gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show

Focus on What's Important ft. Maxim

March 06, 2023 Steve Bennet-Martin Season 1 Episode 129
gAy A: The Queer Sober Hero Show
Focus on What's Important ft. Maxim
Show Notes Transcript

Steve welcomes Maxim 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 Maxim on Instagram @sobersoulfood 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!

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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 Bennett. Martin. I am an alcoholic and I'm grateful for all the guests I've lined up for the coming months. As of this recording, I am 594 days sober, and today we are welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom, and hope with you. Welcome Max.

Maxim:

Hey, how you doing diva?

Steve:

Good. Good to have you on. Why don't you introduce yourself for, for our listeners? Sure.

Maxim:

My name is Maxim, like the magazine. Um, there might be a generational gap there. Um, uh, my pronouns are they, them. I identify as non-binary pansexual, and I am an educator artist and an events organizer based in Brooklyn.

Steve:

Excellent. And what are some of your favorite hobbies or things to do that you've found in sobriety? Uh,

Maxim:

I started doing yoga and a full body workout. The first thing I wake up in the morning. I've started doing it since sobriety because, you know, we're gonna get into it later. It's, you know, it's made me change a lot about my relationship with my body and my health. So, you know, yoga is my new favorite thing. Working out full body stretches like.

Steve:

Excellent. And let's jump into it then and tell us a little bit about what your experiences of what it was like with your drinking and addictions.

Maxim:

Uh, sure. Um, I want to say bef, you know, uh, I'm what they call California sober. Mm-hmm. you know, I don't, I smoke weed because it helps me with my chronic vaccine and my anxiety. Uh, but I have quit drinking alcohol. I used to drink a lot because I come from, So you know, what you, what you hear about the, you know, the stereotypes about Russian being alcohol. This is absolutely true. Mm-hmm. And, you know, I grew up in that environment. I came from that environment. And then living in New York, I am also a part of nightlife. So, you know, when you go out, when you go clubbing, you know, the whole, the whole thing is happening at bars. So, you know, drinking is like in the DNA of that. Um, so I was, I always had a very complicated relationship with alcohol because, what it did to my dad, what it did to my granddad, what it did to a lot of people in my life back home in Russia. Um, and when I entered nightlife, you know, it was such a, like, it was such a great thing because as a queer person, I felt like I finally found a place where I can belong and my non-binary and my, all, my queerness that goes beyond just being, you know, a cisgender white gay. Um, no offense to those. Maybe a little bit. Maybe a little bit. Um, so I was drinking a. When I was in nightlife, I would, I spent, I realized that I spent maybe hundreds of dollars on alcohol when I looked up back at my credit card bills mm-hmm. That I'm still paying off. Um, which is, you know, a side effect of that. And, um, should I tell you why I decided to go sober? Sure. That'd be great. Oh, yeah. Um, I was basically, my lifestyle cut up to me. I would say that I. in summer of 2020. In summer of 2021, I was diagnosed with fatty liver. Uh, for those who don't know, fatty liver is uh, reversible, but. Serious liver condition, um, that can turn into liver cirrhosis and that can be very dangerous. Um, and it basically happens when you eat a lot of fat food. You drink a lot, and it's just your liver is not capable of like doing it all by itself. So it starts developing these like fat. Pieces on top of it to kind of help it work. It's a very interesting concept, but like no doctor will ever tell you that this is a good thing because of long-term implication. So anyway, I was diagnosed with diet. I was told that I should change my diet, I should start, you know, I should quit drinking. And I was like, yeah, fine. You know what I mean? And then fast forward many months later, I am drinking, I'm partying. Um, I am enjoying my queerness and in the night lesson and all that comes with it. And then I get diagnosed with, um, hepatitis. Dunno how I caught it. It's the most common one. You can literally catch it from making out with somebody at the club or eating raw fish. But the weekend when I was diagnosed with that, I didn't know I had it. And I had my best friends in town, so we were partying, we were drinking, it was like going off. And then that's Monday morning after my friends, you know, after partying and like celebrating. I wake up in the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and I'm. my skin literally turned yellow. I had jaed, uh, which is pretty terrifying. I dunno if it if it had ever happened to you. Mm-hmm. it,

Steve:

it's in that. But I have heard stories before of it happening to

Maxim:

people. Yes. It's definitely not a pleasant to look at yourself in the mirror and like your eyes are like yellow and your skin is yellow and you smell funny. So I go to urgent care, then I go to a hospital, they run my test and. You know when they do tests and there's like green means fine, yellow is like weird. Red is like getting like outta hand. Mine, my liver enzymes were red with three exclamation points. Mm-hmm. basically the doctor comes in and they go like, you know, if your numbers stay up this high, you might be a candidate for organ transplant. And that was definitely a moment when I had to like had to have a come to Jesus moment, even though I'm Jewish. I spent three absolutely miserable days in the er. They didn't even transfer me to the room because they couldn't figure out the diagnosis, but that's American Healthcare system, and I had a lot of time to think. And then when I came out, I obviously had to recover from hepatitis, but then I also had to recover of the real damage that I've done to my body. You know, it affected my skin, it affected my sleeping patterns. It affected my digestion. It was, my body was, I literally had to, I had to spend a month at home, you know, and my grandma's place in Coney Island, in South Brooklyn. You know, I took, I took walks by the beach every day, and I just had to like do a lot of contemplating. you know, what are my life choices gonna be going forward? Because, you know, it wasn't just the drinking cause and obviously the quitting drinking was, that was the thing that I had to do to recover my liver. Like there's like, you know, the doctors were like, you know, for nine months you shouldn't drink. But I kind of, I was having this gut feeling that I should just like quit us forever. Mm-hmm. because you, what's the point of me going through this recovery and then starting to drink again? And then, you know, people, like, we forget the lessons that we learn. Mm-hmm. So what if I just start drinking and partying and like not paying attention to my body and it happens again? You know what I mean? So I really had to, and I, you know, I have a lot of responsibilities. I take care of my family. Um, I took care of my grandmother, so I. you know, I couldn't die. I didn't want to die. I, I was 24. I was 24. Yeah, I was 24 years old. Um, no, 25, something like that. Um, I had my whole life ahead of me, but I had to really figure out how I'm gonna live my life and how I'm gonna continue, you know, being a part of nightlife and I just had to like, have a. Difficult conversations with myself and make some decisions. Um, but honestly, I've never looked back and I think that quitting alcohol was the best decision that I ever made for myself.

Steve:

Perfect. Yeah. What have been some of the positive changes in your life since getting sober?

Maxim:

Um, my skin got better. I feel better. My liver is now in pristine condition. Um, I don't spend a lot of, I don't spend all that crazy money on it. Um, my libido is up, my anxiety is down. You know, it's honestly, you know, from a health point of view, it's been great from a financial point of view. And, you know, it's also part of my, me, you know, solving my generational trauma. Mm-hmm. So that's also been a very rewarding experience.

Steve:

Excellent. And looking back, how do you feel your sexuality and your gender identity played a role in your addiction?

Maxim:

I thought a lot about this question and I think that, you know, as I said, I was, I started drinking a lot because I sound nightlife and you know, when you're in nightlife and you become a part of that, and for the first time as a queer person who grew up in Russian and in South Brooklyn, both are very homophobic, conservative. Places, you know, discovering nightlife and making friends in it and seeing people who are just fabulous and glamorous and they accept you for who you are. I felt like I had to go out every night. Otherwise I was not being true to my queer identity. I wasn't taking advantage of the queer community that, you know, I looked for for so many years. So then, but then that created. because everybody else is drinking. You know, you go to a drag show, people are drinking, people are making jokes about like, you know, who's, who's getting fucked up? Who's having shot? Um, so that was, I think that the culture and the community at a pressure that was really contributing, that was like making, like the, being queer and an alcoholic kind of go hand in hand.

Steve:

Yeah. And what has your experience been navigating the queer community Sober.

Maxim:

I love it. Mm-hmm. Um, and I've been meeting and I've had some mentors and I've met a lot of incredible people who are also sober in night in nightlife. Um, but you know, sometimes you do meet people at the club and you know, they're asking like, oh, what can I get you? And I'm like, ginger, really? Like, you don't drink. And then they look at you as if it's like, as if you have like two heads. Mm-hmm. um, um, So it's definitely created some awkward conversations. And I'm the kind of person who, like if somebody like says something ignorant like that to me, I'm like, yeah, I'm choosing not to like, you know, pollute my body and destroy my liver and actually take care of my health because I almost died. And then the person gets uncomfortable and then they walk away because don't ask stupid questions. Yeah, exactly.

Steve:

And what are some practices or things you do in your daily life that help keep you sober?

Maxim:

I remind myself of like, what it's all worth for. Mm-hmm. you know, but I also, you know, when I was like laying in a hospital and I was like thinking, am I gonna quit it forever? I thought to myself, no, the first year is not a thing called drop. You know what I mean? If I ever like think about it, I'm like, is it worth it? It's 99.9% is not worth it. Mm-hmm.

Steve:

Yeah. And if you could give one piece of advice to someone who's sober curious or newly sober, what

Maxim:

would it be? Focus on you. Mm-hmm. Focus on what's important for your health. Focus on, you know, What's right for you? Don't let societal pressure. If you think that you're gonna lose friends over it, then those people aren't your friends. If that's the only thing that unite connects to you, you know, because your body is the most important investment you can have. Yeah,

Steve:

it certainly is. And what's been one of your favorite mantras or quotes to live by?

Maxim:

I mentioned it earlier. You know, I am, I am healing generational trauma. Mm. I am healing generational trauma. You know, I lost my dad to alcoholism. I lost my grandpa. He's still alive, but he has suffered a horrible stroke. Cause he used to have a bottle of vodka every single day. Mm-hmm. And, um, you know, I, I think that if they both were alive or conscious, they would've made a decision not to drink and I'm doing it for them. So that's kind of been the mantra.

Steve:

Yeah. Excellent. And what's something that you're looking forward to in your life and your sob.

Maxim:

I'm looking forward to more people being sober. You know, I, I think that if you want to drink, it's fine, but I just know way too many people who do not have a healthy relationship of alcohol, and I just see how it destroys them. So I'm just like excited that like, people seeing me, you know, being myself in nightlife and still having the most fun ever without a drop of alcohol in my body. I hope that it inspires other people that they can do the same thing.

Steve:

Yeah, and I mean, I, I wanna know more about this, the nightlife, cuz I know that oftentimes early in sobriety or recovery, people struggle and it's something that they work towards. I mean, did you take some time away from it at first, or did you jump right into it?

Maxim:

No, I, I, I. two months off. And then I very slowly was working my way into it because, you know, my body was still weak. I was recovering, but I also didn't want to be triggered. You know, I didn't want to see alcohol and people getting drunk. And, and that was something that I, I have been experiencing when I was first going out is, you know, every time I would see people take shots, I had to like, apologize and walk away mm-hmm. because it would bring me back to like, you know, being in a hospital. You know, just like very, very, very, very dark moment. Um, but I think that something that I've struggled also in the beginning is that I used to drink because it would help me get more social. You know, I would get in these spaces and I would get anxiety because I, I felt like, oh, everybody's so glamorous. I would have a imposter syndrome, so I would, you know, have 1, 2, 3, 4 glasses of wine and it would loosen me up and make me a little, you know, funny and relaxed and a little slutty. So it would like help me create connect. but then I had to kind of learn that, you know, you don't need alcohol to be able to have fun and form connections. Um, so, you know, sometimes I'm at the club and I feel like I'm getting tired and you know, if I would choose before to have another shot of vodka to keep me going, now I'm just like, you know what? If I'm getting tired, maybe I should just go home. Yeah.

Steve:

That's certainly good advice. Excellent. And any last bits of wisdom or advice for our listen?

Maxim:

I think that, you know, you have to in incrementally radically change your mindset. Mm-hmm. you know, I think that, You know when you don't, when you want to quit drinking, but you don't have a reason, or you don't have this like monumental shift within you, it's gonna be really hard because there is no, it's gonna be hard for you to find the value in it. And you know, maybe alcoholics Anonymous, like AA meetings or other tools, they might not get to you. You have to do a lot of very painful, deep self-reflection. And really look at, get some perspective and look at your entire life from a bird's eye view and be like, is this the decision that is gonna save my life, save my family? Because when you kind of realize that it changes something within you and it makes sobriety easier, and that's what it is for me. Yeah,

Steve:

I can agree. I've had those experiences as well. Excellent. Well, why don't we finish off then with telling our listeners how they can find you if they wanted to follow you or message you or anything like that.

Maxim:

Sure. I would love if anybody needs advice or stuff like that. Cause I'm trying to work right now on creating sober spaces and nightlife, sober parties, you know, that could be fun. Um, they can find me on Instagram. That's where I live. It's m a x i m underscore Fab f. Excellent.

Steve:

I'll be sure to put that in the show notes so people can find it. Thank you. Uh, you in the meantime stick around Maxim cuz we'll have our post show, uh, listeners you can hand on over to our Paton page. And if you're not already a member, join the family today to get exclusive post-show content for each episode. Uh, if you can go there by going to. Oh yes, and you could find our patreonPage@patreon.com slash gaya podcast. Uh, meanwhile, if you're interested in sharing your story or just hitting me up, I am an email away@gayapodcastgmail.com or on Instagram at gay podcast. Uh, until next time, stay sober Friends.

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