"All Roads Meet in Scranton" with Kelly Brown

October 02, 2022 Joe Van Wie / Kelly Brown Season 2 Episode 33
"All Roads Meet in Scranton" with Kelly Brown
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"All Roads Meet in Scranton" with Kelly Brown
Oct 02, 2022 Season 2 Episode 33
Joe Van Wie / Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown has been sober since 2008 after a 30 year drinking career.  Her journey towards recovery was not easy.  In and out of the rooms for 4 years, she struggled to let go of the perceived comfort of alcohol and the idea she would never be happy without it.  Multiple rehabs, detoxes, IOPs and counselors were not piercing through the wall of fear she had created over decades of addiction. That changed once she was out of options and given the gift of desperation.

Kelly grew up in a suburb outside of New York City and lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Istanbul, and NYC before settling down in the Scranton area in 2008.  Her professional experience includes executive recruiting, human resources, media, and advertising. Since 2013, Kelly has worked for a local non-profit.  Today, her career is beyond her wildest dreams, just like the rest of her life. 

#recoveryispossible #recovery #substanceusedisorder

📢 **Announcement!** 📢. We want to introduce our new 24-hour, 7-days-a-week hotline for crisis or substance use treatment. Whether you are seeking help for the first time or are an alum in need of immediate assistance, our team is here for you around the clock. 📞 **Call 1-800-HELP-120 anytime, day or night.** #ScrantonRecovery #ScrantonRecovery #ScrantonRecovery Support the Show.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Kelly Brown has been sober since 2008 after a 30 year drinking career.  Her journey towards recovery was not easy.  In and out of the rooms for 4 years, she struggled to let go of the perceived comfort of alcohol and the idea she would never be happy without it.  Multiple rehabs, detoxes, IOPs and counselors were not piercing through the wall of fear she had created over decades of addiction. That changed once she was out of options and given the gift of desperation.

Kelly grew up in a suburb outside of New York City and lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Istanbul, and NYC before settling down in the Scranton area in 2008.  Her professional experience includes executive recruiting, human resources, media, and advertising. Since 2013, Kelly has worked for a local non-profit.  Today, her career is beyond her wildest dreams, just like the rest of her life. 

#recoveryispossible #recovery #substanceusedisorder

📢 **Announcement!** 📢. We want to introduce our new 24-hour, 7-days-a-week hotline for crisis or substance use treatment. Whether you are seeking help for the first time or are an alum in need of immediate assistance, our team is here for you around the clock. 📞 **Call 1-800-HELP-120 anytime, day or night.** #ScrantonRecovery #ScrantonRecovery #ScrantonRecovery Support the Show.

Stop by our Apple Podcast and drop a Review!

Support The Show

Joe Van Wie  0:01  
Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of all better. I'm your host, Joe van wie V. If you like what you hear please stop by all better an apple podcasts rate review. This helps us stay relevant and feel their own recovery. Today's guest is a friend. It's Kelly Brown. Kelly has been sober since 2008. After a 30 year drinking career, her journey towards recovery. It's not easy. In and out of the rooms for four years, she struggled to let go of the perceived comfort of alcohol and the idea she would never be happy. Without it. Multiple rehabs, detoxes, intensive outpatient and counselors. Were not piercing through the wall of fear she had created over decades of addiction. That changed when she was autumn options. Given the gift of desperation, Joey's words, Kelly grew up in a suburb outside of New York City. She's lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Istanbul, in New York City, before settling down in Scranton area. 2008. That's when we met became friends. Her professional experiences include executive recruiting, human resources, media, and advertising. Since 2013, he has worked for a local nonprofit today. She believes her career is beyond her wildest dreams. Just like the rest of her life. Let's meet Kelly. Hey, eight. No, no, no, we're alive. Yeah. Welcome back. I hate admitting to what it is we're actually doing here. But, you know, there is no veil on a podcast. This is our second go around. I had some kind of technical issue. This board, Kelly's back, and we had a great discussion. Let's welcome Kelly Brown. Thanks for coming.

Kelly Brown  2:15  
Thanks, Joe. Nice to be here again, again. Yeah. Well, we

Joe Van Wie  2:19  
got your picture in the can. Yeah. And I recorded your intro. We're given a little behind the scenes here. But we had a nice discussion. And, you know, we could let it flow again. I wanted to get to understand where you're from. And you lived in a lot of places and kind of stream that along. Because there's a theme that you came to Scranton, and this is this where you found some peace.

Kelly Brown  2:48  
This is where I found my peace. Absolutely.

Joe Van Wie  2:51  
So let's start from the beginning. Where did you grow up?

Kelly Brown  2:57  
I grew up in a town called Scarsdale, which is a suburb of Manhattan. And I lived there until this college age. My dad was a lawyer in New York City and my mom was a housewife and have a younger brother and sister went to a very good high school there was a good student, good kid. But I also once I discovered alcohol at age 12. That was a preoccupation for me. But I stayed in in New York until college, I went to Vermont to college and then went back to the city for a couple of years. And then I decided I wanted to live in a city but just not New York City. This is 1988 88. And then I moved to

Dan Kennedy's. Yeah.

And I moved to Chicago, because I saw it in a movie. And I thought it looked really beautiful. So I just decided that's where I would live and found a job and moved out there and spent 13 years there. And then I moved to Los Angeles for three years and then I moved to Istanbul for six months. And then I moved back to New York City for four years. And then I came to beautiful Scranton to get sober

Joe Van Wie  4:24  
just for the setting. Your hometown. It's it's a town where most people work professionally. In Manhattan. All the parents. Yeah. What was school like? There was a pretty elite.

Kelly Brown  4:40  
Yeah, I went to public school. But our school at the time was ranked 11th in the United States for schools for high schools or property taxes. Yeah, it was it was just a fantastic High School. I'm actually going to my 40 of high school reunion next month. 40 40s

Joe Van Wie  5:00  
Now, you see how scary it is, in comparison. You see people are friends for generations. It's like, you know, was there any of that appeal going on? Do you see that? Like, multi generational friends? Are you still friends with people from high school?

Kelly Brown  5:17  
I am. Yeah. I mean, I wouldn't say that we are in touch is closely because we don't live in the same place. There's lot of scattering. Yeah, but you know, I don't know if it's just high school in general, I feel closer to my high school friends than I do some of my college friends even though I'm very close to a lot of my college friends. There's just that you grow up together, because you really go to like, you know, elementary. For most of us, we did the entire, you know, procession together so we know each other for almost our entire childhoods. And so yeah, I mean, I feel like we had a small high school 140 kids in our graduating class.

Joe Van Wie  5:55  
Yeah, cuz I, I'm not trying to embarrass you, but that where you're from, I'm trying to see like a hidden value. And, and Scranton, like, is the town that kind of, you know, ran out of steam, coal. But there's an infrastructure and a community here that's multigenerational. It's hard to see that value when you're from here until maybe you go to at that time when you do go to school. But you end up with friends that you've had from first grade, second grade, and I bring friends home from New Jersey or Boston. And they would see this it was foreign to them. They thought it was only something in an 80s film. So so that experience those formative years of of growing up there really makes bonds, right?

Kelly Brown  6:44  
Yeah, although I mean, I see the I'm really thinking about Scranton versus Scarsdale in terms of like, If I lived there, if I never left there, what I had still have the same friends, I think I would have a lot of the same friends. Only because I do know there are a lot of people that stayed in the area that their kids go to the same school that we went to, because it is a nice place, and it's close to the city. And if you work in the city, it's you know, it's a great place to raise your family.

Joe Van Wie  7:17  
I mean, any direction to it's not. It wouldn't be the common experience. If you go to any of the five boroughs, which is close. I don't think that is distinctly happening after 20 People lose contact bonds break or fade away. So when I hear you describe where you grew up, I always see that like, that kind of bond. That's, it's it's funny, because alcoholics will never forget those bonds because they're formed around what would you say? 12. To 14, you started drinking?

Kelly Brown  7:50  
Oh, 12 Yes, well, yeah.

Joe Van Wie  7:54  
We don't. It's strange talking about again, but prior to 12 without putting, you know, pointing out one, there's say there's no event. What was it about drinking? That you would call a bond, like you bonded with alcohol? That didn't seem to happen without it? How would you describe it?

Kelly Brown  8:18  
I think, you know, because I grew up well, I mean, we had this conversation. So for forgive me for repeating myself. But you know, the story that you know, I grew up in a in a household where both my parents who are both deceased now drank a lot. I don't, you know, want to call them alcoholics. But they drank more than they should have. And I mean, you know, more than was normal or average or they weren't temperate drinkers. They were heavy drinkers. Very heavy drinker.

Joe Van Wie  8:52  
Therapeutic preppy drinkers. Yeah. This is our therapy.

Kelly Brown  8:56  
And you know, I grew up in the 70s. So I mean, I was born in the 60s. But you know, I was, you know, from age five to 15. It was the 1970s for me. So, culturally, for them. It was very normal. A lot of their friends drank a lot. And we were Catholic, Irish alcoholic, the CIA thing.

Joe Van Wie  9:20  
Did you guys have any ashtrays in the house that were furniture in themselves?

Kelly Brown  9:27  
No. We had a lot of ashtrays. Yeah, a lot of Astros? Yeah,

it was a piece of furniture. Yeah. Did you have lighters on tape? Oh, yes. Like the

letters and giant ashtrays. Not just like small delicate ones. No.

Joe Van Wie  9:42  
My grandmother. She lived up the street here. And she always she didn't smile, but there was a huge ashtray, the dining table downstairs and a little table lighter.

Kelly Brown  9:56  
For people salutely Oh, yeah. And there were entertainers and they won out a lot. And, you know, they had fun they, I mean, there was a lot of, you know, I, we talked about, like, what was the pole or the change with the alcohol. I mean, I remember, you know, thinking, you know, that there was a lot of fun in the house, but there was also a lot of scary stuff going on fighting some violence, you know, it was just, it didn't feel safe as a as a kid and a lot of the time. And as the oldest child, I felt like I needed to protect my siblings a lot of the time and I there was that side of it, then there was the side when everything was okay. And they were just, you know, fun parents. And I felt like the the way to bond I told you this story last time, too. I felt like I if I could have a sip of my dad's beer, I would bond with him. And he really drank scotch. But he was, you know, during the day, he was drinking a beer watching a football game. And I asked if I could have a sip and I was eight. And he gave me a sip. And I really felt like this was the moment we bonded, connected. Yeah. And I was not a kid who was turned off by the alcohol, even though it saw some things made me fearful, I still was attracted to it on some level. So at 12, when I started drinking, I realized why I was attracted to it. Because all that fear, and the anxiety that I carried around, which is naturally me plus, there was some environmental stuff, you know, some familial stuff that was going on. But that all went away. I did not have that feeling. And I had a lot of access to alcohol, because, you know, my parents had a lot alcohol, so I could drink more than most people when I wanted to.

Joe Van Wie  11:54  
And everybody drank. And there's mixed messages, like, so it's hard to directly associate alcohol, maybe with the the uglier things that can it be experienced in a house? It's like, how do you separate the alcohol from the people, but then when you see your dad, you know, kind of like, lighten up, connect, maybe show more emotion? Yes, more affection? Or you relating the alcohol to it? And I mean, you gotta be you now could get a sip of beer, which is for kids.

Kelly Brown  12:31  
Exactly. But

Joe Van Wie  12:33  
that is pretty a meaningful moment. That, but the dichotomy of having conflicting messages, it's the world's not safe. Yeah. Did you associate the uglier parts with maybe could be being caused by alcohol? Or was it I would say,

Kelly Brown  12:50  
I did. I saw both sides of it. But somehow it didn't turn me off of, you know, I do hear a lot of people you know, in AAA and other places that are children of alcoholics. And they say they're, you know, they swore they'd never drink, or certainly not turn into that. And I never that didn't cross my mind. I just, yeah, yeah. Didn't bother me about

Joe Van Wie  13:16  
sleeping before. 12, before alcohol, like, like, for most people, the timing of things getting loose is usually at night. This is nighttime stuff.

Kelly Brown  13:27  
Nighttime stuff, for sure. And just,

Joe Van Wie  13:30  
I'm curious, because of my relationship with my own sleep prior to eight and not feeling the world safe. that stayed with me until I was an adult in and out of recovery. I would always be assessing every threat that could ever happen to me in my life. If I went to bed too early, I always have to go into the bedroom when I'm exhausted. Out of the just the terrifying idea when when my anxieties I have what I'm going to be thinking about.

Kelly Brown  14:00  
Right? How Kahal over really

Joe Van Wie  14:03  
medicated and help that for you. Just take it easy go to pass out somewhere.

Kelly Brown  14:08  
Absolutely. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  14:09  
I think that starts for me. I don't know how you you relate to this. It's kind of starts early. When I look back, at least in hindsight, I don't know if I'm looking back accurately. But I'm like, that's kind of a feedback loop that starts in the first eight years of your life that repeats itself. Well, or Shelbourne unless you can kind of look at it.

Kelly Brown  14:31  
I don't recall having trouble sleeping per se. I, which is interesting, because one of the things that terrified me about getting sober was the idea that I'd never be able to sleep because alcohol played such an incredible role in me passing out and getting to sleep. Yeah, well, I know it's not real sleep. Now, but at the time, you know, it was the only way I could, you know actually stopped the anxiety which I knew would overtake my brain? And, you know, I would not be sleeping. Without it. That's that was my feeling anyway. But I don't recall it being an obstacle when I was younger or at any point, my youth or beyond, because by the time I started drinking, it was no longer an issue.

Joe Van Wie  15:24  
No, yeah. What are the wild are descriptions? You know, Kyle pop ish. He was. He's a, he's a great guy. I call

Kelly Brown  15:35  
Kyle. He said,

Joe Van Wie  15:38  
he described it once. And I was just like, I was laughing, because I know what it feels like. He's like, my addiction is like being in a car that's going 100 miles an hour down the highway, but I'm in the backseat, there's no driver and the doors are locked. Because that's what I feel like sober. When I drink.

Kelly Brown  16:00  
That is such a great analogy. I love that. Yeah, exactly.

Joe Van Wie  16:04  
So I always want to hear someone's kind of description from the alcoholics and addicts that, you know, I relate to my kind. Alcohol was, it looks like it's taking care of a deficiency or providing something that is much needed for something that are a problem that may already exist.

Kelly Brown  16:24  
Yeah, for me, it was it took away a lot of anxiety and fear. In You know, I, I didn't I didn't know anything about mental health. Like, that was not even nobody ever talked about that, you know, people were saying are crazy. There was that was it. You know, I didn't know anything in between I didn't know much about you know, I didn't realize that my mom took Valium, like, you know, stuff like that. Like, it just didn't, I didn't know that, to listen to the stones. Or I did. Mother's little helper. I didn't catch on to what was happening at home with that until much later in my life. But I remember, you know, there comes a point. And I was I think 23 When I moved to Chicago, and that's when I can put the label on myself. I remember thinking, I am an alcoholic. And I didn't exactly know what that meant. But I knew I couldn't stop drinking. Like, it was clear to me that I wasn't going to stop. And this is all like, you know, subconscious stuff. I'm not like sitting in my living room thinking about this, you know, at 23 Like, okay, I have a plan, here's how I'm gonna do it. But, you know, my, I constructed my life around being able to drink every night when I got home until I passed out. That was just how it had to be. And my alcohol tolerance increase as it does for my alcohol tolerance increased like it would for an any alcoholic. And, you know, I found myself like, you know, 10 years into Chicago, you know, drinking three bottles of wine a night, you know, I mean, that's not normal. And, and that started to affect my life. And, but I still have this, you know, I am put on a good veneer. I mean, my whole youth was about, like, you got to dress a certain way, act a certain way. Be really polite, be friendly, get good grades, you know, show up and be perfect, basically. And if you can do all that doesn't matter what else is going on. And we don't really need to talk about it. And you know, you look good, you seem good. So you must be good. And I felt like if I could just show up for my career, my extracurricular stuff, I could just be there. Look Good. Get some work done. Get some stuff done.

Joe Van Wie  19:07  
Victorian Victorian alcohol. Yeah, I

Kelly Brown  19:10  
mean, I, then you really shouldn't, you know, not worry about me when I disappear at night. And I, I start to, you know, you know, what's the word? When I'm in my cups?

Joe Van Wie  19:22  
Protecting it like, yeah, it's daily treatments you have to take to tolerate what you just described. But we all do you get through a day. But it seems like, you know, drinking is, you know, almost medicating maybe this is a huge departure from who you really like, what you really want to express the

Kelly Brown  19:45  

Joe Van Wie  19:47  
Like you're buried yourself in that but Oh, yeah. 23 That's a big move from New York when you were finished with school and you moved to Chicago and did you live Long most of the time, so this ritual is you come home and you drink. Was there any social kind of structure going on that you're drinking? But did you? Were you protecting how drunk you would get around people and stuff? Well, yeah,

Kelly Brown  20:14  
well, and I have like a method again, like, this isn't conscious. I mean, it sort of is. But yeah, I had to drink before I went out, you know, I couldn't like have my first drink with my friends. Like I had to be, you know, few drinks in, but for me a few drinks, and I still look pretty normal. Sure, you know, and it just would stop my hands from shaking. Because I was withdrawing at that point, you know, come five o'clock, six o'clock, I'm, I need to drink. Like, it's, you know, at that point, I needed to drink. So, if I was going out, I had a lot of friends. I was very active in the community. I mean, it was, it was shocking how I could keep it together for as long as I did. My friends in Chicago are still shocked that I'm in recovery, they just did not see that, because I was pretty, you know, I maintained a good amount of drinking with them. We had a ball, but I don't think anybody thought like, she is a total wreck. But I was, I was, except for my boyfriends. You know, the boyfriends always know, they even if they don't know, they know, like, you know, they most of them checked out because they, you know, I would, I would think they probably couldn't put their finger on it exactly like, but I would, I would have to, you know, either go home, so I could keep drinking the way I wanted to, or maybe disappear for a while. I just had to manage this.

Joe Van Wie  21:40  
I totally relate to drinking before you go to a bar, I couldn't go to a bar. Once. Once it's, you know, I drink. I couldn't start there. And one, it wasn't for me. I wasn't trying to hide how much I had to drink because I, you know, I give a shit. But I think females are far more conscious than they should be. Because just culture they're like protecting more of what they would look like, especially in a work environment or in front of men.

Kelly Brown  22:10  
Yeah. Want to make sure you're don't put yourself in a compromised position. You can avoid that, you know,

Joe Van Wie  22:17  
but I do relate to this someone with I've been in experience, and I'm sure you have where I've done that like, Okay, I'm going out, but I need to get drunk. And now I'm starting with some normal people that may not know, I'm an alcoholic, I'm a drug addict. I'm, I'm dialing it in like I'm having a few drinks with them. Like, I may go home after this. I'm out for two days. Yeah, someone starts talking to you. I wouldn't be washed and I'm pretty upset extroverted guy. I'd be washed and anxiety. Because it could not tolerate paying attention to anything I didn't want to be talking about. I didn't know where the conversation was going. I just was feeling this constant revving angst. And that's why if I was going to be in a social I had to have four or five drinks. I don't give a shit what you're talking about. I'm gonna make sure I don't look crazy. And I could pay attention to you.

Kelly Brown  23:11  
That's That's it, because the only thing I'm paying attention to is where's my next drink coming from? Like, after this? Yeah, like, do I have enough alcohol at home? You know, I wouldn't be the the person who was like I was there on time. Like I would show up when everyone else was and then I leave on the earlier side so I could go home and like really drink the way I needed to

Joe Van Wie  23:34  
drink crazy. You have a windowed operate, being socially yeah, there's two hours in this bar meet so and so. They're gonna get this Joe before this. Because after 10 I'm binary for cocaine and right. I need a whole different crowd. And if you're not like my kind of scuzzy because I don't want to be around you have. Yes, right. I want to talk and dirty kitchens in the bar. I don't want to be in the bar.

Kelly Brown  24:00  
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That wasn't me though. I was I mean, I might. I can operate on that level with the right people believe me, and I have, but for the most part, I was a, like, kind of a show one face to the world. And yet, I was hiding this secret. I thought, you know, that I had to drink a lot. I mean, the people that knew the most were the people that own the liquor store that I called every single day for a delivery. I didn't even have to say anything more than this is Callie and the guy would say, see in 10 minutes, I'll

Joe Van Wie  24:40  
kill a commercial account.

Kelly Brown  24:44  
It was literally like, you know, it was terrible. It got me. You know,

Joe Van Wie  24:50  
how do you depart from Chicago? How does it end? Well, like what Why did you move from Chicago?

Kelly Brown  24:55  
I met a chef in Chicago. So I've been employed at one firm for I was an executive search for 10 years at one really fantastic firm. But I was having a hard time showing up, they confronted me, you know, thought I might have a problem. I denied it got a job at another executive search firm. I said to myself, I gotta get out of here, these people around me. So I go to the next one. takes about a year before they're on to me as well. Chicago, all in

Joe Van Wie  25:32  
Chicago, closed network too. Yeah, that's not a now this is the 80s executive search.

Kelly Brown  25:39  
Now we're now we're in? Oh, yeah, no, we're in the 90s. But it's still, we're kind of a close network, as you said. And then I go to my third firm. And, you know, again, about a year, my expiration date when, you know, they are like, done with me, because I just don't show up at that point. I'm really not like I'm there 50% of the time, that does not make a good employee. So I had met this, the chef, who didn't speak a lot of English, she was from Italy's name was John Carlo. He drank a lot. And that really worked for me, you know, and we kind of bonded on that. And we decided we moved very quickly. I basically, you know, coerced him into an engagement. Yeah, I basically said, yeah, he said, let's move in together after like, six months of dating. And I just basically explained that in the United States, you really need to be engaged before you can move in to get you there.

Joe Van Wie  26:52  
It sounds honest, and, you know, self interest is upfront. Yeah, it can happen the after.

Kelly Brown  26:59  
And, you know, it was all about the alcoholism being protected. Because as I'm changing jobs as things are not working out, and I'd had this 10 years with one firm, where my family could see like, well, even if she does drink a lot, she seems to be handling it, okay, cuz she's still with that firm, and she's getting promoted, and things are happening. And you know, so it looked good. And then, as I'm progressing in the disease, and I'm unable to hold a job, I'm thinking, you know, well, if I can have a relationship, I can be engaged, well, then, you know, they'll have to think people will have to think I must be doing something right. You know, this is all my crazy alcoholic thinking. Like, it's all about the perception to others. It's not about what I want. No, it's like, I'm just trying to protect my alcoholism. I don't want this to end my ability to drink.

Joe Van Wie  27:51  
It's kind of it's there's such a paradox in that. So your, it seems like you're considering at all times, how do I get people not to worry about me? Yes. But by doing that, does it feel like that's your care for them? Or are you really like, is there a dance between? You're protecting alcoholism? I get it, but I think you could. It gets complex in your own head, if it's a private consideration. Is this how I look validated or not concerned, Kelly takes care of herself. You're an executive. You're in Chicago, drinking cultural Chicago, right. And now I'm in a courtship. Like, nobody would have to worry about.

Kelly Brown  28:32  
Well, that's it. Yeah. I don't want anyone worrying about me. I mean, I always felt like and up until the day I got sober, or, you know, years into it. I never understood why people thought I was hurting them. Like, I'm like, I'm just doing this to myself. Like, why are you worried? I'm, I mean, it's just me. I can handle it. I life's falling apart. But really like, what's the what's the big deal?

Joe Van Wie  28:58  
Whatever happened to autonomy in this country?

Kelly Brown  29:03  
I mean, I walk around with a bottle full of alcohol in my water bottle full of vodka in my purse, but like, what's the problem?

Joe Van Wie  29:11  
So last question. schubas. You know, she was born rock and roll bar. Still there? Is it? Yeah, I think it's still it's the only real rock and roll bar in the city. Yeah. Was that a happen place in the 90s?

Kelly Brown  29:26  
Oh, for sure. Yeah. She was. Yeah, definitely.

Joe Van Wie  29:30  
I think it's an icon to the country, because I've been there and I have friend Pat played there. And I drove in the van once and that bar is rock and roll. Yeah, it's the last bastion of the only book rock and roll. Yes, yeah.

Kelly Brown  29:46  
It's a great place. Alright, I

Joe Van Wie  29:47  
digress. But so you're falling in love, and it's a relationship that's not fully all the cards are on the table because drinking will be something you still protect but you're falling in Love, man. Wow, what happens it? What's the plan out of Chicago?

Kelly Brown  30:06  
Well, John Carlo ends up getting this offer to go to Los Angeles and be a chef for this very famous chef and an ally. So I say, Okay, I'll go with you. Although that was the last place in the country, I wanted to move I'd been there before. I just wasn't into what it was my scene. But I said, okay, because I kind of knew my time in Chicago professionally was compromised. Yeah, at that point. So unless I made a change, and I wasn't willing to make that change. So I went to Chicago, and I'm sorry, Los Angeles. And it was just a really bad time. It was, although I enjoyed LA, much more than I would have guessed. Just, you know, it's a pretty place, we have a nice house and he got a good job, and then I got a really good job, you know, I'm good at getting jobs. It's just keeping them that that is hard for me, at this point in time, anyway. Well, you know, a 98 or nine, but I get a good job. And I kind of keep it together. But Giancarlo, you know, chefs work nights. So he's working a lot of nights I'm working during the days, and he's working days and nights, actually. And it gives me the time to drink alone and kind of get the head start on the evening so that he's not aware of how much I'm drinking, at least I think he's not, but he is, and it's frustrating to him. And, you know, he's not drinking as much as I am. But ultimately, we have three years of kind of growing apart. I'm, I'm just trying to keep it together at this point. And he he gets his dream job. He tells me that he's got his dream job. It's an Istanbul. And I I said Turkey it up. And he said, you can come if you want. And that was like a sucker punch. But you know, the sad, sad, sad truth is I had no options in my mind. You know, I felt so backed into a corner because I didn't know I didn't want to stay in LA. Without him. I didn't want to lose him. But we weren't exactly having a good time together either. The idea of moving to Istanbul was terrifying. Yeah. I overthink it. I just panicked and said yes, I'm sure.

Joe Van Wie  32:36  
Well, yeah, that's, uh, you have any friends in LA right now that are real, real friend?

Kelly Brown  32:43  
I do. But when she's from high school,

Joe Van Wie  32:45  
Oh, okay. So it was a prior relationship? Yeah, I

Kelly Brown  32:49  
think I think I knew her. Yeah. And Lisa.

Joe Van Wie  32:53  
So it sounds LA's like three years of it seems if what is described seem fairly lonely. And I don't think only chefs really know you work doubles. If you're in a premier restaurant, your work that you're doing a launch close for three hours, and you're back there. I never laughed. I mean, he wasn't separate lives. Yeah, that's two separate lives and drinking now. Wow.

Kelly Brown  33:18  
It's interesting, because you know, people say addiction is a is a disease of loneliness. And I believe that 100% And what's little tricky about me is that I love being alone, even in sobriety, and I'm very happy with my own company, I can entertain myself, because here again, I love to do individual activity. I mean, it's kind of a conundrum for me. It's like a push to get me to go out and actually be with people. Sometimes I just don't have the energy. I mean, I'm just a very happy saw. Yeah, it's weird. But that's just kind of how I made up so gift. It i It is a gift. It's a gift for me. But I think people find it strange that I would have, I'd be so comfortable living by myself for as long as I have, but I truly am. So I didn't find I mean, the relationship was lonely. Because when you're in a relationship and you're an alcoholic, it's just so lonely. If the other person's not in you know it, you just know that it's just a matter of time well in

Joe Van Wie  34:26  
the loneliness like prior to recovery because that's, you know, solitude and loneliness kind of are two different descriptions of what looks like the same thing but they're they're not in in being alone, did you have rituals that have made you feel some kind of bonding whether it be music where you really was there anything add it to just the ritual of drinking that made you feel that there was a productivity or suppose people drugs or have like the limiter music, so Sometimes involved when I stopped listening to music. That's when things got dark because I couldn't even hear and want to hear anything. I didn't even want to feel good.

Kelly Brown  35:07  
Yeah, yeah. Music for sure has always been a constant in my life. I mean, I always listen to music used to be a dancer when I was younger, and I love music. So that's, that's always constant for me. I love to read. Even when I'm drinking, I can read. Great. And I love watching movies, TV shows. And at the time, you know, I also had a full time job. So, you know, I was working all day. And then I start my drinking when I got home from work. And so I didn't have a ton of time to be alone. I mean, I did actually have a job so I was going to work. It's when I got to Istanbul, that things really turned into isolation for me. Yeah. What

are you going to watch a TV bucket list?

I'll tell you. I'll tell you what, you're gonna watch people. I know exactly what you're gonna watch. There's CNN International, which is no good because it's not CNN. The one we have here. There's Fox. I got Fox. So I'm watching Greta Van Susteren Islamic river station right there, of course. And it was like Ramadan twice while I was there. So it was like, that's a whole nother thing. But the thing that I ended up watching a lot of this one channel with American sitcoms, not the good ones necessarily, but they would be dubbed in but you know,

Joe Van Wie  36:28  
you different strokes with some it was like,

Kelly Brown  36:32  
Everybody Loves Raymond. Yeah, that's tough. That was a big why, why I've seen them all. I've seen them all. But I sat in in Istanbul. I was, I mean, I did all the touristy things, you know, right up front. But I found it was really, really hard to be alone in assemble, because there was no one to reach out to I walked the streets alone. I didn't speak the language. I knew three words. And you know, just enough to kind of like, get me home. If I had to get home. I knew my neighborhood, you know, I knew where to buy wine. And I would have to go to that store twice a day, just

Joe Van Wie  37:08  
because that's still kind of taboo. It was so what year is

Kelly Brown  37:11  
it? This is 2003. So you know,

Joe Van Wie  37:15  
it's symbols just becoming kind of a an epicenter for Europe, European travel as like, Oh, this is back on the map. It's it's there were

Kelly Brown  37:24  
two bombings while I was there, one shook our apartment buildings. So it was so scary. It was like an earthquake. The hlcp building? Yeah, yeah, it was scary. And I ended up spending a lot of time in the apartment. That was just when I went. So downhill like aliens. 24/7 drinking now I'm drinking all the time, all the time.

Joe Van Wie  37:48  
So you're surrounded by just total beauty. Antiquity, the place is just stunning. whelming right. So it's a hotspot for the world. But in the midst of that it's 2003 is unstable. Till 2006. And you're alienated around. You're on the other side of the planet. A predominantly Islamic nation with a hot yeah. And then the city you're living in seemingly seems International. But man that that seems like

Kelly Brown  38:20  
not if you live there, though. Like you start to it is international. If you're a tourist. There, it's different. Like if you're going to the grocery store and things that tourists don't do, like if you have to, like maintain an apartment and things like that if you feel foreign, very foreign.

Joe Van Wie  38:34  
So John Carlos AWACS works in double in Istanbul, what are you doing? What are your days working? Like?

Kelly Brown  38:42  
By the time I finished all of the tourist attractions? I am going to the grocery store in the morning, yeah, picking up you know, six bottles of wine. The wine was like less potent there because I could drink a shot of wine. I would drink that. Watch TV, smoke cigarettes in the apartment. Maybe clean the apartment take shower, walk around town go for something to eat. I eat a lot of street food a lot of street food really good street food though. Went to a cafe maybe for something to eat come home. Stop at the grocery store so I can have wine in my apartment for John Carlo when he came home. Try to make myself look a little presentable. But invariably, I'd be passed out on the couch by the time

Joe Van Wie  39:34  
like she was always in this is going on for how long? Six months, six months. And this is definitely did you feel comfortable being drunk or buzzed if you had to leave the apartment? Istanbul would that be kind of shaky and it was a

Kelly Brown  39:50  
little shaky? It felt a little shaky. It was a little shady like you know there were a lot of street kids and you know

Joe Van Wie  39:56  
your female Yeah, fire Yeah. I am walking down the street with the devil's rum.

Kelly Brown  40:03  
You absolutely attract attention, you know, and people I stuck out as I stood out for sure. But it was once it became Christmas time, I went home to New York to see my family and John Carlos stay behind. And I never went back because I had an intervention. About three weeks into my stay. When I got there, it was pretty scary, because I didn't realize just how bad I was. And I had to figure out how to maintain my 24/7. Like, now I'm dependent on it's not at night. Now I have to be drinking time off your mother's house. Yeah. And, you know, so I'm now I've discovered putting vodka in a water bottle, and I'm doing that and what are your weeks, then my mother and sister have an intervention, tell me I need to go to AAA. I agree because I have my water bottle. So I'm feeling confident that I can make it through a meeting. I go to a speaker meeting, thank God. And I sit in the back and set my water and don't say anything. And I do this for four weeks in a row. And she's here to audit. That's what it kind of looked like. And some angel named Mary came up to me and she said, I have a question for you. And I said, okay, and she said, Do you have a desire to stop drinking? And I think God said this for me because I would I don't think I would have answered yes. But I did. I said yes. And she said, good. And she said, we have to get you to a detox. And she and about four of her friends had like, already formulated a plan, hoping I would say yes. They asked if they could call my mother because they asked where I was living and who I live with. And I said can we call her and explain what we need to do? You're lucky. Yep, they got me to a really horrendous place. If you're from New York, Yonkers general I don't think I have to say more than that. If you're from New York, you know, the pain that I ended up going into it was really scary place. I spent 10 days there just

Joe Van Wie  42:12  
what's your diet? Like at the summer? You eaten lunch? Or?

Kelly Brown  42:16  
No, I mean, I don't even you know, food was so secondary. It was just so I wouldn't be sick, you know?

Joe Van Wie  42:22  
And cognitively, could you handle like, what was your ability to handle stress? Think of like, was it just where you cooked?

Kelly Brown  42:31  
I? Well, when I came out of the detox I, I really was a little like, that was pretty good. Actually, I felt really good. And that was good for a few months. And then there was a death in the family and I wasn't like really plugged into AAA. My aunt Maryanne died. And nobody was around. My mother was traveling and I, I drank and you know, I was disappointed in myself, but I also woke up the demon Yeah. And and then I would spend the next four years kind of in and out of sobriety, mostly sober, but not you know, I mean, like, I had long stretches of not drinking like an I'm Western. When I say a long stretch, I mean, like a 30 day stretch, stretch, but it is large. And you're and I had a couple of Exelon jobs in New York. And so I was shuffling between. I mean, I'm no I'm drinking through them. I'm going to treatment centers. I'm like taking a month off here going here going to detoxes I mean, it's it's a situation but I'm somehow getting through until I can't anymore, you know, and I'm back. I'm

Joe Van Wie  43:41  
in Does anyone in your life, in your personal really have the full picture? Like what's going on? How many treatment centers are you? So we're to some people, and then you're like, is life's pretty secretive?

Kelly Brown  43:53  
This is the worst. This is a worst period of my life. It's much worse than my addiction. Because I was in Oblivion, I did not realize just how bad things were. And nobody was telling me I had to do anything else. Now that was terrible. I mean, I'm not trying to paint it as a good time. It was not. But once you've been told you have a problem. I didn't go to a treatment center right off the bat, you know, I went to a detox. There was no education. I didn't know much. I just I knew I had a problem. And I was supposed to go to AAA but that was the extent of it. And once I started drinking again, I knew in the back of my head, like I'm not supposed to be doing this and people are gonna be mad at me if I do this and they they're gonna be disappointed and I don't want to disappoint people. But the truth is, I can't stop. So I'm like weaving in and out of small bars in the town that I'm living in, like, you know, drinking a little bit here, a couple of drinks. There are a couple drinks. They're just trying to get through the day.

Joe Van Wie  44:51  
And at this point, what you're seeing as recovery, the definition of what you would come to know your recovery to be Do you see it as just not drinking? And maybe like, did you think something else is going on? There's a different deeper agency that's happening to recovery, or do you think it's just a it's just about not drinking.

Kelly Brown  45:14  
I see people in a New York I had a couple of really good sponsors, one CAMI phenomenal sponsor. And she was really trying to help me she knew I was struggling. I saw the, the joy and the peace in her in her husband, too. And in, in a bunch of people that I knew from the program, but I was still in that terrified mode of, I'm going to need to drink I'd like I'm telling myself, you know, I'm going to need to drink at some point, like, I don't know, I can't go my whole life without like, this is just not going to work for me. I don't know what these people Yeah, I don't really understand how they're going to get through some of these events that I'm sure gonna happen to me. And I also really loved it. And I was so selfish about it, you know, it was like, taking away my air, you know, taking away the one joy of my life. That's really how I felt about alcohol, the one joy of my life, and you're taking it away from me, and I hated the world for that.

Joe Van Wie  46:16  
Yeah. I can. I can relate.

Kelly Brown  46:20  
I could not see the beauty that would what happened to me. When I did get sober.

Joe Van Wie  46:24  
What was the turning point to realize even before you knew, maybe I can achieve this piece? Was there a point that you could say, I'm all in regardless of being uncomfortable? Maybe it will be? Maybe I won't be better on day one. But you're gonna, you're gonna stick through whatever this period is where I don't feel well, but I'm going for

Kelly Brown  46:45  
it. Yes, that came. Really the last time I drank I had been. I was told when I was living in New York by a counselor that I had to go to a treatment center. I was, you know, at that point, I had to go back. So I went to one of our local treatment centers called Mar worth, and had a very good experience. They said, You need to go to a halfway house for women. And I panicked. And I said, Thank you for the invitation, but I'm gonna have to pass Am I have they had my whole entire family on this very nice invitation. I have this like, image, you know, I have this image in my head of like a halfway house. I'm like, that sounds horrifying. Like,

like they all are somehow.

I just sounded really awful. So I said, No, thank you. And then. So I went back to New York. And lo and behold, you know, right away, I think I drank again. And I did have the courage to call the treatment center and say, I'm drinking again, and the head of admissions said, you can come back, but you're going to that halfway house. And I did and the thing I feared the most ended up being the game changer for me. And I wish I could tell Well, I don't wish it because my story is my story. But I was at that halfway house for six months, and I was the best person at the halfway house. That was my goal, I'm going to be the best one here. I'm going to get up the earliest I'm gonna do the most chores, they're gonna be done the best. I'm just going to be the one who knows the big book the best, I'm going to be the biggest helper.

Joe Van Wie  48:27  
A spiritual awakening is an achievement that could only be earned.

Kelly Brown  48:31  
Apparently, in my mind that was that that I mean, you know, raise your hand. Yeah, whatever. That's how I was gonna do but I mean, I just thought like, you know, enthusiasm. You know, I'm, I'm, I was enthusiastic. But I was missing a big part of it. And I was also unwilling to be honest, because that's the thing, that alcoholism really, you know, for me, robbed me of I was unable to be honest about what I was feeling what I was doing, I lied for so many years about my whole life, my life was an illusion to me and to you. I mean, anyone I knew, and being honest, was not something I was really good at or had a lot of access to. And so when I had to go back to New York to close up my apartment after six months in the halfway house, I was told, why don't you bring a sober friend? And the second someone suggested that the idea occurred to me, no, I will not bring a sober friend because I'm going to have one weekend where I can properly say goodbye to alcohol all by myself. We can drink. I can drink. And I can say goodbye. I can have that sweet goodbye,

Joe Van Wie  49:40  
you know, right away. It's funny. I liked the poetry. If you're gonna have an awakening, what we say peer to peer, you are asleep. And what are you asleep and where are you sleeping? Where's Kelly sleeping? How long was the idea that the reward after being the best Cadet for for two months and this achievement, you know, the enthusiasm in itself wasn't enough. It wasn't like approaching a new executive job, which always could work and have a reward at the end, there's a payout. If you didn't do that, and that approach, I think that's what punched you through the sincerity of where sincerity is. It's a little deeper than effort. It's weird, right?

Kelly Brown  50:26  
Yes. 100%. And there was, yeah, the sincerity for me, it came with the something I didn't realize I didn't have. Because I felt like I didn't think a lot of myself. And I didn't realize that I thought only of myself. So I had really no humility. And when I went and drank, and I was called out on it and discovered and it was very, you know, I was very lucky to get back into the halfway house, most of the girls who used on a pass were not allowed back in and what would you tell me?

Joe Van Wie  51:04  
If you didn't get left back? In what like, what did you realize the consequences would be?

Kelly Brown  51:09  
I'm not sure my, my mother would have been very reticent to, to let me stay with her. I know, my brother or sister probably wouldn't have let me stay with them. I probably would have like, been in a hotel. Yeah. And you can imagine where that would go. Yeah, not well.

Joe Van Wie  51:25  
So you're feeling it like this.

Kelly Brown  51:27  
I well. So when I she took me back. I met with her when is on like a Saturday, she came in on a Monday. And she told me a couple things. And this is where I have my, my soul pierced, as I like to refer to it. I mean, Angela says her name. And Angela said, I don't even know who you are. And that resonated with me, because I could appreciate that I didn't know who I was either. I'm like, I'm the best cadet. And then I completely disregard everything. And then she says, You're the most ungrateful person I've ever met. And that really resonated with me as well, because I really could, she said, you know, you have had so many people, so many chances to get better. So many people, you know, reaching out to you wanting you to get better, offering their help their time, their love. And you go home and you don't say anything tests, like I think I'm gonna drink, you don't even give us a heads up, give us a chance to help you through that you decide what you want to do. It's all about you. You're so ungrateful. And I, I really got that, like that's, and I think people have said that to me, maybe in the past, and you know, maybe in passing, but there's a time and a place where something will pierce your soul. And you'll get it. I heard it. And I had to make some changes. And she she asked me to get like a really serious sponsor who knew her big book and will take me through the steps. And I did that. And I have the same sponsor I had from that day forward, Jeanne, who has really changed my life. I mean, Angela and Jeanne, are the two women who I would credit with what would you change in my life? Describe

Joe Van Wie  53:20  
Angela, she Angela.

Kelly Brown  53:22  
Yeah, is the best. She's very tough from Staten Island, New York. She will tell you exactly how it is. But she'll love you to death too. And this halfway house was so well structured. I mean, it was so clean, so well structured. We all had chores. We all had stuff to do. But Angela, I could

Joe Van Wie  53:43  
count on both hands. Kelly did women that have entire careers lives education that came from Angeles house.

Kelly Brown  53:52  
100%. Yeah. I mean, shoot inspired a lot of people to, number one, want a life of sobriety. Enjoy that life? You know, she showed us what it was like to have fun in sobriety. But she also gave us the structure and had some expectations of us that made us accountable. Yeah. And she would give you opportunities for growth, you know, more responsibility in the house. You know, you could work there. I did all that. And I felt like I was starting to live sober. Really, really live sober there and enjoy it after that. Oh, god. Yeah, I mean, it took me I really had to, you know, crawl, walk run in this sobriety thing. I needed a lot of time I stayed in the sober house and halfway house mountainside for seven years.

Joe Van Wie  54:44  
Yeah. And it was flourishing you people rely on you. It was almost service and yes, and I felt that way. I just if you don't mind, I want to see if I'm understanding this right when you try to package what I'm saying. Then, when you're before you go and empty your apartment in New York, you're becoming kind of a leadership role in the house just by enthusiasm, structure waking up, you know, having morale. Right. And but it doesn't Pierce, like make the impact that the journey of having the steps to really confront the darkness does. But you're the effort is just gleaming out of people are seen. Would you say at that point prior to you having that last relapse that girls in there look to you or trust us kind of a leadership role? Yes. So I was

Kelly Brown  55:40  
that was the house mother. Yeah. And then I had to get demoted, after I went and drank and that was a really, you know, a humiliation for me. And, you know, there's nothing I hate more than humiliation. I mean, I'm sure most of us do. But it was it was an ego pierce that absolutely had to happen. Whether it was that or some other way. I had to have that. Like, your, you know, your whole shtick. I mean, I'm talking about myself, like my whole shtick was like, stick to it. Yeah, like, not yours. My whole thing was a veneer. And I just never really, I, it took me a while took me the steps to really understand just how much of a show I put on, so I could survive. I mean, it doesn't make me a bad person. I was just a raging alcoholic who was trying to live a professional life with, you know, normal relationships. When I'm dying on the inside. The only way I'm getting through life is with drinking. And how am I going to get through life now without the one thing I thought I needed to survive this planet? Yeah. And so it took me seven years to kind of, you know, I drank for 30 years, I was 42, I started at 12, it was 42 when I got sober, that was the last time I had a drink. So it was a long, long journey. But I can't tell you how incrementally the dais, you know, that I put together with those women. And I saw lots of women come through that house over the course of those years, but I have an you know this because we're in the same home group. I have a lot of friends that you know, have lasted through that house, you know, and from that house, and that's why I stayed in the Scranton area. I built relationships. I think the AAA here is phenomenal. You know, I'm just a big fan of the way people are I don't understand why it's different. But it is. It's very honest, communal.

Joe Van Wie  57:41  
And, you know, there I noticed work in the steps your experience where and you know, she was dialing in, and she would avoid the conflict of that or dispatch you. And it's hard to what feels like humiliation is a deep form of love, even if it's clinical like or responsibility from a person who is free from addiction to confront you, but confront you this way. I don't know who you are. You're so selfish. And it's not selfish because you snuck in and you got to drink and we did it. Like I think if you're just a layperson listening, what is what's the dynamic here? You let us down you're part of the pack. Right? And this is before getting deep into the steps that's how powerful the community is. You broke from the pack. Yeah, you heard us I did yeah. So I did that woke you up. It did that starts the awakening. Like you're like, wait a minute. Well, what Kelly would want to hurt somebody? I don't want to hurt you, buddy. Why am I doing this? Right? That's waking up.

Kelly Brown  58:45  
It is. It's crazy. It is amazing. The how asleep I was like I just that it still comes to me. In moments when I'm you know, going through the last however many years I've been doing this, like wow, how did I get through my life like that? I really don't know we had it. What I do believe that. I mean, I feel so bad for people who are in their act of addictions who haven't gotten you know, the help and or, you know, where I was in those four years of like, lost and trying to get back it to me it's it's the most heartbreaking place to be because it's just like so close. But it takes something special to you know, wake that person up or make it takes a flame. It takes a flame and it could be a really small flame. Yeah. No, no, it could be a huge flame could be a giant car accident or something terrible. But it could be as bad as someone telling you, I don't know who you are. And you're the most ungrateful person I ever met.

Joe Van Wie  59:48  
It's here's a person you respected to consider that question. I never looked at it. I've known that about you. But when you were telling me that this time, I was seeing the real dynamic of what's happening. Have any socially a new group you've been kind of alone with, with or without a boyfriend. Now you have a pack, you take a leadership role on, and you betray them. And you don't know why you do it. Right. And you didn't think it's not about them. It's about me. And you come back to a home where you had to get a pack of wolves way

Kelly Brown  1:00:20  
I did. And then the wolves were upset when I got back home, they

Joe Van Wie  1:00:24  
this is your home, why can't this be my home? Why don't why don't I go all in, right.

Kelly Brown  1:00:28  
And I literally had to make that decision. Really fast. And when I asked Jeannie to be my sponsor, it was before the rest of the House knew that I had been drinking like I wasn't allowed to tell them that first weekend. So I asked Genie she, I look so sick. And she said, Do you have the flow? And I said, No, I have the Irish fluid. Exactly. I said I was I, you know, was drink, I drank. And she said, Oh my God. And I said, Will you be my sponsor? And she said, Oh my god. Absolutely. And she's been by my side ever since. She is the one she knows the big book really well. And she was what she did for me too, was she made it okay for me to tell her my deepest, darkest secret. She made it. Like it's no big deal. Like, you know, Kelly, you're carrying around all of this horrendous stuff that you think is so makes you a bad person. And it doesn't, it doesn't. And you're so shamed. And, you know, we know this from being in recovery. But like, the worst thing is, you know, not being honest and being afraid to say what, what you're ashamed of, and what you feel guilty about, like those things have to come out. That stuff has to come out. It has to come out through the steps

Joe Van Wie  1:01:44  
and that like people hear the cliche word like connection connections are discussed. In context, the 12 step, or peer to peer, any communities, even Dharma refuge, the connection isn't just this broad miss that happens by being in proximity of each other, that starts it with that when we are talking about a deep connection that produces serious security of that I'm in recovery. It's not about drinking. It is the fifth step. It's maybe this might be the first time I told someone who I am, who am I? Who do I consider I am exactly. And they can listen to object like without judgment. And in that process of doing it right, you find out none of its fully true. I don't have a full picture here, I have a very limited view, what my life was, what my effect was on other people? And will how much more effective I gotta get let the world have on me like, What am I going to have a sense of my own sovereignty and power and influence on the world and be responsible

Kelly Brown  1:02:51  
and feel worthy? Yeah, I mean, just feel like, you know, I wasn't even ready to take on that. I just wanted to be worthy of recovery. I mean, for years, I felt like I was taking up space on this planet for no reason, like, no reason. And I finally through the steps through, you know, unloading a lot of things I was ashamed of, or felt guilty about, learning that these did not have to define me, and they weren't who I was, I didn't have to worry about the punishment of you know, this God that I had perceived was going to say, you can't, you know, you're not a good person. So, therefore, you shouldn't even try recovery, because you're not even worthy. Like, you're not gonna get any better like that, I had to let go of that. And I was able to, I made

Joe Van Wie  1:03:39  
you and this is your

Kelly Brown  1:03:40  
fault. Exactly, exactly. And it was a it was a, you know, the construct of my construct of, of God was really defined by my early upbringing in Catholicism, and that did not serve me well, as I started this path. So I was free to smash it and dit and started with nature. You know, I started thinking about spirituality is, as just nature, I couldn't really get my arms around the idea that I didn't make any of this.

Joe Van Wie  1:04:10  
You're pantheous Einstein was the fanciest, I started the world, the experience of me having the world saying nature, just the existence is the divinity.

Kelly Brown  1:04:22  
I think so. I mean, it's certainly part of, of my concept of what's going on out there. You know, I love I mean, you and I talked about the stuff at this point, like, the hook for me is the people and the relationships are the spirituality. But the also also I love the like education of what people believe in different cultures and different, you know, religions are just what people like Buddhism and

Joe Van Wie  1:04:52  
it's one story, it's, oh, there's millions to the same planet we're trying to

Kelly Brown  1:04:57  
story, but like, I just want Want your information so it can enrich my thought because I am so open to whatever is out there. I just believe that something is out there be out there. It might be in here. It might well, it's I think it's everywhere.

Joe Van Wie  1:05:13  
Yeah, it's something, something I can't touch, but I keep experiencing it. I don't know how to define it myself use, you saw how toxic I became, I was just drowning in self pity, depression, grief, PTSD. I didn't want to be a drunk. But I did not know how to tolerate existence without just heavy narcotics at that point. And people didn't know a lot of service people that didn't know. But you knew and that that those last two years, I, you know, I always want to thank you, you were dropping off. But the cynicism I had towards maybe our recovery community was a total fraud because multiple people, yourself included, we're staying in touch with people real friends to me. And, you know, it breaks through like, I can't fully believe my own lies. Like this is not true. And when I came back, the comfort and kindness I was met with I didn't, I forgot, like I was thought I was just gonna be humiliated.

Kelly Brown  1:06:17  
Right, right. Yeah, totally. I get that I came back a million times to AAA and I was never met with anything other than Welcome back. There was times in New York, where I would they count days and that every day I was counting went back. It was my first day back every day. And they also welcome back. Yeah. And in some of those people I'm friends with on Facebook, and they can't believe I'm sober as long as I am.

Joe Van Wie  1:06:47  
Well, Kelly, there's a lot more to talk about. We're coming to an hour. Yep. And I want to ask you, you have a lot going on this year. And you know, you've had loss. Grief, have you bought a house? And you you've been sober for a while? What was the adventure of sobriety is just not over. How would you describe where you think your self care and your spiritual exploration you just described to me as voracious pure curiosity?

Kelly Brown  1:07:23  
Absolutely. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  1:07:27  
How do you maintain that honeystick keep maintain them moving forward, staying curious. Because yeah, the book says twice that you'll drink they're not too authoritarian with that. They say if you feel in larger spiritual life, I'm thinking what is that? That could be your pragmatically, you're not doing 1011 and 12, you want to be a number, nuts and bolts guy. But really, it's the death of curiosity. Like I fixed my ideas of what the realm of nature is my relationship to the world. Now what like, how, how does that hold any? How was that not heroes? Like, how do you fit into a narrative that just complete for you? I don't, I don't get that people. But how do you maintain that curiosity?

Kelly Brown  1:08:10  
It's innate for me. I mean, I am somebody who loves to research I love to learn. I've always been like a lifelong learner. I mean, Google is my friend, maybe I get a lot of bad information. But I'll tell you, I think of things and I want to learn about it. Like I can go down rabbit holes. I mean, it's one of my joys. And part of what I love to learn about is, you know, is spirituality, other people's views on what's out there. This year was particularly horrible. My, my dog was killed by another dog while I was there. In an ice storm. It was it was really tragic. And it propelled me to move out of that neighborhood, buy my first home, which was a blessing, you know, I probably wouldn't have done that. I don't like how it all came together. But it is what it is. And I had to accept that, you know, she was gone. And the gift I got out of the experience was this home, which really feels like my home. And like I was meant to live there. And then my brother, son, Max, my nephew, was diagnosed a year ago with brain cancer, and he just passed a couple of weeks ago, and it was, you know, 23 years old, you know, there's no way to get your mind around that and feel like it was meant to be, you know, I mean, that's just it does not compute. But there's also a thing that I understand that is, I cannot be paralyzed by grief. I cannot be paralyzed by those feelings of sadness. And somebody that I sponsor actually said, you know, I'm worried about you, you had such a tough year and, you know, are you okay? And I said, Yeah, I am and I am She said, Wow, I said, Well, this is what 14 years of recovery looks like, you know, you if you do this and you're earnest about it, you get through the big stuff, you get through the little stuff too. And sometimes that's the worst stuff. For alcoholics, I don't mean in the scheme of life, but something like, you know, losing maximum and I could see the gifts and in, in what he told us when he was dying, you know, some of the things he said about, you know, going on and confirm me continuing to stay sober because it inspired him. And, you know, the last thing I gave him was my 14 year coin. A few weeks before he died, and I, I wanted to give him a part of me, and I couldn't think of anything that was more representative of who I am, at this moment in my life. And my, my coin managed with, I always carry with me, and I wanted him to have it. And I feel like, you know, some people say, I don't want my sobriety define me, but honestly, I'm nothing without it. It does define me. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  1:11:09  
That's a beautiful place to live. I can't add anything to that. And I'm happy to be your friend. And you helped me through this last two years is pandemic you made me a better husband, in the groups and listen to my banter. And the good women that I'm fortunate to know in a make me kind of a softer, more intelligent man to know how stupid I really am. So I really thank you guys for that. Thanks for coming. Thank

Kelly Brown  1:11:39  
you. You're an inspiration to all of us. And you know, I loved your intellectual curiosity. I could listen to you talk forever. I really could. I've listened to your whole podcast. I binged

Joe Van Wie  1:11:48  
it. Well, I got an awesome pleasure. They'll listen to me. Yes, you do.

Kelly Brown  1:11:55  
I'll talk to you soon. Okay, thank you, Joe.

Joe Van Wie  1:11:59  
I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. Find us on all or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google, podcasts, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer John Edwards, an engineering company 570. Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And if you're not on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober, doesn't mean you're right.

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