Pod Dana Krull
Deb: . Welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast. I am your host, Deb.
Masner. I'm a registered nurse health coach and alcohol free badass. And today I have a real badass on today. I would say I have Dana Krull. He is a former us army infantry officer and chaplain, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. And he is also the host of I kissed alcohol. Let's break up with booze together.
So that is a podcast for newly sober people, learning to love themselves, ourselves instead of booze. So welcome Dana to the show.
Dana: Thanks so much for having me D I'm excited to be here. Yeah.
Deb: Tell me about your owl that you have next to you.
Dana: so this is my spirit animal for sobriety. He was in our garden to keep the rodents away from, I don't have a green thumb, but I thought, well, I, I was at home Depot and I saw this guy staring out at me with his big eyes and I was like, I'm buying that dude.
He's cool. And then once I got sober, I somehow, I, it came to me that I'm, I'm alcohol, I'm alcohol free. So his name is Al K hall free. And I brought him inside with me outta the garden. And now I actually, normally he has AirPods that I just didn't get in before we started. So, and, and I ha actually have a.
Mike boom for him that I forgot to set up. So so that he doesn't feel like he's left out of the conversation.
Deb: I love it. I love the WL, the spirit animal and the Alka hall free WL. Okay. Well, tell, tell people who are listening, like who you are and what
Dana: you do. Okay. Well, I grew up here in Columbus, Ohio in the central Ohio area.
Went to school at Ohio university, studied political science and thought I was gonna be a litigator and run for Congress. And that Mr. Smith goes to Washington kind of thing. I mean, I'm your classic like overachieving, perfectionistic people, pleasing brown nos. Scholar athlete, student council, president type, and so great expectations and all that.
I went to college and found that I fell in love with the army instead I did ROTC. My dad was a Marine in Vietnam. My grandfather was an MP in patents, third army, or yeah, in world war II and had been all over the world. You know, and so. I'm third generation combat veteran. But at the time I, it was 1998 to 2002.
And, and in the fall of 2001, literally the week before nine 11. I had submitted my dream sheet to ROTC to the cadet command saying, Hey, when I commission next spring, this is what I wanna do. I wanted to fly helicopters. And I wanted to be stationed in Hawaii. And a week later, the plane that hit the Pentagon actually hit at least I've been told, hit part of C cadet command.
And so our commissioning year was really wonky. And to this day, I'm convinced that I, instead of. Flying helicopters in the front seat, I got to ride around in the back of 'em and jump out of them later because of nine 11. And so I became an infantry officer and went straight off to Iraq after I had completed the infantry officer basic course in ranger school.
So this is the spring of 2003. Now I had met my wife. During college on a habitat for humanity trip. And we just kinda stayed in touch. And then after I left school, we started talking, I'm like, I'm an idiot. How did I not, how did I not date this girl? But I was too busy running around drinking.
We went to a party school. I mean, we love Ohio university, but it is known for its Halloween festival and which is kind of like a Mardi GRA and. Addie. And I started talking, I realized like, okay, I I've been talking to talk about being, you know, I'd always wanted to be a husband and a father. My, my dad had died when I was 19 of lung cancer and we were best buddies.
And so when Addie and I started getting close, this is when I was in infantry training. I realized like, I, I need to get my stuff together. And so I had kind of stopped running around with my buddies, going out and getting drunk. I, I had done your classic drinking thing in high school. Like. I remember a tipping point for me was senior year of high school where I was like, we're at like a badge of honor.
. Well, fast forward four or five years here I am.
I'm commission as an infantry officer. I've just. Ranger school and month LA a month after I graduated ranger school, I was in Iraq and I was a platoon leader. And I was engaged to my now wife and we were going through just a. Kind of a standard experience for folks that were in our cohort.
Like I came back from Iraq in 2004 and was promptly training to go back in 2005. I had a heat stroke injury right before we were gonna go to that. It was just a Monday morning run. And I had taken some Sudafed the night before for a free head cold that I had in August, which never happened, but I collapsed and had a heat stroke, 107.6 core temp.
And you know, for you as an RN, you know, that's, that's a pretty serious thing. And. I had a deathbed experience. I thought, you know, in the delirium of that, that fever, I thought that I was gonna die. And that was a day that really changed the direction of my life. I, I mean, I woke up, I was laying on ice.
I didn't know where I was. All I knew was that I was married to Addie and that I was about to die. And I overwhelming, I don't know what dying feels like, but I was convinced that I was gonna die. And, and I felt like I had a choice. As I was losing consciousness again, and I felt like I, I could either stay or go.
And I decided to, I was like, I don't wanna widow my wife when I'm 25 years old. And so I, I opened my eyes and it's like a light switch. All the delirium was gone. And it was one of these like kind of death bed experiences that sort of changed your life. Well, I found. You know, within two days they told me, Hey man, you can't go back to Iraq.
Like you could have another heat injury and die, like just from the heat. And so I was heartbroken, but they left me home is what's called a rear detachment commander. And so I cared for families and casualties and took care of all the equipment that's in the rear. While the guys are forward fighting.
So I'm like the whole year I'm like, Hey, sir, please send me for, to my commander. Please send me, please send me. I'm fine now. And I'm healed up and he's like, Nope, you're stuck there because you're doing a great job. And so out of that year, I felt called to become an army chaplain because simultaneously our little church off, off the base had asked me to preach a few times and lead some Bible studies and I I, I, I really felt called the ministry.
So I left active duty for three years, from 2007 to 2009. I went to fuller seminary in Pasadena, California, and was a great kaleidoscopic place to get trained for ministry. It's kind of a kaleidoscopic seminary and perfect place to train, to go be an army chaplain for all the multiplicity of faith groups that you encounter in.
In the military. And so made it back to active duty in time to go straight to Afghanistan. Right after I recommissioned as a chaplain, it was kind of like a re repeat. I, I swore in and six weeks later, I was in Afghanistan as a chaplain in Kandahar summer, 2010, very bad place to be. I was in a support battalion, so I was not out like my fellow chaplains were on foot patrols.
With their guys and gals who were getting blown up. But I was the chaplain for the role two combat hospital and saw some pretty gnarly things that summer. And, and it was crazy, but it felt like a, a validation like, okay, for several years I was on the sidelines, like, okay, I'm here, I'm in it. This is like, this is the surge.
This was the biggest summer when president Obama had taken office and made that really hard call. Okay, well, we're gonna go ahead and search some troops in here and try to re you know, reestablish control of this situation, which had kind of been getting outta control. And so, you know, even talking about it now, I feel like my anxiety, like my stomach starting to like no up a little bit, I remembering just how stressful it was, but it felt like a validation.
And when I got home from that year, It was 11 months that I was there. We had our second, we had had our first son while I was in seminary and was on the GI bill. My wife had stayed home and found that she loved being a stay at home. Mom. She's an educator by training and she started homeschooling and that worked really well with our military lifestyle.
And we still do that today, more on that later, but You know, gosh, it, it just was a crazy time. And when I came home, I was immediately recruited to go to a couple of ranger units. And so I went to a range. I went back to the ranger school as a chaplain there for students and for instructors. And then while I was there, I was, I was hired to be the chaplain for third ranger battalion, which is kind of a storied unit.
They. Or the unit that if you've seen Blackhawk down, read the book or seen the movie, then that's the, the guys that were there with the Delta force operatives in 1993. So I was, I was deployed to Afghanistan with them in the fall of 2013 as part of a special operations task force and almost on the 20th.
Anniversary of Mogadishu. I mean, almost exactly the day after I had sent an email to task force today, we remember operation Catholic serpent and the Rangers who gave their lives and everything else. The same rifle company that had suffered casualties, a mass casualty in 1993, experienced a mass casualty, like within a day of the, the 20th anniversary.
And I was not on target with them that night, but I got there. I was, they, I mean, it was crazy. I get the word, Hey, there's some casualties down south. I'm up north in Bogram. They're like, Hey chaplain, go get on this aircraft. And so we flew down there and by the time the guys were coming off target, I was there with them and, you know, ministering to guys in that Rangers in this mass casualty environment was another kind of, kind of validation of sorts.
It's this strange thing as a chaplain. And now I feel guilt about that. Even sharing this story, I'm like, look, you're, you're using dead Rangers for attention. And like, there are all these things. You know, on my officer evaluation report, the Memorial service you did was the best I've ever seen. And this is coming from a ranger officer.
Who'd been to a lot of memorials, you know, and I'm like, so I'm doing a great job, but it's coming at a, a cost of, you know, oh, bad things have to happen for me to, to, to. You know, I, I minister that's where I, that's where I shine or that's where I go and do my best work is when people are suffering. It's kind of like nurses and, and doctors, you know, and the medics that I had served with the 18, 19 year old kids that are dealing with triple amputees and stuff, you know, in a role two hospital and in the surge.
So all that to say, like alcohol started, the tipping point started to come back in. When I, I had made it for about this 10 year stretch where I didn. I didn't really drink. I had, I was a pastor and I was, you know, well, you know, my denomination was like really kind of frowned on drinking, so I didn't drink.
But when I got to the Rangers is when I started to like, have a drink or two at night to just kind of unwind. And you know, you see me here on zoom, your listeners here, like how ADHD, like you can tell without having met me. Like, I'm a wired uptight kind of guy. I like, this is just who I am. I you know, I, I, I don't know how to be anything other than energetic, but there was this point where I was under so much pressure and so much stress in this high, this very prestigious unit.
And I had been kind of like pushed into it very quickly because I was qualified to do it. And that's something that usually a chaplain, we would have several years to prepare for it. For me, it was like your ranger qualified. We need you in Afghanistan. You want to go? You're going. And then when I got home, I was like, Hey, you wanna go to the Rangers?
Well, you don't say no to that. So of course I said, yes, So I started to have a beer or two to unwind at night. And my wife, my wife called it. This was almost 10 years ago now. And she said, if you're not careful, whenever you leave the army, we thought that would be a long time from then. You know, whenever you leave the army, you're gonna have a drinking problem.
And I was like, it's just a beer or two, what's the big deal. But when I did leave the army unexpectedly after a series of just really unexpected events, we had a, a change of faith. And it required me to resign being a chaplain. I went back to being an infantry officer to help transition out in the national guard.
And now I'm still in the army, but my families in. The civilian world and the stresses through the roof. And the part that I left out was our third son was born as a premi in the middle of this change of faith in the middle of the ranger regimen experience in the middle of the, all this chaos that's going on.
And, and the drinking I kept under. But once I left the active duty armies, when it really started, okay, I'm only one weekend, a month, two weeks in the summer, or. I, I did get a full-time national guard job at a nearby international guard base. And, but it was like I was able to drink at night or on the weekends and be okay.
It's like I was on active duty, but I wasn't. And so it started to kind of snowball there. And then I I realized that like, I can't do this. I, I actually resigned my command. I, I, I did something that I told my guys I've never seen an officer, a ranger or commander do, but I stood in front of him and said, guys, my, my personal, I said, my mental health is not in a place where I should be your commander.
I said, I can be your commander, but. I'm doing exactly what I warned all my guys did not to do as a chaplain, which is you don't sacrifice your family on the alter of your career. And so it was the simplest, but most difficult decision I've ever had to make. And I still deal with a lot of, you know, shame and guilt and that be that built into the drinking too.
Like I'm a failure. I fail, you know, what kind of ranger am I? I, I, I, I left a company command so I could, so I could quit so I could leave the military. And so now we're in 2017 and I'm having sleep issues. I've got my first. Real civilian job at Lowe's and my nickname on the sales floor. I'm gonna, I, the, the pattern in my life was I show up I'm energetic, I'm organized, I'm efficient.
I get stuff done. Good with people. Good with systems. So I started as a loss prevention and safety manager. Perfect fit for me as a former infantry officer, right. Security and like safety and. You know, inventory control and okay. It's great. Well, within 10 weeks I was promoted to assistant store manager.
10 weeks after that, there's a corporate restructure. They walk out the lady who had been in the, in the company for 20 years and been in that store for 10 years in the hardest ASM job. And they walked her out cuz she made too much money and they put me in her job. So I've been in the company 20 weeks.
I've been in ASM for 10 weeks and I just took this, you know? Oh and there, instead of there being four ASMs, now there's three because this is a. You know, trim down. So I'm like, what do I know? I, I knuckle down and I, but, but by this point, my nickname is spa because I'm flipping out on delivery drivers. I I'm waking up in the middle of the night.
You know, when the delivery driver gives me a lip about something or when an employee would no call no show. And I flip out because I'm like, what planet am I on? You don't just not do something. Or you, you know, when somebody tells you to do something, you do it. It's the world that I was in. So. You know, I, I realized after a year year and a half at Lowe's, I'm like, I care about people more than profits.
I had an opportunity to go run a soup kitchen and food pantry for our for our parish in inner city, Columbus was supposed to be a great fit. Just gonna run the food pantry actually to start out with within 90 days, I was the operations manager within a year. I was the director and. My fight or flight was being triggered every day.
This is where I really had to admit that I had PTSD because like, you know, like you can see it on screen right now with me, Deb. Like you can see my shoulders are picked up and I'm like, I'm, I'm tense. Cuz I'm talking about this stuff, you know, hyper vigilant hyper I'm hyperactive anyway, but I'm also hyper vigilant now because.
You know, when I had referred first self referred to the VA for care in 2017, I skipped past that I was having sleep issues cuz I was waking up worried about people's fridges . I mean, I was treating a fridge, like it was a, like, it was a combat resupply. And like what if this lady calls me tomorrow and she's freaking out on me on the phone and like, I, I couldn't go back to sleep and it, and so I self-referred just to help get help.
with sleep. But I, I, I got triaged into a social workers, a Marine who had served two tours in Iraq. Wonderful guy sat with me very patiently for a year. And finally, after a year he's like, Dana, do you want to, when do you wanna admit that you have trauma that you need to work on? He's like, because I read your file before you even sat down with me the first time and, and had you packed, he's like you're, you were a chaplain.
You dealt with all kinds of casualties and all kinds of things as an infantry officer and a chaplain. He's like, I, I knew you had trauma. When are you ready to admit that you had trauma? So I graduated from him to a trauma psychologist, and then finally, I, I admitted that I needed medication. And you know, I graduated from there to a psychiatrist who I'm still working with.
And so. Oh my gosh, that I don't know how long that was, but that was probably a 15, 20 minute ramble. I don't know how to get the, the days of our life saga of my life in any lesson than that. But I should probably let you get a question in edge wise. Well,
Deb: I, I appreciate you sharing that and your background and like thank you for your service.
You know, I can hear a lot of common themes in that where you feel guilty. Yeah. And where you're comparing yourself to others and comparing your situation to others. And I mean, that's common and, and it's interesting, like, It doesn't seem to matter what job we have, where we do have those ruminating thoughts.
Like you said, mm-hmm you were ruminating about a fridge delivery and it was kind of felt the same way in your body. as you were when you were active duty. Yeah, it, I just, I always, because, you know, I do work in healthcare and with nursing, you know, like you are dealing with life or death situations, but people like teachers, I work with a lot of teachers and.
They feel the same way. Like it's the same feeling in your body, no matter what you're dealing with. So we all have that commonality, but then we get, then that like builds upon itself. Like, well, I shouldn't be feeling this way because it's not life or death or it's not, or it's just a fridge or it's just.
So that was interesting
Dana: to me. No, it, yeah, it turns on, I say it turns on itself. I call it the vortex where, and, and I call it meta guilt. It's guilt about being it's I feel guilty about being about feeling guilt or I feel anxious about being anxious or I feel angry that I'm angry or whatever, instead of just letting myself feel that I think it was just, and it all vortex into a self hatred, a sense of being, you know, a failure and a fraud here I am.
I'm the counselor and I, you know, physician healed myself, right. Is is an old saying and is from, is a biblical scripture too. Like. Here I am. I'm the caregiver, but I'm, I'm the classic wounded healer, but I'm not, I'm, I'm not doing any of the things that that I I'm telling other people that they're supposed to be doing, like praying or like taking time to myself, like as an army officer, you, you know, you're, you're charged with caring for your people first and always, and you're supposed to take care of yourself, but there's not really time for that.
You really have to find ways. To care for yourself. And self-medicating with alcohol is one very common way that army leaders do that. And but on top of it, there just was like this sense that I was manipulating people that I don't really have PTSD, that I'm making this up for attention. And part of this is a little bit of, you know, ism of a Dana some of my idiosyncrasies with, with my neurosis or whatever, but like I had the sense that.
I don't really. And even now, I mean, I'm, I'm, I'm rated for dis I'm rated for VA disability, like compensated for PTSD, but I still have trouble accepting that even accepting that compensation was like, I'm milking this system. I'm I don't really have these problems. And you know, what was at stake in all?
This was like, I, I could lose my, I was, I was treating everything here in civilian life as though it was like when I was a jump master in the United States army. And I'm responsible for these paratroopers that. We're about to exit this aircraft in the middle of the night. And if I don't do my job, right, one of them's gonna die.
And here I am, I, now I'm in a soup kitchen where in a food pantry, in an inner city environment where we have a police officer there every day and I'm like, You know, I'm constantly on guard because there are people that are mentally unstable and there are people that have criminal, like very bad criminal records.
And I've got volunteers that, you know, are convicted felons and they're wonderful people, but you never, but they could also come in drunk or high and erratic and. You know, I'm trying to manage all these things. I've got volunteers coming at me telling me what I'm supposed to be doing, cuz they volunteered there for 20 years and I've got donors telling me what they should be doing.
You know, it's the adventures of nonprofit leadership, but it's in this, this environment where it's like the volumes turned up on everything and you know, I got a, the one day we didn't have a, a police officer there. I went out to ask an unruly guy to leave and I. You know, was on the phone to call nine one one.
I made the mistake of taking my eyes off him for a second and he sucker punched me and broke my jaw. And like, so there's all, all these traumas ha I'm, I'm never able to work on my trauma because I'm constantly being re-traumatized at work. And, but, but again, I'm working for my church. I should be. I should be doing this better.
I should, I should be enjoying this. I'm perfectly equipped as a leader to do this. Why am I not thriving here? And all, you know, you could handle a rifle platoon in Iraq, you could handle being a chaplain in a mass casualty in Afghanistan in a role two. Combat hospital and pray over this guy, who's missing limbs.
Like why, why can't you handle this? There's all that guilt and all that stuff that I'm transposing onto my civilian experience. And so what I was doing to cope with all of it was drinking and it was getting to the point there. And then the guilt, the meta guilt comes, cuz, well, you're a church leader and you're drinking.
And so you end up drinking to make that go away. You drink more and it just snowballs and it was it. It was terrible. So what happened was I finally during COVID the church made the, the difficult decision to shut down the soup kitchen because the building had a lot of maintenance issues that need, I mean, we were doing it out of the cafeteria of the old parish school.
That was a building that was over a hundred years old and nowhere up to code. It probably, and so they shut it down and they decided, and these sisters were coming in from a different order from a different parish or different diocese to come in and run it. That's what they, they do for their vocation.
And so they, the church decided to let the paid sta use it as like, okay, this is a natural transition point. We're gonna let the paid staff go. And so I just, I was kind of crushed by that. I had planned to leave anyway, but it really just threw me for a loop. And on my last day at the soup kitchen, I. Had concocted this crazy plan when I was drunk the night before.
That I was gonna leave that after my, because I haven't even gone into just the family stresses and the, you know, I was in grad school full time through all this. I'm trying to, you know, write a thesis about, I was doing a, a. A degree in writing, I was trying to write a thesis about an army chaplain and one of his infantry sergeants, which was like a conversation between two sides of myself.
I'm trying to do that while I'm doing trauma therapy and I'm being traumatized in this job and I'm drinking and I'm never really getting to anything in therapy because I'm always, I'm always just spinning my wheels in the mud. So I finally got to the point where I had just kind of given up, I, I had just kind of given up on life and I said, I'm gonna.
I just need to leave. I I'm nothing. I'm everything I'm doing is failing and I need to leave. And so, I mean, concocted, this plan where I bought it's 3:00 AM, I'm drunk. I bought a plane ticket, a train ticket, a bus ticket and a rental car. And I said like when I clock out tomorrow, you know, when I finish tomorrow, my last shift, I'm just gonna pick one and leave.
And the only reason I didn't leave is because my friend was the special duty police officer. That day. He's a hundred percent disabled. Marine veteran who had been blown up in Hellman and had his buddy die right next to him. Which again, I tell myself my traumas aren't as bad because my buddy didn't die.
You know? And I know nurses and doctors can have this type of thing that kind of goes on when you're in caregiving. It's like, well, did I have it as bad as somebody else? But my friend Cody was there and Cody helped save my life because, you know, he asked me right before he left. He's like, are you okay? I mean, my palms were sweaty.
Like I was a half an hour away from doing this. Like I was gonna. and and I was like, Nope. And he called a friend who was a police Lieutenant in the parish. They got a cruiser over and the same guys that responded to, to when I had my jaw broken came and they're like, Hey, aren't you, the guy that had your face punched in.
I'm like, yep. And now my, now my I blown metal head gasket. And so I left my last day at my job in a, not in cuffs, but, you know, they gave me a courtesy ride to the ER and I ended up in a VA hospital for several days. did in and out. VA got me referred to some I O P I did eight weeks of recovery via zoom, stayed sober for a year.
We're in the summer of 20, 21 to summer of or summer of 20, 20 to the summer of 2021 now. And I stayed sober on my own for a year, but then. I, I had been day trading and trying to stay at home and was making a killing, like a lot of people were in that like cash flush environment with all this funny money from stimulus and there's millennial types like me just buying stuff, you buy something that goes up.
I'm like, oh, this is, this is great. And then I lost everything. And then some, and then we had a bunch of family drama happen unexpectedly and extended family. And it was like, I finally caved and, and You know, last summer I, I, we were at a party and I was like, damnit, I'm 41 years old. I should be able to have a drink.
And, you know, I snuck a drink and I told my wife about it later. I was like, and I, and I played it as well. I just happened one. It's not a big deal. Oh no. Like within two weeks, I'm I'm drunk every day again. And, and it was because I had to go back to work. It was, I was depressed because I had to go back to work.
So now I'm trying to work nights. The, the other part I forgot to share is. Part of that. When I started staying home after, after losing my marbles and going to the, the VA hospital for a few days and getting sober was I stayed home to homeschool our boys, my wife you know found a job and she very graciously allowed me and, and they're getting older, we've got three sons and they're getting older and getting outta mom mama's boy phase.
And so it was a natural time for me. I'd been gone so much. I was like, wow, I get to spend time with my boys. It it's just been an incredibly crazy period. And what happened was I just relapsed in last fall, I'm working. I go to ups and it's supposed to be a four to 9:00 AM thing. I'm just gonna get back in.
A little bit, you know, five hours a day. Well, that very quickly became 1:00 AM to 9:00 AM. You know, six days a week instead of being, it, it, it just, it was a union kind of bait and switch sort of thing. And, and like, I, I was being given twice as much work as everybody else because I got it done because I don't know how to say no, because I have all this energy.
And so I'm burning myself out at this job. So I switched to Amazon around peak season last year, I'll work overnight and I'll do five hours at Amazon and it was fine. I thought it would help the drinking too, but no, all it did was I just started drinking at 4:00 AM when I got home from work and drank myself to sleep and then woke up slightly hung over never drunk during homeschool, but, you know, I would wake up feeling like crap and you know, not exactly father of the year and not exactly the kind of homeschool teacher that you want, you know, that, that you want your kids to have as someone who's like trying fighting a headache or, you know, not focused and.
So you know, it really took me hitting a rock, another rock bottom, this winter, where I had left the house for a few days. And I was like drunk in a cheap motel and, and having kind of a final Suray with alcohol. I call alcohol, my mistress. It's like when I left the army, who was kind of like my, my my lover, like I, you know, I gave her all of my time and attention and she told me how good I was, but she's a very jealous lover.
And when I left her, you know, the Army's a gas liter, and it, and it, it made it. Wrecked me and then made me feel like it was my fault that I was wrecked and, and I still love the army. I mean, maybe it's Stockholm syndrome. I don't know, but like I still, I dream about the army every night. I dream about being back in the army every single night because I miss it so much.
And so I, I got to this place, this winter, where I was in a hole and I just, I had started on this app called reframe in January. Kind of a new year's resolution sort of thing, and you know, was sober for a couple weeks and then found some excuse to drink again. But I'm, I'm dialing into these daily zoom calls and listening to people share.
Kind of like an AA sort of type meeting, reframe takes a different approach than AA, but it it's like that where you go and share. And if you're drinking, you know, you leave your camera off and you can just listen and chat and get in the chat. But I would just listen and there were some people that really inspired me.
And one in particular, her name is Vonda. She's very first episode. On my own podcast and I call her the spark that I needed to stop the madness. And she's a very vivacious and outgoing and just very inspirational person. And the way she spoke to herself, she's about 10 days ahead of me in sobriety.
And so the way she spoke to herself, Was so kind, she had a slip a couple weeks in where she drank and she didn't rake herself over the Kohls over it. She didn't, you know, and as I heard these things, I'm like, oh my gosh, like I, maybe I can do this. And I started getting LinkedIn with people in the Instagram community.
I created sort of a, an. Anonymous Instagram. And, you know, I hate social media and I was like, I'm not going back to social screws, social media, but all these people were like, here's my Instagram handle. Here's my Instagram handle. And so I thought I'll go on and just be a lurker, kind of like I did on my app and on, on that app.
And so as I started to get connected with people, I realized like I can do this. And so my sober date's February 16th, 2022. As of this filming, recording you know, I'm coming up on six months. I started my own podcast as a way just to keep myself accountable but also to help other people in early sobriety.
And I, I just love meeting people. I'm a natural extrovert. And one of the things that had happened to me over the last few years was I started to hate people and I use COVID an excuse to stay away from people. And to not trust people and, you know, I, I, and after being hurt by people that we didn't expect to be hurt by, like, it, it just, you know, I kind of went into my shell and, and I found in sobriety now that I've found a way, not that you have to start a podcast in sobriety, but like, you know, I think.
For me, the key was just reaching out and connecting and taking that uncomfortable first step of connecting with someone. And I connected with Vada and she connected me with a few of other ladies who I'm in, I'm in a text group with like six, with like six ladies who are like my big sisters. And so people might think that's really strange, but they like, they, those ladies have saved me from drinking multiple times where I'm like, I'm like I'm in a bad craving right now.
You know, I'm a mile away from the store. I, I know. I, I know I shouldn't. I know I won't, but I need you guys to have me for, I need you guys to keep me accountable on my way home. And you know, for the next hour it was like text me when you're home, text me when you've taken a cold shower, text me when you've done this text me when you've done that, because they were just walking me through.
You know, kind of like the algorithm of what you do and different types of cravings. And so yeah. Sorry. I kind of hijacked the conversation again there. What, what else do you wanna ask me? No,
Deb: I think that's great. So for you, I um, It sounds like finding a community finding connection and then kind of embracing your identity as Alka hall free.
I'm looking at your Al
Dana: I'm a guy. Yeah.
Deb: Right. And just owning it and then helping others along the way, which sounds like that is something you naturally
Dana: do. Yeah. I say in the introduction of my podcast that, you know The, you know, after I got, or I discovered through, through that, that particular app and Vonda and others that I've told you about, you know, I discovered the not so secret solution to sobriety, which is finding and contributing to a community.
I believe that that's You, I, I think that that's such a critical ingredient and not that you have to be an extra, a super energetic Agh D extrovert in order to do that. But I do believe and, and again, I'm married to an introvert, so I, I, I don't ever wanna make it sound like extroverts are better.
We're just different. And we tend to get more attention. And so it seems like extroverts get praised more. The reality is if it weren't for the introverts, then, you know, like we would, . Explode the entire operation, like, like we need introverts to balance this out, but if you are naturally, and, and I, and I had that introverted experience that I told you about where I was like, I just wanted a hole and I didn't want to connect with someone.
So I, I had an, I had at least a taste of what it's like to be an introvert. And I recognized that like, I have to connect with someone else and I have to, I have to risk trusting someone else I have to, I don't want to right now, but I have to. And I've actually found that the distance of Instagram has really helped me because I wish that I could go hang out with these ladies and have lunch, or I wish that I could connect with these other friends that I've made people that I've had as podcast G podcast, guests, men, and women from all over the world.
But it also kind of helps keep that to keep that distance, I think. And maybe it's one of the reasons why the Instagram thing kind of works or the social media thing kind of works. Oh
Deb: yeah. I think like Instagram, the Instagram sober, sober, curious community is pretty amazing. And like you said, I mean, that is a, it's a great tip for people.
Like just. Start a anonymous Instagram account, use the hashtag sober or sober, curious, and start following people. And then you will discover like you are not alone and it's a safe place to do it. Yeah.
Dana: Like you're the same. And, and the other thing that I left out of that process of, of finally making a decision to stop drinking and really connecting with some people was I had to take pressure off myself.
And. So the word of advice that I would give for your listeners who are sober, curious, or thinking like, I can't do this. It's so overwhelming. I mean, you talked about that in your recent episode with with Beth where you're like it just, when you start out, it feels the idea of forever, I think is what you said feels so overwhelming.
And it does, and we know it's just one day at a time. Sometimes it's one hour, sometimes it's one minute at a time. But, but still the thought of like, am I really never going, not drink again? I have an episode with my friend, Carrie, who we called it, maybe when we're 80, cuz she had had dinner next to this sweet little old couple that were the, the wife ordered a diet Coke and the husband order a margarita.
And she's like, is that gonna be me? Like, am I gonna be the wife that like doesn't. Drink when we're, she's like, well, maybe in when I'm 80, I can order a margarita, but like, I don't need to worry about when I'm 80, I'm 42 right now. And, and I tell people all the time, like, whatever day you're on, if you're on day one 70, something like me, you're on day three.
You're on day negative one. Like you're not even on day, zero or day one, whatever. We're all on the same day. Like we've all got an opportunity to. To make a decision about what to do today and right now. And so take some pressure off yourself. If you're in that sober, curious place where you're like, I gotta, I gotta go to AA meetings or I gotta get an app and, or I gotta go to what, I gotta get a program.
I gotta get a sponsor. I gotta do all these things. Maybe if you're feeling pressured by the whole thing, like I was like all these expectations that you're actually taking on yourself that you think everyone else has for you. But I was actually taking on myself. Try to give yourself some grace and some time and understand that when you're ready, you'll be ready.
And I knew that night in that cheap motel room, when I was having my like last SW, like I said, my, my, my last fling with my mistress. Who I have now broken up with. And I really hope it's for good. I, I, there's the siren call. She calls me back even just yesterday. I had like this last couple days I had a craving where I was like, I just wanna drink over this.
I'm so tired of, I just wanna have relaxation. Like I just wanna have quiet because when you're a PTSD and ADHD combined, it's like, there's never quiet. and yeah. And that was an easy button. Right. But. If you're in a no matter where you're at, just take a small step to try it out. Maybe, maybe try a day without, maybe pick a weekend and say, I'm gonna do a weekend without alcohol, or I'm just gonna do a Friday night with alcohol and see how I feel Saturday morning and write down a list of pros and cons or things.
These are things that I gained from that. And these are things that I lost and just take some pressure off yourself. As you're talking, you're listening to the king of like, I have to do this. Right. And I have to do it all and I have to make everybody happy. I I'm like the master of that domain. And I think the thing that helped me actually take the, the first step was saying, I'm gonna allow myself to drink for a while.
And, and that sounds like so counterintuitive. I'm glad you're nodding right now, cuz I'm like, I feel like this is heresy. I'm not supposed to say this, but if you are in a place where you feel like you. Can't right now, then maybe just take a small step and just try something small and don't put this whole thing on yourself.
Like I have to quit. Maybe it's I can try not drinking for a day or I can try not drinking for a week or whatever, or maybe do a dry a well or past dry July. Do a, do a 30 day challenge. I Beth, I know. Or I'm sorry, Deb. I know you. A 30 day program, you even have, have like a 10 day free trial thing. Maybe you do Deb's 10 day.
I'm not compensated by Deb for this, but I'm gonna shout out her program. That's free. The 10
Deb: day one is free. It's free. Yeah, totally. I, I think that's so key. And I also think you can work on yourself while drinking and yes, your, your morality and your value as a person does not. Matter, you know, it's not connected to you are not a bad person for drinking and a good person for not drinking.
Like right. You are a good person, no matter what, like you, so taking some of the morality and, and drama. I talk a lot about like data, not drama. So taking some of the drama away from drinking. And then, like you said, you can still read the Quizlet. You can still go to those meetings or take a program, but also at the same time, be learning the tools and practicing them.
Yeah. And you don't have to
Dana: be perfect. No, you don't and you're not gonna be perfect. And I like, Hmm. And again, I talk about slipups. It's a different terminology than kind of the, the way that I've. Most of the big book. I didn't read the second half with like all of the testimonies, but like, I've read the main part of the big book.
And I understand it's like, we all kind of internal, at least if you grew up in the 20th century, At all, even if you didn't, even if you're, you were born after the, the turn of the millennium, like there's still so much inertia and momentum behind this idea of alcohol free living that comes from a, and it's not bad, I'm not bashing AA.
I'm just saying that there are these thing, these pre suppositions that we bring in without realizing it. And it's okay to take a step back and say, what does sobriety look like for me? What would, what would a different relationship with alcohol look. For me, and maybe you're not a problem drinker. Like I am where you maybe you'll find through the process that you can have just one or two
And if you can, I'm like, I'm so jealous of you because I wish that I could have one or two. I've tried it so many times and it's just not who I am. But my point in saying all that was like, you don't have to do this one particular program. You don't have to do take this one. Particular thing. And again, you're talking to a guy that was an ordained minister that had all of these religious and theological layers of expectations and guilt laid on things.
And, and I've kind of put the pause on all that too. So. I, I'm not saying you have to, you know, suspend everything that you've ever believed, but just understand, like there's so much less pressure on you than you realize. Like you just only put pressure on yourself, that's you doing it for yourself? And it's the kind of pressure that produces results.
And the only way I created PR good pressure on myself was by absolving myself of all of the external pressures and saying, what is it that I want to do here? What is it that, that I need to do for myself and my marriage and my family and my sobriety apart from what AA or reframe or any other program's gonna tell me.
And just understanding that I, there is inherent good in me, whether I drink or not. That's a big, difficult step, and I'm still wrestling with that one. But. Cuz even when you said that, Deb, I was like, I was like, oh, like, oh no. Oh, I, I, I really struggle to say good, positive things about myself, but the reality is like six months into sobriety.
Almost six months in. I can say, you know what? I'm not a bad guy. I can tell you that. I'm maybe I have trouble saying I'm a good guy, but I can at least tell you now I'm not a bad guy. Yeah. I always made myself the bad guy, but I'm not a bad. Yeah. And maybe
Deb: just being like I'm okay.
Dana: I'm okay. Yeah. Well,
Deb: how has your life changed in the last six months?
Dana: since it's not, yeah, I think for me, it's just sitting in things it's just not pressing that easy button. It's like allowing myself to feel all the feels and recognizing that cravings are not gonna last as long as we think they do. And I think it's because before. I would have a craving and then just drink.
Like it, it, there was no, I really didn't put much space between it or if there was space, because say I was at work, it was like, okay, when I got home, I'm super stressed. Screw this. When I get home, I'm gonna drink. I didn't actually create some space when I got home to sit and think, you know, maybe I'm stressed and I can just go to bed without drinking.
Now what happens is when I get a craving because there's not alcohol in the house, there's a, there's an extra step that I would have to go get. And I have to sit in those feelings for at least a little while. The like, I, I think the science of it, and you can correct me on this. The reframe app talks about how most cravings last 20 minutes or less.
And that my experience is that they don't even usually last that long when I just allow them to run my core, run their course when I don't place pressure on myself to. Have the craving over with, or I don't price pressure on myself to not have the craving at all, or the I'm having this craving. That means that I'm a whatever, instead of just, I can say, you know what I really wanna drink right now.
What's going on behind that. And what's gonna, what's gonna happen if I do drink. And I kind of up the, a, on myself. I mean, I kind of pushed all in on it and I'm like, well, I, I created a podcast. So I'm like, if I drank then outgo the podcast and out goes these hundreds of, I mean, not that people would reject me, but like all this work that I've done is kind of built up.
So it it's a little different for me. And I would say it's a little easier in that way, but it was hard at the beginning cuz I'm like, well, if I start this thing, then that's kind of a big, a big step, but that's the impulsive ADHD guy in me. I guess worked in my advantage for once. So
Deb: no, I, I agree. I mean, I hear, I have alcohol tipping point.
I'm like, I can't drink. Like I can't let those people down and why would I want to, you know, but yeah. You're you purposefully built in this accountability. Yeah. Which is smart. Well, and if you don't and you're out. Yeah. You're.
Dana: Yeah, it's I'm out how ING. Well, and, and that was a critical step. I think too, was I carried all this guilt and shame about things that I, some of the things that I shared on this call, like, I, I was a company commander in the national guard and I, and I relinquished that command because of a deployment.
Like I basically said, no, I'm not going. And I. I basically quit. That's something that I, I carried this burden for so long. And even now, as I said, I'm like, oh my God, I can't believe I'm saying this, but it, it takes time and you gotta work through these things. And I'm at the place now where I had to say some of those things publicly, just because of the type of personality that I am, I needed to get that out.
And so again, if you're, if you're not a super energetic chatty Cathy, Like extrovert like me. You don't have to go start a podcast and tell your whole life story the entire world, but you probably do need to connect with at least one other person. And, and that's why the AA model of, of a sponsored is wonderful.
Because even if you don't do AA proper, like you gotta have some people that you, at least one person that you can connect with. And even if you start out with a spirit animal, like Al that you can talk to an inanimate object and allow yourself to do that. Like, I mean, Al's head turns and everything. So I'll have him like, like, maybe you're not a goofball like me, but you need somebody.
I a goofball.
Deb: I am all in that I I'm curious. Well, I kind of wanna talk about what we were touching on before we started recording about how and we could go longer. Okay. But how. Your experience has been being like a, a, your typical white man, middle aged. Oh yeah. Right. And then in this realm right now, like there's a lot of women in the sober, curious yes.
Community, a lot of in the gray area drinkers. And, but, you know, like, We're finding more and more men are kind of coming out and embracing this modern recovery. And so can you speak to like the different people
Dana: and yeah, I mean, I, that was part of me not wanting to say anything too is because, I mean, I am your stereotypical.
like 20th century white dude. I mean, I'm, I'm, , I'm white male heterosexual, Mar monogamous, married, single family, home, three kids, Midwest middle income like all of the, and I, and I was a Christian, like, I was like all of these things. And so it's like, ah, what do I have to, who's gonna want to hear what I have to say.
And as I got connected in the Instagram community, I told you I'm in a text group with chat group with several sisters. Like my Instagram friends are probably 90, 95, probably 90%, at least female. And, you know, in the age of like, 35 to 60, which is great. And I'm so glad that women are leading the way in this and showing us like, listen, it, it's better for our bodies to do this.
It's better for our minds. It's better for our souls. It's better for our relationships and our families. But for guys, especially, you know you know, guys who've been in manly, man, even if you're not, cuz I'm not really a manly, you called me a badass at the beginning. I'm like I'm the most touchy feely like guy that ever probably was ever an infantry officer.
Like when I went to the ranger regiment as a chaplain. The regimental psychologist was like, you know, like you're the polar opposite of the per the personality profile of who we usually hire here. And I'm like, yeah, I know. I never, would've been an infantry officer in the range regiment and that's okay.
Like, but my, my point in saying all this is just. Like you can, you can be an average dude. You can be even a, a, a macho stereotypically masculine manly dude, and get into this space and think, gosh, this is so soft and this is so touchy, feely but. The reality is there are a lot of dudes out there. There's a guy named Shane and I'm forgetting his last name, but his podcast is called that sober guy.
And, and he said, and his tagline is like, we help dudes stop drinking. Like there are guys out there that are doing this that are plenty of male podcasters. You just gotta look for 'em. And there are plenty of male Instagrammers. You just gotta kind of do some digging for 'em and, and you'll find them faster than you think.
And you'll be shocked at how much. How quickly people will reach out to you and say that if you reach out to them and. Hey, like, I, I really am in the starting phases of this. Like, can you help me? You'll find someone that is just like you, that's just where you're at and that your voice, no matter who you are whether you are the most stereotypically, you know, average so-called average American dude, like me or whatever, however you identify, like there are people out there.
That are going through it all. And that is what I was been looking for. Ever since I left the military in the military, we all wear the same thing and I are there racist, sexist, misogynist, homo, phob. Are there people who are assholes in the military of all different types? Yes. Like the, it they're there, like, because they're everywhere, but we, 99% of us did not care because we were all committed to the same mission.
We all wore the same thing. We were all dedicated to the same purpose. And in civilian life, it's been like, I feel like such a fish outta water, because at, at, you know, say in a corporation or even in a nonprofit, like not everybody is there for the same reason. And in sobriety, everybody is in this for the same purpose.
Like we're in this, not just really it's, it's about the alcohol, but it's not really about the alcohol we're, we're here to stop drinking, but really we're here to have the kind of life that we've always wanted to have that we, we know theoretically is possible, but that we don't think is possible. So. Yeah, I, I hope that answered your question and got to some of the heart of what we were talking about before.
Yeah. I was
Deb: sharing, you know, my brother was on the podcast. Hi, Chris. I'm sure he is listening. Yeah. And he's just like, we're all the dudes . Yeah. We're all the cool sober dudes. And, and so I think it's just so important for there to be like, you're changing the stereotype and you're cha like you're allowing other men, the typical man to.
Change how they communicate and how they get in touch with their feelings and how they can change their drinking and how they can like be part of different groups and, you know, be with different people who identify in different ways. You know, like you said, like, We have this commonality of, we have problems with drinking and we have this shared commonality and it's, it's so amazing that we can connect on that level and then under, so then we just know underneath it all, we're just all humans, we're just all flesh and blood.
And you know, like it's, it's really amazing.
Dana: It's the only place I've seen where a. A Trumpster and a never Trumper could sit next to each other and have a relationship is either the military or in the sober community. Like in, it's such a polarized time. And you're talking to a guy who studied political science and shows a different path because I recognize, like I was not going to thrive in inside the beltway in Washington and thankful that I never got stationed in the Pentagon, even though it would've been fascinating, like, I, I.
I just want to be with people who are real. I just wanna be real with people. And I want to be with people who are real and in the sober world, you're gonna find the most real people, at least that I find it it's the community that I've been desperately looking for for the last seven years, because I have felt so.
Lonely. And so like, mm-hmm, I'm getting a little choked up like that. I, I have, I felt so alone since leaving the uniform. And like I said, I dream about it every night. I dream about being back in and I'm so happy in those dreams because I'm around people that get me and who I get them. And I could meet someone for the first time and immediately have a common vernacular and a common, like a common understanding of what we're going through.
And it's that way. Now I meet somebody on Instagram. I mean, Deb, I just met you this morning. I, I already feel like I know you, I already feel like I trust you more than I trust a lot of people. You know, I've known for my entire life in other contexts, it's just an instant connection that yeah. People are gonna get you.
And even if you're just sober, curious, I don't, I don't mean to say it just over curious, like, like we're better than you. No, no matter where you're at on your journey, if you're just exploring it right now is what I mean. Like, you have people that get you, like, if you are listening to this and you're drinking and you're like, I feel bad cuz I'm drinking and I'm listening to a podcast about drinking.
I get you because that was me. Like, so just know that no matter who you are, if you're the average person, if you're the, if you're from somebody who's not the stereotypical average person, like I am, whatever that means. I hate that it it's still even couch that way because we are. The reason, the average stereotypical person is a human, like Deb just said, we are all just human.
There is no, there all these divisions that we make for race and class and politics and all these other things. I hate to say it, but it, it. This way, but I'll just say it they're all bullshit because we are all one race. We're one people, we're all cousins like, like we are all humans and there is a commonality in alcohol addiction that cuts across every single possible dividing line that we've created in human society.
And so I, I promise you, you know, money back guarantee. Like if you connect with a sober person, you're probably gonna find some. I I, well, I will guarantee you will find a soap at least once over person who you are gonna get and who is gonna be like family to you. One of my mentors, I'll say this, and then I'll shut up.
Like one of my mentors on the reframe app says you have your biological family and then you have your logical family. And when I'm on those reframe calls when I'm texting with my sober sisters in that text group, when I'm on Instagram, when I'm doing. Podcast, you know, an alcohol tipping point, like I'm with my logical family, I'm with my family.
That gets me. And these are my sober sisters and brothers. That honestly, it's not just lip service. It's not just some wooo stuff. Like you are my family. You listen to this podcast, you you're part of my family. And I thank you for being there and giving me a chance to talk to you.
Deb: Oh, that's perfect. I mean, that kind of made me tear up too, because for so long, like I just felt alone.
Yeah. And like, am I the only person that has this problem and struggles with it and struggles with it in a different way? Like you said, like there's not one way to have PTSD. There's not one way to have an addiction. Like it's so different. And just knowing that you are not alone. You and finding people who get you that is so key, like you kept saying, like, I get you, like, we get you.
If you were listening to this, I, you know that, I just love that. So do reach out. Do you know how can people find you Dana?
Dana: So I'm on Instagram at Iki alcohol goodbye. And if Instagram and my link, tree's there in my bio. If Instagram's not your jam, you can just go to Iki alcohol, goodbye.com. And it's got links to all my different social accounts and latest episodes and stuff like that.
I, I mean, the podcast is listed on any, on almost every major platform out there from apple to audible, to Stitcher, to Spotify and a YouTube channel too. So no matter what, your, no matter what, what's your jam. I, I think I got way for you to, to listen or watch or connect and, and reach out to me. You can DM me anytime.
I would be honored to to come alongside you and help connect you with other people who are wherever you're at in your sober. Yeah.
Deb: And I'll, I'll put the links to how to find you in my show notes. Awesome. So, awesome. I really appreciate you coming on the show. That's fun. Thank you. Yeah. I'm looking forward to being on your show.
Yes, I can't
Dana: wait to have you, so I'll keep that. My fan of Deb's show, then you're gonna have to come over and yeah, shameless plug for my show to come and listen to Deb. That's gonna be coming soon, probably in September is my guess. Yeah.
Deb: Perfect. Well, thank you.
Dana: Yes. Thank you, Deb.