Feb. 15, 2022

Grant Miller survives colon cancer and two narcissistic relationships on his journey to self-love

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Grant Miller shares his experience in two separate relationships with narcissists, saying that he obviously didn't learn his lesson with the first one.  He details what a narcissist looks like and the many ways that they behave.  He recounts what this experience cost him and what he gained, once it was all said and done.  If this wasn't enough, he then went through a battle with colon cancer.  He speaks of his journey into self-love and self-care, from codependent to interdependent.  Grant learned to put himself first, physically and emotionally.  If you struggle with losing yourself in relationships, this is your episode.  Grant's superpower is definitely vulnerability!

Grant is a school teacher, writer, body builder, gardener, who loves cooking, bird watching, hiking and camping.

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Coach Maddox  0:03  
Grant Miller is in the house. Grant, welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I know you got a great story to share with us today. And I'm excited to hear it.

Grant Miller  0:14  
Wonderful. Thank you so much Maddox for inviting me very excited about your new launch. And being a, you know, a gay man who's been out there and done some things, it's nice to have an opportunity and a platform to to be authentic and share stories. So I'm really pleased that you invited me to participate. Well, I'm

Coach Maddox  0:33  
glad to have you here. Very glad to have you here. And, you know, I always I just realized, I always tell the listeners how I know the guest. Would you like to tell the listeners how we know each how long we've known each other and how we met?

Grant Miller  0:48  
Well, you know, we met about, it's virtually two years ago, isn't it? Just about the beginning of the, the pandemic, and we were a bunch of Wayward Souls almost, you know, kind of, on the internet, trying to connect and not really knowing how to do it and, and that we met through the bootcamp. And you and I have been friends ever since we've talked on a regular basis, we shared and, and done some wonderful things together. So even

Coach Maddox  1:21  
we Yes, we did. And we all always have great conversations. That is a truism always have great conversations. So yeah, yeah, it's, it's been a wild journey over the these two years with the pandemic and some various things that have have happened in both of our lives. And, and and here we are to tell war stories.

Grant Miller  1:44  
Can't wait. It's got lots of cool.

Coach Maddox  1:48  
Well, so my first question is, Grant, what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man? How would you define that?

Grant Miller  1:58  
Well, thanks for asking that question. I think I kind of alluded to it when I started, being an authentic gay man is being unapologetically me. And it's been a learning lesson for me to get to that point. Because it used to be so much of a, I'd put up a big wall or put a blanket over me so that nobody would really know who I was. And being authentic is just doing what I'm doing speaking to you right now, speaking about who I am sharing with feelings, not being afraid to be vulnerable. Share some pretty dark stories that some people find uncomfortable to be here, but the same time they're worth listening to. And people can kind of learn from that. So I think being authentic is being honest, being upfront, being genuine.

Coach Maddox  2:49  
I love that. I love your definition. It's been so interesting how I've gotten so many takes on on a theme. And they've all been right in their own own way. And if there was a way to mishmash them all together, it would be it would be amazing. So thank you for that. So well. Let's let's jump right in. And you're gonna tell us about, you know, possibly the the most challenging thing that you have had to go through in this lifetime and what that's been like and where you are in that process?

Grant Miller  3:26  
Well, and the big thing about Maddox is, I don't know really where to start. It, that's the hard part, there was just so much there. And it's all about who we are as people, sometimes we get into a habit of developing relationships with other people, and we seek them out for various reasons. And it doesn't until you get through these relationships, that you start to realize that there's a pattern forming. And then you start to think, Well, okay, why did this happen? Why did that happen? And how did he react to me this way, and why and so forth. And I started to realize that, you know, there's a pattern to it. And it wasn't until just recently, two years about the same time that you and I met that I kind of discovered exactly what that was. And that's what I'd like to talk about tonight. So is how we get into a rut with a relationship and kind of discover why we're in it in the first place. And how we get into these relationships with other people that you wonder afterwards after the fact why in the hell did I put myself in that relationship? And that's basically in a nutshell, if, if people are confused as to what I'm talking about, it is about codependency and it's about allowing a narcissistic person, come into your life and basically take you over so that you don't exist anymore. And that's my story. And that's what I want to talk about tonight.

Coach Maddox  4:47  
Beautiful. I can't wait to hear it because I think it's a highly relative topic. I have heard many men speak on, you know, not Nestle sincerity the way you're going to speak but have talked about having been in a relationship with a narcissist or, or being involved in something that was highly codependent, it's a pretty common thing. So I know that what you're going to share today is going to be not only applicable, but very beneficial to the people that are out there listening to this. And,

Grant Miller  5:21  
you know, to be honest with with you to Maddox, I think it's beneficial for me to share my story, the more I tell my story, the better I come to understand myself and how that relationship went, and how I developed future relationships as a result of what I went through. So I think it's, it's beneficial for just as much for me as everyone else. So you'll have to excuse me, as the old me is kind of trying to grab right out right now saying, Grant, don't talk about yourself, don't be, you know, overly show what's important to you, make sure it's for somebody else. So I'm just letting you know that that old guy, they will grant that I, I work so hard to change still tries to creep in sometimes. So those as I was saying to you, you know that it's also beneficial to me, that little voice in my side was saying, Ye grant, you should be sharing that you should be talking about something else. So you'll hear that little voice come out. And I'll mention it because I'm very conscious of it. So well,

Coach Maddox  6:16  
you have my permission to completely talk about your experience, you and your experience. That's what we're here to do today. And and I'm gonna, I'm going to prod you a little bit to kind of, you know, really get vulnerable with us. Because, you know, that's the way we really connect. And I know, you know that. So, as I said to one of my guests the other day, I want you to tell the story in a manner that the listeners feel it.

Grant Miller  6:45  
But no pressure. You know, let me let me set the story, kind of like, you know, The Golden Girls, you know, picture this. About the year 2010, I had been single for almost three years. And my previous relationship was with a man who was an absolutely beautiful man, but he became addicted to crystal meth. And ultimately, I lost him to first crystal meth and then to heroin. And he basically died in a very poor neighborhood in Vancouver. And it really threw me for a loop. And it took me three years to kind of work through that. And so it was about three years after that. I said to myself, you know, it's about time that you get out there and try to look for a relationship, why don't you put yourself out there again, and I asked a friend, you know, you got a ton of really nice looking guys on your on your Facebook page, can you introduce me to some of them. And he said, he snapped his fingers. He says, I know somebody. And he introduced me to this person. And it was almost like there was this instant connection. He was such a charmer, such a charmer. We talked for the first time for about three hours, and we got to know each other. And it wasn't long after that, that we were actually going to meet and actually get together and have our first dinner together and everything. And we did. And let's just say that the man termed the pants off me. The first night that we went home to his place. He actually read me Dorothy Parker poetry and I'm thinking all someone right after my soul, somebody was poetic, somebody is romantic. And it's right up my alley, because I love poetry. I'm a writer, and I have written poetry in my, my past myself. So I was just absolutely enthralled. And finally, somebody that can really relate. And so I jumped in feet first. And to make the story worse, he was currently at that time breaking up with his ex lover. And he was still living with his ex lover, but his ex lover had moved out. And but there was this big, you know, he's gonna move his stuff out and all that stuff. So he was upset and crying half the time because of his ex partner and told me, you know, someone who was being really romantic retinue Dorothy Parker poetry, I was just absolutely thrilled. So I ignored the fact that he was getting a relationship and just jumped in feet first with him. And it wasn't long after that, that I moved to stuff into my basement and moved him into my house. And that's where it went from. He was a very attractive man. He was very out there very charismatic with me. And again, I felt absolutely blown away that someone like this would take the time to share all this with me. And so I was just absolutely thrilled. And I just I fell in love with them almost immediately and I disregarded all the warning signs, all the red flags, and I just dumped in. And that's where it started. And then where it progressed after that is where the story really starts. And that's the hard part.

Coach Maddox  10:20  
He was a master at what he does, isn't he?

Grant Miller  10:22  
Well, you know, I'm kind of jumping forward to 2022. Because now my experience in dealing with a narcissistic person is so much different. And you know, there's a feeling in my head sometimes that I wish that I had hindsight. But you know, the old saying about having hindsight doesn't really help you much after you've been through it. But if I had known what I know, now, I would have looked at every single one of those red flags and say, Ah, this guy's not for me. I shouldn't go anywhere near him.

Coach Maddox  10:54  
Well, for the for the value of the listener, because we're all familiar with the term narcissist. But there's a lot of people that don't really know what that means, or how it legitimately shows up with a person like that. Can you give us some, some history and some stories? And what, what, what unfolded in when what you went

Grant Miller  11:17  
through? Well, first of all, I'm going to use the example of one of your former presidents recently, good signs of what a actual narcissist is. a narcissist is someone who really has no concept of everyone else in the world, they're only it's basically about them as a person. They make everything around about them. If someone doesn't agree with them, they turn themselves into a victim, and then you're all of a sudden, the bad one. They take over everything. They can just blow up with the drop of a hat, and then forget that they've blown up. You know, my ex husband, he must have told me the fuck off. Let's see, daily. And at first I thought, you know, Where's this coming from? If at all, you know, let's let's deal with it. And you know, so these kinds of things started coming. That was one of the first red flags that I mentioned earlier. So the fact that there was this no concept of emotional outbursts. That was one sign that he was narcissistic. Like I said, he would just you know, one time, I was making cappuccinos on the on the latte maker. And I was doing this for guests that we're having over dinner, he berated me for using cream. And he said, you shouldn't be using the things broken, and he screamed at me 15 minutes, while the guests are sitting in the other room. It was just something like that, you know, the normal person would say, hey, you know, it's just a coffeemaker, just a couple, you know, cappuccinos, no big deal. But for him, it was I'm using his espresso maker in a wrong way. And he felt compelled to really read me out in front of everybody else. They could all hear what they were saying. And I'm standing there going, hey, you know, what do I do what I do? I'm so sorry. I shouldn't say that. You know, and I'm start getting into that, you know, codependent thing, and they, you know, we're going to talk a lot about codependency because, you know, if you get into relationship with a narcissist, you also have a role to play in that. So this is part of my, my discovery. You know, some of the things it you know, I know, you're going to ask, what were some of the examples that I got from him? He wants told me, we were on a cruise in the Baltic. And we were in a bar in Copenhagen. And he saw me I said, you know, this has been a really fun relationship. I'm really enjoying this. We're on a cruise, we're really getting to know each other. And the conversation went around to says, you know, what kind of guy I'd like? And I said, No, and he said to that guy over there, and he pointed to this big muscular guy must have been about 250 pounds. He says, I want a man like that. And I'm sitting there, looking down at myself. I'm 210 Nine. As you can see, I'm a muscular person. And I think it'd be at 210. I thought it looked pretty good. But his idea was that well, he wanted somebody was 250 pounds. So red flag. What did I do? I journaled about it? As I was flying back to Canada. And I thought, you know, I have a choice here. I could stay with him and try to do something to make this easier. Or I can leave him. I stayed with him. And I began to take steroids. And I pump myself up to the point where I was a 250 pound man, for him. And that was my way of saying, Okay, this is what he wants. This is what he's going to get. If I want a relationship so badly. I'm going to make him happy. By doing that, I injured my heart, I had an enlarged heart. My doctor had said that it looked like I had had a heart attack. But because I felt this need to be that 250 pound man for him, that I put my own life in danger, basically, without even knowing. And now I pay the consequence for that. So it's been a that was one of the warning signs. And you know, as you're sitting there, you know, Maddox, you nodding your head saying, wow, like, that's an amazing story. But how can people not see that doing something for someone else is such a bad thing? Because I was harming my body, but it was doing it out of a need to please Him. And for me, it's it seemed clear, do that if you want a relationship to work, do what makes it work for him.

Coach Maddox  15:54  
When when you look back on that, Grant, how does that feel?

Grant Miller  15:58  
Terrific. Terrific. I'm the thought that I didn't have enough for self respect for myself, to say, I'm good enough at 210. I'm a decent guy, I'm more than just muscles. I'm a human being. I'm a kind soul, like I love to give. And I think in my head at that time, Maddox was that this is going to be my last relationship in my life. I've had five relationships in my life, the last one ended because of someone's drug addiction. I'm going to make this damn relationship work, even if it kills and literally almost dead.

Coach Maddox  16:49  
Well, you have clearly stated what it costs you. In your physical health. What were some of the other costs of that beyond the heart issues?

Grant Miller  17:05  
The emotional stuff. Um, you know, as a, as a gay man, and I'm, you know, I keep saying I'm 210 to 20 pounds or something like that. That the effects of some of the things that he said, they were most emotionally abusive to me. And that worked its way into my head saying, Well, if he's saying that it must be true. The fact that he said to me, Oh, by the way, my next relationship is going to be with an African Canadian. And I'm going ahead and wait white, and why are you with me? If you really want an African Canadian, go for it. But that was his way of saying, Well, you know, this is, you know, this is just me. And then when I would question him on it, he'd say, why don't remember that I was just joking. And what it did for me it was it. It made me feel like I was insignificant because I wasn't what he wanted. But yet he wanted me. And he wanted me to do the things that he wanted to do. But that was it. And

Coach Maddox  18:13  
there, there was a method to what he was doing. What do you I mean, I know what I think what's behind that, but

Grant Miller  18:19  
what what,

Coach Maddox  18:21  
what was the motivation to do things to say things to you like

Grant Miller  18:26  
that? Well, and again, this is all hindsight, having lived it and gone through it and analyzed it and really thought about it. A narcissist is really good at sticking their claws into people. They know how to get them so that they're, they're there. And once they're there, then they turn the tables and they become something that's totally different. I mean, he really was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I mean, at one minute, he could be the nicest, you know, and, and then the next minute, he'd be throwing things out the door screaming dummy the fuck off. Going to the neighbors and telling them to fuck off for god knows what reason. And I'm just sitting there going, Oh, okay, what do I do? How do I make this better? What do we do to stop this? And my reactions were always something other than what I could have been doing. For example, when he first started telling me to fuck off. I thought, Okay, well, this was just man to man. So I told him to fuck off. And I got angry with him. And I found that the more he got angry if I got angry, too, it just escalated. And so what did I do? I learned to back it off. Because, you know, say, okay, you know, I'm not going to get that set with them and everything, just calm them down and let it pass. And that ended up being good for him. But not so good for me. So when you ask how did it hurt me? It robbed me of my spirit. It robbed me of who I was as a person. I can see that, you know, being in a relationship for six years with a narcissist, I truly lost who I was. And it's taken me many years to sort of gain all that back and actually get to a point where I'm beyond that, and moving on.

Coach Maddox  20:14  
I think that's the objective of a narcissist. I think that they set out to get you to lose yourself, they undermine your self confidence and self esteem. They make you feel very, very insecure by the things that they do the things that they say and the way that they treat you. And I think that that's all in a pursuit of being able to completely control you.

Grant Miller  20:40  
And, you know, your listeners might be saying, well, why the hell didn't you get out? And for me, the response was, I've got to make this work. There's something wrong with me, this is a reason why he's doing this.

Coach Maddox  20:53  
Well, and part of it is because when he's charming, he's really charming. Yep. You know, I, I have not personally lived through a narcissistic relationship. But I certainly have had enough friends and not enough people that have to, and read enough to know what it looks like. And yes, charming is an understatement there.

Grant Miller  21:18  
You know, when you're saying that, you know, of people who have been in that situation, I mean, a lot of my friends knew that he was a narcissist. But none of them really said anything to me. They just sort of let the relation go through, I think out of respect for me, they didn't want to say, Grant, you really shouldn't be in this relationship with this guy. He's bad news for you. They did afterwards after the fact. But, yeah,

Coach Maddox  21:43  
well, you know, that's a very slippery slope. Because in my experience, the times I have done that, they had no place for hearing that there was, there was no opening for that to actually get through. And, and most of the time, it just creates like friction and pushes them away from you. Like, like, if your friends had come to you and said, We think he's a narcissist, and this is really unhealthy for you. That would have pushed you away, and you would have been turned probably push them away, because you weren't. He's so charming. You weren't open to hearing that.

Grant Miller  22:26  
You're 100%. Right. So again, I mean, how can one be honest with a friend when you see this in a relationship? That, you know, I don't think I would have listened to them? Unfortunately?

Coach Maddox  22:40  
Well, I mean, we're all aware of lessons that we had to get the hard way. And we had to get them on our own. You know, nobody could have actually, like, circumvented that lesson. We just had to get it the way we got it. And, yeah, yeah, that's the thing. You know, sometimes our rite of passage is that, yeah, sometimes it is a rite of passage for us.

Grant Miller  23:11  
You know, on the subject of self respect, I found out very early in the relationship that he was cheating. I was actually away at camp with my school kids, in June of that year that we had met, and I'll be damned if he wasn't bringing guys into our bed. And, you know, I actually took a picture of myself on a horse with my shirt off and saying, you know, one of the other teachers took the picture, and I sent it to him and say, hey, you know, can't wait until I get back. And he says, Oh, wow, great picture. But he's lying in bed with some other guy that had sex with at least two or three people while I was gone that week. And that was just the beginning. Again, I didn't know that story until well at later. So while we're on the topic of cheating, I think narcissists also don't, they have two sets of rules, set of rules for them, and a set of rules for others. Now, the average person would say, Well, if you're my boyfriend, and you're in the second bedroom, and you're posting pictures of yourself on dudes, nude nudes, dudes, or whatever it was called, he was posting a picture of himself naked, wank and off. And my ex partner sent me a message said, Wow, your your new boyfriend's really cute. He's got this fantastic picture on dudes nudes, or whatever it was called, and I'm going, What the fuck? So I went to the I went to my, he was my boyfriend at the time. He said, You know, you're in my house, and we're trying to make this our house, but should you really be doing that? And he says, oh, yeah, it's just a joke. It's just just to meet friends and everything. I said, No, you're gonna take it off. So that was one time I actually stood up to him. He actually did take the pictures off. And you know, it Again, hindsight, if I'd listened to my little voice there and stood up for myself a lot more, that things would have been different. But then again, that would have been, let's see how many red flags we've talked about three or four now? I mean, posting new nude pictures of himself on on a on a site. That's another warning? Yes. Especially one that's that's meant for that.

Coach Maddox  25:24  
Well, and one, one of the things that I certainly have come to realize in listening to all the stories I've heard about narcissist is you, you may every once in a while have a small victory. But for the most part, you can't win. No, in the bigger picture, you can't win, you won't ever win in a relationship with a narcissist. And no matter what you do, you it's never going to be good enough.

Grant Miller  25:52  
No, agreed. 100%. Do you know we would often have to be argued right? And sometimes you had to literally argue with him for 20 minutes, just to admit that we were actually arguing. So it wasn't a matter of just well, okay, we're arguing and I'm mad because you, you went over and screwed this guy outside. It was no, we're not arguing. And it literally I would have to argue with him that we were arguing. And then once we got past that, then it was trying to argue what the what the thing whole thing was about it was either Oh, it didn't happen. Or oh, I was just kidding, or, or whatever. And it would be. Okay, so what did I do wrong in this? You just cheated on me. And I'm supposed I'm feeling like I've done something wrong. And that's what narcissists, do, they take control of the situation, they turn the tables on you, they become the victim, and you're the one that's doing everything wrong?

Coach Maddox  26:51  
Well, and I think that's why they undermine your self confidence and self esteem. So it's easier to do that. It's easier to manipulate you when you have been weakened. And so all of the things that they say and do are about weakening you. And then the charm is to draw you back in so you won't leave. They want you to be completely dependent on them. So So we've talked a little bit about what it costs you physically, emotionally. Talk a little

Grant Miller  27:24  
bit about

Coach Maddox  27:29  
what you gained, talk a little bit about I mean, there's a silver lining in anything, what did what did you walk away with, that you would not have had? If you hadn't gone through the relationship, the experience with a narcissist.

Grant Miller  27:50  
I'm going to preface that before I ask the question to say that after my marriage, and I divorced him, I immediately got into another relationship with another narcissist. So obviously, in that marriage, I hadn't learned the lesson. So you know, the fates delivered another one on my on my doorstep. And I got into that relationship for two years. So I hadn't learned my lesson.

Coach Maddox  28:14  
You know, it sounds really heinous. But the truth of the matter is, the universe is always working for our highest good. You know, it is going to put the things in your pathway that are going to no matter how many times you have to go through it, eventually, you're going to wake up and smell the coffee.

Grant Miller  28:36  
agrees. And so to answer your question, what's the silver lining in this is, it's taken me well, since through this, this whole voyage to COVID. And where this is where you come into the story and, and how we've talked about this boot camp and these other places that we were together, of discovering what I am as a person. I'm a school teacher by trade, and I've always been a caregiver. You know, teachers, nurses, social workers, they're all usually caregivers. And in my personal life, I was very much a caregiver. I mean, with the gentleman that had the drug addiction, I took care of him. With my husband, I took care of him, I supported him financially, I supported him, mentally and physically and I supplied everything that he ever needed to make him happy. But what I learned, and the silver lining is that I was putting myself last after everyone. And the silver lining for me is that I have learned turn that into, I have to put myself first I have to take care of myself first. I have to respect I have to love myself in order to love others. I mean, we all know what RuPaul says at the end of every show, and that is so incredibly true. If you don't love yourself, how can you love somebody else?

Coach Maddox  30:00  
Well, and if you don't love yourself how q&a? Can you expect others to love you? Well, I mean, you know, you, we can't expect anybody to give us something that we can't give ourselves.

Grant Miller  30:11  
And that's where a narcissist comes in. And that's why they're so insidious around the, the grapple their hooks into you and they really you know they bind you into that situation where you feel like you can't get out because they're so good.

Coach Maddox  30:25  
They do what they can to make you believe that they are your last chance. And then if you break away from them, no one will ever have you ever again, they are your only opportunity that is like one on one narcissism.

Grant Miller  30:42  
And you know, Maddox, I know that you work a lot with with women, and I'm sure you've dealt with women who have been abused. And a lot of the stories of the same situation. When you get into an abusive situation, it's always that you are powerless, you are not capable of making your own decisions. They take away all your power. And as a man that can be debilitating. The thought that a man like me, could allow someone else to take the power away. So to the point that you feel like you're worthless, that you can't make a decision. You can't live without them. You can't live with them either. But you can't live without them and that you're just in this quandary that you can't escape. Oh, there's nothing I can do. I just have to live with it. It's just this is my fate my life. And that's literally what he put into my head. Well, no, I have to back up and retract that, I put that in my head because of my situation with them. And you know, Maddix

Coach Maddox  31:39  
so I want to acknowledge you for taking accountability and responsibility there because you know, it's really easy for it to just to you know, make it all about the other person and in a relationship it takes two to tango both the both parties have their role he you know, he he couldn't play the role of the narcissist, every narcissist has to have a codependent, you're the ideal match for a narcissist. But when you no longer are willing to demonstrate our play into codependent behavior, then you suddenly have nothing to offer him.

Grant Miller  32:21  
And you know what? I'm glad you brought that up. Because, yes, you know, at the beginning of the podcast, you said, What is it to be authentic. And I think to be authentic, you have to own up your your side of the story. I mean, what was my role in that relationship? It's exactly that I was codependent, I allowed him to do those things. I was a caregiver, my whole goal, my dad told me as a kid, caregiver for other, take care of other everyone else, it's selfish to be taking care of yourself, don't if you think about yourself, that's vain. And I carried that all my life up until now,

Coach Maddox  32:56  
man, there's a lot of us that got that message. And you know, for the listeners, I just want to say that is the biggest bunch of bullshit I've ever heard, put everybody before you, because putting you first is selfish, could not be farther from the truth.

Grant Miller  33:11  
And so my role in this was that I gave him all my power, I let him do all those things to me. And now, these years after the relationship, and after the second relationship, I've come to recognize that I can't care for other people, if I can't take care of myself. And as a result, I think, you know, this is kind of outside our pod. But I mean, after I split with the second guy, the universe threw me another story. And I came down with colon cancer, I discovered that colon cancer. And here I was 100%. Alone, you know, no relationship and none of my friends really available to help me to go through the chemo and everything. And it just felt like the world is just handing me the same story over and over again that I have to debate dependent on other people in order to survive. And I think the universe sent me the cancer not because well, cancer comes for various reasons. But I had it and I think it was the message I got was Grant in order for you to survive, you're going to have to take care of yourself. You can't sit around and wait for other people to be there and say, Oh, poor grant, we feel badly for it. We've got you've got cancer, we'll do everything we can to make you feel better. I had to come to the realization that I have to take care of myself. And I did. I got through it. I'm in remission. Well,

Coach Maddox  34:42  
and I have a question concerning specifically that so I want to kind of interject for a second when you finally made the decision to put you first and take care of you to get you through what you needed to get through with with the cancer scare. When you started to put you first and take care of you. How did the rest of the world respond? What What? What was your experience?

Grant Miller  35:07  
Well, it's because my reaction was different. I'm gonna tell you a story about my classroom. This is during the time when I was taking my pills, and I literally I told my class I share with my class, I do share my experiences, I'm out to them. When I had cancer, I told the kids look, Mr. Miller has cancer, he's going through chemo, he'll be able to work after his operation and everything. But sometimes you'll have to help him because he'll, you'll know our speak third person, you know, when I'm telling talking to kids, right? That you'll need to help him when he's having problems. And I can remember one day, and this, this leads into the question of, you know, how, what was the decision, the decision for me was to be vulnerable to other people. I was standing at the boat at the board. And I was trying to write something, I think it was a word in French sauce was on CES, which is 668. And I couldn't remember the numbers. And I was standing there was a sea salt, suasana, C three. And I kept saying in my head, and the kids are all just looking at me, one of the girls from the back, came up, took the marker out of my hand, and wrote the numbers for me. And she sat down, and we went on. And it was I'm sorry, I'm tearing up a

Coach Maddox  36:22  
little bit, because Oh, my God, there's, I mean, I'm just I'm like, wow, you just, okay, I feel it now. Oh, wow.

Grant Miller  36:31  
Here's an 11 year old girl, who just knowingly, she knew that she had to do this didn't ask to do, it just got up on receipt, and wrote it down for me. And we kept going. And at the end of the year, in our in sort of the ceremonies that I have with my kids every year, I mentioned that in regard about how you helped me and how much that meant to me. And so being vulnerable, and owning the things that I am the person, that's been the thing, that

Coach Maddox  37:04  
it's, it's obvious that your students love you.

Grant Miller  37:09  
Well, you know what I want to on one point, they might say, well, you know, Mr. Miller, he gives lots of homework, use your hard work to do and all that stuff. But when it comes down to it, I think they do have a sense that they do have compassion, they do have empathy. They sometimes have problems showing it, but hey, you know, they do it in their own ways. So I

Coach Maddox  37:28  
think beautiful story, it is.

Grant Miller  37:33  
I've learned to be vulnerable with other people to be honest about my feelings. Saying how I feel. I mean, I wouldn't be on a podcast right now, if I hadn't made the decision that I can be vulnerable to other people. You know, at the beginning, you said what is authentic, gay man. I think for me, an authentic gay man is someone who's not afraid to be vulnerable, not afraid to share what he thinks. Not afraid to share his emotions and his feelings. That's what I'm working on.

Coach Maddox  38:06  
And doing a an amazing job I might add, you know, the reason I asked the question about, you know, what did you experience out out in the outer world, you know, when you started to put you first and take care of you was, and you clearly demonstrated that with the student who came up and took the chalk out of your hand, is when you started to take care of you, the world stepped up in its own way, in small ways and started to take care of you. I really believe that we train people how to treat us, this is the like, the core of my work, we train people how to treat us in three different ways. But one of those ways is the way they see us treat ourselves. And when you began to care for yourself and put yourself first, it's not a conscious thing. The world doesn't really get it consciously. It's an energetic thing. And they respond in in like kind. And that's clearly demonstrated in your story.

Grant Miller  39:09  
But which brings me to another one, I actually lost friends. When I started being vulnerable, I started sharing what I was thinking who I was, as a person, there are people that just couldn't handle that. And so I learned to move on and not be responsible for that. Because I knew that that was their issue. I mean, if they didn't want me to be honest and open and, and grant grants being silly right now, and they can't deal with that or whatever. I didn't blame myself for the fact that I lost a couple friends by changing that. So that inner part of myself well,

Coach Maddox  39:43  
you lost what you thought were friends think, you know, vulnerable. Vulnerability is polarizing. That's the beauty of vulnerabilities when we get vulnerable. It does one of two things. It either there's two different kinds of people them in the way they respond those that say screaming run in the opposite direction, ie your friends who suddenly just weren't around because it made him uncomfortable. Or the other group that want to come and sit right next to you. And I absolutely have grown to love that polarizing aspect, because it proverbially separates the men from the boys. You know, I want those people to scream and run, because when they scream and run, it creates more space for the ones that want to come and sit right next to me.

Grant Miller  40:28  
I love that. I love that. But, and I think that sums up the reason why you're my friend, is because both of us are able to be vulnerable with each other. It's just, you know, friends that are saying, you know, I can I can tell you this story, or I can say that this is how I'm feeling and being authentic about it.

Coach Maddox  40:49  
Yeah, it's been more than once that we've been on a call together and and both shed a tear or two.

Grant Miller  40:58  
And, and what I'm what, you know, I keep going on, on this idea of, you know, what has been the silver lining, I've come to value certain friendships a lot more because of the situation. I have. My friend Sean, he is absolutely amazing. He's he was there during my cancer thing he lived elsewhere, he flew up to Canada, in Nova Scotia to be with me for a week. And to help me, I had another friend come from Washington, DC, I had another friend fly in from the west coast of Canada, and they would come for a week or two. And these are the sorts of friendships that I value so much, because I mean, Sean, I can say anything I can say to bloodshot, I'm feeling really sorry for myself, I'm being a real jackass today. And you know, he'll just listen. And then we'll discuss it. And there's no reflection on well, you know, Grant, you're a really flawed person. It's just, that's who grant is. And that's what he is at that moment. And, for me, it's such an incredible experience to have friends where I can be myself, and not worry that I have to change myself to be something that I'm not, because that's what I did with my ex husband, I made myself into something that I was not really. I wasn't myself. And with Sean and my friend Gary and Pasadena, and with you and others that I've met, I can be myself and I don't have to worry about whether they're judging me for who I am. They just accept me. And, you know, for the listeners, they might say, Well, what's so hard about accepting oneself and who you are? The old me would have said, Oh, no, I can't let them see that. You know, I, I'm a weightlifter. But I like birdwatching. You know, that's, that's, that's not masculine, right? You know, that I like cooking or, or whatever. It was just those things that are interested in me. I'm also a nerd, right? I love Dungeons and Dragons. And I'm writing a novel about science fiction, I love sci fi, love Doctor Who and all that stuff. But sharing that with other people, it would be no, you don't share that you don't let them know who you really are. And it wasn't until I worked through this process that I realized, it's saying, Be who you are with other people. And relish that. And I've set a goal for myself next for this year, is that I want to start taking the opportunity when I'm out in public. If I'm at a club, or if I'm at a dance, or if I'm at a workshop at school, and someone does some drumming or something that I'm going to get up and bloody well dance, and I'm going to dance like nobody's watching. So that's my goal is because the old me would be absolutely petrified to do that, like, oh, no, they'll think I'm a Nazi, or Oh, I think I'm crazy or something. Or, oh, they'll think, Oh, what a klutz. He's not a good dancer, some. And I have seen people do that, where they get up, and they just dance. And I'm going, how do they do that? Where did they get the nerve to do that? And so that's one of my goals for 2022

Coach Maddox  44:06  
You're answering that you you now understand, where they got the nerve to do that.

Grant Miller  44:12  
They're being themselves. They're being us. Okay. And, you know, it almost feels like I'm born again some extent, I mean, to discover a 59 that if I just be myself, and be comfortable with that and be happy with who I am, life goes a lot easier.

Coach Maddox  44:28  
Oh, it attracts all the right people to you. Yeah, yeah. All the right people to you, you know, you the plot thickens. You know, now you're telling about all these people that came to be with you during your cancer treatment. And that is a result of you, loving you and putting you first you caring for you. Yeah. You know, it's like when I had a an awareness here a few years ago, maybe about three years ago that I mean, I'd always known that I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel safe around Getting in. And I had searched everywhere trying to find that safe space, you know, in any given is that are you? Do you have any space for me? Are you safe, do safe space for me and never found it. And then had the awareness at one point here about three years ago that safe space isn't out here, it's in here inside of me. And I'm responsible to create that safe space. And grant as soon as I created that safe space, which merely was just an aspect of me really communing with the little boy that lives inside of me and reassuring him that I had his back that I was an adult and could fucking take care of him. Yeah, as soon as that that safety was established inside of me, suddenly, I could see safe space, everywhere I look safe people and safe space. You know, all of this is an inside job.

Grant Miller  46:00  
All of it. Exactly. Look what you're doing now, as a result of that. I mean, it's absolutely amazing that we're sitting, you're actually doing a podcast about gay authentic men.

Coach Maddox  46:10  
It is such I mean, if you'd have told me this, even a year ago, I would have probably been in complete disbelief. You know, I want I want to let the listeners know, because they're hearing this really, really deep conversation. And I didn't want to let them know that although we told you that we have known each other for about two years, and we have conversed and had many conversations. We have never met in person. No, we have only met in zoom calls. He lives in Canada and I live in Texas and and not that we won't meet at some point in time, I sincerely hope that we do. But as of yet, we have not been able to put our arms around each other and hug each other. Or look into each other's eyes that didn't include a screen and a camera. And yet, we've still managed to develop a relationship where we can be really, really real with each other. And we, we don't spend much time when we talk. We don't spend much time on superficial bullshit. We talk about shit that matters. You know?

Grant Miller  47:21  
That's true. Hey, that just brought up a thought you remember the first time that you and I actually talked? You remember what we did? We spent two minutes staring in each other's eyes. That was the job. Remember that? We did. We were just we were asked Don't say a word. Just sit there for two minutes and look in each other's eyes.

Coach Maddox  47:42  
Here, right, we were on a connection call in a big online gag group. And that was we broke up, they broke us up into little two man breakout rooms. And that was our assignment was to spend two minutes in silence staring directly in each other's eyes. That's right. That was how we connected.

Grant Miller  48:01  
Right. And after those two minutes, I knew that I wanted to know more about you because I could sense who you are as a person just by doing that. And I have to add the caveat that for me to look in someone else's eyes. That has been a big shift for me. Even my friend Sean said that on Zoom calls two years ago, I would always have my head turned to the side not looking at him directly in the eyes. But he's been commenting lately about how I actually looked him straight in the eye like I'm looking at you right now. Because that's the connection.

Coach Maddox  48:32  
Well, and in the two years that I've known you, you have moved mountains, Grant shares, I've watched you grow so much and come so far on your journey. It's been emotional at times to watch. It's been beautiful to watch. It's been inspiring to watch. And I just, you know, I want you to know that I really admire your dedication to doing your work. This is one of the things that I kvetch about when it comes to gay men is there's this universal resistance to working on yourself. It's just much easier to smoke a joint have a cocktail, or inject some kind of snort something up your nose or something and

Grant Miller  49:24  
are having mindless sex every other night. Oh my

Coach Maddox  49:28  
god. You know, there is so much that I and I'm not bashing I'm just saying that there's so much that our community does to distract to numb to avoid to deny. And that's because when you don't have the denial or the distraction are all those things in place, you're in pain. Yeah. You're in pain and we we sooner or later if we don't want to live out our entire lives in pain. We have to continue front that pain, we have to do the work.

Grant Miller  50:05  
And you know, sometimes the work isn't pretty.

Coach Maddox  50:07  
Oh my god, a lot of times it isn't pretty are good to

Grant Miller  50:11  
go inside myself and really look at what I was feeling resentment, jealousy towards other people feeling of wanting to get revenge on the ex husband for the things that he did. I mean, I could sit here and for the next 20 minutes, I could tell you all the things he did wrong in that relationship. I mean, yeah, he stole he cheated, he lied. He, Oh, he did everything. And yet, I tried to make the relationship work. So what he what he actually gave me, like I said earlier, was my self respect. And knowing that those things are not who I am. It's not what I want. So I'm not going to set myself up into a relationship like that again. And like I said, earlier, I did the second relationship, that was exactly the same thing. And it ended abruptly, just before the cancer in exactly the same way except, well, my ex husband, I kicked them out of the house and said, Look, you know, I've had enough again, and thankfully, he went, but the other guy, he just dumped me. Right after

Coach Maddox  51:13  
I do hear the conviction in your voice as you as you say, not willing to do that, again, not going to happen. So I'm

Grant Miller  51:21  
going to change that dumped me. I'm going to change that, because that's kind of a negative connotation. I'm putting it on him. Yeah, he left, but he did me a favor.

Coach Maddox  51:30  
Yes, he did me a favor. Because anybody that knows anything about narcissism is when once a narcissist gets in your life, it is almost impossible to get rid of them, they become like a parasite feeding off of you.

Grant Miller  51:44  
And, you know, I'm glad you brought that up. Because the second relationship, he had me convinced that I had to say goodbye to all my gay friends, because they all might want to sleep with. So by the end of that two year relationship, I had pushed all my friends away, that might potentially, quote, sleep with me whether they would or not, and I didn't do it fast enough. And there were still a couple left by New Year's Day. And so he decided, well, I'm toxic, and I'm gonna leave you. And I was at that point sitting there going, What the fuck, what did they do wrong? You know, here, it's just deja vu. It's gone through this whole cycle. And again, I'm feeling like I'm at fault for something. And through all this work, I've come to suffer. I've backed up the tape to that point and said, Wait a second. I was just being me. I wasn't doing any of the things that he suggested I was doing. If anything, I was the most faithful person you could ever been with. Same thing goes with my ex husband. I never cheated on him. I didn't have to lie to him saying, oh, yeah, I didn't have sex with anybody. I didn't, because I loved him enough. And I respected because when I said, I'm not going to do that, that's what he did. And so that's upfront for me. Now, I don't,

Coach Maddox  53:02  
I don't know. You. You said you know, what the fuck? What did I do wrong? Yeah. And there there is an answer to that question. You know, and it is backing it way back up to the beginning when you chose not to see all of the red flags.

Grant Miller  53:19  
Oh, yeah. Once burned, twice shy, they say, but look at me, I went into it a second try

Coach Maddox  53:26  
twice, Bert.

Grant Miller  53:28  
However, the good thing about, you know, you asked me earlier, what did I What's the silver lining, I have almost gotten into relationships, people have started to date me. Or they've shown me the intention that they're interested in me. And I had to say, you know, hey, Joe, you're really nice guy. And I'm just using Joe. It's not really his name. But you know, so and so. You know, you're really nice guy, but this isn't going to work. It's just that it's not a match. And I will try not to go into detail as to why because I say no fucking way am I getting into another narcissistic relationship because this person you could tell just in the reactions, because after seeing it in my ex husband and my previous my partner after him, I could see the signs. And I know what the signs are. And I saw them in these people. And I saw the red flags. They said, Ah, the new me is gonna say no.

Coach Maddox  54:17  
Well, a narcissist can sniff out a codependent 100 miles away.

Grant Miller  54:22  
Yep. And those two that I said no to. They tried again and again. And

Coach Maddox  54:30  
well, that's that's the universe really, like, you know, supporting you. I believe, you know,

Grant Miller  54:38  
fact, just over Christmas, one of them contacted me and I couldn't even find out what who he was on the phone because it didn't have his name identified and say, Who is this? And he gave us an email. So for God's sakes, I have not given up and I just bought the set. You know, that's the other issue about but my change I know block people on on Facebook because if They're going to be rude or, or mean or mean spirited, the old me wouldn't have went on, you know, I can't block them, they'll think I'm a bad person so well. And

Coach Maddox  55:09  
what you're doing when you set those hard boundaries is you're sending a signal out that the entire universe, no longer willing to do this. And it's only a matter of time where those people will stop showing up in your life, because you don't need them anymore. They've been playing a role in the movie of your life, for a reason they come into your life for for a very beautiful reason, painful reason, but beautiful reason. But there'll be a point where you won't need that role to be played anymore, you'll be on to the next. Next growth.

Grant Miller  55:41  
And you know, I think as I'm experiencing, I've been out there a bit since COVID is kind of waning a bit. And I've met a few people. And although it was a wonderful opportunity to meet them, the old me would have sort of stretched it out because out of fear of just saying, I'm going to reject them by saying no. So I've had to say to people, you know, you really are a nice guy, they might have been truly a really nice guy, I really liked them. But there just wasn't a chemistry that just wasn't a connection. And being honest about that, and not saying okay, well, I'm gonna really hurt his feelings. I mean, ultimately, what's important is that I am speaking the

Coach Maddox  56:20  
truth. Yeah, his feelings are his responsibility.

Grant Miller  56:24  
Bingo, exactly. And that's that was my hard lesson is because I would always take on everyone else's feelings. And I would do everything to prevent their feelings from being that way. And coming to own whose feelings are whose my feelings are mine, I have to deal with them. I have to acknowledge them. They do to not my job.

Coach Maddox  56:45  
Beautiful, beautiful grant. So if you were going to impart one nugget of wisdom on the listeners, what would it be based on your experience and everything you've shared? What is the one nugget of wisdom that you would share?

Grant Miller  57:00  
Dig deep look inside, love what's in there. If there's something that doesn't do justice to you get rid of it, and be aware of it. Love yourself. Accept yourself, look at all your positives and not your negatives. I mean, I could sit here and give you a whole ton of negatives that I used to have in my head about myself. But if you look at more of the positive things, the things that I have in my life that are positive, they're the more important things they are the more important that I am authentic, this is who I am. And that's what I want to be.

Coach Maddox  57:35  
Well in the Law of Attraction teaches us that whatever we focus on, expands, so if you're focused on all the negative things, you just get more negative. If you're focused on the positive things, you get more positive.

Grant Miller  57:52  
Well look at how my life has gone since I've dealt with this. I'm self publishing a novel that I've written. I'm starting to plan my retirement, I'm starting to look at maybe buying a camper to tow on the back of the car so that I can go travel around meet you and meet all the friends that I've met on, on on the connection calls. And just to get out in the world and start doing things that I want to do, not what someone else wants to do. So here I've got the big bucket list. I went to Yosemite this year, this past year. And all these things have been on my bucket list, but I've never gotten to them because I was always taking care of someone else. So my golden nugget is live your life for the way you want to live and the person who's right for you will fall into that place eautiful it's my happen because that's the way it's supposed to happen.

Coach Maddox  58:42  
microdrop beautiful there's nothing else to add that was so flawless nothing else to add to that. That's beautiful. Well, so let's move into what I call rapid fire questions. And so with rapid fire questions, have rapid fire answers don't don't go into too much detail or too much thought process just come out with you know, one or two sentences. Whatever comes up first.

Grant Miller  59:15  

Coach Maddox  59:18  
When was the last time you cried in front of another gay man?

Grant Miller  59:23  
Just a few minutes ago. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  59:27  
Yep. And before that,

Grant Miller  59:31  
in front of my boss at school. There was a disagreement disagreement with another staff member I was authentic with the other staff member we resolve the conflict because I was being authentic. And I told him how it how it made me feel so I cried. And they understood why. Beautiful Wow, beautiful grant.

Coach Maddox  59:55  
When is the last time you apologized

Grant Miller  1:00:01  
to my students. Last week, I was online with my students because of COVID. Here in Nova Scotia, I got cranky. And I didn't do anything. I didn't say anything overly wrong. I was just coming on really strong. And I stopped at the kids and said, you know, hey, my friends. I'm going to say I'm sorry, I'm a little bit out of sorts today. And I just wanted to know that it's not your fault. It's it's just how Mr. Miller's feeling today. So I apologize to my kids. Wow. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  1:00:35  
That is vulnerability. Wow. Beautiful grant. And final question. When you're about to take your last breath, and you're reflecting back on your life, what will be the most important thing to you?

Grant Miller  1:00:52  
Good, I lived my life the way I wanted to live. And I accomplished all my goals, because they were important. And that I'm going, knowing that I've lived my life to the fullest. Beautiful,

Coach Maddox  1:01:07  
beautiful, beautiful. Well, this has been nothing short of amazing. And, you know, I asked you to really have the audience feel it. And I think you knocked it out of the ballpark. I know, I certainly felt it. So there's one thing that I want to leave you with before we wrap up, and that is I want you to hear from me that you are indeed an authentic a gay man.

Grant Miller  1:01:32  
Thank you so much for saying that. It's nice. You know what? I'm going to say? That validation comes from within. But when someone sees you, II, this is the same thing that I'm seeing inside of my head. That's not concede. That's just understanding and empathy and compassion for another human being. So thank you for saying.

Coach Maddox  1:01:51  
Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for being my guest. It was awesome.

Grant Miller  1:01:57  
My pleasure. My pleasure. And I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to join you. Thank you, Grant.

Grant MillerProfile Photo

Grant Miller

Teacher and Author

Grant is an Elementary school teaching currently working with Grade 6 French Immersion. Being openly gay in education has been a challenging experience with experiences both bad and good. As Grant reflects on his 25+ years of teaching, he has discovered that his professional life and his person life were sometimes out of sync. At school, he is a confident and outgoing teacher. He is well spoken, organized and well-suited to teach children in not only curriculum but also life skills. During COVID, Grant found time to do a lot of internal work and has discovered that his personal life could be much more like his professional life. He’s come to realize that caring for himself is an important first step in becoming an authentic man. Turning his life as a caregiver of others to one of self care and self love has been instrumental to making the changes of being more authentic.

Grant is also an author and is presently self-publishing his first gay science fiction novel. He is also an avid cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen and uses that time to relax and unwind from the trials and tribulations of teaching. Grant enjoys weightlifting and exercise as a mainstay in his life. He also gardens, bird watches, camps and hikes. He plans on expanding his repertoire as he recently turned 59 and is discovering the excitement of what lies ahead.