Paul started experimenting with alcohol in high school at age 13 with 4 of his buddies and drank until he puked. Loving the effects of alcohol Paul continued to drink all through college as a normal drinker. After graduation he decides to move to Spain and open a bar and the progression into alcoholism begins when he open Dolce Vita. It’s an instant success and the money starts flowing in.
Almost from the start Paul would drink every night till 3am go home and pass out. He would then wake up at 6am through no choice of his own and need to down a box of cheap wine with a couple of warm beers to fall back to sleep. This behavior went on for years with stints of staying dry for month’s even years without drinking only to relapse again. He finally hits rock bottom when he starts taking benzodiazepine to kick the drinking only to find himself consuming enough benzos to commit suicide. When his attempt fails his journey into recovery begins.
Today Paul holds himself accountable by committing to producing a weekly podcast about recovery on the Recovery Elevator podcast. His recovery portfolio includes meetings, sponsorship and carrying the message of recovery. He’s a good son, a good friend and with one year sober has an amazing story to share with us, join us now.
Clean Date: September 7, 2014
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are Paul’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Tell us about how your life is today. Take us through your normal daily routine, including recovery and tell us a little bit about the Recovery Elevator.
Paul: Yeah. First off, thanks for having me. Phenomenal podcast. Subject matter is something we both are very passionate about. So how is my life today? Well on September 21, 2015 it’s okay. I’m not going to come on here and go “oh gosh, it’s freaking awesome” because it’s just okay right now and we will get into that later, but the majority is fantastic. If I were to take the whole year, it’s been fantastic and I can attribute that to one thing. That would be sobriety. I just hit one year of sobriety on September 7, 2015 so yeah, 2014 September 7 was my last drink and as a whole, after I got to like 3, 4, 5, 6 months, man shit just started to get better and it was incredible. So hobbies, just going over this real quick. I’m 33 years old, I live in Boseman, Montana.
I’m your average Joe. I’ve got a dog. We go on a lot of hikes. I like to work out. I am social. I like music. I’m an entrepreneur. I like to think of a lot of fun business ideas. Most of them don’t work. I’m just trying to do it and maintain a life where like last summer I didn’t even know if I’d be around and that is where I had to get away from and that is where the whole podcast, the Recovery Elevator, came from. It is a podcast to create accountability and that was key in my sobriety. Accountability is basically the pillar which got me to a year because I woke up in the morning hundreds of time and I’m sure listeners out there can listen to the similarities of me saying that.
I would wake up hundreds of times and say “I am done drinking for the rest of my life because a) my head is pounding, b) I don’t know what happened the last 3-4 days or whatever so I’m done drinking” and make this positive affirmation that I am done, but then five hours later, 5, 6, 7, 8 hours later that night, not only am I drinking, I’m shit faced and on that train that’s not going to be able to stop and so that is where the Recovery Elevator podcast came from. It’s like look, I need more help to quit drinking. I simply couldn’t stop last summer. I just couldn’t. I started this podcast. It was kind of this crazy experiment. As you talked about the percentages of staying sober, but you know here I am one year and almost two weeks later sober!
O: Like I mentioned to you earlier, it was very bold, very brazen and you took a big risk starting a podcast in your first year in recovery. They always tell you “don’t make any big changes in your first year of recovery” and I would say that starting a podcast is big! I tell you what man, it’s worked for you because here you are a year later, clean and sober. A lot of it has to do with the podcast and that’s freaking awesome. I love it. You’ve got a great thing going over there and more importantly, you’re doing service. You’re carrying the message.
Paul: Why thank you O and I agree with you that you don’t want to do anything big in your first year of recovery and I’ve heeded that advice for the most part, but I knew what was going to happen in my life when I got 4 months or 5 months or 6 months of sobriety and things get really busy. Because of my recovery, you know what? I think I’ve got this. Shit’s going pretty good. I’m losing weight. Girls are talking to me again. Wow, I’ve got this and then I would go to maybe just one meeting once a week or do one less activity in my recovery a week, but Recovery Elevator has forced me. I made a commitment on the podcast that anybody to hear that I would put out 52 episodes coming out every Monday and that has forced me regardless if I’m busy as all can be, I’ve still got to put out a podcast episode.
What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Paul: Well there were about a thousand reasons, but I’ve narrowed it down to three. Number one was the shame and the stigma. My first AA meeting, I had like a hooded sweatshirt on. I think I was like prancing between pine tree to pine tree just didn’t want to be seen so there’s that whole component like “hey man, I just saw a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial”. Something’s wrong with me if I can’t drink. The second one was my addiction is lying to me in my own voice. It would always convince me “hey dude, it’ll be different this time”. It never was and the third reason, I just wasn’t ready O. That’s it.
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?
Paul: I’ll expand a little more on it. August 29, 2014 I called a friend and I made that Hail Mary call, picked up that thousand pound phone and I called and I’m working. I didn’t care about anything with work. I’m like “look, you gotta come get me. I drove up here drunk. I’ve got a broken tail light. I’m going to rehab”. Just in my voice they’re like “I’ll be right there”. On the way down I’m like crying “I’m going to rehab”. It’s not funny, but I was ready to go. I was calling my parents and they didn’t pick up, but something had changed. That was my HP, it was there and the next day I woke up and felt an ease, a calm because my HP was with me man. I was ready to do it.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Beyond the Influence – Katherine Ketchum
Paul: Yeah in 2010 the day after I decided to quit drinking on that new year’s, I read a book called “Beyond the Influence” by Katherine Ketchum. It’s not really like 12 step based. It’s just a book that outlines what the hell alcohol is doing to your body, like why you get addicted to it and I sat there in a Barnes and Noble in Northgate Mall Seattle while the Owl City Fireflies soundtrack was just on a repeat. Miserable detoxing, but it was sinking in very slowly and I just stayed there for a couple hours. Stayed there and read it. The next day I read more pages, finished the book in like three weeks, but you know at the end, I really only read the paragraphs I wanted to read. I still wasn’t an alcoholic, but that book definitely was an eye opener.
What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Paul: Somebody, gosh it was just like, it’s so basic. Everybody is like there’s questionnaires, there’s checklists. Do I have a drinking problem? If you’ve ever wondered if you have a drinking problem, you probably have a drinking problem Paul. Dammit!That’s it.
If you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?
SUGGESTION’S FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Listen to the similarities and not the differences”
Paul: Man I already said it earlier. Listen to the similarities and not the differences. For example, on this podcast, you’re like “Dude, this guy Paul”, my name is not Paul and I definitely don’t have a lame poodle named Ben. Ben listens to all the podcasts. I love you Ben! Just get real with yourself.
Of all the meetings you have attended anywhere in the world, which group is your favorite and where is that group located?
Paul: Oh my gosh! That is a fantastic question! I’m going to go with, man I was in one in Cusco, Peru this year and they are so raw man. They’re like in Cusco, Peru if you’re an alcoholic dude, they’re going to call the witch doctors. There’s something really wrong with you in that culture, so the people that are in those rooms, they’re really serious about recovery and yeah, Cusco Peru.
Thanks again for your SHAIR Paul!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not