Rob was infected with HIV over 30 years ago by his narcissistic and abusive first partner. He shares the story of going from victim to owning his part in that experience. This, layered with a long list of illnesses, will definitely make you feel grateful for whatever you have endured. Rob's message of positivity and never giving up has proved to be most valuable to him as his doctors now tell him he is the healthiest he has been since this started over 30 years ago. Listen to how Rob's Self-Love journey has saved him in so many ways.
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Coach Maddox 0:03
Hello, Rob Overall, and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast.
Rob Overall 0:08
Hi, Maddox. And thank you for having me.
Coach Maddox 0:12
I've been looking forward to this, I know you've got a unique story. And I know that the listeners are going to really get a lot out of this. So before we move into that, I just want to tell I want to say that I'm really glad that you're here, thank you for being willing to be a guest, very appreciative. And I want to tell the guests that, like many of the other guests that I've had, you and I met, probably about 18 months ago, somewhere in that age, that range in a large online, virtual gay group. And you were kind of on your way out when I was on my way. And so we although we met and we had a little bit of interaction, we haven't had a lot of interaction, and we don't really know each other very well. So this is a beautiful opportunity for us to get to know each other a little bit better. So, first question, Rob. What does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man,
Rob Overall 1:14
An authentic gay man to me? Well, for me, it doesn't have a lot to necessarily do with being gay, it just has to do with being myself and who I am and putting forth, you know, what I want, what I need, who I am, before I put others first, you know, and to be truly vulnerable and honest and open with others, whether it be a gay man, or someone who's not gay.
Coach Maddox 1:48
Beautiful, and I agree completely. Authenticity is across the board. I just say that because I find, for me, I went through a number of years where I could be very authentic around all my straight friends, and couldn't be authentic at all around gay men. It was a very strange phenomenon. And it's taken me a friggin lifetime to figure it out. And it's only been in the last couple of years that I've been able to step into my, my most authentic self in the presence of other gay men. And I think that's why I kind of do that, though. Say that the way.
Rob Overall 2:22
I would agree with that, too. But with me, I guess I really wasn't probably my true authentic self until probably three or four years ago, as well. But that's across the board for me. I pretty much did what others wanted and what I thought they wanted that kind of thing. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 2:42
So it's still new territory for both of us. Yeah. Yeah. Well, beautiful. I love your answer very much. I've gotten some beautiful answers from all of the guests that have been on here. So now down to our big question. And that is, what is the most challenging thing that you have had to overcome or endure in this lifetime, or maybe still in the midst of that overcoming.
Rob Overall 3:12
So for me, as you know, and a lot of your guests, but obviously, people listening might not know, I have dealt with a lot of medical issues over the course of the last 30 years. I was diagnosed with HIV 30 years ago, this year, and it was my very first relationship. It was a very negative controlling relationship with someone who, I guess you would say as narcissistic. Things are great, you know, for a little while, and then horse playing, I got thrown off the bed and had to have 60 stitches in my back. And then it went on from there, I would get beaten for stupid little things. And we had agreed that we would have six safe sex until the six month mark, which is what you did back then. And then if we were both negative at that six months, then we could have unsafe sex. He was unemployed, and I was supporting the two of us and I knew that he was not being safe. So I mean, that he was not being monogamous. So for me, when I got the diagnosis six months after we split up, I never really blamed him because I played a part in that because I chose to be on the safe with him even though I knew he was running around on me even. I mean, even if I didn't know I still played part because I chose my role in that relationship. I was not I did not feel like I had played a part in the abusive aspect of the relationship. It wasn't until I started doing I work on myself. And it was pointed out to me that I did play a role in that. And I was like, Huh, I guess that's true. I stayed in the relationship. And I allowed it to continuously happen for almost two years until I was hospitalized for three months with internal hemorrhaging, and all kinds of other problems.
Coach Maddox 5:23
And this was 30 years ago. But right here, there abouts. And when did you get this piece that you talked about when it was brought to your attention that you'd played a role in the abuse?
Rob Overall 5:34
That was not until two years ago? Well, maybe? Yeah, two years ago. Wow.
Coach Maddox 5:42
And so how did things shift for you when you got that, that you had played a role in the abuse as well as in the unsafe activity?
Rob Overall 5:51
Well, it I mean, I always knew that I played a role in getting HIV. Because I mean, it takes two to tango. I just never looked at it that way from the rest of the relationship. You know, I thought that I was the saint. And it's just because he was a narcissistic, controlling jerk. But then I realized, well, no, you stayed, you allowed it. And when things happen, I would just buy things to make it go away, you know, until the next thing would happen. I thought money could always buy happiness, but it doesn't. That's not the only abusive relationship I happen to have had that was a pattern of mine to either be with, you know, alcoholics, or abusive relationships. But I got sick very quickly, after becoming diagnosed with HIV, and at the time, it was mono therapy with AC T, those kinds of things. I mean, I got new Pneumocystis pneumonia and numerous times I got so many. I can't remember what they call them. Now, opportunistic infections. Now, HIV is like the least of my worries. And I've been undetectable for years, which to me is amazing. Because if the protease inhibitors hadn't come out in 96, I wouldn't be around I was, I was like 85 pounds, and it had zero T cells for three years. And it had countless, I mean countless opportunities to infections, and was battling what they call Coxy do mycosis or valley fever that you get in arid climates like dry climates like Arizona, which is where I was living for college, or California, it comes in dust storms, a lot of people carry it. But if you don't have a suppressed immune system, it generally doesn't do anything to you. So I got very sick with that. It progressed into a lot of other things, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which has been a constant battle. I had my first heart attack in 2017. And they were able to get through, I had what they called a Widowmaker heart attack, but it didn't actually kill me. That artery was 100% blocked, they were able to get stents in that artery during a six hour procedure, and then a stent in another artery. And I was and then in January of 2018, I had a minor surgery to remove a polyp that had happened yearly for many years. So I didn't even tell my family that I was having this surgery in January of 18, because it was always nothing. And I came to from that surgery being told that I had anal cancer, and that it needed to be treated with chemo and radiation, like yesterday. So I had to tell my family that I had cancer. And there's, you know, six months after I'd had a heart attack. My family decided that I needed to go to the best hospital for cancer treatment. So they did research and found that was MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. So I went to Houston for four months and I did chemo and radiation at the same time. They say that's more difficult because you're doing both at the same time, but I don't know that I'd want to do one right after the other. Because it was it was rough. So I don't know if I'd want to drag it on for even longer. So that medical problems continued for vanity reasons and you know, being single and gay. They kept telling me I needed a colostomy bag and to have a total colectomy where they removed my colon and everything below
because It was going to kill me because I couldn't go to the bathroom. And I kept refusing. Even though I was in a great deal of pain, and couldn't go to the bathroom, you know, because of vanity reasons. You know, nobody wants to have that. And eventually, I realized that it just had to happen, or, you know, it, I finally realized that it wasn't going to end well if I didn't have that surgery. And then in 2020 20, March of 2020, now, the cocci do mycosis that I mentioned earlier, has been in continuous battle. And it flares up about once every year, and I'm hospitalized about a month every year to get that back under control. So, in 2020, I had my second heart attack on March 11, on March 13, of 2020, Friday the 13th, I had heart surgery, and that was the day they closed Denver, Colorado where I live down for the pandemic, my heart was full of blood clots when they did the surgery. So they are now assuming that I got COVID While I was in the hospital, but they're now assuming that I already had COVID Because blood clots are a symptom of COVID. But they didn't really know that at the time. This was at the beginning of the pandemic. And they released me, and then readmitted me, that took like 10 days to get the COVID results back. So I was released again. And then I was to the point of needing to be put on a ventilator. My oxygen saturation was at 10. Which at the time they were putting you on a ventilator at six now they do it at 10. And I had a DNR so they couldn't do it. I really think that's what saved my life is because I couldn't do a ventilator. Well, I refused it, I was coherent enough to say no, I don't want it. I was in the hospital for about a month with COVID. And then on oxygen for about a month after being home. And then I got the HKex video, my Kosis went into my throat, which is the first time ever have that happen. I'm a very talkative person. So to have it where I couldn't talk for eight weeks was a big deal. Especially being in a coaching program where you're supposed to talk on calls every week. So that was interesting for me, and then the infection went into my brain. So I just recently restarted rheumatoid arthritis infusions, because you can't take more immunosuppressant drugs when you have a brain infection. So it's just been a world win win situation with medical I am. I was diagnosed with diabetes last July. My a one C was close to 10, which is where they require insulin. And I said, Oh no, that's not happening. So I managed to get it down very quickly. I had surgery this past February, the agency had gone up a little bit to 7.2. The surgeon said she wouldn't do it with my health situation unless I was under seven. So I got it down to 5.6. Within a month to have the surgery. I had the surgery, very long recovery. I'm still recovering, of laying on the couch being completely sedentary. And I've still managed to lose weight and now have an alien see at 4.4. So
Coach Maddox 13:46
Wow, that's amazing. I know what those numbers mean, because I've done some testing myself. That's Wow, that's impressive.
Rob Overall 13:54
No, and I've had over the years, I can't tell you how many times doctors have called my family or told myself that I wasn't going to make it through the weekend or I wasn't going to survive the night. You know, they my friends joke that I like a cat with nine lives. But now I've had more than that. But I attribute that a lot to I've always had a very positive attitude. And like if a doctor says okay, you will first of all like when they told me I was going to die of COVID I'm like, Oh hell no, that's not what's gonna kill me after all the crap I've been through. Some virus is not going to kill me. But um, you know, I've always said, Okay, you're telling me this. You know, there's nothing I can do about it. So Why dwell on it and get all upset and all of that stuff. Let's just figure out. There may not be a solution, but let's figure out something we can do to like remedy it and move on. At least make it better and move on. You can never get guarantee that something won't take you. But I think a lot of it has been my positive attitude, the fact that I am proactive. I had a 50th birthday party celebration weekend before last. And we did a toast and everybody was supposed to toast me with something funny. Well, they ended up having everyone in tears with all of their toasts, which is quite interesting. But, you know, I had one of my closest friends, she took, I was in the hospital 21. Four for not 2122. So 20, I was in the hospital for both Christmas and New Year's. And at the time, because of COVID, you could only have one visitor a day, you couldn't have someone leave and then have another visitor, it was one period. And so I had a very special friend, who took four hours away from her own family to come spend it with me on Christmas Day. And I had another friend who at the party was texting me saying that on Christmas Eve, he'd had to have surgery. And when he called and talked to me in the hospital, I was more concerned about him, and he's like, here, we are thinking you're gonna die. But you're more concerned about how I'm doing after the surgery. And I was like, I'm not gonna die. This is just another, this is just another thing, I'll be fine. It's just taking a lot longer than it was supposed to.
Coach Maddox 16:43
Where do you think that comes from? That That ability to no matter what you get hit with too much, not only stay positive and have a good attitude, but to endure, to persevere to to survive, and perhaps even thrive? In some cases? Wow. Where do you think that comes from?
Rob Overall 17:04
You know, I was raised in a single parent family. So I think a lot of it has to come with that. My mother was very strong, I didn't have a ton of contact with my father. Um, you know, I dealt with some adversities growing up, that I won't really get into here, but it taught me where I, you know, my mom worked full time and went to school full time, so I was alone a lot. So, you know, I had to learn at a young age, how to cook for myself, you know, do the laundry, do that stuff, just in order to function. You know, I mean, not that I wasn't well provided for, but I just had to learn how to take care of myself. And she did a lot of things too, when I was older, like in high school. I was supposed to not work during the school year, and I wanted to work during the school year. So her idea was, well, if you want to continue working, you have to maintain a 3.0 GPA or greater, and you have to pay rent. So she also taught me a sense of money, you know, and then the college I went to, you had to work and have a job, you know, and you had to, you had to be able to, like, support yourself and carry yourself and go to school. So I had a lot of positive influences, and strong people in my life growing up, plus, he moved around a lot. So I never held friends for very long, you know, so you're kind of alone and have to fend for yourself a lot. And I think that just taught me a lot. And with all the issues I had with HIV, so early on, you know, you have to deal with the fact that you're going to die. And I mean, I did some dumb things ran out and ran up huge credit card bills, and all of that. And then when the protease inhibitors came out, you have to come to terms the fact that you're going to live, and it wasn't just me, it was my family, you know, that all had to, you know, they had all come to terms with that as well. So it just it just really made me a strong person. And then I was a business owner, you know, and I learned when I first started my first business, I thought everyone had common sense. I quickly learned no, that is not true. And stuff happens all the time. And I can't go back and make it not happen. So you just have to figure out how to resolve it with the client and move on. There doesn't need to be crying and excitement and yelling and screaming. Just okay, this happened. Let's fix it and move on. If we can't fix it, how do I pay you for it? Or how do I? What are we going to do to satisfy you as the client? So I kind of take my help in the same way. You know, I've had a heart attack, I can't go back and change that. So what am I going to do to move forward? I mean, to hopefully not have it happen again, unfortunately, it runs in my family, and with all of my medications, it probably won't happen again. But I'm doing all that I can so that it won't.
Coach Maddox 20:33
In those times, Rob, when it got really tough, I mean, when the when you just had health problems layered on top of health problems. Was there ever a time when you wondered if you would give
Rob Overall 20:47
up? When I was, I was I was raised very Christian. And when I first was diagnosed with HIV, I kind of think I lost my faith. You know, like, why would God do this, to me, that kind of thing. I know a lot of gay people have a hard time with religion because of some of the things that Bible says. But what I decided to do when I decided to bring faith back into my life was find a church. It was not the church I was raised with, that was accepting of gay people. And I found the Episcopal Church. And I went through catechumenate classes, because of my health issues. And a very strict Bishop, you could not miss a class in the whole 12 weeks, or you had to take it again. The next year, it took me seven years. But I finally got through it. And I joined my church about three years ago and convert it to a Pisco alien. And my faith has been a very strong thing that holds me together, I think we're all here for a purpose. And when that purpose is complete, you know, it's not something to be sad about, or upset, I mean, sure, you're going to be sad or upset that your friend or your spouse or your parents or your sibling is gone. But, you know, you can't dwell on those things. Because it's not going to serve you any good.
Coach Maddox 22:22
Or them for that matter. You know, I think when when it's our time to go, we go and not a minute before and not a minute after we go at our time, right?
Rob Overall 22:33
And I'm in the process of writing a book and it's kind of about that stuff as
Coach Maddox 22:37
well. Well, you have an incredible story, I can't even fathom I can't even wrap my mind around all that you share that you have been through? What What would you say? Is tripping on my words today? What could you share with the listener? The wisdom that you have gotten out of all of these experiences, your experiences with the the partners that were somewhat abusive, your pattern that Do you Do you feel like you've overcome that pattern, no more abusive relationships,
Rob Overall 23:23
and you 100% You have to learn to love yourself first, before anyone else is going to be able to love you. So that's what I would say about like, partners, and once you are on that, because it my friends have always been great. My partnerships, not so much. Once you have that energetic, you know that inner energetic attraction or whatever you want to call it, about yourself, that's what you will attract. Now, if you if you're totally codependent and all of that, that's again, you're gonna attract that narcissist or that controlling person. And I tend to be a little controlling too, and I use money to control people. But I've learned that and when I got cancer, it really changed things. For me, it made me realize material things are not where it's at. And for me, it's about experiences, traveling, friends, family, but for medical stuff. And what I've learned recently in the past year, as people keep telling me, you know, the book that I'm writing is how basically not to give up. When you've been when you've been told you've got this or you've got that some illness and you're not going to survive or whatever, is not to give up even if you know you're going to die. Die with dignity or Don't give up. You know. But I've had so many people come to me and say, you know, a friend of mine had this, like kidney disease, for example, and decided he didn't want to do dialysis and move to Colorado where I am now. So that he could do assisted suicide. And he told me that I wish there had been a book like that, that he could have read, maybe that would have changed his mind. You know, and so many people are telling me you need to tell your story, because it can help others to just do just don't give up. I mean, at some point, there may be a necessity for but even at that point, like right now, I'm trying to get involved with working, volunteering in hospice, but I want to work with end of life patients. Because there's a lot of end of life patients that don't have any one there. And I don't have any problems with that. So I think it could be a big support to them, because I know a lot of what they've gone through. I mean, obviously, I'm not dying. But we don't know that.
Coach Maddox 26:12
You've been told you were multiple times I think doctors when they say you're going to die should be shot for that we should never ever be allowed to tell anybody, they're going to die no matter how bad the prognosis is. Because the bottom line is we just don't know. I know multiple people that have been told multiple times throughout their life, they weren't gonna live through the night. And yet they did. You know,
Rob Overall 26:34
and I think the problem with doctors saying that too, is it gets it in your head? Oh, yes.
Coach Maddox 26:39
Yes, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. You know, I think there are your friend who did the assisted suicide, I think there are people that have what it takes to endure what you have endured, you obviously have something very rare and unique. To just keep going to keep going because you have this long list of like, really debilitating and, you know, very hard to deal with health problems. I'm sitting here thinking, I don't think I have in me what you have you to go through that I could see myself being the person that would go for the assisted end of life. I don't think I could I don't think I got the stamina to do what you're, you're saying you have have done. I think that it's amazing. And certainly a gift that you you bring, no matter what they kept telling you. You just kept telling yourself that you weren't going to die. You were going to live. And here you are alive. And actually you're perhaps right now in a good place. Health wise,
Rob Overall 28:07
aren't you better right now than my doctor Sam better right now than I've ever been? Yeah. Well, and, and I go ahead, I'm sorry, maybe that was just my purpose. I'm meant to be here to teach others that you can get through some of these things. Beautiful,
Coach Maddox 28:30
beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, whether it
Rob Overall 28:32
be horrible relationships, or medical stuff, or whatever, but I won't, I would rather be single, because I love myself enough. I don't need to be in a relationship, then be in another bad relationship. Who
Coach Maddox 28:46
that's beautiful. Rob, I mean, I agree with you. I am single and have been for 14 years. And I have said for a long time, you know, I would much rather be alone. And not that I am right now. I don't experience a lot of loneliness. I am alone, but I don't experience a lot of loneliness. I'm like you have spent a lot of time working on self love. I'm very comfortable in my own skin. I love living alone. I love having all kinds of activities that are my activities when I feel the need to have you know some interaction with others I do. So I don't experience a lot of loneliness. But if I did, I would rather be alone and lonely than with someone and lonely there is nothing worse than being with somebody and still feeling somebody sleeping six inches away from you on the other side of the bed and you feel lonely. That's torture to me. Yeah. Torture torture. I do have a question about the pattern of abusive relationships and your work towards self love. Can you look back Back during those times when you were in those abusive relationships, looking at the way they treated you abusively, can you see a correlation from that, to the way you were treating yourself during that time period in life?
Rob Overall 30:20
I can now but I couldn't at the time.
Coach Maddox 30:23
Right. So share what the net now in hindsight, you know, because Hindsight is 2020 They all say, right, what what do you see now was the correlation between the way you are being treated by others, and the way you were treating yourself. So
Rob Overall 30:39
I had a lot of self doubt, a lot of fears, you know, a lot of things from childhood that made me the way that I was. And I think I attracted the same type of people. And I was projecting those things. Because of things that I was told growing up, and I don't necessarily know that it was intentional, or meant to be hurtful. And not just by family and friends, but by school and churches, those kinds of I went to military school in high school, I was bullied a lot. So, you know, I think I projected that on myself. So I always felt like, well, this is what I deserved. And even at the time, in that very first abusive relationship, I felt like, well, this is what I deserve.
Coach Maddox 31:32
I think you're right. I think that if we're told something enough, you know, I was also bullied very much as a child. And I was called throughout school, I was called a sissy. And there was a point where I had heard that so much that I internalized that. Yeah, like, I saw myself as a sissy, I couldn't it throughout my adult life, I've never identified with the term masculine because I had been told for so long, I was a sissy we do, you know, it's, it's like a mom who continues to tell their kid or kids how bad they are. Sooner or later, they're going to head in that direction. And, and actually intentionally be bad because they have to live up to that that has been told them, we internalize that. And we actually have something we have to live up to. If you tell a kid, they're bad enough, they will become quite bad in order to live up to that label that they've been been given.
Rob Overall 32:33
Well, then I think I realized in the last, probably 10 years that there was a problem with my relationships. About five years ago, I was attacked in Palm Springs, where I was physically raped, strangled, beaten.
That's the last time I've been with anyone. And that's when I said, Okay, this has to stop.
When that's when I started doing work on myself. And now I'm still really leery, you know, I've been on some dates, but usually, I don't let it go anywhere. And you know, that kind of thing. I am working on that with two coaches, and therapists.
Coach Maddox 33:21
Well, you're in you're in process, and everything happens in its own time, but I applaud you for doing the work. You know, a lot of guys just hear what he said to coaches and a therapist. This is somebody who demonstrates how he's taken charge in his life of his physical health, done everything he could do to take good care of himself. He's demonstrating how he has taken charge of his emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well being. And that has an impact on not only you, but everybody around you that's connected to you.
Rob Overall 34:02
And I think as far as dating, my last hang up, is the ostomy and fear of rejection. But finally, I realized that it's that I still have a problem with the ostomy and the colostomy bag, and I'm almost to the point of I really don't give a fuck whether you like it or not, because there will be that person that won't care. But until I get to that point, of 100% accepting myself with that, I'm not sure I'll find that person.
Coach Maddox 34:38
I love what you just said. I would love for you to repeat that for the listeners because what you just said is really plays a role in our relationships. And it's not just about the class but colostomy bag. It's about almost anything Say that again. Please Rob. That was beautiful for me. I
Rob Overall 34:57
mean, I'm I'm very self love and but for me, it really is I have not fully accepted all of my health issues. So in my opinion, I believe that until I accept myself 100% For everything flaws, and not, then I won't find that person, I might find someone but it won't be, it will be another bad relationship. Yep, you
Coach Maddox 35:25
nailed it, you absolutely nailed it, we can't expect somebody to treat us better than we treat ourselves, we can't expect somebody to love us more than we love ourselves. And we can't really expect ourselves to love another. More than we love ourselves. If we're limiting the way we love ourselves, it's going to stop at the plumbing on the incoming love from others and the outgoing love to others. Right? It's going to clog the drain. You know, I have started this slogan, I have a T shirt, I had a t shirt made that says self love is sexy. And I really believe that with all my heart, because when you really realize what self love can do for you how many doors that can open for you. What it what what's aside from the health stuff, as you have moved into this self love, and you're serious about it, I can tell energetically I can feel it. And your actions demonstrate it. What's the biggest. Like, when you've had the biggest transformation that's come out of you choosing to love you unconditionally.
Rob Overall 36:40
But it was really hard to accept self love at first, because a lot of us are raised with low self love is bad or narcissistic, or, you know, your voting, you know, yeah, so it was really hard to accept. But once I did, I found I will say I lost a lot of friends with cancer, they just disappeared. They didn't have quote unquote, time for it. But what I did learn is that when I started loving myself, the people that really did care about me, they just pour it in. And I mean, I've made friendships in the last, let's say three to four years that I'm just as close to I have a lot of friends and I have a lot of friends that have been longtime friends. But I've made a lot of friends in the last three to four years that are equal to those friendships I've had for 30 plus years, you know, and some of them I might even be closer to
Coach Maddox 37:43
well, and you know, those people that drifted away while you were battling cancer, some people don't have the stamina for that. And I think that for some people being in close proximity that brings up issues of their own mortality. And if they're not really willing to look at that, it can be incredibly uncomfortable and perhaps even painful. They just can't, can't do it. And
Rob Overall 38:16
I agree. And I'm fortunate with most of my friends that I went away for treatment. So it wasn't in their face. They didn't have to do anything to help. You know, they did when I got back because it was a year, at least a year, year and a half really struggle afterwards. But it wasn't you know, they didn't have to see it on a daily basis. So I think that helped a little but some still couldn't deal with it even though I was not doing it here locally.
Coach Maddox 38:48
Yeah, you know, some people just they just don't have the Constitution. Yes,
Rob Overall 38:53
I figured error there for a season and a reason. Yeah.
Coach Maddox 38:57
And you never know when they may come back around. You know, once it feels safe to come around. I would try my best I mean, I don't know actually what I would do in those shoes, but I'm saying I would try my best to not take that personally. I don't think that was about you.
Rob Overall 39:13
I don't I don't take it personally. Yeah, there's less
Coach Maddox 39:17
than it was it's definitely about them.
Rob Overall 39:19
There's a lesson to be learned by everything even in rejection from people who don't want to date you. There's you know, there's always something you can learn from everything and don't take anything that anything that's part of self love. Don't take that personally
Coach Maddox 39:33
don't take that personally. So you talked about you know the, the process of letting man in and the self acceptance with the colostomy bag and all aside from that self acceptance of the health issues in the class to me bag. What is the one thing that is an undone yet the thing that the piece that's missing piece what is The thing that you recognize that you need to do to be fully present and be open to dating, maybe a partner romance, sex,
Rob Overall 40:16
I guess for me, at lots of friends, my life is very fulfilled. But I do miss that intimacy of a partner. And I just need to let it happen and be present. I have someone that I dated many years ago. In the last night, for the last two years, we've been seeing each other about one two month just for dinner, to talk. And then at the beginning of my surgery, I started thinking, well, maybe we should date again. And then I would go back and forth, back and forth on the why we shouldn't. And every time we're together, we just have such a good time we bond so well, we connect so well. You know, I've never had a relationship where there wasn't just a constant fight, always arguing, even when we dated for that two years, which it wasn't a very long relationship. Never did we fight, never. It just never happened. And after the party on Saturday, and some of the things we talked about, I decided, well, maybe I would like to pursue that. And I kind of think he would, too, he's not the kind of person to outwardly say that. We've known each other for over 20 years. So I called him and told him that we needed to have dinner, and we're going out to dinner tomorrow night to talk about it.
Coach Maddox 41:48
Wonderful, what a beautiful step,
Rob Overall 41:50
we will see, that's huge for me, because I'm not the one that makes the first step either.
Coach Maddox 41:56
Well, you know, you're putting yourself out there, because oftentimes, if we wait for another, it never happens.
Rob Overall 42:03
And I'm like, you know, maybe that's not what he is seeing. But at least I'll know, and will still continue to be great friends. And I can actually truly move on to looking for others.
Coach Maddox 42:18
Bravo, Rob, I'm proud of you. That's
Rob Overall 42:21
huge. That's not meant to be.
Coach Maddox 42:25
And that's really a result of the work you've done over the last couple of three years. Yeah, to be able to put yourself out there to love yourself enough. You know, I think oftentimes, we, most of us without realizing it are masters of sabotage. Oh, when, when self love is not present, when something really good shows up, we will screw it up, because we don't believe we deserve it. You know, or, and because we believe that we don't deserve it, we're sure that there'll be another shoe that drops. You know, it's it's great right now, but when does the other shoe drop, they're gonna reject me, they're gonna leave me after I've opened my heart, they're gonna leave me. And so we'll sabotage it. So we don't have to take that risk. And so often, that whole process is an unconscious process process. And we got to bring it into the conscious so we can actually address it. And it sounds like you have done that through your therapy.
Rob Overall 43:27
You know, everybody says, Oh, you can use scruff and whatever all those other sex sites are for dating. And I used to have that thing in my head or whatever that philosophy is. But I don't think I mean, maybe some people, I would think it's pretty low percentage. actually find relationships that way. But that was one of the best things I ever gave up. Probably seven years ago was those sites. The hard thing has been getting on dating apps recently, and then finding that that's mostly about sex, too. Yeah, but it's easy to weed that out. And you move on from that quickly. And I don't go to gay bars. I don't have I have gay friends. But the majority of my friends that are super close are straight. I have some very close gay friends, but most of them are couples. So we don't do a lot, you know, on a regular basis.
Coach Maddox 44:32
I think it's challenging. You know, when you're no longer in your 20s and 30s and want to do all the party scene. And when you're looking for something that's more substantial, you're looking for a man who's capable of having a deeper conversation, a man who is capable of emotional intimacy. It's where do you go to meet those right now? That's I think that is a part problem across our community. Where do you go to meet those rare men who have stepped away from the crowd? You know, our community is very stereotypically known for being very shallow and very surface. And throughout my life I've had, I've had difficulty meeting men that would have any deeper meaningful conversation or below the surface, I am now really finding those. And part of that was the reason I hadn't been finding them was I wasn't one of them. I didn't know how to have the deeper conversations, I can have them with my straight friends, but I couldn't have them with with gay men. Now that I have gotten over that hump. And I'm able to have those kinds of conversations with gay men. Now they're showing up in my life.
Rob Overall 45:51
Yeah. And I'm opening up as well, most of my friends did not know about the attack on me five years ago. Yeah, a couple of very close friends and my family does not know still
Coach Maddox 46:04
well. And that's got to be a really hard thing to overcome. I have never had to endure something like that. I've come close a time or two. But it didn't turn into a full attack. I managed to escape before it got to that. That point. And even that really put the, the fear of, well, I don't say that word, but put the fear in me. Yeah, right.
Rob Overall 46:29
Yeah, well, I'm for me, it makes it one step even harder, because I really want my intention with my next relationship is to go in it. Hoping that's the last relationship. I know, you can't guarantee that. But that's my, I don't want to go into something thinking, Oh, this might just be a year or two. I want my intention to be that this is going to be long term. I know that may not happen. But my other I really want it to be another Christian. Because that's very important to me. You know, and I always ended up dating someone who's not and then my own faith lacks. And that's not fair to me. You know, by doing that,
Coach Maddox 47:14
yeah. You search. So what I say is that you want to you want to date in alignment with your value system. Correct. You know, and when we're lonely and and isolated, oftentimes, through a sense of desperation, we will sell out on our, our values to just have some companionship, certainly been there, done that and not willing to do that anymore.
Rob Overall 47:49
No, I'm not either. So it's not that hard anymore. When I see things like non believers or whatever to swipe left now. It's not as hard as it used to be because they were like, well, he's kind of cute. Maybe, okay, I'll just swipe right. You know?
Coach Maddox 48:04
Yeah, no, I'm with you. You know, they're, they're called deal breakers. And they really do break the deal. Yeah. So Well, what a what a wonderful story. Rob, this has been amazing to hear your story of overcoming the pattern of abusive relationships, overcoming all the health stuff that you have done, the fact that you are now the healthiest that you have ever been since all this started. That's amazing and inspiring. And I think you've dropped some beautiful wisdom bombs and some hope on on the audience today. The listeners. Thank you. So thank thank you so much for that. I have some rapid fire questions for you if you're ready. Okay. If you could go back in time and say anything at all to your younger self. What will you tell young Rob?
Rob Overall 49:08
Live more for yourself.
Coach Maddox 49:11
Beautiful. I love it. What is the one thing that you clearly need to take take action on in an effort to be a more authentic gay man I
Rob Overall 49:29
guess working more with gay people and being more comfortable around gay people. I still have issues with being shy and because they're so judgmental, typically. Got it. Beautiful. I just have to put myself out there, right? Yep. Yep.
Coach Maddox 49:47
And find the safe place inside of you that allows you to do that. Safe places in here. What matters most to you and why?
Rob Overall 50:00
That's not really a short run. But I'll make it sure. For me, the most important thing that can't I mean with for life in general, and I learned this through cancer is about not things but experiences, life experiences, traveling, family and friends, your your people. It's not you can't take anything with you, except what's in here. And that would be your experiences with your friends, your family, your life experiences traveling. If you can do that, do it.
Coach Maddox 50:41
Beautiful. Yes. I often think of the hearts that I have touched in the hearts that have touched me. That life is about beautiful. Rob. Well, there's one last thing that I want to leave you with. And that is to tell you that you are indeed an authentic gay man.
Rob Overall 51:02
Thank you, Max. This was great.
Coach Maddox 51:04
It's been a pleasure to have you on the podcast. And I know that the listeners have gotten a lot out of this as have I and just thank you for being willing to be vulnerable and share your story with us.
Rob Overall 51:17
Well, thanks so much for having me.