Sept. 20, 2022

Alex Benedict's pride cost him his happiness, until the Universe stepped in

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Alex Benedict's most challenging event in life was his family falling apart as a result of his mother's suicide.  He had a brother and sister that he was estranged from for over 20 years.  His sister's tragic death to lung cancer brought he and his brother back together, with a very unexpected outcome.  If pride is hijacking your happiness by preventing you from forgiving, this episode is for you.

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Coach Maddox  0:00  
Hello, Alex Benedict, and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I'm excited to have you today.

Alex Benedict  0:06  
I'm excited to be here.

Coach Maddox  0:09  
So before we jump in, let's let me just tell the audience that the way you and I know each other is we met at the 2022 International coaches conference in upstate New York in May. So you guys, He is a fellow coach. And he's been gracious enough to give us some of his time today and come on and share his story with us. But before we get to your story, I'd like to ask, how do you define or what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man?

Alex Benedict  0:48  
Ah, great question. Well, you know, it's something I think about a lot. I think that one of the tests that I give myself is, am I editing myself? That is to say, I have an idea in my head? And how much am I tailoring my message or tailoring what's going on in my head to the audience that I'm speaking with? I think that people who say that they don't care what anyone thinks are lying, we all care what other people think. But if I'm omitting something that's like, crucial to who I am, then I'm not being authentic. And I need to check myself. So I think that's, that's what it means. I think the first step of being authentic is self knowledge. And that takes time. And then once you figure out who you are, then you have to decide whether the actions that you're taking on a daily basis are consonant with who you know you are. And that's, that's a lifelong process, it seems to me. It's not a one shot deal.

Coach Maddox  1:59  
I agree. And I love that and what you described, I have varying things in my life that are similar to what you're describing. And I call those things litmus paper. Like you stop for a moment. And you've got this litmus paper that you test to see if it's, you know, acidic or alkaline. And your litmus paper is, am I in any way censoring or omitting something of me? I love that. I, I love that because there's a test involved in it. It's that's very cool. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Alex Benedict  2:37  
Yes, the self reflexive thing and being gay is just one part of who we are. And but a good litmus test would be like, when I when I wasn't really out at work. If I went away for the weekend, people say, Oh, where'd you go for the weekend? And I would say, I went to Cape Cod, where I really went was province town. So I didn't want to tell people that I had been to Provincetown because they have all kinds of feelings about what Provincetown is. And I assume you know what Provincetown is? 

Coach Maddox  3:10  
But like preconceived notions? 

Alex Benedict  3:12  
Yeah. So it's the it's the possibly the gayest place in the world, one of them anyway. And so. So if I told them that I had had spent the weekend in Provincetown, all my head just was going crazy about what they imagined that meant about me. Yes. And then I just, and now I just let it fly. You know, you, you make your own judgments on what that means. I'm not in control of what you think of me. You know, as people say.

Coach Maddox  3:47  
That's very freeing, isn't it? 

Alex Benedict  3:49  
Oh, it is it is. And if I could, like, if I could turn back the hands of time, I think of all the time wasted, you know, of not being my authentic self. And how much more fun I would have had. Had I been true to who I am.

Coach Maddox  4:09  
Yes, I agree completely. I have to remind myself sometimes it's to, to realize that I could have lived my life out and never got to that point and to be grateful it no matter what point I found that authenticity, even if it was later in life to still be grateful, I found it didn't live my life out and die without ever coming to that place.

Alex Benedict  4:30  
Right. And there are so many people who do end their lives without coming to this fun place of being yourself. 

Coach Maddox  4:41  
Yes, I agree.

Alex Benedict  4:43  
It's a great privilege to be as old as I am.

Coach Maddox  4:46  
You know, I agree completely and I'm older than you are. I'm pretty sure. But yes, it is a privilege because there's a lot of our peers that didn't even see a 30th birthday.

Alex Benedict  4:58  
Yeah, that's That's true. I 

Coach Maddox  5:00  
So, well, thank you for that so much. Let's let's dive into our main topic here. And so so my question is, what is the most challenging thing that you've had to endure in this lifetime? Or are still in the process of enduring?

Alex Benedict  5:20  
Um, well, it's a long story. But the most challenging thing that ever happened to me is, the breakup of my family is one way of thinking of that. And that happened after this, my mother's suicide. My mother was my mother had polio. And she had been ill for many years. So, and my brother, who was her caretaker, at one point decided that she should go into a nursing home. And that was their deal, that she would never do that. And rather than go into a nursing home, she killed herself. So after that, the family kind of split. My sister and I have my sister and I went into one camp, and my brother and his family went into the other camp. And I didn't speak to my brother, who was also gay for over 20 years. And it was only the death of my, one of my sister, Sally that sort of brought us together. And he just kind of contacted me to tell me that she had died, she died of lung cancer. But after my mother died, I came to the realization, I came to a lot of realizations, one of the realizations that I came to, which is kind of dark and kind of sad is that at the end of the day, we're alone. And you can't, it's wonderful to think that you can rely on friends and family. And God, I hope that for everybody that you have that. But what if you don't have that? How do you live your life if you don't, and that was the that was the point at which I was I had one or two friends. I moved to Boston, from New York City, I started a graduate program where I knew no one where I was leaving behind the career I had as an ESL teacher, so everything was new. And yeah, that was, that was pretty sad. So that was probably the most the most challenging thing that I ever I ever experienced. And one of the most. One of the things that I'm proudest of, is forgiving my brother, I've had to forgive him for letting my mother die alone. You know, he made sure that she had plenty of pills, to kill herself, and then he left her alone to die. So that was really hard to forgive. And, but we have only so much time on this earth. And now, I would say that my brother is one of my, one of my closest friends. But it took a lot to get there, it really took a lot, it took a lot of forgiveness. It took a lot of swallowing my pride, and it took a lot of understanding that your brother, one's brother, we have a shared history, and nobody else has that shared history with you. And if you must cut somebody out of your life, just be aware of what you're giving away. I think if if that person is toxic, and if that person is not making you feel safe and wonderful, you one has you have every right to cut them out of your life, whether it's your family member or not. And I think that we as gay people, there are awful lot of people who an awful lot of gay men who just turn their backs on their families, and, or, more likely, their family turns their back on them. And that's it's at a huge cost for everybody, I think. So, if there's one message that I would like to put out there for everybody is if there is somebody in your life that you can forgive, do it. And you do that for yourself, as well. And, and I think that I speak for a lot of gay gay men in particular, but gay people in general is that we have a lot to forgive. We just do. We I think that a lot of progress has been made, but we're still not treated that well. And yeah, so that's I guess that is the most challenging thing I ever went through.

I didn't speak to my sister, Sally, she, she died. She died of lung cancer without speaking to me. And it took her a long time to die, it took her a year to die of lung cancer during that year, at any time. During that year, she could have picked up the phone and said, I want to talk to you. Before I go, she didn't. So that's once again an exercise in forgiveness on my part.

Coach Maddox  10:34  
You know, you said something, I think it was key a minute ago, one of the things you said was that you had to swallow your pride. And I think that is oftentimes what stands in our way. Anytime we've had a conflict where we move away from a relationship, whether it's a family member, or a friend, oftentimes, it's our pride that keeps us from reaching back out or keeps us from doing whatever we that whole Olive Branch thing. You see it in every movie, you see it in every TV show, you see it in your family, I mean, I, I hear it in with my coaching clients out, there's this desire to want to reconnect, there's this desire to want to pull it back together. And the one thing that oftentimes stops us is that, that pride.

Alex Benedict  11:33  
Right? And you one pays a price, we all pay a price for that pride, you have to say how much does it really mean to you? Because we are here, we human beings are here to love and connect with each other? And do you want to keep your pride? Or do you want to fulfill your mission as a human being, which is to love and connect with each other?

Coach Maddox  12:05  
Yes, I agree completely. I would like to unpack a little bit and talk about Would you be okay, talking about suicide? Sure. A bit. Yeah. Because I'm wondering, I don't have anybody that I'm close to that has committed suicide. I've known some people peripherally, some acquaintances. But I'm wondering, you know, we always talk about, you know, I hear so much people that commit suicide are so selfish. It's the number one comment that you hear, you know, they weren't thinking about how the ending their life was going to affect anyone else. They were only thinking about, you know, themselves. And I'm wondering what your take having experienced it firsthand from somebody as close as a parent. How do you experience that or see that? And well, you probably saw it one way when it happened is, is it do you see it differently now these years later? And I'll I'll get quiet and just let you go with that?

Alex Benedict  13:13  
Well, I think that one of my core principles is that we don't really know what's going on in somebody else's brain. And to say that a person who committed suicide was selfish. That may not have been the reason that they did that. My mother most definitely heard her suicide was not about being selfish at all. And, you know, she was in many ways, a selfless person, too. There are, there are as many reasons to commit suicide as there are people. So yeah, that's

Coach Maddox  13:55  
a really valid point. Alex, I love what you just said, there is many reasons to commit suicide as there are people. I don't know that I would have ever quite thought of that or worded it like that. But I think that's an important thing to put an exclamation point on. I think you just said something really, really profound.

Alex Benedict  14:15  
Oh, thank you. Well, I try. But yeah, there were there were so many layers to that. And the other the other lesson from that whole thing is my mother was always about stuff. I come from an old New England well, not knowing what but an old English family and there were like these family portraits and these vases and jewelry and old artwork and stuff like that. And my mother was always very cherished all of those things and said When I die, I want you to have this. When I die, you'll get this you'll get that that kind of thing. And when she died, I got nothing, not one of the things that she promised me, because my brother said all of that everything here is mine. So the things that she, you know, things that, that I was really looking forward to, as mementos of my mother, I didn't get my brother took it all. And there was even a lawsuit involved and all that stuff. But the end of all of that was that I began to have a different relationship with things and began to put them in their proper place, which is, things are not what make us happy. And you know, the love that you have for a person is not contained in them a mental that represents it, you know, the love that you have for a person, or the love that they have for you, is entirely separate from that object that symbolizes it. So it makes sense. Yes. So I, I began to become sort of what I call myself a part time Buddhist, which is, let go of that stuff. Don't let things on you. And I think that so many people do that. It's experiences that make us happy. It's not stuff. So do you own stuff? Or does stuff on you? And I learned that the hard way? Because I didn't get any of those. Any of that stuff that my mother talked about? Not one, not one piece.

Coach Maddox  16:29  
You said verbatim something that I say frequently. And that is either our stuff owns us or we own our stuff. Same with money. Our positions that we hold.

Alex Benedict  16:46  
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So as, as, as I move through life, I, you know, I try to keep that in mind. And I'm chasing experiences and living my best life, not the next car that I get, or whatever. So, yeah.

Coach Maddox  17:08  
So it was tragedy that brought you and your brother back together. If there hadn't been tragedy? I mean, we can't have a crystal ball and no, but what do you think would have happened, if there hadn't been a tragedy that pulled you back together,

Alex Benedict  17:27  
we would have died without reckon he, one of us would have died without reconciling. And when that happens, you, you miss that chance. And oddly enough, I don't know what your spiritual beliefs are. But I did go to a medium. And I was actually hoping to speak to my mother, or my grandmother or something like that from on the other side. And it took a while. But at the end of the session with the medium, my sister came through. And the details that were in that session with the medium, we're really chilling. So you can believe what you want to believe. But, you know, she the medium said, Well, I see a small woman who is surrounded by smoke, my sister died of lung cancer, there's no way that the woman would have known that. And she says she's talking to be something about a mountain. And that's where my sister's ashes were released, we're on top of a mountain. So it was freaky some of the details that she had. But I guess the point of that, or the lesson from that is, I think, in a weird way, that my sister was trying to make it right, that she was trying to reach out to me when, from the other side when she when she had a chance when she was in this life to do that. So, you know, I obviously wish that she had reached out to me before she died.

Coach Maddox  18:58  
And how long ago did this happen?

Alex Benedict  19:02  
This was about seven years ago, my sister's death.

Coach Maddox  19:08  
And so tell me a little bit about what's happened between your brother and us since that time.

Alex Benedict  19:14  
Well, he I have two sisters, I have an older sister and younger sister, the younger sister died. And the older sister lives in Boston. So my brother moved in with my older sister Laurie. So we, you know, we have dinners together and that kind of thing. But to go meet him after all those years, as I said, was really, really tough. And, you know, I, I had my backup and I really didn't want to hear what he had to say. I didn't know how the conversation would go, et cetera, et cetera. So it was tough. It was It was tough, as I said, to learn how to forgive him and not just learn how to forgive him, but let him into my life, which I have.

Coach Maddox  20:08  
As you engaged with him, were there any surprises?

Alex Benedict  20:18  
Yes, yeah, there were, there were a lot of surprises, I would say. The first surprise was that he loved me. And that, you know, it's an odd kind of love. Recently, I've been thinking about what love means. And one way of thinking about love is just, it's this. It's just this, this kind of amorphous sort of feeling that you have, you know, a vague, strong feeling of affection towards towards somebody. But another way of thinking of love is, it's what you do. Love is Love is what you do to make the other person feel safe and secure. So he said that he loved me, but he never did anything to make me feel safe and secure. You did quite the opposite. So now he does. Now he does things to make me feel loved. And but that he is capable of that was the biggest surprise. Because it was so easy to write him off.

Coach Maddox  21:22  
What do you think he shifted, shifted in within him to allow him to go from somebody that could say, I love you, but not demonstrated to now somebody who's able to demonstrate? Do you know what she did?

Alex Benedict  21:37  
Until recently, he never said it. I don't remember in all the years that we had growing up, I don't ever remember him saying that I love you or anything of the kind. Now, he says that to me regularly. And I think for him again, one doesn't know what's in somebody else's head. But one of the thing is, he's had so much loss in his life. He's lost his partner, he's lost his mother, he lost. He, he lost our sister, Sally. So he's endured a lot of loss. And I think that he is confronting his own mortality and understanding, you know, this is my chance to try to get it right. So, you know, back to this whole idea of loss. I think that there's, I think that there's something to be learned in there. For for us in loss. You know, I think that like for me, it's not all about grief and sadness, and so forth. It's, it's understanding that a that life is precious, and that that's what makes it sweeter, that it doesn't go on forever. You know, what makes you know, what makes an artificial flower less beautiful than a real flower? The real flower is going to die. The artificial flower isn't. But the real flowers, the more beautiful one, because it's going to die. Does that make sense?

Coach Maddox  23:02  
Yes, it does. I've never heard anything like quite like that before. But it makes a lot of sense. It's more precious because it's fleeting.

Alex Benedict  23:15  
Yeah. And when you think about it, everything is, you know, it's all it's all. It's all fleeting. But that doesn't. That doesn't necessarily make me sad. It makes me

Coach Maddox  23:28  
I have I'm I don't know why I'm compelled to kind of come back and talk about an aspect of of your mom's departure again. You said that he had set her up with plenty of pills, and left her alone to do what she intended to do. Do you see that differently now than you saw it? At the time? Yeah, perception is really huge. You know, I think it plays a big role in our ability to move through things.

Alex Benedict  24:02  
Yes, I do. I think that one of the things that's clear to me is that she was making a choice. You know, and unlike maybe a lot of people who commit suicide, and we don't know what's in their heads, but a lot of people do it in a moment of weakness, you know, that life is just too hard for them. They've just broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. This was something that she was planning for many years. And this was something that she she chose to do. And my brother didn't force her into that. I don't like the way he handled it. I gave him very low grades for that. But nonetheless, that was her choice. So that's that's something I do look at a little differently.

Coach Maddox  24:52  
Do you think that she asked for his assistance? Is he ever talked about that? Do you think She asked him to to start pipette pills, or do you think that she asked perhaps to be left alone that she didn't want anybody present when she did that?

Alex Benedict  25:12  
I I'm not sure. 100%. I know that she herself. She, she was on many medications, and she stockpiled them. So, and she, but he was aware of that, you know, he was aware that she had, that's what she was doing. And I'm pretty sure that he was aware of and what, what her intentions were. And the thing that's super hard for me to forgive him for Is It took her about a week to die in the hospital. It wasn't that one day. And during that one week that she was in the hospital. He didn't visit her, like not at all. And I did. And I find that terrifically hard to forgive.

Coach Maddox  26:01  
Had the two of you talked about that?

Alex Benedict  26:05  
You know, that's a great question. The answer is no. Waste. He and I spent a weekend in on Cape Cod, and I just let him have it. You know, every little thing I could think of is saying this, this and this, but that specific question that you bring up? No, I didn't bring that up, because maybe I don't want the answer.

Coach Maddox  26:26  
Well, you know, what's coming up for me that caused me to ask that question is we're all different, you know, I, and what we think that we can endure our water endure is all different. When I was in my late No, I was in my mid 30s. My grandmother who I was my most favorite grandparent, was diagnosed with I can't remember the orchid now irrelevant, but she was diagnosed with cancer. And the doctor told her she had about six weeks to live. And she took a downturn really, really fast now as I went to see her as soon as she was diagnosed and SAR in the hospital. And she lived about two hours away from where I was I went to visit her saw her in the hospital. And they took her home, she didn't need to be in the hospital. So she could be in a peaceful place in her last few weeks. And literally, the doctor nailed it because six weeks later she passed. But I saw her that one time. And then in the six weeks, I chose not to go and see her. And even my my mom and dad said to me, you know, we want you to really think really long and hard before you come down here and see her and make sure that's what you wanted to do. Because we just got to tell you, she looks really really bad. They know how sensitive I am. She looks really, really bad. In fact, at one point, my mom said, Okay, you're we warn your cousin, we warned her and warned her and when she got in there and sorry, it just took her down. And I opted not to go I called her and I talked to her on the phone. But I did not go and she never asked me to come she never asked me why I wasn't there.

Alex Benedict  28:39  
So what you did talk to her on the phone.

Coach Maddox  28:41  
I did talk to her. Sometimes she was lucid enough to do that. And sometimes she wasn't. But I have to wonder, you know, based on my own experience, if perhaps your brother just couldn't do it. That it was just perhaps too much too, too painful. Just couldn't do it.

Alex Benedict  29:07  
That's that's possible. I've also this is a kind of a side story, but I've also lost a partner to AIDS. And as he was dying in the hospital, and that took almost like two months for him to die in the hospital. I went every day to visit him in the hospital. But on the day that he died on that day that he died, I did not go until later in the afternoon. And I wonder is in some way did I have a sense that he was going to die and I couldn't handle it. And that's the reason I didn't do that. That could be

Coach Maddox  29:50  
you know, death is such a an unusual thing and for some of us it's it's really a tough thing.

Alex Benedict  30:01  
Oh, it's it is it is it was a tough thing. But you know, yeah. So I guess what I, the thing that I want to say is that I'm at the end of all of this at the end of all this loss. I'm a pretty joyful person, you know. And I do think that, that joy is there for all of us to access. But yeah, I've been through some, I've been through some shit, for sure. So,

Coach Maddox  30:34  
well, you have done an amazing thing, I think, to be able to forgive, to be able to let all of it go to be in a joyful place. I think some of my questions are just wondering, maybe if there's maybe even just a little bit more joy to be had. I think I'm wondering if you fully understood what your brother was experiencing in those last days of your mom's life. If that might add to the sense of peace in some some way?

Alex Benedict  31:18  
Well, now you give me homework. So I will, I will go talk to him about that has to be done in the right. Right circumstance. But yeah. But we laugh and joke around with each other in a way that we never did as kids. So that's, that's a great gift. You know, having my brother as one of my best friends is a great gift to me.

Coach Maddox  31:41  
Well, and what if, I mean, I, you were talking about spiritual beliefs early in the medium? I, what if that was all orchestrated in some way? To bring you to this point? What if you and your brother had to go through everything that you went through? In order to have the joy? And to have the Can You Hear can talk, I can hear you? I can hear you? What What if you had to go through all of that, to now have something that you never had? He's even as a child in relationship with him?

Alex Benedict  32:25  
Well, I think I think that's true. And yeah, if I had a message to the listeners, I would say, Hang in there, you know, I've had my share of, of troubled times, and but I can tell you that I'm 65 at 65 My life is the best life I've ever had. I have the best boyfriend I've ever had. I'm, you know, I haven't. I'm a coach now. So a lot can change. And, yeah, it's a wonderful thing. It's you just never know how things will turn out.

Coach Maddox  32:58  
No, we don't. And oftentimes, we're so busy trying to second guess and manipulate the world we get in our own way. I think sometimes,

Alex Benedict  33:08  
I think I think we all do, as, as your listeners might remember, we met at a gay coach's conference. And one of the things that I took away from that is that coaches need coaches, so that we coaches sometimes get in our, in our own way, and having and having that perspective of somebody else, listening to it from the outside. You know, a lot of a lot of times when I heard the other coaches tell their stories, it's so clear to a person from the outside, what the direction that this person can go,

Coach Maddox  33:44  
you are absolutely right. And that can come in many different forms. I was having a conversation last night with a minister. And he just was able to see something going on with me and in in me, and my perception that he gave a voice to and really got my attention, like was just able to articulate something in a manner that, like you said, coaches need coaches. He's he's not, you know, quote unquote, a coach, but a minister oftentimes serves a very, very similar purpose when they minister to and you know, he's a friend. But he did step into that role for a moment and share a perception with me that I needed to hear.

Alex Benedict  34:39  
Yeah. And and that that that is a great thing. And I think that one of the things that makes a great coach is somebody who doesn't necessarily have all the answers but as has been through a lot of stuff, and has come out the other side.

Coach Maddox  34:59  
I I think that's, I think, why so many of us that are coaches, our coaches is we have been through so much stuff. And we're, to some degree on the other side, I think it draws people that are exactly what you just described.

Alex Benedict  35:16  
Yeah. And that's, and we can we, we, or at least I said, I wish I had had me when I needed. You know, when I needed a friend, I wish I had a coach like me to lead me through the wilderness. Because that would have, I think, I got out of the wilderness on my own well enough. But it would have saved me a lot of time and a lot of self blame. for things that aren't my fault. Yeah, and would have gotten me a lot more joy a lot quicker.

Coach Maddox  35:56  
Yeah, that's a great insight to have, and certainly a great insight to share. Alex, is there anything else that you would like to bestow the listeners with before we wrap it up?

Alex Benedict  36:10  
Oh, we didn't really talk about my journey as a gay gay man. And again, if you can look at the gift, and whatever it is, you're given, I think being gay is a great gift. It's not an easy gift to get. And a lot of people will say, if it's a gift, I want to know where I can turn it back, turn it back in. And I get that, but I think that I think that we gay people and gay men, because that's the one I know have something to offer to the world. We are we are bridges, in a lot of ways, between lots of things. And

Coach Maddox  36:49  
I absolutely agree with you whole heartedly, it has been really hard. And there is an aspect of it, it has been, I can say quite clearly one of my greatest gifts. One of the greatest gifts that the universe has, has given me because most all of the trauma that I've been through with in my life has centered around some aspect of me being gay. And it's forged me into the man that I am today. And that I wouldn't be if it had been for all those experiences. So you're right, it's a very much a double edged sword, it can be very, very hard, very challenging. And we bring a unique perspective to the world. Not just around a community. I mean, a lot of us coach, gay men, gay men who coach came in. But I'm, I have throughout my life had straight women and straight men. You know, thank me for what I have brought to the table, we have a unique perspective that can only be had through what we've experienced as, as gay men.

Alex Benedict  38:11  
Yeah, I think I think that's absolutely true. I have a friend who is a professor, so he deals with a lot of college football players and stuff. And when the college football players find out that he's gay, they become very interested in not as a sex object, but as somebody who has broken free of the kind of, you know, toxic masculinity that they endure. So, you know, that's, I think that's, again, we have a gift. A lot of what a lot of the things that we suffer straight men suffer to?

Coach Maddox  38:49  
Absolutely, absolutely, I can say, out of the very close, straight male relationships that I have. That is probably one of the things the most of them are drawn to me about that I have managed to navigate the whole toxic masculinity thing, in a manner that they are drawn and want to know more of how I do that. Yeah, have expressed that they they want to learn how to feel and express their feelings, how to how to be vulnerable, the way they see me being vulnerable.

Alex Benedict  39:26  
Yeah, exactly. And since we're kind of written off, we get to do that we get to feel and they feel like they can't feel and that's a terrible way to go through life.

Coach Maddox  39:39  
It is a terrible way to go through life. I yeah, I you know, I'm a highly sensitive person and have been an emotional man my entire life and was blessed enough even though I had a dad that was a manly man. He and there were things about me that he tried to thort but my Emotions were not one of them. That's wonderful. I can remember an experience that I had when I was fourth grade. And I'd held something in experience was actually in the second grade, but it held it in for a couple of years until one day, I just couldn't hold it any longer. And when he finally got the whole story, he was like, why did you not talk to me about this, and I just, I couldn't then he said, Don't ever hold anything like that. And that's not good for you don't ever hold anything in like that. And I got this really strong message that it was okay. To have my feelings to have my emotions didn't express those emotions. And I look back and think quite possibly, that maybe was the single largest gift that he gave me as my father.

Alex Benedict  40:50  
Well, that's a huge gift. That's a one. That's a wonderful gift that he gave you. So that's, that's a, that's a great thing. My boyfriend is very close to his family. And when he came out to them, the thing they said is, I thought we were close. Why didn't you tell me? You know? And so, yeah. And they're very, they're very feeling touchy feely people, unlike my family, but they're very, you know, they're very goofy, sentimental, like, give each other cards that have very sentimental messages and stuff like that. But I've learned from that. So now I do that, too.

Coach Maddox  41:33  
And look at that big smile on your face.

Alex Benedict  41:36  
Yeah, it's a one. It's a wonderful, it's a wonderful thing. Like, I never thought I would buy those cards. I was always buying the, the subtle card, the card that had no message on the inside. And now No, no, no. If this one says what you want to say, go for it. Yep.

Coach Maddox  41:53  
What a beautiful thing. I love that, Alex, that you have been influenced by your partner and his family in that way to lean more into that sentimentality. And yeah, that's it. That's, that's gorgeous.

Alex Benedict  42:11  
Why not? We have so little time on this earth and to tell someone, not just I love you. But here's why. There's just not enough time in the day what else you're going to spend your time doing? Telling making the people that you love feel loved? Exactly.

Coach Maddox  42:30  
Exactly. I'm always looking for ways to acknowledge and celebrate the people in my closest circle.

Alex Benedict  42:39  
Yeah, well keep at it, because I can tell you from on the receiving end, I've never I've never truly been embarrassed by somebody getting overly goofy with me. Bring it on.

Coach Maddox  42:53  
I agree. I love that. Love that. Love that. Love that. Any any any last words on your topic?

Alex Benedict  43:02  
No, that's it. Wow, that's it. Just as as I said, you know, when you get through, when you get into a dark time, just remember there is something on the other side. Something quite wonderful, I believe always.

Coach Maddox  43:19  
Well, and I think that the, you know, the air quotes here are this really the biggest part of this is about your ability to forgive. And that opened up all kinds of doors for you that wouldn't have been opened up. Absolutely true. And your willingness to forgive. And I you know, I think oftentimes people think, Oh, I can't ever forgive him for that forgiveness is not somebody you it's not really about the other person. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself.

Alex Benedict  43:49  
That's true. It is true. And I got I got an enormous amount personally and just yeah, in every way.

Coach Maddox  43:57  
Yeah, you freed yourself when you when you released him when you forgave him, you freed yourself whether it freed him or not. It freed you.

Alex Benedict  44:05  
Yeah, because I had been carrying around that anger for years and years and years. Yeah, and wasn't hurting him.

Coach Maddox  44:14  
You lay the burden down. Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I've loved hearing your story. So are you ready for some rapid fire questions?

Alex Benedict  44:25  
Sure. Bring it on.

Coach Maddox  44:28  
So what stands in your way of having more and better relationships with other gay men? If anything?

Alex Benedict  44:38  
I'm navigating my my things with my partner right now. But I want that I want to have more relationships with with gay men, which is why I go to Eastern Mountain, which is why I'm part of the gauge Coaches Association and that kind of stuff. Really, the number one thing is distance like I think you're wonderful, but you're not close. So. So that's that's kind of that's kind of a thing is that like, I go to Eastern Mountain and stuff like that, and I meet these I meet these people who I say, Oh, this is my tribe, this is part of my tribe, but then they go off to their lives.

Coach Maddox  45:16  
Yeah. Yeah. It's the hardest part of it, isn't it? Yep. I've been in other groups that I got really close to me. And they're all but but you know, it's the good news is, I've started inviting some of these wonderful men to come visit me, I've had six men come clear across the country, and spend time come and visit and spend time in my home. That's great. It's been amazing. And I continue to invite. And it's still challenging, because we just do this amazing bonding thing while they're here. And then they go back to their life. And we're at a very, very far distance. So it has kind of a little bit of a downside, but it has certainly been the upside is better is overshadows the downside? Let's put it that way.

Alex Benedict  46:08  
Yeah. And I, you know, I think of what if this, what if you have an incredible relationship, and it only lasts one week? Wouldn't you still say, I would do it again? You know, so. And if you don't have as much time with these people as you like, that doesn't mean that the time that you do spend with them is not wonderful?

Coach Maddox  46:28  
Exactly. Exactly. Okay, of your life that you've lived so far. What are you most proud of?

Alex Benedict  46:39  
Forgiving my brother?

Coach Maddox  46:43  
Beautiful, that makes perfect sense. And what would you say is your superpower

Alex Benedict  46:52  
flash intimacy?

Coach Maddox  46:56  

Alex Benedict  46:57  
Yes. I have kind of learned that about myself, is that I can I can bond with people rather quickly, and get them to reveal things about them. Okay, so I have I have learned that I can go into a coffee shop, for example. Power is flesh intimacy, is that I can become close to people quite quickly. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  47:29  
That's awesome. I have learned to do something similar myself. And it is, it's an awesome thing to be able to do. And it.

Alex Benedict  47:41  
It is it is because as I said, we're here in this life to connect. And if somebody sees fit to connect with me, on a deeper level, great. I'm happy for that. Yeah.

Coach Maddox  47:54  
Awesome. Well, Alex, there's one. One thing I want to say after I've heard your whole story and had this conversation with you and and that is I want you to know that in my eyes, you are indeed an authentic gay man.

Alex Benedict  48:08  
Thank you. I try. I try. It's a process.

Coach Maddox  48:12  
Yeah, I think you do better than try. I think you achieve. So thank you so much for your time today.

Alex Benedict  48:21  
Thank you for having me.

Coach Maddox  48:22  
It's been a pleasure and an honor. Great

Transcribed by

Alex BenedictProfile Photo

Alex Benedict

Wellness Coach/Writer

Alex Benedict (he/him) has had a long circuitous journey to becoming authentic. As a child, he learned that his primary value was being a caretaker for his paraplegiac widowed mother. As an adult, he fell into a similar role with his first partner, who died of AIDS, and his second who was clinically depressed. That relationship lasted for 25 years until he began to ask himself what would truly make him happy--not what would help other people. Now that he is retired and partnered with a loving boyfriend, he is very close to living his best life--but it took a lot of reflection and action to get there.

Currently, Alex is a health coach and writer. As a coach, he helps his clients to look at their health holistically, and practice self-love at every step in their journeys. As a writer, his favorite topic is authenticity. You can find his writing on WBUR’s Cognoscenti, The Los Angeles Blade and