May 3, 2022

Craig Brucato's fear of coming out led to self-destruction and addiction

Craig Brucato shares his story of the years that he spent in the closet, denying who he really was and how it lead him down a path of drug addiction and destructive behaviors.  He also shares how he found redemption and his way to a happy and fulfilling life, filled with a great career, loving children and grandchildren, and a healthy relationship.

Craig works for a corporate beauty company and is a coach.

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Coach Maddox  0:00  
Craig Brucato, Welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I'm really glad you're here, buddy.

Craig Brucato  0:06  
Thank you for having me, Maddox. It's good. It's so good to see you. As always.

Coach Maddox  0:10  
Thank you. Well, just to tell the audience a little bit about how we know each other. We met, actually, Craig is a coach, professional coach. But he has agreed to come on today and wear his personal hat rather than his coach hat. And we have known each other for a little bit less than a year, I had entered into a coaching program, a group coaching program. And in the very beginning, we did a detailed assessment. And Craig was the coach that was responsible for debriefing the coach ease concerning their assessment. And it was fascinating process. He was very good at this debrief on this assessment. It was very enlightening. And it was a good enough conversation. That's it. That's kind of how we got acquainted and became friends. And here we are almost a year later, and he's a guest on the podcast. So what would you like to add to that, Craig?

Craig Brucato  1:14  
Yeah, no, I love it. It was it when we did your when we did your particular debrief. The energy leadership index is what it was called. And yeah, we did. We did connect instantly. And it was it was fascinating. Just getting to share that space and go through that process. It's, it's really, it's really empowering for us as gay men to empower each other and connect on so many different levels.

Coach Maddox  1:41  
Yeah, I agree. I agree. So let's just jump right in. So my first question for you is, what does being off an authentic caveman mean to you?

Craig Brucato  1:58  
Ah, what does that mean? It what it means for me is, is being just who I am, that I'm not. I'm not any one stereotypical thing. I'm not I'm just my own self. connection with self is authentic. I think how I go about my life professionally, personally, in my relationships, romantic, platonic, that it's that it's just who I am. I spent so many years not being That. That. And not even knowing really probably who I who I was. I think I think the higher self knows, but so when you when you ask that question is it's really, you know, authentic is, is just the raw who you really are, and letting people know you rather than having that mask of who you think they want to see.

Coach Maddox  2:54  
Yes, beautiful. I agree completely. And there was one thing that you said that really caught my ear. And that was not even really knowing. And I hadn't thought of that. But I too can look back at a time when I wasn't authentic. But I wasn't aware that I wasn't

Craig Brucato  3:13  
authentic. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. And

Coach Maddox  3:17  
it was a, it was a defining moment, in realizing that I had lived a lot of my life, locked away in a fortress, where I didn't let people see me. For who I really was, I didn't let people know me. In a lot of social circles, I actually would work pretty hard to be invisible. Right? And yet, if you'd have asked me if I was an authentic person, I would have told you Yes. And then there was that moment when I realized, oh, no, I wasn't. I wasn't so good call on that. I'm so glad you call that out. Because I hadn't. That hadn't entered into any of my other conversations. And that's good stuff.

Craig Brucato  3:57  
Yeah, yeah. It's just real, you know, I mean, and authenticity is also honesty is really being just truly honest.

Coach Maddox  4:06  
Removing the all the social masks Yeah, that we have a tendency to wear the social masks that we learned to, to be safe as we came up through our, our childhood. So speaking speaking of this, we I know you have a unique and interesting story about what has brought you full circle to this place of authenticity. So let's dive in and share with your our listeners. Your your story, we want to hear the good, the bad, the ugly, and then the the triumphant and you know, the part where you made it to the other side of this particular story. We all have stories that we're trying to get to the other side of and we'll do that till we pass but

Craig Brucato  4:53  
yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think I think like we had briefly talked about before is that so my story and cludes addiction so that's that's me personally. So you know, going from a Catholic upbringing macho father, you we could not be gay or I could not be gay in, in the family I grew up and by the time I was 18, I was already into cocaine and alcohol and marijuana and sleeping with girls and I got a girl pregnant. And I had my first child at 18. Second one at 21. And then I was also divorced at 21. And she left and she was gone. And so here I was 21 years old, with two little girls, you know, a six month old and a three year old. And so, at that time, this is by now this is the early 90s. And so men didn't have custody of their children back then. And if I hadn't had my kids, so I couldn't be gay then. So when we're talking about being authentic, I could not be authentic. Like you said, what I have thought I was authentic. Yeah, cuz I was a father, I ran a business I worked, you know, 1214 hours a day to take care of them and, and did all that. But I couldn't be really who I was. So fast forwarding that I married another woman. We were married for 18 years. And but I was gay the whole time, I knew I was gay. And through that, through that journey, you know, I cheated on her several times with men got into drugs, the drugs sprinkled throughout, you know, times where I did them. Sometimes I didn't do them, but, but the drug use got really, really heavy, towards the end of that relationship and finding myself in really bad places, with bad people doing bad things, right. And I think that most gay men can. I hope they can, they can identify with, you know, the deception that we that we put into ourselves, the deception that we put into our loved ones about who we really are. And the complete separation from self that I'm, I'm going to be who you who I think you think I should be, right? So, so that separation from from my identity of, oh, I'm a straight guy, or oh, I'm a dad or no, I'm a gay man who happens to be a father and, and lived a life of not being authentic out of fear. So fast forwarding from that, you know, I think after that, I ended that merge and I then I came out and and so then I have lived authentically gay ever since that time. And the drug addiction did not go away right then though, it got worse again. And the every time I would I would go on these benches are these escapades. More and more trauma, I would I would I would walk away with more. So it wasn't bad enough, I was shameful of being just a gay man, right? At 18 Back in the 80s with the AIDS epidemic and just full of fear that here I was now you know, pushing probably 40 By this time. And and still and still creating more and more trauma by the things I was doing which led to a larger separation of self and lead to absolute destruction in my life. I you know, I didn't I didn't lose things like a lot of people talk about in the recovery community. I was that wasn't my story. But I have been arrested. Not for drugs, but I was on them right for various little, I mean, nothing, nothing, no felonies, but that's not really the point. So yeah, so moving into that. So when I finally did get sober then my life began to change and a lot of lot of work, a lot of therapy, a lot of meditation and connecting and really just being authentic and honest with myself about creating my own relationship with myself. And so that's kind of that's kind of where I've gone through this journey. I was when I first got sober I was a I was also a substance abuse counselor and when I when I would work in treatment centers. One of my friends was a clinical director and she allowed me to to create LGBT groups. And

I thought I had already gotten sober so I had gone into the rooms of AAA With other gay men gay particularly. And then I realized I was not, I thought I was just this unique individual that no other person had gone through and done the things that I had done. And, and that wasn't true, I had, there was a whole bunch of us, like, just like me, I wasn't unique. My story wasn't unique, maybe parts of it were. But when I when I was a counselor, and on that end of it, I was I was just blown away by even even the statistics of what this looks like, for us. I believe it's 18 point 7 million people, LGBT people in the United States that are addicted to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, of some sort. Gay and Lesbian are more than, I think more than twice as likely, bisexual three times as likely, transgender five times as likely. So in our in our whole community, it is, we are just so much higher. So I think what that rough estimate is about 9% of the population. So those are just numbers. But what the numbers mean to me was, was that there are many of us that, that have led these lives of deception, or are living these lives of deception, thinking that you can't have a loving relationship, that you can't be intimate in same sex relationships, and using the substances to go in and out of the situations that without without the drugs, I probably would never have done half the stuff that I did. Especially sexually. So yeah, so that's, that's kind of, that's a lot. I know. But

Coach Maddox  11:52  
well, it's kind of been an overview, you've said something in a previous conversation that I want to to have you recount. You said something like the substance abuse was not the cause it was the physical manifestation of the cause. And so I'd like for you to speak to that. And I think that perhaps maybe you can pull out specific aspects of your story, we have to overview pull out some specific aspects that the, the listener might particularly, you know, get value out of hearing.

Craig Brucato  12:29  
Yeah, the Yeah, yeah, thank you for bringing that up. I think the I think when we talked about that, the manifestations of the drug abuse, and the alcohol abuse, and these these terrible relationships, that was the manifestation that was not what was going on, right? That was not the weeds that was not the cause of any of this, it was, that's just what happened because of the actions I took. Speaking to speaking to the roots of it, right, we go back to that, first of all deception with self lying to ourselves, or lying to myself. So clearly, if I'm going to be lying to myself, the manifestation of that is probably going to be having dishonest relationships. dishonest, just did when I look in the mirror, not even not even being honest with with who I am. And, and so the manifestation of that is, I also believe is that separation from higher self, right? So it's that egoic space that we get into as human beings, and we're not the connection to who we really are, and, and who I really am, was, was the gay man, that was too afraid to be gay and live the life I live today

Coach Maddox  13:54  
in your separation from self, the deception. I mean, there's usually an underlying feeling that drives us to not want to feel that feeling and that's when the drugs and alcohol and sex and all that come into play, what was the underlying meaning that was, you know, the, the driving force, because we as human beings, we have a tendency to we apply a meaning to most experiences. And so, you're, you're leading this deceptive life, you have this complete separation of self? What was the meaning that you that that thing that we do, where we make it mean something about us? What was the meaning that you applied?

Craig Brucato  14:45  
Yeah, the the great question. I the meaning, you know, it had to, I mean, most Well, for me, shame was the beginning of it. Being raised Catholic was that you're going to burden and how So, so shame obviously was was

Coach Maddox  15:03  
you're not okay, you're wrong.

Craig Brucato  15:06  
You're not You're not good enough. You're not like everybody else. Different. Yeah, God hates bags, like all that all that stuff, right? And so that's the deception right there, right. But I didn't have the wherewithal at that time to come out to do that. And I think being a single parent and especially at the time when all that happened, you know, this is like 30 years ago now, but when that all when that all happened, the world was so different. And and so, so speaking to that, like, yeah, what was what was really going on? It was it was the deception. It was the I hate me. A lot of self hatred. Mm hmm. A lot of self hatred. That

Coach Maddox  15:58  
loathing, perhaps, self loathing, yeah. Yeah.

Craig Brucato  16:02  
Yeah. All that stuff that I, I hated that I was gay, I hated that. I wanted just to stay in the straight world and just, you know, have the wife the house, the 2.5, kids, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I kind of did do that. But it was not authentic. Right. Not to say that my second wife she was. She is an amazing lady. So that's not that's not the case. And we had a lot of good times. But in all fairness, I was, I was not honest. Right. So.

So yeah, so it took me years and years and years to get to the place of even when I came out fully gay, I was still shameful. I was still lying to myself. So it didn't end right then.

Coach Maddox  16:53  
Which one... This is just intuitively coming to me had the biggest impact on you being dishonest with others or being dishonest with yourself?

Craig Brucato  17:04  
That's a great question. I, thanks for asking that. Myself. Yeah. Yeah. What I found out was when I finally was fully out, and I was honest about my drug addictions, and I was honest about what I had the things I have done. I was shocked at the amount of support and love around me for my family and friends. I did not think that it was going to go that way. But it did. And were for my children to you know, my family and my parents. Yeah, I was I did not expect it.

Coach Maddox  17:44  
So back to that we assign a meaning to almost everything when your family and friends showed up so supportive, what meaning? And when I say meaning a meaning that it's something that you made it mean about you? What meaning Did you assign to that?

Craig Brucato  17:59  
When I say that again? I'm sorry.

Coach Maddox  18:01  
When your whole family friends, everybody in your life showed up? supportive? What did you make that mean about you? Oh,

Craig Brucato  18:12  
what does that make that mean? About me? I, I think you know, almost like a sigh of relief. That's what it felt about me. I was still I was still uncomfortable with it.

Coach Maddox  18:27  
Can we still? Can you put it into words though? You know, like, an I am statement. Perhaps all these people in your life show up completely loving and supportive? What did that mean about you? I am. Yeah,

Craig Brucato  18:41  
I am not bad. I am I am a lovable person I am capable of of having a relationship with the man that I want. I'm capable of being a human being my sexual orientation didn't was it's just a part of who I am. Right. And so yeah, it was like this. sigh of oh, I can be me.

Coach Maddox  19:08  
Well, and I want to point out that you're very blessed to have that experience, because we know there are listeners out there right now that have gone through something similar to what you're describing. And their family and friends perhaps didn't show up. Correct. Such a loving and supportive energy. So you're very, very blessed to I

Craig Brucato  19:30  
wasn't I You're right. I am really blessed. And I think, for me, personally, is that I knew because I was old. I was older. I didn't do it young. So I was to the point where if they didn't like it because I had suffered, the emotional pain was so deep. The trauma was so much of the things that I had gone through and carried that weight of not being who I am that I didn't give a fuck. So if they weren't going to accept me, I was at the point where I was ready to walk on way. And I've seen many, many men and women in our community that what you just said is yeah, they they weren't, they weren't blessed enough to have the outcome that I did. But I had to be, but I had to be prepared for that very thing. Because you know, I remember you know, that the first, the first person I came out to was my little sister, and she knew and she didn't care. And she loved me, right. And the second person other than obviously, the, the men I had been with, but was my daughter's when I came out to them. And my youngest daughter's also, she's, she's a lesbian and and they got teary eyed and they were, like, so happy. They were just so happy that their dad was just who he is. And and then from there audit went into, like, professional areas, my, my parents and stuff like that. But yeah, it was, it wasn't just like, it wasn't just like this thing of, oh, today. Now I'm better today. Now I am authentic. It was a long process. It was little bits of, let's say, coming out, it was little bits of healing, it was little bits of finding myself through those processes. It wasn't just like, I woke up one day, and here I go.

Coach Maddox  21:22  
Well, the separation from self that you described was serious and long term. So you're not going to just suddenly be back in your in your beingness. And, and that sense of separation is going to be magically gone overnight, just because you said hey, world, I'm gay. Right? Right. You know, there's a whole process of completely getting to know yourself, maybe for the first time.

Craig Brucato  21:50  
I mean, it's Yeah, I agree. It, it's absolutely, it was absolutely the first time because you know, from a, from a young child all the way up, just just growing up with that. You had I had to be somebody else. Right. And that was that was my experience. So when we're speaking of that, like what who am I? And what do I want? And what do I bring to the table? And what are the kinds of relationships I want to have in my life? Right? When we're talking about authentic I think the the friendship you and I have is but from day one has been very authentic, very honest. Right? And so those are the types of I don't know how else to describe those are the types of relationships that I foster in my life? If they're if they're not that way. I don't energetically I don't engage which is fine. There's no There's no right or wrong good or bad. It's just it's just the way it is. And you know, and it took me a long time and then you know, I had it I was married to a man after that and and he was abusive and all kinds of stuff but but I began to at least know more about myself out of that relationship

Coach Maddox  23:16  
well and that was probably part of your process, you probably weren't going to come out of a lifetime of separation from self and you know, drug abuse and and suddenly land in like the ideal relationship it was probably part of he was what I like to refer to as a character in the movie of your life that was helping you heal

Craig Brucato  23:42  
right yeah. And you know, speaking to the masks and what that looked like that in that marriage it looked like we had the perfect life It looked that way everybody thought that but it wasn't that way. And and once again, it brings me brought me back to learning about self learning about my connection with me of of being able to give up that that life I had and and leave it and and then he learned from that and what's what's been so beautiful is now the relationship I have it's we it's not based on any material stuff it's not based on it's not based on anything but connection. He's He's very connected to his higher self I am and we both we both put into our relationship as whole men. We don't come in broken not that we're perfect by any stretch. But it's just such a different mindset that I've that I've I've never had in the other

Coach Maddox  24:47  
you aren't looking to each other to complete you

Craig Brucato  24:50  
know, there is no there's boy that's a that's a scary statement, isn't it? Yep.

Coach Maddox  24:57  
But we know a lot of people see it that way. And there was certainly a time in my life when I saw it that way, I was literally seeking somebody to complete me. You know, before I got wise enough and educated enough to understand how that all works, I, I'm intuitively being prompted to back up a little bit, I want to, you know, I think that there are perhaps some listeners that are thinking, yeah, yeah, he got to the other side of this. But what I've done is so much worse than what he's describing, you know. And so I'm wondering if you have a particularly well, a story that you would be willing to share. That is particularly a story that you felt maybe the most intense shame about, that you were able to let go of, you know, no longer feel that sense of shame. But from a standpoint of, you know, some, somebody out there needs to hear that no matter how bad it was for them. There's still redemption. There's, there's none of this well, Oh, he didn't do nearly as yucky shit as I did. Right. And so if you've got something that can really drive that home, if you're willing to, yeah,

to dive deep. And

Craig Brucato  26:26  
yeah, I will share. And it's not to it's not because I don't I believe sitting in the problem is not really a solution. So a lot of times, I won't go into it, but for this conversation, I will I think, you know, How bad did it get? Really? And so that's,

Coach Maddox  26:44  
yeah, because it's relevant in that how far you had to come to come back.

Craig Brucato  26:49  
So yeah, Longclaw talk about at some of the lows of being so addicted to drugs, and alcohol and pills, and meth and all of it at once. And at the end of my, at the end of my marriage to my second wife, you know, I would, I would, I don't know how I worked every day, but I worked. But then at night, I would wander the streets. I remember several times, she found me like on street corners. She's like, what, you know, three, four in the morning, what are you doing, and I would just be sitting there. But little did she know what I had been doing prior to that I would go into these clubs of of the sex clubs and knees and things and do enormous amounts of drugs. And I was drugged and raped and it just really lewd disgusting behavior, right. And so those were, those were the really shadow sides of of the things that I would do. And, and many times not just one time, and and so

Coach Maddox  27:50  
I want to make a comment you just said shadow sides of things. And for our listeners that may not be really aware of that concept. Shadow is anything that we hide, repress or deny. It's a darkness inside of ourselves. And we all have darkness inside of ourselves. We are all duality is a real thing. We have light and darkness in each one of us. And the thing about shadow though is the more we hide, deny and repress it, and the more it stays in darkness, the stronger it becomes. And so the way we dispel our shadows, our darkness is by bringing it out into the light of consciousness. Right? So for you listeners that are not as familiar with that concept, that's what Greg is doing right now in his story. He's bringing these dark stories that we have a tendency to keep quiet in a secret he's bringing it out into the light of consciousness now he's already done this previously, this isn't his first time to talk about this outlet. I'm sure that this is an aspect of bringing shadow into the light of consciousness because it can't survive in the light of consciousness.

Craig Brucato  29:05  
Yeah, you're absolutely right. I love I love the way you just described that and and you're right and you in when you are quiet about it and that and that really is part of that story. Right? So it it compounded it got worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and bigger and bigger and bigger.

Coach Maddox  29:23  
It's like a cancer it eats a set from the inside out. Truly

Craig Brucato  29:27  
and and the more and more separation from self the more and more thought I could never ever come out of this to the people I've heard the way I've hurt myself you know that I just never thought there would ever be a redemption I never thought that that could be something you know when when you when I lived that when I lived and did those those things. It was not those those things are not my I thought that they are experiences that I've gone through. They were complete separation and And on some level, you know, there the dark side of me probably wanted to experience those things because I had been so I had been so what's what's a good word? I don't want to say in the closet, but but Metaphorically speaking, you know, hidden from from being myself and, and yeah, so those those kinds of stories you know. And then even when I even when when those stories got passed, it wasn't like unicorns and rainbows with with the dating world at first either and many, many trials and tribulations but yeah, I mean, I think when you want to resonate with with maybe some of the listeners around this is that is that I would love to let people know that they're not the only ones that because I thought that I thought I was the only one. You know, I thought I was the only one I thought I was. And then after I did those things, I thought I was dirty. I thought I was not lovable. Not likable. And that goes on and on and on of that inner turmoil. And so you know, when when you ask for for a particulars story, right? That people maybe have done worse things I don't know, or maybe not as bad of things. And maybe even taking the judgment out of good or bad. They're just experiences. And there seems to me that there's a lot of us out there that could use this kind of support and hear and have these conversations.

Coach Maddox  31:51  
Well, and redemption. You make a really good point, you know, I wanted to reel in as many listeners as possible and having them relate but the truth is, redemption doesn't have anything to do with the severity of the of the offense.

Redemption is available to every human being regardless of what they've done. Yeah, when you take the bad and batter Yeah, quality out of it. So I am assuming and we'd love to know more about I'm assuming that this process involved a certain amount of forgiveness. It did it had these please speak to that.

Craig Brucato  32:45  
Yeah, the forgiveness and so that, you know, that the forgiveness brings me into also that intimacy, right, the intimacy, issue of intimacy with self, of being having that intimacy internally, of, of what I did come through these processes, how do you how do how did I redeem myself as I stopped doing the stuff I did, I didn't engage and I don't and haven't for years, and in any kinds of escapades like that. And in forgiveness, forgiveness, I think it's ongoing. I think the, for myself that what I've learned is we're never there. You're never done.

Coach Maddox  33:31  
That bears repeating. I love that, you know, forgiveness is is a process. It's an ongoing process. Rarely is it I mean, maybe in certain situations, there's a once and done, but I kind of tend to think more often than not, it's what you're saying. It's it's an ongoing process.

Craig Brucato  33:52  
Yeah, and self forgiveness, right. And then forgiving my parents for raising me thinking that being gay was bad from the bullies in school. That would call call me gay or you know, of, you know, a lot of my career I was a hairstylist and a straight hairstylist so Oh, god, he's really gay, like, and so forgiving other people right for for being so cruel about who I was who I was because I couldn't be truly myself so forgiving them forgiving myself for putting that burden on other people. You know, it really wasn't it wasn't it wasn't theirs to carry it was mine. And so that was part of that is was is part of part of the forgiveness process. And you know, the best way I can talk about that also it's a living amends, right. So it's when you when we have these things things that that have gone on, or I've had these things that have gone on that the way I conduct myself now and have that I will continue to do is my living amends to myself and to those around me that that I show up better that my heart is more open, and that I'm actually capable. And the other thing I would like to bring up too, and that we've talked about this Maddox was, you know, in gay relationships, I didn't, I didn't know that you could actually have intimacy, and I'm not talking about sex and intimacy with another man with the same sex partner,

Coach Maddox  35:42  
and emotional intimacy. Right. Like,

Craig Brucato  35:45  
I didn't, I didn't know we could do that. And, and I knew you could do that with women, right? Because that was just it was society told you you could they would be your wife, or all that kind of stuff. It is. But a man with a man right? Having a husband being intimate, or not even married, just having an intimate relationship. That that piece of it, that piece of it has been huge for me, because being able to first forgive myself, show up fully, and be intimate, right? And actually connect with my boyfriend. And and we have that kind of relationship. And I didn't think when I was young, I didn't think I would ever be 52 years old and have that, like, I never thought it was in our never thought and if you would have asked me this, like, you know, 30 years ago, I would have said, There's no way in hell, like men can get married. We I mean, now we can adopt kids or have kids with surrogates, or I mean, the world is just so different than it used to be. Thankfully, yeah, thankfully. So. So yeah, the the intimacy doesn't just happen with romantic relationships, intimate friendships. Oh,

Coach Maddox  37:06  
I have. I'm a single person. There's no no romance in my life right now. But I have several relationships that include a pretty high amount of intimacy. And it's variety. It's not just gay men, you know, I have, I have straight male and female friends, I just got off the phone an hour ago with a straight friend of mine, that the the level of intimacy between us is just amazing. It's just like, we're very

Craig Brucato  37:41  
nice to you. What does intimacy mean to you? Because I'm always curious to what people have my version of it. And I wonder, you know, for the listeners, I wonder when we just say this word, and I think authenticity is probably part of it. But I just curious what, what would be relatable to other people and wanting to achieve that. And because the intimacy is also not, is the coming to one right, coming to oneness within within that removing the separation from self, and that deception? And so, yeah, just curious, like, what what, what is it for, you know,

Coach Maddox  38:21  
if I weren't going to put this in the form of a visual, metaphorically, I would say this is standing before another human being, and opening the chest plate, opening the chest plate up and completely exposing my heart in its most vulnerable form, and trusting that they will honor that, and respect that. And not take advantage of the fact that I have made myself completely vulnerable. Intimacy? Yes, it's it's letting somebody through all of the the armor and the the fortresses and the shields and the varying different things that we walk through life with, and letting them know us at our deepest level. Notice at the level that we know ourselves, if we've taken the time to build that relationship with ourselves. Intimacy is hard when we don't have intimacy with ourselves, you know, you described complete separation. And then you came out of that and you got in a marriage that turned out to be abusive, and was fraught with different problems. And now you've progressed to a relationship that is much more authentic and healthier. And what that depicts is we don't come out of a time where we have complete separation with ourselves and just suddenly, you know, come out and poof, it's all over with and we get in this wonderful relationship. Our relationships always reflect back to us our own level of health with our relationship with ourselves. Yeah. And so you had to go through a process from complete separation to come pleat being reunited with yourself, right, it's not like a flick a switch flicking. It's, it's like a rheostat, where you the volume was down so low, you couldn't hear it. And then you turn it up a little bit and up a little bit up a little bit. And finally, you got to full volume. But during that period, where you went from no volume to full volume, you had to go through some shit and have some scary experiences and relationships, because you were developing your relationship with you. And so the people we attract are only going to be as as healthy and connected to themselves as we are ourselves and they're only going to be connected to us. To the extent that we are connected to us, life mirrors us back to us, other people mirror us back to us. And your story as you've gone through it completely validates that concept. Right there.

Craig Brucato  41:21  
Yeah, yeah, it does. And you know, something that you just said, really stuck out with me when we were talking about the word intimacy. And you were talking about opening your heart, heart space up, and just being fully there and hoping that people didn't take advantage of that, or, or do that. And I think that space right there, I think is a that right there is because so many of us gay men have done that and been judged, or maybe it wasn't maybe our authenticity or intimacy was not respected from other gay men, relationships, whatever. And those walls go back. Hence now all gay men are jerks all blah, blah, blah, whatever those whatever those,

Coach Maddox  42:01  
those are meanings that we tend to apply that I referred to earlier. Yes, I've been there and done that, you know, I opened the the heart plate when I first came out, and somebody plunged a dagger into my heart, and I shut that plate and apply to meaning that, you know, gay men are not safe. And I live from that place of gay men not being safe for nearly four decades before I saw the light. You know, one of the things I've come to realize about intimacy is for most of us, I think I've interviewed a lot of gay men for most of us. It is something that our beingness our heart, craves intimacy, we crave into XMI intimacy. And at the same time, we fear it. It's a double edged sword. It's a coin with two sides. 100 For starters, this craving on one side, and there's this complete fear on the other side.

Craig Brucato  43:00  
And so it's so scary and you know, that so so what it what it reminds me of, so then we meet men that have also been hurt. So now they're, their hearts are closed off. And so now we're trying. So now you have two closed off people trying to connect, and there's just no connection. Right. And so what maybe it's physical or whatever, but like

Coach Maddox  43:23  
a snowball's chance in hell.

Craig Brucato  43:25  
Yeah. Yeah. And I think that most of us can probably relate with that.

Coach Maddox  43:30  
The one beautiful thing about authenticity about vulnerability, is it, it tends to be a polarizer. If you really show up vulnerably and authentically, you will send the people that can't do that, or won't do that in the opposite direction, just naturally, they will not be drawn to you, if they if they can't, if they're not authentic and vulnerable, you are scary to them. And so you have to know the more we lean into this vulnerability and authenticity, it's going to send a bunch of people away. But I've learned to realize that's a beautiful thing. Because what that does is it clears away the crowd and the clutter, so I can more readily see, it's been time with the people that

Craig Brucato  44:16  
that's that's your right. And that's but that's the fear that that we get into, especially in the coming out process is as we are authentic, a lot of times those people will disappear, right? And that's scary.

Coach Maddox  44:31  
It is scarier. And so know that that's going to happen up front and that's why I share this you got to know as you lean into this vulnerability that there are going to be people that it's going to make very uncomfortable and they're go gonna go away. But you need to see that in my opinion. I kind of came to view that as a positive thing.

Craig Brucato  44:51  
I agree with you. I agree with you and what is what is so fascinating is all of those fear based thoughts when you actually are in, in a friendship or a romantic situation, and you actually begin to have that with someone else, the wind, or let's say, when they show you who they really are, it is. And you know, there's probably fear because that's, that's what happens that I'm gonna judge or not think of. But I will say like, in, in my relationships now, whether it's with my kids or my grandchild, my boyfriend, any, you know, coworkers, anything like that the more authentic people are the more vulnerable and the more intimate they are about who they are. It, it's beautiful. And, and those are the things that, that I didn't know. Right? I didn't, I didn't know that it existed. And I didn't know you could have that. And so those are the kinds of things that people that I'm drawn to Now personally, in my life.

Coach Maddox  46:04  
I agree completely. You know, I said this once, I'll say it again, the people that believe that vulnerability is about weakness, or the people that have never actually gotten vulnerable to find out, because it couldn't be farther from the truth.

Craig Brucato  46:22  
Right, it's and it doesn't even make sense, right? But that's exactly, that's exactly what happens. That's exactly the way it goes, the more vulnerable you are, those people are like, Wow, that's so cool. And then and doing that, in taking for me, and opening my heart and taking that chance. How it's how it's actually work for me is that I no longer fear, I'm who I am. And if if someone does not like that, or they're not okay with my vulnerability, I am my my self esteem is not based upon what they think. So that that's a pivotal piece of it. So I can continually put myself out there and if if someone doesn't resonate with me or doesn't do that it used to be where oh my god, I can't do that I need to not be that way or I need to whatever whatever the whatever the the messenger you know, the messenger the message in your head, the story you tell yourself whatever that looks like, but the but part of that is also being able to be vulnerable with yourself and accept yourself and love yourself. And and to me, that's the then the byproduct and we talked early in this conversation about the manifestations. So when when this other stuff changes now, the manifestations in my life, or I, the stories I described earlier are so far removed from anything in my life today. That yeah, I goof and when I talk about it, I'm like, it just like wow, I did see those

Coach Maddox  48:09  
Self Love is a game changer, isn't it? Yeah, no, it doesn't get much press. And it's really sad. And he doesn't get much press because self love isn't sexy. No, it really isn't sexy. People want to go straight for the sexy stuff. And the truth of the matter is, self love is the key to the Kingdom.

Craig Brucato  48:32  
It is the key it is not going to have

Coach Maddox  48:34  
the relationship of your dreams. If you're if you haven't developed unconditional self love. You're gonna have some weird facsimile.

Craig Brucato  48:46  
Yeah. And then you know what, I think that I think that relationship of your dreams, I don't know that that term to me seems sort of obscure. It's not really reasonable. Because when when you when you went or two people in any kind of a relationship, it's never just perfect. It's never just everything. And we're here that we're here to love and teach each other. Yes. And so. So as we're doing is we're doing those processes, that the expectation of Oh, my perfect relationship, or my perfect this or my perfect job or house or, or husband or Yes, blah, blah, blah, blah, right.

Coach Maddox  49:21  
Maybe ideal would be a better term. Yeah. Maybe ideal, or or just a healthier relationship?

Craig Brucato  49:30  
Yeah. Or just having an intimate relationship, just connected

Coach Maddox  49:34  
relation or interdependent would be another good.

Craig Brucato  49:38  
That's my favorite. Right? We've talked about that before. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  49:43  
So if you could travel back in time, briefly. And just share one piece of wisdom with your 18 year old self, what would it be?

Craig Brucato  49:57  
It would I mean, that would clearly just be kind I'm out, just come out now, the trajectory of my life would have been so much different. Right. And I think I think I think I would not have been accepted. At First, I'm sure my father probably would have beat me up or something, right. But I think later, they would have been okay. And at the time, that's what I would tell myself, though, to just do it. And to have the courage to have the courage to, I guess, you know, what, I see a lot of fear in that. So because then I know, I know, there's a lot of youth that are homeless, and in shelters and places like that, because they are thrown out by their families. So it's, that's hard to say, but I think I think come out would be the probably the best thing I could say to myself and love yourself and find out who you are. And don't lie to yourself and other people. That's,

Coach Maddox  51:02  
I certainly did my share of living a lie. And the deception, I too, got married at an early age, I came out at 24. And I, you know, oddly, I didn't feel like I had a choice. I mean, I was at this point where I was either going to come out, or I was going to die. Because I couldn't, I couldn't stand a lie any longer. I could, I couldn't put up with one more minute of the deception or the lie, it was like you either tell your secret or you just die, you know. And so I came out, but I agree with you, you know?

Craig Brucato  51:36  
Exactly. That's

Coach Maddox  51:37  
one experience. And I have a completely different experience. And I would say the same thing to any any listener, you know, if you're struggling with the whole come out thing, and you're uncertain. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, it wasn't easy for most of us. But it's unnecessary. Yeah, you're into that the pain that you think you're gonna go through, if you come out, is far less than the pain you're gonna go through, if you don't come out,

Craig Brucato  52:04  
we're gonna present and then you describe it perfectly. And so our stories are different, different, but they're not because what you just described, it's exactly the way I felt I was either gonna die or come out and be who I am. That's I got to that point, I got to that desperation. And I couldn't, I couldn't do it anymore. And so the pain was great. And that and maybe that's what maybe that's what I needed that pain to be so great to come into the space that I am currently. But boy, when you just said that, that really rang a bell. I remember I remember I wanted to I remember wanting to just die because I thought I could never, I will never be able to survive coming out. Right. And so there was so there's, there's a lot to that I think people sometimes will not not putting enough emphasis to what what the struggles are. I know that through the coaching program we were in I talk to 1000s of men all over the province, even internationally. And many, many, many of the stories that you and I are talking about. They're all different, right? We all have different walks of life, professions, families, but those core those core parts of it. I found really common within us.

Coach Maddox  53:27  
I've got a couple of rapid fire questions for you if you're ready for some rapid fire answers. Okay. All right, let's

Craig Brucato  53:33  
let's do this Maddox. I knew you were going to do this.

Coach Maddox  53:38  
He was not forewarned. He just knew

Craig Brucato  53:41  
Oh, I just knew he was gonna I knew he'd pull something out of his hat.

Coach Maddox  53:45  
So when was the last time you cried for I mean, visually cried

Craig Brucato  53:56  
the last time I visually cried was when my boyfriend was leaving. Last time. So this was a few weeks ago was the last time

Coach Maddox  54:05  
I say visually, because oftentimes we cry inside without crying outside. No, I

Craig Brucato  54:09  
was sitting there and he was there. Like I was taken to the airport. No, I was sitting there crying because I didn't want to I've just I missed I was I didn't want him to go. So I was he was sitting there with me and I was visually crying. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  54:22  
Well, you you just answered question number two, which was going to be when was the last time you cried in the presence of another gay man? Oh, yeah. Because sometimes I asked those questions separately, because it's different. Most of my life, I could have cried much easier in front of a straight person, male or female than I could in front of another gay man.

Craig Brucato  54:45  
Such an interesting question. The you know, I know that I know that. I didn't cry for about 20 years period. I didn't cry. And so now I allow myself to feel that I allow myself to feel because I didn't.

Coach Maddox  55:02  
And it's amazing, isn't it? For those for the for the person that doesn't allow themselves to cry because they think it's not okay. It's one of the most powerful and wonderful loving things to do for yourself. I, I cry on a regular basis. I cry multiple times a week. And it's not tears of sadness. Oftentimes, it's something that's just touched me very deeply. Occasionally, it's sadness. Yeah.

Craig Brucato  55:31  
It's, I will cry on other things, too. Yeah, I agree. I will cry with, you know, my granddaughter, for instance, like, she will do little things that it just touches my heart. And a few times like it, I'm like, What is going on here? Something on, I'll be watching some kind of TV program. And I'm like, getting teary eyed. And I'm like, oh, where it's coming from, but, but I've learned to allow it and and it's just part of who I am

Coach Maddox  55:58  
allowed and honor it. Yes. So it's 40 years from now. And you are a ghost at your own funeral. And there's a variety of your gay peers there. What do you hope, they will say about you? 

Craig Brucato  56:22  
Hmm. They'll say about that. That I walked through this life, he walked through this life, as well as he could. And he gave him a lot of love and a lot of compassion. And was truly there for for his loved ones. And hopefully, that on whatever level that he was a good dad and grandfather, I think those would, those are probably the my, my children, my grandchildren, they, they're just part of me. So that would that would be mostly them, probably. But, but my gay friends or whatever. Yes, absolutely. I would want them to know that they were safe. And they were loved and cared for and that anybody that I'm hoping and 40 years from now, I'm hoping that there's a younger generation Maddox coming up that, that these conversations like this, and the ones you're having with other with other gay men will give them a different experience in this life than we had. And

Coach Maddox  57:40  
my hope is that conversations like this will become more commonplace. I find we tend to avoid anything that's in the deep end of the pool, oftentimes, and we're missing out on some really, really rich experiences by not being willing to dig a little deeper occasionally. So

Craig Brucato  58:03  
I'm curious if you just had to ask me some off the wall question. What would it be? Just the what do you think somebody would ask me an off the wall question

Coach Maddox  58:11  
like what I wonder what somebody would

Craig Brucato  58:13  
like your listeners because we're gay men. We're all gay. But we're also different. I wonder what off the wall or just off the cuff kind of thing that we could maybe address just that might not be something that somebody would normally ask

Coach Maddox  58:31  
I'll take a stab at it. Okay, as as as a gay man, what is the thing you value in life? Absolutely the most? For me, it's

Craig Brucato  58:45  
my connection to God. My God, I have the universe because because that's the gateway for the rest of it. 

Coach Maddox  58:53  

Craig Brucato  58:54  

Coach Maddox  58:55  
Beautiful. Well, Craig, I want to say thank you so much for coming on the podcast as a guest. Thank you for so openly and vulnerably sharing your your story, talking about the shadows D all of the above. It was amazing. And I just want to leave you with one thing. Yeah. And that is you are indeed an authentic a gay man.

Craig Brucato  59:19  
Oh, thanks, Maddox. Thanks for having me and really enjoyed our conversation as always, and yeah, it's love the work you're doing and reaching out to whoever whoever needs this. So thank you. Thank you.

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Craig Brucato

Beauty Company Executive