Feb. 1, 2022

Brent Hoffman gets real with his journey through addiction and his recovery

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Brent gets really real as he shares his childhood trauma with his dysfunctional family and how it eventually led to serious drug abuse and addiction.  He tells vivid details of how his drug use went for being a means of coping and fitting in to the cool crowd to taking a dark turn for the worst.  Contemplating suicide on many occasions and finally hitting rock bottom when another drug user stole his car, many of his personal possessions, and left him in the middle of the Nevada desert on a cold November night.  This led him to finally seek help and get into treatment.  His journey has been a 25 year process, but today, Brent celebrates 8 years, clean and sober.  He shares what enabled him to pull himself back to a real life, filled with opportunities, forgiveness, and acceptance.  If you would like to be inspired by a story of true redemption, this is it!

Brent is a dog lover, with a career in long-term care administration, providing services for our senior population. 

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Coach Maddox  0:02  
My guest today is Brent Hoffman. Brent, welcome to the Authentic Gay Man Podcast.

Brent Hoffman  0:10  
Hi Maddox. Thanks for having me.

Coach Maddox  0:13  
Yeah, I'm really glad to have you here, I know that your topic is going to be a topic that is a big and that there's gonna be a lot of people that are interested in what you had to say. So just to tell the listeners a little bit about how you and I know each other, and I really they heard this over and over, because this is the way so many of them in have come to know me and me know them is we met in a large virtual gay community online about maybe a year ago, or maybe a little bit more than a year ago. And we have been in group calls together, we have done one on one calls together to get to know each other. What would you like to add Brent?

Brent Hoffman  0:57  
Yeah, I mean, you're absolutely right, we are meeting you through that, through that program, in particular has been a godsend to me. You know, our friendship has developed, I love engaging with you. And I look forward to doing this podcast with you.

Coach Maddox  1:15  
Thank you, thank you, I feel the same way. And we got to meet in person in July, in a retreat in Austin, Texas, where the two of us got into entirely too much mischief, we caused a little bit of mayhem in the conference by just stirring the pot a little bit. Me, us, did we really do that? Yeah, I think we did. So first question. What does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man? How would you define that?

Brent Hoffman  1:55  
Being true to myself, being the person who I have been meant to be in sharing that

Coach Maddox  2:04  
with others. Beautiful. Anything else? I think that sums it up. Yeah. You know, I have just gotten some amazing answers to that question. And everybody's had a little bit of a different spin. But it's been phenomenal to see how people are responding to that question. So thank thank you for that. I think you're you're spot on. So let's let's talk a little bit more about about Brandon, his his journey. Tell me what is the most challenging aspect? What is the thing that you've been through that has challenged you the most in this lifetime? And maybe it's still challenging you what? So? Yeah, D all of the above?

Brent Hoffman  2:49  
Yeah. So I will start with the end. And that is that I'll always be challenged, right? I think if I just accept where I'm at, and the person I am, I don't want to be stagnant. I always want to grow. You know, I grew up in a household. That was very dysfunctional. I had a parent that had some mental health issues that were difficult to treat during that time. And the family dynamic had a profound effect on me. And that led me into drug use, and very, very heavy drug use, that took control of my life, and stopped me from being the person that I could be, you know, Brent, how

Coach Maddox  3:44  
old were you when the the mental health issue came into play and the family dysfunction?

Brent Hoffman  3:50  
So I did, I believe that family dysfunction and mental health issue was always there, right? Before I, you know, was even cognizant of it or had the ability to see it or understand it, or grasp that it was something but I can remember, probably, you know, seven, eight years old, seeing things that just weren't right and being treated emotionally in a way that was not healthy, it was not nurturing, and, you know, led me to believe that there was something wrong with me and that I was different.

Coach Maddox  4:38  
So are you okay with sharing some specifics about the trauma that you went through at that time in life?

Brent Hoffman  4:46  
Sure. So, you know, my parents currently are in their 80s. I'm grateful that they're around and I have the relationship that I do with And I want to preface by saying I have done a lot of work, which we'll get into a little bit later in forgiveness and healing. So I do have a really good relationship with them at this point in time. But I think, you know, my dad traveled for his job when I was younger, and my mother had untreated bipolar one. So there was a lot of experience where we could be doing something and things were fine, and turn on a dime. And she was batshit. Crazy. You know, I think that there were, I know that there were a lot of times when I would attempt to express myself, whether it be showing emotions or asking questions, or wanting to be vulnerable, right? I didn't, didn't necessarily know. That's what I wanted at that time. But when I expressed vulnerability, I was shut down. I was scolded, I was laughed at. So that really taught me don't share anything, don't don't show who you are. You know, a.

Coach Maddox  6:25  
And so what you're really describing is experiences that separated you from your own authenticity, because as we were born, we come into the world fully authentic. Right? Right. Absolutely. Experiences began to separate you from that part of yourself. Yeah. So how did that what did that look like? I mean, when when you would try to express yourself and you said, Mom got batshit? Crazy, what did that look like?

Brent Hoffman  6:52  
Well, and it wasn't necessarily just when I was trying to express myself that was just engaging, you know, if we didn't do anything, I, you know, we as kids, and this isn't uncommon from that generation, we, as kids were meant to be seen, not heard. Right. It very much felt like we were an inconvenience for our parents. And when I say we, myself, my siblings, you know, many discussions with them. And, you know, I think they have very similar thoughts and views, right? It was almost like we were there to accommodate our parents, instead of our parents there to to nurture us and guide us and help us grow, you know, it was get the dishes done dust, the furniture, vacuum, the rugs, change the TV station? You know, it wasn't, you know, there were not opportunities for engagement, and, you know, talking about feelings.

Coach Maddox  8:04  
So, you had a lot of life bottled up inside of you? Absolutely. And the time from that trauma, when that all started to the time that you actually begin to use drugs. What age were you when, when the drug abuse came on to the scene?

Brent Hoffman  8:26  
So I can tell you that I was in high school, probably my junior year in high school. So what would that be 11th grade, I was at some friends and somebody had some marijuana. And I tried it, and I fell in love. You know, it was just the best feeling ever. It was this bliss. And I didn't have to feel, you know, it, it was just a internal bliss that I loved. And from that day forward, I was a daily pot smoker. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  9:09  
And leading up to that, that childhood trauma, and then this the space in between there until you were began to use what was going on inside of you, as you that built up to the point where, you know, drug abuse became an answer. Well,

Brent Hoffman  9:31  
you know, I think one of the things was is my you know, childhood friendships or, you know, I, I had friends, but I wasn't I never had like a real big group of friends. I wasn't like, in the in crowd, right. And so my using, you know, and the way I used was attractive to some people. Right, and I started becoming a cool person, because I smoked weed, and then we do whatever, while we were high E hang out top play video games. You know, and, and I felt like I was more accepted in that world.

Coach Maddox  10:16  
So that made it very, very attractive and enticing, didn't it?

Brent Hoffman  10:21  
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Well,

Coach Maddox  10:27  
I think that sometimes when we have oftentimes traumatic experiences, it's on a subconscious level, but we make those experiences mean something about us. Looking back on that. Can you tell what was there any type of meaning? Or did you make up some story about you, as a result of all of the childhood trauma?

Brent Hoffman  10:53  
Well, yeah, I felt responsible for the things that went on around me, you know, having, you know, having a parent who had mental health issues and blaming you for the cause of her anks was very traumatic, right, I believe that I had to be a certain way in order to prevent her inks, and her her breakdowns. And, you know, the thing was that I learned I felt like, you know, if I acted this way, I would not provoke, right. But then I acted that way. And that was provoking, right? Because there was nothing I was doing to cause these breakdowns on her part. But it so no matter what I did, it was never going to be right. Right. You

Coach Maddox  11:54  
know what, you couldn't win any way?

Brent Hoffman  11:56  
I couldn't win it.

Coach Maddox  11:59  
I'm curious. What did you make that mean? The fact that you bombed out every time you tried to, to make it work? What what did that? I mean, how did you internalize that? I guess is what I'm asking.

Brent Hoffman  12:12  
That it was never good enough. Right in in, you know, I felt like, no matter how hard I tried, and not just that, that at anything, that I was just never going to be successful. I was never good enough. Yeah. Yeah. Got it. Wow.

Coach Maddox  12:32  
So tell it tell me more about where the path into that addiction. It started off with just pot at a party. But and it was great in the beginning. But there was a point where it took a turn and I'm assuming wasn't so great.

Brent Hoffman  12:50  
Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, that went on through college, you know, into grad school, I was very functional. It didn't affect me. It just kind of numbed me. And then, you know, I dabbled with some other drugs from there, you know, but it wasn't anything that over took me, you know, if there was cocaine, or mushrooms, LSD I participate in, I enjoyed it, but it never grabbed a hold of me. I ended up moving out west, leaving St. Louis and going to Arizona, I spent some time in Arizona, Nevada, back to Arizona. And that choice was to get away from my problem. And I always blamed my family for my problem, right. And my family was my problem. And what I soon learned when I left, was that there I was,

Coach Maddox  14:07  
right? Oh, yeah. The saying no matter where you go, there you are. Exactly. Perfect example of that.

Brent Hoffman  14:14  
Exactly. And, you know, I think the interesting point is, is that I went to, you know, I went to great lengths to get away from what I believe to be my problem. And is what I realized was because of my upbringing, in my experiences, I had a problem. Right? And it wasn't necessarily just drugs at that point. It was my self esteem, my self worth, my sense of where I fit into the world. So your

Coach Maddox  14:50  
your own mental health was being challenged.

Brent Hoffman  14:52  
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I I remember coming back to St. Louis for a visit, I don't know, it may have been a family special occasion or something. And I came back and I remember being on a plane, and flying back to out west and having this like epiphany that I need help. And I did, I got into therapy, I got onto an antidepressant. And you know, that helped to a certain degree. But I had trouble being honest with somebody else, you know, it was very difficult for me to open up and to share who I was and what my experiences wore, to make any, any impact on myself. So I continued to struggle. When I was out west, I was at a, I had some friends that we went to a white party in Palm Springs, and somebody there offered me some methamphetamine. And wow, I had a wild party night with that. And I remember saying to myself, if I ever had a connection for this drug, I would be fucked. And when I developed a connection for that drug, I was fucked. You know, it started out, it was great. It gave me energy it gave me It allowed me to have fun without any inhibition. It allowed me to be productive. But that turned very quickly. And it brought me to a very dark, dark, dark place.

Coach Maddox  16:58  
And how long ago was this sprint?

Brent Hoffman  17:00  
So I would say that was I probably started using methamphetamine on a regular basis, probably in 1997. Ish. And, you know, I, you know, first it was just a party thing, then it became something I needed to survive. You know, and I didn't know how to stop. You know, I had tried multiple treatment centers. I had tried, just quitting on my own. And I did not have the ability to do that. You know, the darkness was to the point that I financially ruined myself. Which was just a small aspect of what the drugs did to me. I had lost all my friends. Nobody wanted to be around me. It affected me significantly. In in my mental state, I ended up getting to a point where I had lost my train of thought I'm sorry. I started hallucinating, auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, olfactory hallucinations. Talking to people that weren't there. It got very ugly and very dark. And it almost became for me a spiritual war between good and bad. Now and I truly believe today, if come to know that the disease of addiction is not just about the use of drugs, it's the disease thinking and the selfishness and that nothing else is more important than meeting what was a basic need. Wow.

Coach Maddox  19:29  
You know, you and I've had many conversations and I I knew that you had a history with drugs and in recovery and but this is like to really get down into the weeds and really know the true story. Was there ever a time when you considered when it got so dark that you consider taking your own life? Multiple times?

Brent Hoffman  19:59  
I didn't Want to die? But I didn't want to live the way I was living. Does that make sense?

Coach Maddox  20:06  
It makes perfect sense. You know, I've studied enough about suicide to know that it's the primary thought, in our mind when we commit suicide is I just cannot take one more moment if this pain. Yeah, it's not about hurting anyone. It's not about abandoning or leaving anyone. It is 100% about ending the pain?

Brent Hoffman  20:31  
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and it was so painful. And you know, people who are not addicts it's difficult for them to understand that it is not a moral deficiency, that it is actually a disease and it's disease thinking, and that there is no, just don't do it anymore. Right?

Coach Maddox  21:00  
Oh, there's not I mean, we have enough science to back up now that genetically, people who are predisposed to addiction, you if you got that gene, you're predisposed. If you didn't get that, Jane, you may not have too much to worry about. Yeah, there's been volumes written on that just in the last few years, there is a genetic thing about this. And that's why oftentimes, alcoholism or drug abuse will run through generations and families.

Brent Hoffman  21:32  
Absolutely, absolutely. And when I look back at, you know, my, my family, my parents, you know, my mother definitely had a food addiction. There was no question about it, right? i It's not for me to say that she's an addict, but her behaviors and her response to the world around her was very similar. You know, it was just through food. And you know, how addiction affects us and makes our life so unmanageable, you know, it? It's exhibited in people in different ways, right?

Coach Maddox  22:10  
Did the addictive behavior ever spill in over into other areas of your life? Like, did you find yourself ever be like, You can be addicted to anything? I mean, we have chemical addiction, and then we have emotional addiction, two completely separate things. They go hand in hand, oftentimes, I don't, I'm not an addict, myself, but I have studied this, it fascinates me. So I've really read a lot and studied, You can be addicted to almost anything.

Brent Hoffman  22:37  
Oh, absolutely. You know, the sex addiction, you know, when when an individual's inhibitions are down? Right, I would go online and go to bookstores and go to places and have sex with complete strangers. Right. And, you know, those numbers are, you know, astronomical, and I don't say it with pride, but the inter the sexual interactions I had, I couldn't count the number I had in it was trying to find something, you know, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Um, you know, and that in itself was an addiction, use and have sex and use and have sex and use and have sex, they went hand in hand for me.

Coach Maddox  23:31  
You know, tell me how you how this lands for you. But it's just been in the last couple of weeks that I have realized that we're all seekers, you know, every one of us are seeking something. We're all searching for something looking for love in the wrong places, the way you worded it a minute ago. And I've just come to realize, because I've been a seeker a lot of my life, and I have just realized

Unknown Speaker  23:58  
that perhaps the primary

Coach Maddox  24:01  
thing that we're seeking is to reconnect with our authentic self that we got separated from when we were children. Because life somehow we all got messages where if you didn't get separated from the the authenticity that you were born with, then I don't know anybody that hasn't I seriously. Life just does that we get the messages we get the the traumatic experiences that tell us that it's not safe to be fully authentic and vulnerable. We shut down and that creates this to me. Something's missing in our life. Absolutely. We're not connected to ourselves. We're not living our authentic life. And that's, we're seeking something and what we don't realize is, we're out here in this external world seeking it when what we're truly looking for is inside of us and that is to reconnect with our authentic itself. How does that

Brent Hoffman  25:02  
I couldn't say that any better. That's absolutely true.

Coach Maddox  25:05  
I mean, and literally, that, that connect the dots has just come for me. Through these interviews, not interviews, conversations that I have been doing with guests for this podcast, it's been amazing how much I am learning. I mean, I human behavior has always fascinated me. But as I delve into these deeper conversations, and specifically with gay men, I'm, I'm learning so much, but yeah, and you telling me Yeah, I get it, I think you're spot on. We're seeking our, our own authenticity.

Brent Hoffman  25:42  
Well, and I believe that, you know, it's our nature to want to connect. Right. That's what we want is connection with other people, you know, a deep, intimate relationship. And I'm not talking about just a sexual relationship

Coach Maddox  26:02  
right now. emotional intimacy, friendships, family members.

Brent Hoffman  26:06  
Absolutely. And for me, that was stifled, right, and I didn't know how to dig in and experience that for so long. And, you know, we'll get into how I've overcome some of that here. And I guess just a bit, but is what I do know, is that, you know, from my life experiences from childhood, you know, it was such a dysfunctional, dysfunctional environment at home, that I learned to open up the front door, walk out, close the front door, put a smile on my face, and act like everything is alright. Right? Don't show anybody. Don't be honest with anybody Don't. Don't let people know. Right? I remember on more than one occasion, there were some kids that live next door. And one of the kids he was maybe a year or two younger than me. And he would ask me what was going on in the house, that he could hear the screaming and yelling from outside? And, you know, that just made me? You know, I don't remember what my response was. But I remember not wanting to engage with those people, because they might figure out what my secret was. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  27:39  
Well, you know, talking about like you, I get it completely talking about that connection that we were seeking, when we can't connect with ourselves in an authentic manner. How successful are we going to be at connecting with others? Absolutely. It's just not not going to happen? You know, right. So the more we seek that external thing, the more it the more debates us, the more invasive it becomes.

Brent Hoffman  28:14  

Coach Maddox  28:16  
So let's, let's venture over now, and I'd love to hear so when when you you said it was maybe 97 When you went down the dark place started using the heavy stuff? When did you? I know you've been in recovery more than once? That's correct. Right.

Brent Hoffman  28:38  
You will, will will say I, I've been in recovery for a long time. It worked better at some points than others. So but it has been a continuous journey of recovery since so there wasn't an event where I was hanging out with some shady people. And an individual came over to my home, and we were hanging out and next thing I knew there was a gun to my head. And this individual was taking off with my car. It was a crazy weekend. i He left. He came back. I was high. I didn't know how to deal with it. I there was so much fear wrapped in it. And I ended up being robbed of us significant number of my belongings. My car was loaded up with those things. He took me to some ATM machines to get some cash and then took me on an adventure out to the desert where the gun was then put to my head and I was told to get out. I truly thought I was going to be killed out there. I wasn't he left me in the middle of the desert I was living in, in the Phoenix area at that point in time.

Coach Maddox  30:09  
Tell me, in that moment, gun to your head, get out of the car leaves you on the sand in the desert, what? What was what was going on for inside of you in that moment.

Brent Hoffman  30:19  
So looking back on it, it was surreal. And I was high. And I was numb. And I think the only thing I really had in my mind at that point was survive, do what I need to do to survive, you know, and some survival instincts kicked in, I remember keeping my he was driving, he had the gun on his lap in a way that it was pointing to me and his finger on the trigger. And I kept my hands on my lap. So I did not give him any reason to believe that I was going to make any swift actions. I, there were moments where I felt like I could go for the gun. And my concern was at that point that I could do that. And there was a possibility I could take control of the situation. But there was a 50%, there was 100% chance that somebody was going to get hurt at that point. And there was a 50% chance that it was going to be me. And I did not want to risk it. So once I we were pretty deep into the desert, on on an Indian reservation. And so I was counting through that thing. It you know, there was it was just survive, you know, I wasn't even riddled with fear at that point in time. I just wanted to get away from the situation and have it go on a Go away, you know, and that was typical of most of my experiences in it in active addiction was I just just ignore the fear. Right. And, and survive,

Coach Maddox  32:24  
because you were so numb. Is that because of the the effects of the drugs themselves? Sure. Sure. Absolutely.

Brent Hoffman  32:30  
So the so at that point in time I, I was literally in the middle of the desert, it was cold. It was November, right. So the desert got cold at night. And I saw a little cluster of whites in the distance. I don't remember exactly how far far it was, but I, you know, walk towards that area. And it was a little cluster of homes on the Indian Reservation and there was a man out in the yard. I started calling out to him before he could even see me. Because I didn't want to startle him. I didn't want to just come up to him. And he was very kind. And he invited me into his home. And I remember there being a family there. And they got ahold of the reservation police. The reservation police took me to their station, and then contacted the Scottsdale Police Department. And they came and got me and took me home. And initially, the police really kind of just brushed it off. You know, I think they just thought, you know, here's another junkie, right with his drug and fueled experiences. And, you know, it's what comes to you right? You deserve this. And interestingly, it there was somebody who was arrested, who somehow told the story to the same detective who this happen, who, who was involved in my case, if you will, and it ended up the guy did get arrested, and he did some time. He did 10 years for that and a couple of other things that that were other crimes that were you know, concurrent his sentence. And I do monitor this individual. Still I check up on it and he's been in and out of prison since then. But that experience was what got me to my First recovery meeting, there was an individual I knew who who was in Alcoholics Anonymous. And he, and I contacted him. He was a good friend at that point. And I said, I need help. And, you know, I was fearful, this individual had the keys to my house, he had my vehicle. You know, so I went and stayed with him. And he was like, You need help? And it's like, yeah, I know. And that started the journey. You know, it was another, you know, it was another two years of going to meetings and getting high and trying to live in halfway houses to try to, you know,

Coach Maddox  35:52  
what was the timeframe on this? What approximately, what year, are you?

Brent Hoffman  35:56  
So we're talking after that, that that experience happened in November of 2000. And so there was probably November 2000, I ended up coming back to St. Louis, which we'll get to in a minute, in February of 2002. So there was that attempt to get clean, going to inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. In between, you know, so that was, what about 12 1314 months, that I continued to struggle. Before I got to a point where I was just losing everything, I couldn't keep a job. I couldn't pay the mortgage on my house, I had a ridiculous credit card debt. And it got to a point that I was going to die. You know, whether it be from the drugs themselves, or the lifestyle, I was living, it was going to kill me, you know. And at one point in time, I went to another friend's house, and he ended up finding my family's phone number, and my brother came out, and we ended up driving back to St. Louis. And that's where I really started my journey of recovery. But but that was that in itself, you know, I came back, I came for a week, and tried to figure out to get into a treatment center here in St. Louis. And the my sister found a place that would take me, and when I got there, I saw it was in a rough part of St. Louis. It was an old, old building, there were a bunch of people hanging outside and I knew these individuals were crackheads. Well, I wasn't a crackhead. I was a needle using methamphetamine addict, right? I had reach the bottom. So I thought. And I felt like I was better than those individuals, right? I mean, that's the disease of addiction. I separated myself for a multitude of reasons. And my, we got there and I told my dad, I this wasn't the place for me. He said, What are you going to do? I said, I'll figure it out. And I we went back to my parents house, which is the place I absolutely did not ever want to be again, right. You know, this is what I ran away from, and this is what my disease took me back to. And I got a hold of a cousin. And I said, you know, this is what's going on. They think I'm crazy. And I convinced her to wire me some money. And I got in my vehicle and drove back to Arizona, so I could get high some more. Wow. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  39:12  
So how long have you been clean and sober?

Brent Hoffman  39:16  
So clean and sober? My clean date is July 15 2013. So just about eight and a half years.

Coach Maddox  39:28  
And how did you What was the defining factor that finally made you get serious about it?

Brent Hoffman  39:37  
Okay, so, let me back up just a little bit. You know, I started I got back to St. Louis. I started doing meetings regularly. One of my struggles and this goes back to, you know, leaving, leaving the house and back to like everything was okay, well, I did that in recovery. I didn't know how to open up. I did not know how to tell people I was hurting. I did not tell people I wanted to get high. So what did I do? I continued to get high, right? There's always people in recovery. You know, my friends, my sponsor, acquaintances, you know, people who have been clean in know, the disease of addiction, who I could reach out to for support. But I had so much shame, and so much embarrassment, over the desire to want to continue to use yet, I couldn't open up my mouth to tell them and say, I'm struggling, I'm hurting helped me. Right.

Coach Maddox  40:48  
Yeah. So what was it that finally enabled you to speak out?

Brent Hoffman  40:53  
You know, I switched to crack cocaine, I became one of those people. I didn't know where to get meth. But I found some connections for crack cocaine. And then that became my problem, right. Which, once again, really, it's not the drug. It's the disease of addiction. But there was one weekend in particular in July of 2013, that I was often running. And using, you know, a significant amount of crack that weekend. It became Sunday evening, I had to work the next day, and I had been using all weekend. And as I'm picking up the phone, to get a hold of my guy for more dope, and thinking, I don't want to do this anymore. And I still went to get the drugs, you know, there's a concept we talked about using against our own will, right? Like, we do not have the ability to stop. And for whatever reason, I went to get the drugs. And as I'm driving, I thought to myself, this is the last time. And I can't tell you the number of times that I had told myself just one more time, just one more time, just one more time, just one more time, and it was never. But there was something about that time. And I can not tell you what it is what it was, I still don't understand it. You know, it ties into my relationship with a higher power that I just knew it was going to be my last time I smoked crack all night. There was a guy in recovery, who was my sponsor, although I didn't really utilize him as a sponsor. And I sent him a text in the morning. And I said, I surrender. I need help. And he sent me a text back and he said, it's about fucking time.

Coach Maddox  43:10  
And he had been waiting.

Brent Hoffman  43:13  
Oh, yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And I told him that I needed to go to treatment. And he said, let me know what you need from me. Right. And I then waited until eight o'clock in the morning, I called a human resource, regional human resource director, who I had worked with for years, I was at the company I was working with at that point in time for seven years we work together, I had an amazing boss. And I called this woman and I said, Look, I need help. And she said, we got you both do what we can for you. And you take the time, you need to get yourself in the right place. I said great. Well, you call my boss. She said absolutely not. You need a call. Right? And she put the responsibility on me. You know, I put the responsibility of everything on everybody else, just like my mom did to me as a child,

Coach Maddox  44:19  
right? It was what was modeled for it was what was modeled, right,

Brent Hoffman  44:22  
it was everybody else's fault except my own. And, you know, I talked to my boss, he said, Great, I ended up going off to a treatment center and and that's where it started. Right? I mean, really the beginning of my recovery. You know, I had I decided to get a different sponsor. About six months later, I asked this guy who, you know if you met me and him on the street He is, I would say he very conservative in his views. He is a carpenter by trade. He has his own business, but he's very blue collar. Like if you ever met two people who could be any different, you know, when this gay guy asks him to sponsor him, I think it took him a little aback. But he was somebody that I saw in meetings regularly. And there was something about him that was attractive to me. And I'm not talking about in a sexual way I'm talking about in the way he lived his life. So very

Coach Maddox  45:37  
much Sally moment.

Brent Hoffman  45:39  
Yeah, yeah,

Coach Maddox  45:40  
I want what he has.

Brent Hoffman  45:41  
Yeah. And he, I asked him to be my sponsor. And he said he would do that. And he's had a question for you. And I, yeah, he asked me, What do I do on a daily basis for my spiritual condition? And I looked at him like he had three heads, right? I really didn't know what that meant. And this guy has a spirituality that is not based on religion. But it's a connection to a higher power, that helped me develop my own connection to a higher power, which I call God. You know, it's not based on like I said, any Bible, or any dogma, but it's my own personal connection to myself and the world around me. And that has evolved. Over the years, and it continues to evolve.

Coach Maddox  46:50  
Oh, of course. So So let's bring it home. Yes. Let's share with the listeners. What is what is life for Brent like now?

Brent Hoffman  47:00  
Yeah, Ash, you know, through working 12 steps, and really digging deep into who I am. And as a person, and what I want out of my life, and coaching, in the development of my higher power. I'm okay with myself today. I'm okay with the person I am. You know,

Coach Maddox  47:29  
so what you what you're describing this being okay with yourself, like in the person that you are, and the way you got there, you're you're describing you did the work?

Brent Hoffman  47:40  

Coach Maddox  47:43  
Continue to drive this home with the audience that life isn't going to magically change all by itself, ever. No, no, it doesn't. If you're going to have the life that you desire. If I'm going to have the life I desire, I have to do the work. And there's no way around that. You there's the only way you can get to the other side of Mount Everest is to fucking climb Mount Everest, there's no way around, there's no way under, you got to climb Mount Everest,

Brent Hoffman  48:16  
well, like climbing Mount Everest was, you know, digging deep and, you know, learning to I think one of the biggest things for me was learning that I could trust one person, right, if I could only trust one person, and start getting out what was stuck inside me. That was the beginning. For me, right. And

Coach Maddox  48:43  
where did the point come in? Where it was, like about trusting you? I'm sorry? Where was the point where it became about trusting you?

Brent Hoffman  48:54  
Well, I think, you know, I had to learn to trust myself through rigorous honesty. Right? If I was telling a lie to somebody else, or the ability to recognize the lies I told myself over and over and over, and, you know, working, doing step work for me was, you know, there's a lot of questions in the in the 12 step program. I am there's a, a word, step working guide that asks a lot of questions, hard questions, hard questions, right. And, you know, I didn't just look at it and answer the question in my head. I didn't sit down at a keyboard and type it out. You know, the expectation for me was put pen to paper. There's something inherent about writing that out the physical act of writing it out and getting out What was going on? And you know, whatever the question may be, right. And it was being honest with myself at that point in time, all I had to do was put pen to paper and put it in a journal and answer those questions. And fig it and I started figuring out who I was. And you know, what was wrong with me? And how I could become the person that I wanted to be.

Coach Maddox  50:26  
You had to look took an honest look at the not so pretty parts of yourself and your life. Yeah. People are. Most of us are really overly afraid to do that. Yeah, we're afraid of what we'll find when we go within. I'm amazed how many people have said to me, I'm afraid to look within I'm afraid I'll find something that I can't handle.

Brent Hoffman  50:48  
Yeah. And there's some things I mean, there's a lot of things that I did that I'm not proud of. Right, we got we all have those, you know, there's absolutely things I've done that I'm not proud of me. And you know, is there. Shame? Yes. Is there remorse? Yes. Is there acceptance? Absolutely. You know,

Coach Maddox  51:13  
that's beautiful.

Brent Hoffman  51:14  
Just because I did those things, those things don't need to define me. You know, I don't live that way anymore.

Coach Maddox  51:24  
So what words of wisdom? Can you drop? On anybody listening, that might be struggling with any form of addiction, not just drug addiction, but just any form of addiction? What wisdom can you drop, the thing that really helped you get through that maybe you could pass on to another person that's in challenge or struggle.

Brent Hoffman  51:46  
So the reality is, is you know, there, there is a certain amount of joy or something that you get from that addiction, right? It feeds and satisfied some basic needs, right? And until you want to not use whatever it is you're using, more than you want to use it using is always going to win. Right. I think that's important. You really have to get to a point that you want it and you want it for yourself. It can't be doing it for another reason. And did

Coach Maddox  52:26  
that include finding healthy ways to get those needs met that had been being met through the addictive behavior?

Brent Hoffman  52:37  
Yeah, I you know, I think those needs that I had to that I want it to be met, you know, those continue, right? I don't I haven't met all of my needs. When we talk about, you know, healthy adult loving sexual relationships, something I still haven't gotten to, I believe I'm capable of it. I'm believe I'm that that person out there. For me, I haven't given up hope on that, you know, look, if a junkie like me, and I don't use that term, junkie, but I was right. I stuck needles in my arm. I work long sleeve shirts in the 115 degree temperature in the Arizona desert. To cover up my, my, my bruised up arms and and, you know, the, you know, the physical effect on me, you know, if a junkie like me can get clean? I am absolutely certain anybody can get clean. Yeah, there's hope for

Coach Maddox  53:47  
Yeah, for anybody that's willing to, you know, we have to be my father used to say there's help for those that are willing to help themselves.

Brent Hoffman  53:56  
Yeah, you know, there were, there's people that I've reconnected with from my path that truly thought I was dead. Like, they believed I had died from the disease. That's part of the rumor that, you know, because I, I picked up left Arizona came back and, you know, came to St. Louis and I disappeared, right? We didn't have really Facebook or, or, you know, communication, and social media where we can connect with people, like, you know, back in the, that at that point in time where I disappeared, if you will, so people thought I had died, you know, and I have some great friendships, you know, they're their stories. You know, there's some stories and aspects of my using that I can laugh at today, right. You know, one of my, one of my dear friends who I've seen a couple of times this past year who was out in Arizona, I had called her and asked her to help me I was convinced that my shoes had microphones in them, and they were listening to me. You know, we can laugh about that today, because I actually almost had her convinced that it was going on how that really occurred. I don't know. You know, there's so many stories, but you know, I don't want to focus in on, you know, all of the stories of things that happened. Because they're really are not relevant to the to where I am today. Yeah, yeah. Well,

Coach Maddox  55:39  
what what you do have a very unique and awesome story. Thank you so much for sharing this is there. Before we wrap? Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Brent Hoffman  55:51  
Um, you know, I think, you know, one of the things that I continue to work on is, is, is becoming a better version of myself. You know, I know what I want, I know that I don't have to be stuck in any situation that is not healthy and authentic for me. You know, I've just, you know, I've worked in a career, my lifelong career working in healthcare and healthcare administration for many years. And, you know, the last two years with COVID have been very taxing, and have had a huge emotional effect on me in not such a positive way. And, you know, I had felt stuck so long. And, you know, recently and in September, I gave my resignation. And I have taken some time to figure out what I want to do, and I grew up, right. And, you know, until I take my last breath, I'm probably not going to be fully grown up. Right.

Coach Maddox  57:04  
Well, I think that's, I feel the same way. Yeah, hope not. Yeah. You know, I don't want to ever arrive. Because what do you do when you arrive? I just that life is just the journey. You know, we arrive we take our last breath. I don't. Yeah, not in a hurry to arrive. Yeah. Thank you for that. Brant. Your your story was truly amazing. And your, your willingness to go deep and share very explicit things. I just want to honor you for that. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of strength. Great, thank you. So how about some rapid fire questions?

Brent Hoffman  57:40  
Let's do it.

Coach Maddox  57:41  
Are you ready?

Brent Hoffman  57:41  
I'm scared, but let's do it.

Coach Maddox  57:44  
How many really close men gay men friends do you have? I'm talking about the man who you can bare your soul to?

Brent Hoffman  57:55  
I would say probably five.

Coach Maddox  57:59  
Hmm. Wow. You are very fortunate. Yeah, I think there's probably a lot of people that could not say that. You are very fortunate. Wow. I love that. So what has been, and this may be have already covered but we'll go here and you know what has been the worst moment of your life thus far?

Brent Hoffman  58:21  
Huh? Yeah, I'm not sure I can really pinpoint one moment. I think one of the most painful experiences I've ever had is I had this dog. His name is Sebastian was a child and he was the best dog ever. Now I got another dog running around here somewhere. And I love her to death. But man that way, Sebastian. And when I had to put him down. Gosh, I never knew what grief was until I put that talk down. Wow, affected me for a long time. I can

Coach Maddox  59:01  
feel that as you share that. Wow. So what has been the best moment of your life thus far? Huh? Getting clean. Eating plants here

Brent Hoffman  59:16  
getting getting clean and starting the journey of living.

Coach Maddox  59:21  
You know, I want to acknowledge you for the accomplishment of getting clean. Because there we both know lots of people that never achieved that. Yeah. So I just really want to acknowledge you for all the hard work that you did. The blood, the sweat the tears, putting yourself first and doing the work. Just Bravo, brother. Bravo.

Brent Hoffman  59:48  
Thank you. Yeah, that means a lot to me.

Coach Maddox  59:52  
Well, and I want to thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast. It's been absolutely amazing. I want to thank you for having me. have loved your presence. And I want to leave you with one thing. Okay? I want you to know that you my friend, are indeed an authentic gay man.

Brent Hoffman  1:00:10  
Thank you. Love you Maddox.

Coach Maddox  1:00:14  
I love you too.

Brent HoffmanProfile Photo

Brent Hoffman

Brent is an everyday gay man who struggled with a lifetime of addiction to drugs. He currently has over 8 years clean and sober. Brent has gone to great lengths, digging deep into his pain through working a 12-step program and coaching, to realize his worth and his potential. He sponsors other gay men in recovery and helps them in becoming the best versions of themselves. His transformation into becoming the authentic gay man that he could only wish for, is an inspiring story of perseverance through the dark and into the light for those who struggle with addiction.

Brent has spent many years working in long-term care administration providing services for our senior population.

In his spare time, he enjoys the unconditional love of his sweet pit-mix Libby, and his strong bonds with his friends and family. Brent is an avid reader, movie buff, and loves the outdoors. He continues to advocate for the recovering community, and looks forward to his ongoing journey as an everyday gay.