My Guest, Anthony Meek, shares his story of how his inability to connect and honor his most authentic self, paved the way for an energy of desperation. That desperation attracted a lengthy string of one-right-after-the-other crisis, to include a partner in poor health that had a severe addiction. After 14 years of caregiving and ongoing crisis, Anthony had his "AHA" moment when he knew he had to step into full authenticity and take care of himself first. Anthony talks about what a lack of authenticity looks like and what it can cost you. He also shares what full authenticity looks like and what it can do for you. If you struggle to be yourself, this episode is the ticket.
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Coach Maddox 0:02
Hello, Anthony Meek, and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcasts. I'm excited to have you here, my friend.
Anthony Meek 0:10
And I'm excited to be here too.
Coach Maddox 0:12
Awesome. Well, just to tell the audience that you are a coach, a therapist, and you have held leadership positions in the health care system. So why don't you tell the audience how you and I know each other?
Anthony Meek 0:28
Yes. So we actually met about a month ago, I was actually listening to your podcast, and I actually reached out to you to be a guest speaker. And then we connected right away. And we have a lot of very similar energy.
Coach Maddox 0:44
We do we have had multiple zoom calls, now getting acquainted that have really nothing to do with the podcast, because we do have very similar energy. It's been amazing, I have had so many wonderful opportunities to connect with so many wonderful men from all over the world. And Anthony, you're certainly one of those men. No, thank you. So well. With that. Let's dive in. Tell me, how would you define what it means to be an authentic gay man.
Anthony Meek 1:18
living according to your true self, really putting the labels aside, and really getting to know yourself and living by, you know, your own values and morals in not what society dictates. I love that,
Coach Maddox 1:39
I love that you brought the values into it. I'm, I'm right there with you. Beautiful. Thank you for that, Anthony. So now to our big question. And what will take those most of the rest of our time together today, what has been your biggest challenge in life that you have either gone through or are continuing to go through.
Anthony Meek 2:03
So my biggest struggle has been my sexual identity. And I think this is also a struggle for many gay gay men to from a very young age. I grew up, I attended Catholic Church, Catholic schools, you know, for most of my life, I had a very close knit family, I lived in a smaller area in Northeast Ohio. So, you know, in the 80s, it really wasn't people weren't really, like you didn't really hear a lot of about people coming out. You know, so, I was definitely, I grew up in a very supportive environment, but definitely that Catholic Church influence really had a deep impact on me, where I really questioned my identity from I remember from five on and, you know, I continue to struggle with my sexual identity, you know, through my teenage years, and one of the biggest struggles that I faced was actually the death of my grandmother who was like a second mother to me, but she was the one that I was planning to come out to. But she actually passed away when I was 14, before I was actually ready to come out. So when she passed away, you know, my safety net was gone. And I kept on burying my own sexual identity for so long after that, and also dealing with grief and other things with her death. But definitely, you know, my safe haven kind of went away. And I continued through my high school and college years, almost leading what you say a double life, you know, the life that my authentic life but also, you know, the life that society wanted me to live. You know, so, you know, I wasn't really my true self until I came out at the age of 23. Right after college, when I actually met my future husband. I did that because I was just tired of living away. I was just tired of living what society dictated for me, and I just wanted to start living my authentic life. But what I didn't realize was a lot of the shame and the hurt in the pain that I went through. You know, burying my true sexual identity for so long. That manifested into me kind of I'm leaning more towards a future spouse who wasn't necessarily the right fit for me. I loved him to death, he was a very good person. But he had a lot of issues. And I thought, by me getting into that relationship, and, you know, really being able to focus on him more, you know, was really going to help me with my sexual identity. But what I found was, you know, the further I got into that relationship, the first couple years were wonderful. Naturally, we even moved to Florida, we started a new life there. But then he got sick. So he was actually diagnosed with six months to live back in 2009. Um, so and then on top of that, he actually had an addiction. And that's this is like, the first time that I'm really sharing this with other people, because not too many people know, all the struggles that he went through, and I went through together. But, you know, when he was diagnosed was six months to live. And the addiction, I went into crisis mode, and I was pretty much in crisis mode for good 10 years. Because what I did was I moved us from Savannah, Georgia, like within days, up to the Cleveland Clinic area. And we stayed there for about a year so he can get the treatment that he needed. And then we moved back to the south, but through that time, his his addiction escalated.
Coach Maddox 6:51
Now, I'm gonna stop you for a minute, because I got a couple of questions. One thing is he had been given six months to live six, six months to live, and yet he lived another decade, correct, because I got him to help right away that he needed. And, you know, you said something else, a moment ago that I kind of want to back up and unpack, because I think it's important. And I think it's something that the listeners will certainly benefit from hearing, you said that you were still struggling with your sexual identity. And you made the decision to get in a relationship with a man that had all of these issues, thinking that dealing with his issues, and helping him him would help you with your sexual identity. And I kind of want to pack and hear your your thought processes and and what did you mean by that? And what would that look like, if helping him would help you with your sexual identity.
Anthony Meek 7:55
Um, it wasn't necessarily just helping him with, you know, it was also I thought being in a relationship would complete me the parts that I had so much shame with, and you know, I really didn't know myself, you know, as much then. So I thought guarding getting into a relationship with someone who I thought had everything together, was really going to help me with my own sexual identity.
Coach Maddox 8:35
And what was the truth? I mean, that's what you had hoped would happen. But what actually, how did that actually unfold?
Anthony Meek 8:43
By not knowing my true self, it got me into multiple situations, not only crises, but also other devastating situations that I got into but you know, because of him, that it took me years to recover from. And what I realized was, and I'll go more into that story here, like in a second, but what I realized after going through all this is, you know, one, I have all the tools I need deep inside of me. I was able to tap into my own strength to get through these situations. And you know, what, yes, we have to sometimes heal from our past. But we are all remarkable people no matter what society says. So we all have that inner light in us that can shine and needs to shine. And we can all tap tap into it, when we truly want it. But we sometimes have to go through very difficult times to I know I did to actually, you know, be able to tap into it.
Coach Maddox 9:57
Well, yes, I mean, for for many As there are certain rites of passage that we have to go through to get to our gold. Rarely is it just handed to us on a silver platter or dropped in our lap. I had another question that I wanted to ask when you were dealing with the, the sexual identity and making the choice to get in a relationship with him. Was there any sense of desperation going on at that point?
Anthony Meek 10:37
Um, desperation? I would say yes.
Coach Maddox 10:43
You know, kind of, like, I'm drowning in my own ocean of, of lack of identity. And he maybe was the the ring that they throw the drowning person, you know, the
Anthony Meek 10:55
Coach Maddox 10:58
And looking back now on that, you perceived it that way at the time, but looking back on that now,
Anthony Meek 11:07
how do you see it? That I didn't need someone to complete me. You know, I didn't need to get into that relationship.
Coach Maddox 11:18
So listeners, I'm going to ask Anthony to say that, again. He was operating from a place of admitted desperation. And it got him into all kinds of crap crises and really challenging stuff. And what he now realizes, say it again, Anthony, because they need to hear this,
Anthony Meek 11:40
that I had all the tools for me to succeed, and I didn't need to get into that relationship. Sometimes we feel so much pressure, and I was in my early 20s, at this time, to get into a relationship at that time, and really, you know, do things that society dictates, you know, which may not be the right timing for us to
Coach Maddox 12:07
do, I think I it's funny, I was doing my morning walk this morning and thinking about the energy of desperation. And I think we are living in a time because we are experiencing greater levels of loneliness and isolation, and we've ever experienced before, that that is the perfect storm and generates desperation.
Anthony Meek 12:37
We have to and this is something that I, you know, I naturally have worked on with myself, but I also work on with my clients to is we have to love ourselves before we love someone else.
Coach Maddox 12:51
unpack that a little bit more for me, what, not from a clinical standpoint of betta, from what Anthony how Anthony learned that what you just said,
Anthony Meek 13:00
Well, I learned that from life experience. So, you know, we have to get in tune with who we are as a person. And what we have to bring to the world, what our morals and values are and our talents. And, you know, we really have to get in tune with who we are as an authentic self, to really be able to bring, you know, 100% to the table for you like someone else in a relationship.
Coach Maddox 13:30
And I think when you say that you're not referring to just romantic relationships, I suspect you're referring to all relationships. Yes. All relationships, friendships, family relationships. Yes. We tend to segregate when we put romance in one category and friendships and another and then we treat them differently. And although there are some subtle nuances, most of the premise that most most of the things that really work work for both equally.
Anthony Meek 14:04
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and I was fortunate to have very, you know, I was fortunate to have other people in my life, you know, close friends and even family, but I know that if I had more of an idea of who I was as a person, those relationships would be even greater.
Coach Maddox 14:28
So what I'm hearing you say is that what you discovered was the the real thing that really enhanced all of your relationships and you're not saying it in these words, I'm paraphrasing for you is leaning into that authenticity?
Anthony Meek 14:47
Coach Maddox 14:48
more you show up as that the real deal, no social masks, no smoke and mirrors. no pretense you things that are so prevalent in our community, you begin to attract and draw more of the healthier, and really deep and meaningful relationships into your life. Absolutely. Beautiful. Well, let's get on with your story. I'm, I'm wanting to hear more. I love what you're saying, though.
Anthony Meek 15:26
So I'm basically when I was getting him the help that he needed, and, you know, you know, the Cleveland Clinic area, you know, his, his addiction, really, you know, intensified. And for those who know, what addiction can do to their lives, and their family members lives, it can really, it can really be harmful. Because, you know, especially for those around someone with addiction, they're always in crisis mode, because of the things that the other person gets into. So for example, as his addiction took off, there was gambling issues, there was, you know, he would gamble, extensively, you know, with our finances. There were also because he wasn't in the right frame of mind, not only because of his health, but also because he was taking a little step back, when we moved to the, you know, Ohio area, he had a very good job, he worked 8090 hours a week, you know, because he loved the job is a very stressful job. And when we moved to the Ohio area, he wasn't able to work in that capacity anymore, which withered away at him and contributed to the addiction. So he lost his identity. So
Coach Maddox 17:02
well, and I think it's important. I mean, I'm this is a little bit of a side note, but I think it's important to call out that anytime we associate our identity with something that can be taken away from us, we're standing on shaky ground. Absolutely, you know, when we identify with a certain title, or a certain amount of income, we identify with, you know, the big house we live in, or anything that's outside is anything that can be taken away, we have built a foundation on sand. Absolutely. If we want to have a foundation that's built on rock, we have to really derive our sense of identity from something that can't be taken away from us. And that's always something from within.
Anthony Meek 17:55
Absolutely, absolutely in we're taught, most of us are taught taught in our culture, to find that external validation, you know, from whether it's that house, the cars, you know, whatever you watch on TV, or social media, it's usually about someone that has a lot of wealth. And sometimes we believe that wealth is going to give us that, you know, authenticity. But what we find is that's far, far from the truth. And we often will not as we go through life,
Coach Maddox 18:30
I agree completely. So he had really what they refer to, I guess, as existential crisis, because he had identified so much with his job that when it went away, he didn't know who he was.
Anthony Meek 18:43
The yes, definitely the job and past trauma that he never, you know, resolved.
Coach Maddox 18:50
Well, I mean, let's face it, when you're working 80 to 90 hours a week, you're avoiding something. And it seems like to me he was avoiding past trauma when the when the job could no longer help him avoid that's when he turned to other addictions. Absolutely. I mean, this is this is like, classic. This is one on one stuff. Yeah. Yep.
Anthony Meek 19:16
So, you know, not only did he get into, you know, I got into financial situations with him, but also, you know, I remember especially after he found out his diagnosis, you know, that he only had six months to live. He tried to commit suicide twice, which I was present for, and I rescued him from you know, we were, we were actually out of the country. And he actually tried to commit suicide twice. You know, that was something that's, you know, naturally I rescued him from and saved him from but there were There's a lot of different crises modes that I went through for so many years. With him that no one no one knows about.
Coach Maddox 20:11
How long are we all together? Total? Anthony, 14 years. And when did he finally pass?
Anthony Meek 20:19
He passed in 2016. And, you know, he passed, it was, it was sudden. But, you know, he, he passed in a. So, so right before he passed, honestly, you know, I, I actually filed for separation, like a month before we pass or like two months before he passed, because I knew if I didn't start taking care of myself, I wouldn't be surviving anymore, I wouldn't be living. Plus, you know, I was working full time I was in grad school full time, I, you know, I was trying to make our life even better. And I just couldn't physically or mentally do it anymore. So I filed for separation. Two months before he passed away, and I actually moved out.
Coach Maddox 21:25
I, you know, I kind of want to spend a moment on this, because I think that there is I don't think I know that there's listeners out there that are thinking, okay, you've got this husband, it's dying. And in the midst of his last months or days, you you, you pull out and leave him. And I think it's just important to say that when we get to that point where we know, we have to take care of ourselves in order to survive. It doesn't matter where the other person is.
Anthony Meek 22:02
Yes. And at that time, his health was, it wasn't like he was dying. At that point. He was getting better. But his addiction was getting worse. So his physical health was getting better, but his addiction was, you know,
Coach Maddox 22:17
awful. I mean, I think it's, I just want to acknowledge you and celebrate you for in the midst of all that, having the awareness of what you needed to do to take care of yourself and then acting on it. Because there's a lot of people that wouldn't have had the courage to do that. Either. It would have been a lack of courage, or it would have been a fear that they would the world would perceive them as selfish. Absolutely. And the beautiful part is, I mean, at the end of the day, nobody's going to take care of us but us. No, you know, no, nobody was going to sweep in and rescue you except for you.
Anthony Meek 22:59
Correct. And you you did that? You did that
Coach Maddox 23:05
I and I just want the listeners to really pick up on this that self preservation is not selfish. It's, it's necessary if we're going to survive. And there is a point where we, you know, a metaphor for life, when you fly on a plane, and they always say, if there's a sudden drop in cabin pressure, a mask will descend from the panel above your head, you place your mask on first before you help others. Yep. You know, our ability to help others is only as good as our ability to help ourselves and you're telling this beautiful story of how you had put his needs before yours for a long time. You've been taking care of him in ways that you weren't taking care of yourself. And then you had that moment where you saw the light. Yes. And you made the shift to taking care of you first. That didn't mean that you maybe didn't still continue to care for him. But you moved you into the number one slot?
Anthony Meek 24:16
Correct? Correct. And I got a lot of criticism for that. That makes sense to me. But people really didn't understand what was going on. Right. And from the outside it looked like because I hit hit everything. You know, I hit a lot of things. But yeah, I got a lot of criticism for actually doing that.
Coach Maddox 24:40
Because people didn't know the full story. Correct. You know, and that hiding things that you're talking about was playing into the lack of authenticity. Absolutely.
Anthony Meek 24:54
Absolutely. And, you know,
Coach Maddox 24:57
what did that lesson teach you Anthony?
Anthony Meek 25:00
that you have to be true to yourself, you have to be true to yourself. And you really have to tap into that inner strength that we all have. But sometimes we don't know that we have it. And going through this experience, and a lot of the experiences after his death really taught me that I can get through anything in life.
Coach Maddox 25:28
I think it's beautiful. I mean, I did a video recently, where I said, our challenges are here to show us who we are. Absolutely, you don't know that you're strong and courageous until you have been given a reason to step into that strength and courage. And that's what you're, you know, mine was theoretical conversation, but you're now driving at home with a real life story.
Anthony Meek 25:55
And even after, you know, his, you know, he died suddenly, and then, you know, days and weeks following his death and years, I mean, it took about two to three years to set all this but I was hit with lawsuits. Things that he got himself into, that I wasn't aware of.
Coach Maddox 26:17
And that I held responsible for because you were
Anthony Meek 26:20
name was on everything. Hmm, yep. Not only the lawsuits, but you know, I was still grieving. And I was in survival mode. You know, I was working, I had to, you know, I had to continue with my life. But doing so I had to, I was carrying around like 100 100 pound weights with me at all times, because I had so many other things to deal with.
Coach Maddox 26:48
There's another really valid piece here a moment ago, you you talked about backing up a little bit. He had gotten himself into all kinds of shady stuff that you weren't aware of, and after he died, lawsuits came upon you because of this shady stuff that he was doing that you weren't aware of? And what did you learn from that lesson?
Anthony Meek 27:15
Honestly, to really protect yourself financially, to really put measures into place, you can still have joined things with each other, but really, you know, trust is key. And when I lost the trust with him, I should have separated, you know, as many things as I could. But at that time, because I was in crisis mode every single day with his addiction, plus dealing with my own, you know, life and I didn't do that. So really watching out after yourself first,
Coach Maddox 27:59
you paid a pretty big price for that, didn't you?
Anthony Meek 28:02
I did, but here's the here's the weird thing is going through all that. And, you know, after he died, I moved from Florida back to Ohio just to be closer to family. And I was able to really start the process of healing, not only from my relationship, but with my own self, with my own identity. I was really able to start healing that shame that I felt, you know, feeling different as a child and, you know, a lot of the other things that naturally happened to us when we're going through, you know, difficulties with their sexuality, I was able to start to heal, which I haven't, which I hadn't done before. And, you know, I went through very deep, dark times afterwards, but at the end of the day, looking back, you know, I was still able to accomplish a lot for myself, not only with my career, but also you know, you know, with other people like with friendships and really, you know, developing things that I hadn't done for a while, because of this experience because of really, truly getting to know myself and really focusing on myself. And looking back over the last it's going to be six years now it has been hell. But I'm finally at the point where I am almost healed, right? And
I truly know who I am as a person because I've worked on myself and I thought out that and I also sought out help too.
And this is what this is what I truly enjoy doing with, you know, my own clients, whether therapy or coaching is really helping them with their own identity, because it's something that is definitely, you know, something that we need help with.
Coach Maddox 30:16
We do need help with, you know, I believe that it takes a tribe, it takes a village, however you want to word that, that we oftentimes try to go through this on our own, we try to go it alone. And rarely does that work? Well. Rarely do we get the results that we desire, when we think we have to do it all alone, and we don't clue other people in or we don't include other people. And that's usually shame based. Yes, absolutely. It's shame that keeps us from asking that for the help we need. It's a shame that keeps us from sharing the, the darker parts of what we're going through, because we're afraid we'll be judged.
Anthony Meek 31:05
Absolutely. And also being a male, right, we're taught as males to not really, you know, communicate our emotions, which is completely false.
Coach Maddox 31:15
It is completely false. And thank you for calling that out. Anthony. I'm in complete agreement with you there, I think the biggest part of our problems with violence in this nation, it can all be traced back to boys don't cry. In a nutshell, it can be all traced back to Boys Don't Cry, we are the vast majority of the male pilot population, we are walking time bombs. Absolutely. Because we have stuffed so much of our feelings in so many emotions for an entire lifetime, that sooner or later that shits gonna come out and it's going to come out sideways, if it can't come out in a healthy way, it is going to come out in an unhealthy way. This is, this is what causes people to come into a place where there's a lot of people in open fire with an automatic weapon. Absolutely. This is somebody that has a lifetime of stuffed emotions and feelings in a nutshell.
Anthony Meek 32:20
And this is where, you know, a lot of our mental health, you know, epidemic is coming from and this is where a lot of the addictions coming from, because I mean, being in this field for so long. It's one of the root causes that I've seen, especially for males
Coach Maddox 32:39
and females. Yes, yes, in a sense of community is one of the biggest cures. I'm not saying it's the only cure. I mean, there's a lot of things that we have to do to heal from, from what we have been through and all the trauma that we've experienced in life. But community is a heavy hitter. And it's one, it's one of the things that's suffering most right now, where we are in our time in history with, with technology and social media, there are so many things that are preventing us from having the community that we really need to thrive. And it concerns me, because I'm wondering if we as a society are ever going to wake up and smell the coffee, if we're going to realize that we're letting our technology own us rather than us owning our technology.
Anthony Meek 33:34
And with social media to I mean, you know, that's how a lot of people connect with there's nothing wrong with it. But if that's your only way, you know, there's something like you said about being in person and really connecting, you know, in person compared to virtually the power of of that.
Coach Maddox 33:58
Yes. I think social media can be a great tool. But it's the it's the first step is all you connect with other people through social media, but if you don't take it beyond social media, then you miss out on the richness of relationships you met out, miss out on the richness of life.
Anthony Meek 34:17
Absolutely. You know, I
Coach Maddox 34:18
think that it's stages. I think social media is the it's a good way to connect, but it's not a good way to really build anything. I do think that you can build some wonderful stuff through zoom because I'm doing it. But there's got to be some offline face to face ability to touch other people physically touch them, we have to have that.
Anthony Meek 34:48
Oh, absolutely. That's what we were meant to do. That's what human beings that's our instinct is to actually you know, have that connection and when we lack it, that's where problems come about.
Coach Maddox 35:01
Yes, absolutely. So tell me where you are now, six years later, after he's passed, you've done the heavy lifting. Yes. You said you've mostly healed. But what does that just draw the listener a picture? What is what is that space you're in now look like,
Anthony Meek 35:30
the space I'm in right now is a lot more peaceful one. But also, you know, I, a couple months ago, I really, you know, going through all this, all these things, and also having a very stressful career, you know, being in a leadership role through COVID really took its toll on me, because I was working. So, you know, so much. Plus, also coming to terms with all this, all these other things that, you know, over the last couple of months, I decided to take a step back from my leadership role, and focus on myself. And focus on my health, because my health was starting to decline, because I wasn't taking care of myself. So over the last, I would say, six months, I've really been focusing on my health, and now I'm I have a complete it's clean and bill of health. And I've lost 50 pounds. And it's not just about the weight, it's just about feeling like you're 20 Again, and having that energy and having just a new view on what life is supposed to be, you know, and really putting yourself first.
Coach Maddox 37:02
So you kind of you had to do that six years ago in the relationship. And now you had to do that six months ago in the job realizing that the job was consuming you the way the relationship and his addiction was, and you stepped back and did what you needed to do to put you first and take care of you.
Anthony Meek 37:26
And it's astonishing. What opportunities come about when we start to do that, um, not just career opportunities, but just things in general, like, friendships, we start to rekindle friendships that maybe, you know, went by the wayside over time, you know, we've maybe lost contact or, you know, I, I reconnected with my coaching practice, you know, helping individuals and on the same process. But also not forgetting though, to put myself first though, you know, whatever I have to do to keep, you know, my mental and physical health in an operating order, you know, and in the healthiest. You know, I'm I'm never going to lose sight of that.
Coach Maddox 38:19
That was my next question. So what can you put in place to ensure that you don't lose sight of that in the future?
Anthony Meek 38:28
So right now, I set aside time on a daily basis for me, whether it's exercising, whether it is spending time with family or friends, whether it's meditating, whether it is, you know, whatever you enjoy doing, do it. And you have to set aside time though, for it. So like for me on a daily basis, it's exercising, it's focusing on nutrition, and it's focusing on my relationships.
Coach Maddox 39:06
Beautifully, well said, Anthony, I'm a firm believer in everything you're saying, I believe that we can put healthy habits in place and after a period of time, those habits become ingrained in us where we're less likely to slide back into some unhealthy behavior. You know, I myself meditate every morning. I walk a minimum of five miles a day and there's got to be something pretty extreme that prevents me from that. I really do walk a minimum of five miles seven days a week and it's a rare thing for me to miss. And I don't when the days when something does come up and I miss I don't feel really okay. It's like something really crucial is missing. And the rest of my day does. Doesn't feel like I would want it to feel? Absolutely. And that's just a few, like you said, there's so many things that that's just a couple of the big ones, but I to try to focus on nutrition and time quality time with myself quality time with others. It's all valuable.
Anthony Meek 40:20
Absolutely. Absolutely. And everyone can do this. Oftentimes, sometimes we need support, you know, like along the way, but we can all do this.
Coach Maddox 40:33
Absolutely. So, based on your experience, and the big lessons that you have learned through this relationship, and the ending of this relationship, what is the number one wisdom bomb you'd like to drop on the listeners?
Anthony Meek 40:59
That's a, that's a great question. Because I have a couple really, you
Coach Maddox 41:04
can have more than one.
Anthony Meek 41:06
Really. Focus on yourself. Before seeking out a relationship, um, really, you know, get in tune with who you are. And really put yourself first even if you're in a relationship. And I know that's may sound selfish, but you can't take care of someone else if you're not taking care of yourself.
Coach Maddox 41:36
Well, I agree completely. And I think that it's important to say that, I don't think you're advocating that you make it all about you, you know, we live in, it's all about me society. And that's not what you're advocating at all. I think somebody asked me a couple of days ago. So how do you know when you're being selfish or when you're not being selfish? And I said, well, as long as you're, I'm going to put me first. So I can help and take care of others. Yes, you don't have to worry about being selfish. And that's, and that's my fold. Absolutely. I'm taking excellent care of myself. So I have more to share and give others it's never selfish when you're coming from that energy.
Anthony Meek 42:21
Exactly. Because I have, I love taking care of other people. I think that's one of my purposes on here on Earth, is to take care of other people. But if we don't take care of ourselves, first, we're not going to be able to fully take care of other people. But the other lesson is, you know, we all have, we've all been through things in life. But we also have the strength to get through those obstacles, we just have to have to tap into it. And sometimes we need support doing that. But oftentimes, we need support doing that. But we all have that strength to get through anything in life,
Coach Maddox 43:03
we have to believe we have to believe and that's where the support comes in. Because sometimes when we can't believe we need somebody standing close to us that can believe for us, currently in us when we're not believing in ourselves. Correct. I love that. Beautiful, beautiful. Well, I love your story. I love all the lessons you've learned and all of the beautiful courage and strength that you've stepped in to go there. I think your story is very impactful. And I've really enjoyed hearing it. Anthony, and I love the wisdom bombs that you just dropped. I hope that the listeners are getting as much out of this as I have.
Anthony Meek 43:44
Oh, thank you. And thank you for having me.
Coach Maddox 43:46
Well, let's take a moment because now we move into the part where I asked you the rapid fire questions. Are you ready for some rapid fire questions? I am ready. And you come back with rapid fire answers. Don't overthink this, okay.
Anthony Meek 43:59
Okay. All right.
Coach Maddox 44:03
Question one many years from now, when you are a ghost at your own funeral. And you see all of the people that have attended your funeral, and there is a contingency of gay men there that are your closest of friends. What would you like for those gay men to say about you after
Anthony Meek 44:29
you've passed? Oh, wow. This is a great question. That he truly lived according to his authentic self. It really was authentic. I love it.
Coach Maddox 44:46
If you only had moments to live well, what would be your greatest regret?
that I didn't do this sooner. Got it. Thank you of the life that you have lived so far. What are you most proud of?
Anthony Meek 45:16
I am most proud of my determination and inner strength to get through pretty much anything in life.
Coach Maddox 45:29
Anthony Meek 45:30
and what I've accomplished personally.
Coach Maddox 45:33
Those are great answers, Anthony. And by the way, I want the listeners to know he did not know these questions beforehand. There was no preparation for this. These are surprised questions about your answers. were amazing. Thank you so much, Anthony for being a guest. It's been wonderful to have you here. I've really enjoyed our conversation and I want to leave you with one thing. And that is to let you know that in my eyes, you are indeed an authentic gay man.
Anthony Meek 46:01
Oh, thank you. Thank you.
CEO/Founder/Owner at Unmasked Male
I was born and raised in Ohio and attended Catholic schools from k-12. Overall I had a positive childhood. But one major aspect I struggled with was my own sexual identity. Also, my grandmother passed away who was a second mother to me. It caused me immense emotional pain for many years because she was one person who I knew I could be authentic with. I was notorious for repressing my own identity especially since attending Catholic school. I attended college where I felt most alive when I really dove into finding my own identity but didn’t “come out”. I was a leader on campus and didn’t want anyone to find out I was gay. I still had pent up shame regarding my sexual orientation so it was like I was living 2 separate lives. Following college I met my future husband and relocated to Florida where I was surrounded by a very active lgbt community which wasn’t present in Ohio at that time. I even “came out” to my family who embraced me. I know this doesn’t always happen so I was preparing myself for the worse which is something I believe most of us do which contributes to the shame and other emotions that become repressed. But even though I was surrounded by this community in Florida I still felt like I was out of place. At the same time my husband was moving up the corporate latter and we relocated to Savannah. Honestly one of my favorite places I’ve ever lived due to the southern hospitality and started to feel I was accepted. However during this time my husband’s health significantly deteriorated and was even diagnosed with 6 months to live. On top of this he struggled with addiction so I was the one who basically managed the day to day crises that emerged while taking care of his health and also my career. So I moved him to the Cleveland Clinic to get help and after a positive recovery we moved back to Florida. As my career continued to take off his addiction got worse. But I continued to juggle many responsibilities on a daily basis even attending graduate school. He unfortunately passed away in 2016 from an accident which rocked my world. During this time I was attending graduate school, working full time, and taking care of all other responsibilities. Plus dealing with the aftermath of years of emotions I suppressed and legal matters following his passing. But at the same time I made the conscious decision that I would get past this and I have the strength to do so. I channeled my own strengths into moving through and past unbelievable pain. I relocated to Ohio to not only be closer to family but to also continue to pursue my career. The years following have been difficult beyond belief healing from the last several years. But I never gave up hope. On the outside it looked like I had it all, successful career as a leader, licensed therapist, and coach, but on the inside I was struggling with resolving trauma and grief from my past. Through this I was still working on my own identity. One of many conclusions I made through working on myself was since I struggled with my own identity I was drawn to a partner who wasn’t necessarily healthy for me. How can we have a healthy relationship if we don’t with ourselves first? I consider I’ve emerged on the other side of that pain and can live the life I was destined to live. Through my 18 years of experience as a therapist, leader, and coach, I’m passionate about helping others find their own identity and work through the shame and heartache of the past by embracing their strengths and authentic selves. I also want others to know they are not alone and can live their authentic lives to accomplish whatever they want in life.