote, I wrote down, and I, I add to it and change it as I go. But what my best, best self would look like in every facet. As a parent, this is what it looks like as a money manager, as a friend, you know, this is, I wrote down what my best self would be, and so I read that every morning and I evaluate the previous day to see where I may have missed the mark or where I filled it, or you know, how am I doing in terms of living my best life and my, and as my best self. And then I record a video too, for myself just to track my, my. because I'm really, I'm really determined to stay on track, but also cause I, I have a tendency, I've always had a tendency of just losing momentum and not being consistent with res, with resolutions or, or resolve to be better or whatever. And so this, I, I just challenged myself at first to do it a hundred days. And then after that, now it's just become a natural. And so I, that keeps me, that keeps me on track and aligned with who I wanna be. But also I use a lot of breath work. I use a lot of centering heart math, which is breathing through your heart and feeling an emotion that's, that's strong breathing. That emotion through your heart kind of brings me back to center. You know, I still get, I still have triggers but at this point I, I know how to pull myself back again, back to that. The thing about crystal meth too is that, and I've, I've talked to so many, I, I've made everything public too. For the past four and a half years. Everything's been on all social media for me. And so I get messages almost every day on this morning from men, gay men around the world who are either struggling with it or they're with partners and they're doing it behind the back or whatever. or they're past it and they can't get past the memories, the the using dreams and the memories. And that's the, that's the hard part because your dopamine is so high on this drug that unlike, you know, if you're drunk, sometimes you black out and you don't remember what happened with crystal meth. You remember every vivid detail and you remember everything that happened and how it felt, you know, and it's usually always around sex. And so those, it's kind of, Major milestones in your life when your dopamines high, like when you graduate high school, where you have your baby or you know, a wedding or something like that. It's etched in your memory. And the same thing happens with memories during a, a active addiction of crystal meth. So, to get those out of your head. It's, it takes some work, it takes some work and it takes some time. And anything can trigger it. And it's, and a lot of times it happens at night when you're, when you're, your subconscious takes over. And a lot of, you know, many times I'll wake up and think I'm used because I'm dreaming that I'm using. And then if your body feels like it and you have all the physical symptom, and then you haven't, and then you just want to But that's been, that has been a major concern for me. But also the, probably the top concern I hear from men who come to me for help is that how do I stop these, these memories because, and why are they so, you know, why are they so good? You know, why are these memories so fun? And cause they, they do seem fun at the time. You just have to retrain your brain to, to understand and rewrite those memories and understand that it really wasn't as fun as you thought it was.

Steve:

Yeah. And if someone's struggling today what's one piece of advice you would give them?

Dallas:

We, I always try, what I try to tell newly sober people in general is to, to be gentle with yourself. And there's so much shame wrapped around you anyway when you first get sober and then you take the substance away, like I said, and everything's wrong. And. you add to that all the pressure that's kind of put on someone who's newly sober and they're scared to death, to relapse. And I just, I just tell, I try to tell, tell men to be gentle with yourself and don't be that scared of relapse. Cause every relapse is a chance to relearn, rejuvenate, reset and regroup and resolve, and it's something needed to be cleared. and so be thankful that that cleared out. It's hard to to realize that in the moment. But you know, we, we put, sometimes we put these standards on release over people and we make them do all these things with the steps in the book and the meeting. You know, we make them do a lot of things, which is good and to some degree, but the other, on the other side. For some people like me, when I was. When I was getting sober, it was so much more pressure and shame added on and reminded me of my religious trauma. So it's like triggered a whole other part of me. So my advice would be to just be gentle, give yourself time, give yourself grace, and just breathe.

Steve:

Yeah. Excellent. And do you have any favorite quotes or lyrics or mantras to live? Well, I,

Dallas:

yeah, actually have a different mantra pretty much every day, and I post it on social media, but one that has always been tried and true for me is be still and no. Mm-hmm. it's always worked for me. It just helps me like I said, come back to center. It's just to be still get my thoughts, still get my anxiety still. Cause anxiety comes for me, comes from either ruminating on the. or futuring. And so when you come to your center and you stay there, it kind of melts away that anxiety and that stress.

Steve:

Excellent. Thank you so much. And you mentioned your socials. What are they and where can they find you? Mm-hmm.

Dallas:

So Instagram is Dallas brag, and same for Facebook and TikTok. Yeah, I think TikTok too. But Facebook and Instagram mainly. It's just my name, Dallas Bragg. D a l a s b r a g g. Yeah.

Steve:

Excellent. I'll be sure to add that into the show notes. So listeners, you can just scroll on over and hit a follow. Thank you so much, Dallas. It's been a pleasure getting to know you better.

Dallas:

Thank you very much. I appreciate this a lot.

Steve:

Yes, and stick around for our post show. But in the meantime, thank you listeners for tuning into another episode of Gay. Make sure you're following us wherever you're listening right now, so you can get these new episodes when they come out every Thursday. And if you're interested in sharing your story reach out to me@gaypodcastgmail.com or on Instagram Gay podcast, and you can head on over to our patron page today for this post show we're about to record, as well as ones for every episode as well. Until next time, stay sober friends.

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