Be Proud & Love Who You Are! Seth Staggs | OYNB 110

One Year No Beer Podcast Episode 110 – Seth Staggs

Changing your relationship with alcohol is a huge and important journey. But humans are complex, and they can go through more than one huge and important journey in their lives, and maybe even during the same time period. In today’s episode, you’ll hear from Seth Staggs about his childhood in the Bible Belt of America, coming out as a member of the LGBT community, and making his OYNB journey.

As of this recording, Seth Staggs is on day 388 with no alcohol, making him a OYNB success story. Seth has had a lot of interesting things happen in his life, however, and giving up alcohol is just one of them.

“Looking back, I was looking forward to my 30s and was just kind of okay, what am I going to do to make my 30s better?”

In today’s interview, Seth talks about what it was like for him to grow up in the Bible Belt among a religious family and community that did not accept LGBT people at the time. Seth understood that he was different, understood that he was gay, and even faced homophobia at school and in the community, but did not feel comfortable admitting it out loud as a teenager. It wasn’t until after high school that he began to tentatively admit who he really was as he found friends that were also part of an LGBT community that he hadn’t realized existed in his home state of Arkansas.

Of course, coming out didn’t solve all of Seth’s problems. While he found acceptance and a sense of belonging at gay clubs and bars, he also found something else – alcohol. And it was from there that Seth developed a pattern of drinking that interfered with the other things that he wanted to do with his life. Seth says that he remains supportive of gay clubs and bars, but the alcohol was a problem for him. 

Things really came to a head when a friend of Seth’s caused an accident that involved drinking and driving. That helped Seth to realize that if it had happened to his friend, it could happen to him to. In January of 2019. Seth joined One Year No Beer. 

In today’s episode you’ll learn more about Seth’s OYNB journey, and about how he decided to become vegan as well. You’ll also hear about how he had a slip in his journey but picked back up and successfully completed 365 days and then some. Finally, Seth also addresses the future – what he sees ahead for himself in 2021 and beyond. 

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Episode Transcript

Science, exercise, nutrition, health, energy, passion, One Year No Beer. This is the One Year No Beer podcast where you'll find all the latest tips, tricks, and hacks for a way to live better. 

Chris: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the OYNB podcast. I'm your host, Chris Laping and I am joined by my very talented co host, love of my life, and bestfriend, Kristine. 

Kristine: How sweet. Hello.

Chris: My introduction just gets longer and longer every week.

Kristine: I know. I can't wait until we're on episode 2000 and to hear more great things about me.

Chris: Speaking of hearing great things. We should share with all the listeners that the two of us have made a commitment for 2021, a pretty big commitment, and that's that we both decided that this year we were going to work on building more of an optimistic mindset.

Kristine: Yes, we are. I actually thought you might be sharing that we're going to try to get better control over our grocery budget.

Chris: Well, that too. 

Kristine: Optimism is definitely the goal for the new year and it's hard work, important work, but hard work so I'm glad we're doing it. 

Chris: We should say to everybody, when we say an optimistic mindset, we don't mean just blanket positivity. Instead, it's like giving yourself credit for the work you're doing to improve your own happiness and fulfillment, to improve your life. And then when you give yourself credit for that, then you start to have a more hopeful and confident outlook that things are going to come together the way you like them to.

Kristine: Yeah. For me, personally, the part of the optimistic mindset that I really need to work on is in a moment of challenge or difficulty, instead of just blowing up and having an all or nothing mindset, just say you know what? There's a lot of learning in here. I'm where I'm supposed to be and I'm going to learn from this.

Chris: Which speaking of, today's guest, Seth Staggs, is going to provide a lot of additional learning for the world. For you listening, Seth has successfully achieved the One Year No Beer milestone. 

Kristine: He's a legend.

Chris: Woo-hoo! And what's really motivating about it is how he navigated the very familiar blip that many of our members experience.

Kristine: We don't want to give away all the details, but Seth has some very brave moments in his storytelling today because he is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as we know, too many times that, there's a lot of adversity associated with that community and alcohol does cause a lot of struggle and grief in daily living. More to come on that, but just a brave soul.

Chris: I would say the learning for us today is around something, I just personally believe this so much that our world could use a lot more love and acceptance. I don't hold myself out differently than anybody else. I have a lot of work to do in this area, but I really encourage all of you listening today to open your hearts and minds to this message. 

Finally, we're going to talk about something that we all universally deal with, which is the messiness that we experience with complicated family dynamics, and what we can do with our family to overcome shame and find forgiveness. 

Kristine: Tying it back to our goal of an optimistic mindset, what we really hope here again is that people out there hear Seth’s story and they maybe in a moment or a period of time in their life that feels dark and just overwhelming but man, you hear the story and it's hard not to be able to see a better future and to know that you can get through the storm. That's what Seth's story is really about.

Chris: Without further ado, I'd like to offer a warm welcome to the show, Seth Staggs. Hello, my friend and Happy New Year.

Seth: Hi, guys. Happy New Year. How's everybody doing?

Kristine: So far so good. One of the things that we were talking about, Seth, is remember, we got the opportunity to all meet up in person at a One Year No Beer meetup. I think that was like two years ago, was that right?

Seth: Yeah, I think. The reason I know this is because the day that we met, it was my first 100 days streak. It was day 100 for me, the very first time. It was May of 2019 so I remember that.

Chris: Wow. I remember Kathleen Duboir, who lives in Washington, D.C. was coming to Denver for a work conference and we all decided we would do a Denver meetup. We put a message out into the OYNB community, lots of people RSVP’d, and just the four of us showed up in downtown Denver. I'm actually so happy that happened, Seth, because since we didn't have very many people show up, it really allowed us to get to know you better.

Seth: Yeah, absolutely, guys. I think it was one of those moments where, as fate has it, we all got to talk and share our stories and with it being such a smaller group, we got a little more intimate in the conversation. I think it really worked out perfectly. 

Chris: Yeah, me too. Seth, let's jump right into our chat. Here's where I'd love to start. I'd love to start where we normally start these podcasts, which is to really talk about here and now. Why don't you share with the listeners how many days you've been alcohol free and will you share why you decided to make this choice? What was going on in your life and why did you feel this life change would help?

Seth: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you guys for having me on the show. I've been a listener of the show for a long time, for a couple of years now, and I absolutely love it. You guys have had some amazing guests and I'm just happy to be a part of it. But as of today, I am on day, as far of a streak, I'm on day 388.

Chris: Wow.

Kristine: Yay.

Seth: Yay, very excited. It's going great. But as far as why I started to do this and started to join OYNB, it was a couple of years ago. I first started in January of 2019 and it was right after my 29th birthday. I had just done what I would have considered a traditional celebration of a birthday which resulted in maybe a couple of days of drinking a little heavily than one probably should and just doing that birthday celebration thing.

I started to feel that feeling of okay, my 20s are ending, my 30s are about to begin to hit me. I just mentally did this look back over my 20s and I remember at the start of my 20s, I had these goals. I wanted to graduate with a graduate degree. I wanted to have enough money to put a down payment on a house. I had these things that I wanted to do in the span of my 20s.

I look back over my twenties. I'm like, what the heck happened? I didn't hit my goals. I didn't hit hardly any of them. Looking back, I was looking forward to my 30s and was just kind of okay, what am I going to do to make my 30s better? How am I going to be sitting here at 39 looking back over my 30s and having a different conversation with myself, saying, you know what? I did do that. That's kind of where it all spurred from. Like I said, that was my 29th birthday which is September of 2018. 

And then the very next month, coincidentally, there was something pretty tragic that happened in my circle of friends. I had a really close friend of mine who we grew up together with. We were like brothers growing up with the same small town and we were very, very close. We lived together for a long time. He got into a car accident and the car accident he had caused by drinking and driving. This is an old drinking buddy of mine. It was a very tragic accident, there was loss of life. 

When that happened, it just kind of put that stamp on it. You know what? I've got to make change, because if this can happen to somebody that I am practically a brother with, then it could happen to me and it can happen to anyone, and I need to straighten out my life a little bit so that's kind of where it kicked off.

Chris: My goodness.

Kristine: What a powerful why. Again, I think so many times we don't think it would happen to us but when an event like that is so close to home, it definitely is a wake up call sometimes. Good for you on actually taking that life experience and doing something with it.

Seth: Yeah, it's definitely something that nobody wants or wishes would happen, but when something tragic like that does happen, the best thing you can do is try to make something out of it. As far as the impact of that on my life, although I was not directly involved in the accident, the impact on my life was just kind of a wake up call.

Kristine: Yeah. Now that you're a 365 legend, I mean, having that consecutive streak is just so life changing. We know that it is because the three of us have all been there, but can you share a little bit like what your ups and downs were during that 365 or maybe even beyond?

Seth: Yeah, absolutely. I think there's this misconception whenever you straighten up and fly right, everything goes perfect. That is simply not the case. I mean, there are ups and there's benefits, don't get me wrong, but there's also downsides, right? Life doesn't just stop.

I had the same ups that a lot of people share in our group. I had increased physical activity, lost a little bit of weight, got a little bit healthier. You don't have a hangover, so you feel better. You're more energetic. That vitality of life kind of comes back to you a little bit. 

I also decided to start following the vegan diet. That has been working out for me for also 388 days because I started it the same day I started my last streak. I've done a lot physically. As far as mentally, I think the biggest thing for me, the biggest up anyway, has been I got my dignity back, I got my self-respect back. I think that's so much more powerful than anything that's physical that you can get back from this challenge.

There's downsides too. I was in a long term relationship and this past year we decided to separate and there were some really strong emotions through that experience. He's a great guy. We are still very good friends but the more I learned about myself and who I am through this individual experience, I realized that our relationship was not the type of relationship, or we were not in a relationship that needed to move forward. We came to that agreement understanding split ways. We were together for three years so that was a very heavy thing for me to go through and to go through that without having alcohol or anything like that to turn to, it brings a sense of emotional maturity that I think you go through whenever you go alcohol free.

Like many people, I used alcohol to numb things out and when you don't have that, I think that's probably the number one “down” if you would consider it a down as having to grow up emotionally. It's a challenge. It's hard.

Whenever you're an adult man and you're having to experience these feelings for the first time in a long time, not just with the breakup, but just stress at work and stress in life and managing that, it's hard but it is rewarding once you get through it.

Chris: What's so powerful about your sharing, Seth, is it's a reminder that just because we take a break from alcohol doesn't mean that we're putting on a bulletproof vest and that we aren't going to have heart break, that we're not going to have setbacks or failures, that we're not going to have adversity.

Just listening to you talk about how you processed it and the emotional and mental clarity you had in that decision, which I'm sure was very hard to end a long term relationship, but at the same time, it sounds to me like what you found in that process was, you found an accountability with yourself. This was really about you and learning more about you and what did you want to do with that information.

Again, I just think that that's such a powerful testament to the journey that we all go on when we take a break from alcohol and we have this clarity of thinking, brings so many things into perspective.

Seth, I'd love to now step back in time if we can, because part of what really draws me into your story is some of the adversity that you overcame earlier in your life. Will you share with all the listeners a little bit more about your journey and your story?

Seth: Yeah, I'd love to. I am from here in the States. I'm from the south, State of Arkansas, and I grew up in a very small town. This town, we here in the States, we kind of call the Bible Belt and it's where a large amount of these small towns in this Bible Belt area are very religious communities and I grew up in one of those. Overall great communities, great people. I love the town that I grew up in and I love the people I grew up with, but it did present some challenges for me in particular because of some aspects of who I am being a member of the LGBT community.

That being said, to take a step back a little bit in my earlier years, my dad had some substance abuse issues of his own and he's very vocal about this. He has overcome a lot in his life. He had a troublesome childhood and he's very open and speaks to people about substance abuse and how to overcome that today.

However, as a child, he was right in the thick of it when I was little and going through that has an impact on you, right? Whenever you're growing up and one of your parents has a substance abuse issue. He was an alcoholic and then he overcame alcoholism but as many of us do, you fill that void with something else and he filled that void with drug abuse. 

He had drug abuse issues all throughout my childhood until I was about 12 or 13 years old. Then around that age, he got what he would say, he got clean. He got sober. But in that transition, one of the main things that got him sober was his faith. He kind of transitioned and filled the void that the drug abuse left with his faith and his strong faith convictions. 

We got very involved in church. We were that family that my mom cleaned the church. We quickly got very involved in every aspect. My parents drove the church van. I ended up becoming very involved in the youth group over there, Sunday morning, Sunday night, youth groups for Monday night. We went Wednesday night for Bible study. We were there all the time and it was great for the most part. I mean, there were good people and things went really well. 

But then as I started kind of coming into my own, around 12, 13 years old as everyone does, you start to learn things about yourself and one of the things that I learned about myself is that I was gay. The faith that we were brought up in our lives, we were brought up in at that time, did not support the LGBT community. They did not see it as acceptable. It was seen as a sin, something that if you “choose” to live that lifestyle, then you're basically damning yourself. That's the mentality behind the faith that we all shared.

Kristine: So Seth, it wasn't just that they kind of didn't acknowledge that lifestyle, they were vocally against it. Is that what you're saying?

Seth: That is 100% right and it wasn't just the church that my family was involved in, it was the resounding message through the community that I grew up in because there were multiple churches and that stance was shared by all of them throughout the community. It wasn't just the church that we were involved in. 

You can imagine somebody like me who's realizing these things about himself growing up and at every turn you're being told that this is a sin and this is something to put behind you, get it out of your mind. I felt very strongly about that. I was very convicted by that personally because I shared these faiths with my family, these beliefs, and I couldn't understand why I felt the way that I felt. I couldn't understand why in my 13, 14 year old mind, why God would allow me to be this way if it were so awful and I was so ashamed of it.

With that brought a lot of insecurity and shame at every corner. I would go to school and there was church, what's it called when you're in school? Christian Club, and I was the leader of Christian Club. So how could I have this nasty little secret and be the leader of a Christian club?

At home, there was one time that my mom made a comment growing up saying if you ever decide you're gay, just don't tell us. We don't want to know. My dad would say a lot of negative comments about how disgusting gays were and this, that and the other and he would say, I don't wish any harm on them, but I don't want to be around them. 

My sisters always had my back. She's always always had my back but there were some things that I guess I had some mannerisms where kids at school picked up on that I could be gay and they would pick on me. My sister would stand up for me and say, he's not gay, leave him alone. She was doing in her mind what she thought was right, but really what that was doing was reinforcing in my mind that gay is something that is wrong because she is standing there saying he's not gay, leave him alone. In my mind, that was just something to be ashamed of.

Chris: Do you think your parents had an instinct that you were gay and they were saying these things to preempt it or to perhaps try to change your mind about it?

Seth: One hundred percent, Chris, and the reason I say that, an example that comes to mind is my 13th birthday. I was allowed to have up to five friends and my mom was taking us out to dinner and out to the movies. All five of the friends that I brought with me were all girls. It was my group of girlfriends at the time and I didn't think it was any better or worse than any other group of friends. It didn't make any sense to me one way or the other.

I do remember my mom having a conversation with me because my dad was really upset and I couldn't understand why he was upset because it was my birthday. My mom said that he was upset because he just couldn't understand why I didn't have any normal friends, guy friends, why my friends were girls. Little things like that throughout my early teens to late teens, all my teen years, little things like that would pop up over and over, just reinforcing that idea that I have something to be ashamed of, that gay is a sin. Gay is wrong.

Kristine: There's so much that we could have a conversation about this for hours and hours and hours, I have so many questions for you, but the one as you walk through your story, that's just at the tip of my tongue, first of all, I can only imagine how tough and scary it must have been to just go through that experience. Especially when it comes to the point where you have the confidence to actually come out. Can you talk a little bit about that? How did you get to that point living in this environment? How did you find the strength to come out and who did you come out to first?

Seth: Yeah, you're right, Kristine. It's a challenge. That same person I spoke about earlier that was involved in the car accident I went to highschool with, he came out in high school and he was so threatened and so made fun of that even though we went to the same school kindergarten through 11th grade, he dropped out in 11th grade and did his senior year from home because it got so bad. 

Coming out was terrifying, was absolutely terrifying. I waited until after high school and I was actually working at Subway during my first year of college. I worked at the sandwich shop Subway and I worked with the woman who identified as a lesbian and she invited me over for dinner one day and then we were friends. We were coworkers so I went with her and she introduced me to her girlfriend, who is still one of my great friends today. We became best friends, her girlfriend and I. We became fast friends and started hanging out all the time. We spent all of our time together. 

Fast forward a little bit, we ended up sharing a house together at one point in our lives and we were just very, very close. But through that experience, she showed me this whole world of acceptance, this whole world of LGBT people in Arkansas that I had no idea existed. I did not know they were there. I mean, it was amazing. Oh my gosh, there's other people out here like me and they're not ashamed of themselves. They're living their lives and it was so freeing. 

After being their friend for a while, I finally got the courage, just one on one with her and I just told her. I said, I think I might be gay. I knew I was, but I didn't want to just come out and say it. I just was kind of testing the waters a little bit. I said, I think I might be gay. With that, she said, yeah, okay, cool, then the topic changed. We started talking about the movie or whatever it is we were doing that day. 

That to me, it doesn't seem like a lot. It was a very quick conversation. But during that moment, this actually isn't a big deal. This me being gay is my life isn't over. My life goes on. I can be who I am. Coming out to my friends, it went okay, and after that, I had the courage to come out to another friend and then another friend and then another friend. All of my friends ended up being very supportive. 

I did have, unfortunately, some members of the church that I attended, which I had stopped going to after high school and I kind of got out in the world a little bit and I wasn't in my hometown. I didn't, unfortunately, get some phone calls and messages saying, this is when Facebook first started, everybody was doing the Facebook thing. I got some messages on there saying you're living your life wrong and this, that and the other. There were still some residual effects from the involvement in church kind of having their way into my life but overall, the response with my friends was overwhelmingly positive.

Chris: When you were telling your stories, Seth, about sharing with your friend for the first time, the phrase you used was, I think I might be gay, and I wonder how many people who have been on the journey and now that you have fully gone through this journey, you hear a sentence like, I think I might be gay, and you know the translation for that is I'm gay and I'm trying to figure out how to talk about it.

Seth: That's so true, Chris. This is 13, 14, 15 years ago. Over the last decade and a half, there's been conversations that I've had with people in my life where that's it. That's right on the money. It always starts with dipping your toe in the water. Like, I don't know if I'm ready to admit this or have this conversation, but I want to crack the door open a little bit and if it's too scary, I'll close it. But if I can have an open conversation with somebody, then that helps you come out of the proverbial closet, so to speak.

Chris: We had another guest that we were doing a podcast with, Jessica Sealy Jennings, and she was talking about something so fascinating with the way our brains work. That our brain lights up when we are hurt. When we are emotionally hurt, our brain lights up exactly the way it lights up when we have physical pain, and so it causes us to just retreat. As you just described, you dipped your toe in it and all of a sudden, if it gets really scary or painful, you just back out of it. 

I wonder how much, Seth, your drinking was attributed to, I would imagine that your drinking was attributed to all of the stress related to working through this in your life, working through what it meant for you, how you were going to share this with the world, how the world was going to respond. Is that really what fueled the beginning of your alcohol use?

Seth: Yeah, it 100% was, and I think a lot of that Chris was due to, in gay culture, the gay bars and the gay clubs are paramount. If you think back over history over the last few decades a little bit, it wasn't so many years ago where gays, lesbians, and transgender folks, and people in the LGBTQ+ community could not just be themselves out in public. You couldn't just walk down the street holding hands. You couldn't be yourself. You had to be one person during the day, but gay clubs and gay bars allowed you to be who you really were at night. It's deeply embedded in gay culture. 

Think of Stonewall. What was Stonewall? It was a gay bar. It's one of those things that is in the history books but it was a gay bar. Think of the Emmy winning show, RuPal's Drag Race, great show. It's really fun to watch and all of that but if you think about it, drag culture started in gay clubs, nightclubs, bars, things like that. It is almost like the core because we were pushed out of the daylight. Gays came together to be themselves at night in the clubs and in the bars.

Whenever that door opened for me, when I finally came out after high school with my friend being so encouraging, I immersed myself in it. I felt so good and so free that I just jumped in with two feet and was in the gay clubs. I was in the gay bars. I wanted to be around other gay people because I just wanted to drown in the culture. I was just so overwhelmingly excited and happy to be myself because I was so repressed for so many years.

There were times when I was a kid, a teenager, that I would write on a piece of notebook paper, I am gay, and then I would go outside with a lighter and burn it for fear that somebody would see it. I was completely repressed and then I did a 180. I got involved and because I was so involved, there's the presence of alcohol. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very supportive of our gay clubs and gay bars and things like that, even to this day, but that being said, there was a presence of alcohol there and it was available. It gave me what I felt was the courage to be myself and to let go of my inhibitions a little bit and talk to other guys and get to know people and start dating and alcohol, I thought at the time, my friend, helped me become who I really was. 

That's kind of where it all kicked off, that's where it started and it got progressively more and more in depth to where drinking became an everyday occurrence. I wanted to be the fun guy. I wanted to be the party guy. I wanted to have friends because this is me, this is the real me. I'm a gay guy in the south and I finally have this group that I can be myself around and alcohol, I thought, was the key to help me do that.

Kristine: Again, your storytelling is very rich and I hope creating optimism for people who might be in the thick of it still and just don't know how to move through the journey with healthy habits and mindset. First of all, I just want to celebrate that, thank you for being so brave and telling your story. 

What I'm curious about right now, as you mentioned earlier that your why for taking a break from alcohol, really had to do with your friend's car accident that unfortunately ended in fatality. Knowing you wanted to take a break from alcohol because of that, how did you actually approach things?

Seth: On my 29th birthday, I looked back over my 20s, as I said earlier, and I don't think ashamed is the right word. I was disappointed in myself. I did not do any of the things that I wanted to do and I was  right. The relationship that ended last year, we had been dating for about a year at that point and he and I were kind of like fire and gasoline whenever it came to alcohol because we were both drinkers. One of us would drink and the other one would pour another and then we would kind of piggy back off of each other a little bit.

Kristine: We don't know any of that in the Laping household. We weren’t like that.

Chris: That sounds very familiar.

Kristine: I called it the competitive drinking because Chris would pour one and I'm like, I can keep up. I'm going to pour myself one too. 

Seth: Yeah, that's exactly it. That's what we did and we thought that was normal and I thought that was normal so that's how it was. But when my friend's accident happened and all that I just started, I tried it first to take a break on my own and I just said I think I just need to take a pause. This is before I found One Year No Beer but I think I need to take a pause. I went two months, which is the longest I had gone since I was probably 18 or 19 so it's 60 days without drinking and that was my goal. 

It's like I'm going to take two months off and kind of straighten up and fly right a little bit. Then after that, it was around November, holidays were coming and all of that so I was like well, I'm obviously going to drink during the holidays. I mean, who doesn't do that? I started drinking again and it was almost immediately, got right back in it. It's like as if nothing over the last 60 days, for me in my experience anyway, had mattered because I was right back in it.

At the start of the new year, I'm a big New Year fan, I love the whole New Year New Me thing, I know that's kind of cliche, but I really like the January one metaphorical, I can restart whatever I want to restart on this day because it's a new year. 

I stumbled across One Year No Beer on Facebook. It was a link, or an ad, or something and I went to the website and I just kind of Googled it and was like okay, is this thing legit? What is this? I thought, you know what? Why not do this? It seems legit. It's checking out. It's got all of these resources, all of these statistics, all of these people saying how much it helped them and I want to help me. Obviously, 60 days isn't long enough so I decided to sign up for 365 right away on January 1 of 2019 and that's what I did. 

Through that, I found this community that I didn't know existed or that I needed even. I didn't realize that reading other people's stories on the Facebook private group that we have would impact me so much. Listening to people when they post their videos and type out all the things that are impacting them on their journeys, I mean, it was overwhelming. I just saw so many people who were going through so many similar experiences and I had no idea. It's almost as if whenever I came out-

Kristine: I was just going to say that. 

Seth: Yeah, when I came out when I was younger, I found this whole world of gay people that I didn't know existed. I was so excited and now I'm finding this whole group of people who have had struggles with their alcohol use or came to a realization that they needed to take a break from alcohol. The world just keeps opening up for me, I'm lucky but it was this awesome experience. I got to have it all over again when I found One Year No Beer.

Chris: Seth, both you and I grew up in the South and we both went to church. I just have to ask you, when you joined the One Year No Beer community, did it feel to you like church? Except that it just had a little bit of a different vibe because in a church, you always show up and you don't want people to see the words.

You don't want people to really know the things you're struggling with but you do have a community that happens in church where people are there to support each other and to really step in, especially when there's tragedy in your life. But here, with this One Year No Beer community, it was like, oh, it's kind of like church, but I can share my words with everybody.

Seth: That's exactly it. You can be transparent, right? I think that's the key to what makes One Year No Beer so good and so fun to be a part of, is you can share those parts of you with other people that are going on the same journey that you otherwise wouldn't share. I'm not going to go to work and share these things with my coworkers right off the bat. I'm not going to share them with my mom and dad or or whatever. I need a community of like minded people and One Year No Beer is it because that's where it's at. That's where that community resides.

Once I found that just being able to, again, get stuff off my chest and share my experiences and my stories and see others, it was just amazing. It truly was amazing. Then a lot of suggestions on books to read the quicklit and the journaling and all of the tips and tricks that you get along the way. I mean, take advantage of that stuff, people, because it's amazing how your perspective changes over time when you soak in all of that information. 

Kristine: Yeah, speaking of being able to share our words with this One Year No Beer community, I remember you posting in our private group that you actually had a blip during your journey. We've been celebrating that you're a 365 legend and now you're beyond, but can you share a little bit about your blip and your mindset around how to handle that blip?

Seth: No clue what you're talking about. No, I'm just kidding. 

Kristine: I was like, oh, denial.

Chris: I really thought he was serious there for a minute. I thought, oh, my goodness, we really got that story wrong.

Seth: No, you're absolutely right, Kristine. As I said, I joined in 2019. I went about eight or nine months, I don't remember the exact number of days, but eight or nine months and I had thought that I learned everything that I needed to learn.

I thought that the messages that came across on the daily emails and the journaling. I thought I had a good understanding of it and that I could go back to having some drinks without any problem. That's one half of it. 

The other half of it is my 30th birthday was right around the corner and for my 30th birthday, I decided that I wanted to go home and see my mom, dad, my sister, and my sister's kids. I wanted to be around family because it had been a while since I have seen them. I moved to Denver, Colorado in 2017 and I only get to see my family about once a year. So I chose my birthday to do that.

I don't know what it was, but as soon as I got home to Arkansas, those feelings of wanting to go to the bar, the bars that I visited over and over and over again throughout my late teens, early 20s, mid 20s, that's the only thing I wanted to do when I got there and I did it, and that's where my blip happened. 

In doing that, I fell right back into that old familiar pattern of drinking, waking up, feeling bad about drinking, drinking a little bit that day to make yourself feel better about feeling bad about drinking. It's just that circle. I fell right back into it almost immediately and it was hard, the rest of 2019 to get back on track.

On January 1st, again, I'm a New Year person. I like my New Years. On January 1st of 2020. I decided to go for it, but I was going to do the full year this time. I wasn't going to psych myself out of it and I did, and that's where I am now.

Chris: This January 1st thing and the fact that you were initially thinking about taking a break from alcohol when you were 29 and coming on your 30th birthday, that's it. There's actually a lot of science and data behind that. There's an author, Daniel Pink, who's got a book called When, and it's all about the science of perfect timing. We think sometimes that timing is accidental but he actually provides a lot of data that shows that there's good times for us to make decisions and there are not so good times.

It is very common that when people get to the January 1st mark or they have a big milestone coming up, like your 30th birthday, or your 40th birthday, or your 50th birthday, that's when big change happens in people's life. This thing that you're talking about, there's definitely some science and data behind it.

The other thing that struck me when you were sharing is how many times when we're young, we get caught in a cycle or a trap and believe that we have to live the rest of our life that way. The fact of the matter is, you had this blip, you caught yourself, and you realize like, hey, I still have a lot of life in front of me here. I'm still young and I'll do this reset January 1st, never twice, 2019, didn't stay on the streak like I wanted to but 2020 is not going to be that year for me.

Seth: I think 2020 was kind of a challenging year for a lot of people. Little did I know on January 1 that it was going to be that kind of a year, but my mind was made up. I had tried and I fell off the wagon. I got back on. This time, I just knew that I needed to stick with it for no other reason than myself. 

The fact that when I turn 40 in 10 years, I want to look back and say, I'm so glad that I did that, because I met this goal, this goal, this goal, all these things that I dropped the ball on in my 20s. I don't want to drop the ball in my 30s. I want to build myself a life that I can be proud of and I knew that in order to do that, I had to remove alcohol.

There was this moment, I think, where I had this realization where I did the reset and there were these automated messages that came through Facebook Messenger from One Year No Beer saying, it was one of those push messages where you do the reset and then it says, if you want to find out more, click here. If you want to do this, click here, so on and so forth.

I did, I clicked the messages because I really wanted to educate myself on resetting and things like that. One of the messages presented a graph of the stages of change. In that message had the diagram where it showed pre contemplation, contemplation, making the change and so on. There was a statement in there that said most people go through the entire stages of the change cycle four to five times before change really sticks. 

For some reason, that burned in my brain. I'll never forget that diagram because it was just a message to me that it's not that most people start four or five times. Most people go through the stages of changes four or five times before something really sticks. For some reason, that spoke to me and just because I did eight or nine months and I did 60 days without any support, I did eight or nine months with support, I've been through the stage but that doesn't mean I'm done. There's more to go here.

Chris: I'll say with your journey, you have accomplished so much. You have overcome a lot and I wonder for you, Seth, what's next? What kind of things are you focused on going into 2021?

Seth: One of the things that I wanted to do in my 20s that I didn't do was go to grad school and I'm happy to say I'm in grad school right now, attending Denver University and I'm pursuing my masters in learning and development. 

I'm someone who always likes to learn. I like to teach. I like to help people along their journey, whether it's with their career or otherwise. That's kind of one big thing I've got going on right now is to just expand my education and try to just move forward with that.

As far as on a personal level, I think we look at politicians and celebrities as having platforms, but we all have a platform. Our platform is our life and I want to use my platform, which is my life, to just maintain the life that I'm living alcohol free and be support, hopefully, for somebody that wants to have a conversation about being alcohol free, or maybe a conversation about coming out of the closet, or maybe one of those things that I've experienced in my life that I might be able to help somebody along. That's what I want to do. I want to use my platform of life to help people along. 

I'm always trying to improve myself. I mean, I'm not done. I think that in the group, we have this idea of oh, me, if I get to 365, I would have finished, but that's not the case.

Kristine: Just the beginning, baby. Just the beginning. 

Seth: Hundred percent, Kristine. It's not the finish line, it's the starting point, and that's where I'm at. Earlier I talked about my family and some of the struggles we had growing up, but we are in a much better place now. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my mother and my sister, they're very supportive. We have a really strong bond. We've overcome a lot as a family and my goal now is to just keep moving forward.

Kristine: Well, as we close out this conversation and what you said, you're looking forward to accomplishing going forward, I'm going to put you on the spot here. Can you share with our listeners a tidbit of advice as someone who had the experience you did growing up as a gay boy and now gay man? If you were speaking to parents who may have a child that is identifying as LGBTQ, what kind of one or two bits of advice would you give them?

Seth: That's an excellent question. First, I would say to the people who may be identifying that way themselves is be kind to yourself. I think that was the bedrock of a lot of wrong choices I've made in my life was I did not care about myself. I didn't care if something bad happened to me or if I treated myself wrong because I had this foundational belief that I was a “disgusting” person because I was gay. If you're in that boat, be kind to yourself, love yourself. You are beautiful. You are a human being with the right to have an amazing life. 

If you're a parent out there and you have a child that you think might be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my first bit of information would be let them come into their own first because you really, as a gay person, there's a lot you have to overcome to go against the grain like that. There's a lot of mental work, a lot of inner work that you have to do to be okay with admitting that. If you're not ready to admit that and you're confronted by your parent, you're probably going to tell them, I don't know what you're talking about.

My advice would be patient, let them figure things out for themselves and just provide a welcoming loving atmosphere at home so that when they have reached that point where they can talk about these things, you're there to talk about it with them. That's whenever you can start raising the rainbow flag and having those conversations that you've been wanting to have as a parent who loves their child. Let them come to that realization first and then just be there for them. Just provide that atmosphere.

Chris: So much wisdom, Seth. We just loved having you on the show today. From your sharing, we have learned that it's possible to overcome adversity, that we don't have to live our lives in shame and regret. We've learned how important love and acceptance is, and that even if it seems counter to our social life, it's possible to successfully take a break from alcohol.

Thank you so much for letting us put a microphone in front of you and for just authentically and honestly sharing your story with everyone.

Seth: Yeah. No, thank you guys for the opportunity. I hope that somebody out there can just be proud and love who they are. If you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else? That's a quote from RuPaul. I think that is so true, so so true. I hope somebody out there hears this and realizes that they are worth taking this job.

Kristine: I really hope when COVID is controlled that for the next Pride Parade Weekend, we can meet up and we can be part of those festivities here in Denver, Colorado, together.

Seth: Absolutely. I look forward to that and I cannot wait to see you guys again.

Chris: For all of you listening today, let me just say that if you're currently taking a break from alcohol or maybe you're just considering it, you can do this, you can totally do this. You are much stronger than you think. I hope that you just keep moving onward and upward in your own journey.

Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the podcast. We are so grateful that you hung out with us today. If you haven't already, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and share with a friend. As always, I hope that you make it a great day. 

Kristine: Bye.

Thanks for listening to the One Year No Beer podcast. For a full list of episodes and to join in the challenge yourself head on over to oneyearnobeer.com.

 

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