Mathew walks up to random strangers or listeners that would like to tell their story and interviews him on his show. He enjoys listening to regular people with regular lives tell their story. Join us now as Matthew tells us his story!
Clean Date: July 19, 2012
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are Matthew’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Matthew: So I run a podcast called Passers-by. It’s not entirely recovery related, but there are some recovery related podcasts on there, where I take stories from strangers. I just have a random stranger on or another Podcaster, someone who messages me on Facebook or Twitter and if they have a story to tell and they want to tell their story then I have them on and we do a little short forum and they tell their story in its entirety and then I just let it out there because I’ve always enjoyed telling stories and hearing people tell stories, normal stories, not the moss or these rehearsed kind of stories. I think the organic form of stories, a normal person telling a normal story is really something of beauty so that’s what I’m trying to capture with my podcast and as far as my every day life goes, you know, I wake up in the morning and I roll out of bed ten minutes before work like everybody else and I take that ten minutes as I’m driving to work and skidding in at the last second, that’s kind of my meditative.
I don’t really think about anything and I don’t really do my prayer or anything like that nowadays because it’s kind of as far as things go for me three years in now, sobriety is just second nature. That’s what I know and that’s what’s happening and I don’t really see any other way for that at this moment and hobbies, I do my podcast as I said. I spend a lot of time being a father, watching my wife do roller derby. She’s gotten in to a women’s roller derby team here near home so it’s fun to watch her skate around and smash into people. I follow my program. Well not my program, the program, but the one that I’ve carved out for myself. Kept myself sober, kept myself clean and I wake up every morning and my program is laying in bed there next to me or he’s laying in his crib or he’s out telling me that he wants eggs for breakfast or peanut butter and jelly.
I got sober on July 19, 2012 and I made a promise to myself that day that I wouldn’t allow my son or my daughter knowing what it is like to have a daddy drinker or an alcoholic in the family. So he was born August 3, about half a month after I got sober, just as the shakes were quitting and I could sleep through the night and I wasn’t walking around the town at like 3 o’clock in the morning, listening to music because I’m wanting to be at the bar, but instead trying to walk around and walk it off. Do my prayers, read my book. So I made a promise to my unborn child at that moment that he wouldn’t know what it’s like to have a drunk dad or an alcoholic or active alcoholic in the family. That’s kind of what’s kept me there and that’s probably what keeps a lot of people there.
Omar: So tell us Matthew, how do you maintain that spiritual conditions, that constant contact with a higher power?
Matthew: For me, I spend a lot of time thinking. We can start it with ‘what is my higher power’ and for me, I don’t mind sharing it because it doesn’t take the power away from my higher power to share it. I believe in the acronym GOD. It’s the good in others daily so I spend part of every day trying to find the good in other people. I believe that people are inherently good. There are people out there that are inherently evil, but I believe that everybody has that good inside them. So in searching for that, that’s kind of what keeps me in my spiritual contact with my higher power, is keeping a positive outlook on other people.
Omar: So Matthew, let’s talk a little bit about your alcohol and drug use. So how old were you the first time you drank or used drugs and more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Matthew: Well, the first time I used an alcohol, I was one of those teenagers that didn’t really get out to parties a lot so the first time I went out was freshman year of college and I hit it hard and it felt amazing, as it always does. I was invincible. I could do anything. Puke and rally and come right back. It felt like molasses lightening coursing through your veins because it slows you down, but you feel fucking great! From there, I slowed down a little bit as college went on. I went down. I didn’t really binge as much as drinking one or two every now and then.
Omar: So initially, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Matthew: For me, I had gone before to meetings and it was pride honestly. The first time I went, it was pride. That kept me from being like “oh well I can be this”. It’s easy. This is easy. It’s easy. At that point, I hadn’t hit the bottom that I had. Eventually your pride goes away because there’s nothing to be prideful about. It’s true and utter defeat for me when I walked into my first meeting. So it is a sense of pride that’s keeping you from going because you’re like “oh I can do this myself”. It’s basically just surrendering and saying “I need help”. I was young. I just wasn’t mentally ready and I mean there are a lot of people who are able to be good, young recovery stories, but I think somebody needs to be truly mentally ready. At any age, you have to be mentally ready to make that leap because it’s not just changing your habits. It’s changing your life. You have to change everything.
Omar: Yeah, I remember that. You only have to change one thing when you come in here. That’s everything.
Matthew: Everything, right.
Omar: Perfect. So then, number two, at what point did you have a spiritual awakening, that ‘aha’ moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Matthew: For me, it was awhile in. There was about 14, it wasn’t awhile. For a newcomer, 14 days is awhile. It’s a long while. You’re not able to sleep, you’re sweating for no reason. You’re angry. You’re scared and for me, it was when I was able to sleep through the night, when I was able to have dreams again, when I was able to not shake, when I wasn’t walking around with my iPod plugged in at 4 in the morning and I had to be to work at 6 and I just couldn’t sleep because I just can’t sleep. There’s no reason, but for some reason, there’s all this energy built up inside of me and then you realize it’s because you’re not using that depressant any more. Your body is producing the same amount of energy as it was when you were drinking, but now that you’re drying out, you’re loaded with energy. You’ve got all this energy and you can’t sleep because your body chemistry is not allowing you to.
For me, the hope was, it sprung from that. The first time I was able to sleep through the night and I had a dream, I was like this is going to be a little easier than I thought. When I had somebody in recovery that was a day less than me or a day more than me, we went through it like brothers together. We were battling together. By having somebody that you’re able to talk to, that you can sit outside the meeting and smoke with or that you can sit in the meeting and before meeting and after meeting and go to Denny’s or hang out with, somebody who can be like “man, I had a dream last night” and he’s like “dude, I had one two days ago and it was awesome”. Being able to find that person or if not that person, find something to do to keep your mind busy and to keep your hands from being idle. If I had sat around my apartment instead of walking around town, yeah I would have walked or biked down to the grocery story and made the trek back with a 15 pack on each side, but I just had to keep myself busy.
Omar: In early recovery or currently, do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to our listeners?
The Big Book
Matthew: Obviously I’ve got to plug the big book. You sit there and you stare at that blue cover or whatever color the cover is and you see the gold lettering on the side and there’s part of it that is rough and there’s a lot of very difficult stories in there, but there’s a lot of good information in there too and for me, it helped out a lot because I had a lot of questions. It was in my family. My grandmother had it, my dad struggles a little bit, but he’s able to manage. I however was unmanageable. I had the same struggle that my grandmother did. I had all these questions. How did this work? How is there a just one? I wasn’t able and I’m still not able to answer that question. Is there a possibility for just one? I know the answer is no. There is no possibility for just one.
Omar: What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Matthew: Honestly, the best thing that I ever heard was ‘just fucking do it’. The guy said “I can tell you’re not happy my friend”, who was recovering at the time. He said “just do it. If you don’t like it, go out to the bar afterwards and get a drink, but just come”.
Omar: If you could give our listeners only one suggestion, what would that be?
SUGGESTION FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Keep coming back. Keep refilling that spiritual tank. Keep talking to people. Don’t isolate. ”
Matthew: Three words, the most important words, the last words in every meeting: keep coming back. For early recovery, for any bumps or humps or anything. Keep coming back. Keep refilling that spiritual tank. Keep talking to people. Don’t isolate. Just keep coming back because like I said, it’s the most important piece of advice that you can get because as soon as you stop going back in early recovery, as soon as you stop going back, you start slipping and it may not be a big slip, but you’ll start slipping. You still have those old habits. You haven’t broken them yet. You need to keep coming back because if you don’t, then I mean you’re going to be just as miserable as you were the day you came in or even more so.
Omar: Absolutely. Amen brother.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Matthew!
See you then!