November 21, 2022
EP. 346 — Brain Surgery Changed My Boyfriend
They were planning their life together, but a traumatic brain injury changed everything. A woman shares what happened when her boyfriend woke up from brain surgery with a different personality and no memory of their relationship. She opens up about moving to a big city, becoming a DJ, and how in a way, they both became different people. Later on, she and Geth discuss getting sober, sexual compatibility post brain surgery, biking to Mexico, and the beauty of life now.
346 — Brain Surgery Changed My Boyfriend
Chris [00:00:05] Hello to everybody who throws on Ooh La La when you need that party poppin. It’s Beautiful/ Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names. No holds barred. Hi everybody, Chris Gethard here. Welcome to another episode of Beautiful/ Anonymous, a show where I talk to strangers on the phone and that’s it. But what we really get is a look at how life works from individual humans’ perspectives. And I feel so lucky that I’ve been doing this for so many years. It’s changed my life, and I can’t thank you enough for listening. I hope that read as genuine and sincere as I meant it to because, man, is it true. Hey, before I tell you about this week’s call, which is an intense one, I just want to let you guys know that I have some dates coming up out there on the road. I got a I got a whole bunch of stuff going on. I’m going to be in North Carolina. I’m going to be in Durham on December 2nd, Asheville December 3rd. Early shows. Live. Beautiful/ Anonymous tapings. Late shows. Stand up. I got a stand up hour December 16th in New York City, Brooklyn, Littlefield. Let’s pack that one out. Jersey, House of Independence, December 11th. Doing a live show with my friends over at New Jersey is the World, my other podcast with my buddies from high school. It’s good times. Hope you’ll come on out. ChrisGeth.com for tickets to all of those. Thanks to everybody who enjoyed last week’s caller where we talked about zombie movies and it got specific in terms of being, you know, our caller was someone who was queer and ex Mormon and who viewed zombie movies through that lens. And it got really fascinating. And thanks to everybody who left comments in the Facebook group. Caller from last week, if you’re out there, a lot of people saying they’d contribute to that Kickstarter. So you let me know when it’s ready and I’ll do my best to spread the word. Because I want to see I want to see your zombie narrative. I just want to see more cool stuff exist in the world. It’s always been a goal of mine. Okay. This week’s episode. Tough one. Been thinking about this one since we recorded it. Caller was with someone. That someone had an injury. That injury affected their memory and their personality. And that affected our caller. And what a wild ride her life has been on since. You know, I don’t I don’t think there’s any incident or moment that defines any human in total, but I think you’ll hear this incident did certainly kick off a whirlwind of life changes for this caller. And you’re not going to see where it went. At all. I know I didn’t. There’s so many… So many directions that it gets pushed and pulled in, so many different ways that the caller tried to heal, so many ways that she did successfully find herself, but maybe in ways she never would have expected it had things not gone the way they had. It’s one of those ones that makes you realize, man, I got to chill out and just walk down the street and look at the leaves and look at sunsets and take deep breaths and remember how much I have in this world. Because everything can change in an instant. And you never know what’s coming. Enjoy the call.
Voicemail Robot [00:03:42] Thank you for calling Beautiful/ Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Chris [00:03:50] Hello?
Caller [00:03:51] Hello.
Chris [00:03:53] Hi.
Caller [00:03:54] Hi there. How are you today?
Chris [00:03:57] I’m pretty good. I’m pretty good. It’s been kind of a slow day so far. It’s a little early for this, but in general, I’m doing pretty good. Pretty good. How are you?
Caller [00:04:07] Well, I’m excellent. I’m excited to speak with you.
Chris [00:04:13] Yeah, I’m excited to speak with you as well.
Caller [00:04:16] It’s a bit of an early day for me as well. I work a second shift job, so the mornings are a slow start, to say the least.
Chris [00:04:29] Second shift. What kind of hours is that? What’s the start?
Caller [00:04:31] That is a 2:30 to 11 p.m. shift.
Chris [00:04:37] Okay. Okay.
Caller [00:04:41] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s nice because I don’t ever have to wake up to an alarm clock. I can just let myself sleep til whatever, whatever time my body says. But I miss out on a lot of events because of it.
Chris [00:04:58] I bet. I bet the sleeping in is nice and then the not being able to function on the same schedule as the rest of society is the downside.
Caller [00:05:09] Yeah, well, most of society, you know. You still get those the fun people who still go out to a lot of live music or, you know, those kind of people you can still mix with.
Chris [00:05:19] Yeah, I remember those days. I remember those days so well.
Caller [00:05:24] I know. I’m clinging desperately to them, even though I’m aging out very fast.
Chris [00:05:30] Yeah. Yeah, I was, I was booked two weekends ago. I did Fest, which is this great punk fest in Gainesville, Florida. They’ve done it 20 years. I’ve performed four or five of them at least, I think. And this band, Cat Bite from Philly, this hot new sca band from Philly. Nicest people in the world. I’ve gotten to know them a little bit. They had a show at 1:10 a.m.. Someone was like, You goin to the show at the Cat Bite show tonight? I was like, Oh, the one at 1 a.m.? You don’t know what my life is like. The idea that I would be awake at 1 a.m. now that I’m a father can could only happen if there was a disaster. I will be so asleep by 1 a.m. because I am old and lame and happy.
Caller [00:06:18] You know, but you threw that happy in on the end. So that’s really what matters.
Chris [00:06:23] You got to keep convincing. If I don’t convince myself, nobody’s out here trying to convince me.
Caller [00:06:32] And I just recently listened to the episode where you were- the woman was being convinced of all the reasons why she shouldn’t have a child. So, yeah. Just keep telling yourself you’re happy.
Chris [00:06:43] Sure. I will. Over and over again. Until it has to be true. It must be true.
Caller [00:06:51] So I, yes, I got a I got a topic that I haven’t I haven’t heard you cover yet on all of the years of Beautiful/ Anonymous that I’ve listened to.
Chris [00:07:02] Okay. I’m interested.
Caller [00:07:04] So it’s been many years now, but I had found who I believed to be my soulmate. And we were in a committed and loving relationship and planning a whole life together. And through a series- through a injury or illness that he got, he wound up needing to have brain surgery. And when he woke up from that brain surgery, when he came out of it, he had significant memory loss, which included his memory of me and our relationship.
Chris [00:07:49] He just didn’t, he didn’t he didn’t remember the relationship existing? Or he didn’t remember the emotional connection to it?
Caller [00:07:58] Yes. Both. Both. So he his brain surgery both impacted his vocabulary. He lost a lot of his vocabulary. He lost a lot of his short term memory. And he lost um, well, his personality was changed, as often happens with traumatic brain injuries. So he had a lot of big holes. He remembered his long time friendships. He remembered, you know, basics. The state he grew up in, the state he lived in, but he couldn’t remember things like his address or me or, you know, how to spell words, how to- he didn’t remember a lot of like just basic words. He had to relearn a lot of his vocabulary. So he was very it wasn’t even like he’d, he definitely didn’t remember me or remember our relationship, thereby not was not still in love with me. But he was actually a little suspect and it was really hard for him to express himself because he lost a lot of his vocabulary as well.
Chris [00:09:23] This is the most heartbreaking thing I’ve heard in a very long time.
Caller [00:09:30] It was it was pretty tough to go through. I won’t lie. You know, you want to you want to support someone and you want to help them when you know that they are confused and hurt and lost and in physical pain. And yet they don’t want to accept that help from you and are somewhat distrustful. You know, so and but well, I’ll go ahead and admit he’s from New Jersey. So he- originally- so he had been he’s seen his fair share of, you know, scam artists and and so on. So he was pretty suspect.
Chris [00:10:16] Yes. Indeed.
Caller [00:10:18] No disrespect for Jersey. I have a lot of love for the state and its inhabitants.
Chris [00:10:25] Listen, grow up here and you learn to spot a hustle for sure.
Caller [00:10:28] Exactly. So. So, yeah, it um it was really tough. And I had to, you know, fight every instinct that I had to help this person and to try to nurture them and to try to, you know, insert myself into their into their reintegration to the world. And, ah, I had to just step back and I had to let this person kind of figure it out on his own. It was pretty crazy. Uh, but in turn, it led me- it’s not a completely awful story because it did lead me to a fantastic circle of friends that I’ve had for a long, long time now. And it turned me into a DJ for a little bit. So that fed right into that nightlife that I still cling to.
Chris [00:11:41] Okay. I’m going to let you know. Did not expect did not expect you to say DJ right there.
Caller [00:11:49] Ooh.
Chris [00:11:51] If I had paused at that point and said, What do you expect me to say right now? Led me to life as a I would not have put DJ probably in my top 100 guesses of things you were about to say.
Caller [00:12:03] Well, that means there’s going to be some fun questions coming, so lay them on me. Come on.
Chris [00:12:09] Well, the first question isn’t fun, and I’ve already gotten a sense of the answer, so I might as well just ask it. You know, you said you tried to stay in this guy’s life. You said you tried to step up and be that partner. I can’t imagine that feeling that, you know, you’re send, you know, someone’s heading into surgery and you’re one of the people they lean on. You’re one of the people helping. And then when they wake up, it’s just irreparably changed. That’s terrifying and sad and heartbreaking, like I said. You mentioned that you tried to stay there and provide support. I’m getting the sense that it didn’t work out long term. You haven’t said it explicitly, but you’ve certainly indicated. It sounds like it didn’t. This idea that you were going to stick around and help, that didn’t it didn’t last, huh? We’re going to pause right there. Like everything else with this call, the answer to that question is a little bit more layered and has a few more steps to it than you might see coming. We’ll be right back. I want to thank our advertisers for helping us bring stories like this to the world. And now we got to get back to this phone call. You haven’t said it explicitly, but you’ve certainly indicated. It sounds like it didn’t, this idea that you were going to stick around and help, that didn’t it didn’t last, huh?
Caller [00:13:42] Well, it actually did. I had to step back for, yeah. See, it’s not a terrible story. I had to step back for about a year and I had to let this person kind of sort themselves out. But from the connections that they did remember and trust, those people all kind of, you know, supported, supported my story to him that he was in love with me and that I was someone that he trusted and, and that I would only want the best for him. And after about a year, maybe a year and a half, we kind of reconnected. And even though his personality did change enough that he wasn’t really… Wasn’t still the person that I fell in love with, we were able to become friends again, and we are still friends to this day. It’s been close to 20 years since the, the brain surgery. And we still make it a point to chat at least every couple of months, if not more than that. And we, you know, we’ve seen each other here and there over the years, and we still close our conversations with “Love ya”, so there is an upside to it.
Chris [00:15:09] Wow. I genuinely didn’t see that coming.
Caller [00:15:18] Sweet. I’m surprising you left and right here, huh?
Chris [00:15:21] Well, well, how does uh I feel like I’m going to ask a bunch of questions where I sort of know the answers, but the specifics are what I’m looking for here. So he comes out of it, you realize, Oh, he doesn’t remember me. I’m sure there’s a pit in your stomach. I’m sure you’re as heartbroken as anybody. He starts to imply that you might be a grifter or trying to scam him. This must make you angry. This must make you throw your hands up in frustration. Must make your heart break for him. This year goes by and it comes back. What’s the reality of that like for you? Because you’ve been accused of a bunch of stuff here. You’ve been hanging on. And now people go, No, you really did love her. And he finally starts to come around. Okay, I guess I did trust you. But that’s not like a light switch that you can just turn back on. You can’t just go, Good, you’re back in love with me. Let’s get back to where we were pre brain surgery. That’s not what this was. So what are you-
Caller [00:16:26] No, no, no.
Chris [00:16:27] What are your emotions there? Are you still in love with him? Are you still feeling it? Or is that damage starting to fray your end of things as well?
Caller [00:16:36] Well, so the thing to I, I had to I had to come to a lot of harsh realities of the person that I loved will never be there again. And rather than ever being hurt by the accusations that he made, I was able to find the empathy in in his situation a lot quicker than maybe you think. And I never really held it against him. I never really was that, I mean, I was heartbroken. Trust me. Devastated. Absolutely devastated. Um, but I, I guess I was able to find a sympathy and empathy for him and all of his confusion that I was able to just kind of accept whatever olive branch he handed out to me and tried to rebuild a trust and a friendship from wherever he he was coming from. And that’s what it- and that’s what it was. You know, there wasn’t there wasn’t an immediate like rekindling of friendship that was strong. And, you know, there were a lot of, a lot of short hang outs. There were a lot of, Hey, you know, so-and-so is going to have a bunch of people over. Hope to see you there. Kind of, you know, kind of interactions. And, you know, it took it took a while and, yeah. I mean, there were there were definitely long stretches. He had moved he moved out of the state that we were both living in in the beginning. And he moved actually back to New Jersey. And, you know, there was maybe like there’s been gaps of like a year or two in between conversations sometimes. But I think he has he realizes that- and I realize that, you know, we we were we were each other’s people. And to some degree, that kind of a connection won’t ever will ever completely be severed. And I you know, I will always want to help and support him in whatever whatever capacity that I can. So, you know it- but but trust me, it was absolutely devastating and, you know, led me into a pretty good life of an addict for a while, which I actually just celebrated six years sober.
Chris [00:19:43] Congrats.
Caller [00:19:44] But- thank you. But yeah, there were there was a swirl of years after after all of this, while we were reconnecting and were rebuilding a friendship, there was a swirl of addictive years and really poor choices in in partners, to say the least.
Chris [00:20:11] And you may have said this, how long were you guys together when he headed into the surgery?
Caller [00:20:20] It was about we were about a year and a half into our relationship, maybe two years.
Chris [00:20:27] And did you know, the doctors say, going into it, hey, so memory loss is a thing. We’re not sure where this is going to land on the other side? Or were you blindsided by it?
Caller [00:20:36] Blindsided.
Chris [00:20:38] Ooh. So the doctors didn’t see this coming either?
Caller [00:20:41] Nope. Or they did and just didn’t properly warn me. I don’t know. But yeah, they, I don’t know, they poked around in there and hit hit a couple of spots maybe they didn’t expect to hit.
Chris [00:21:00] Wow. They put and they pushed right on your section of the hard drive. Those were the files they corrupted in there.
Caller [00:21:08] Absolutely. 404. Unknown. Unknown server.
Chris [00:21:17] Well said. Well said. I hate that I was trying to stifle the laugh, but I do, I mean, I also am getting the sense that you like a giggle at a dark thing. I enjoy. I’m getting that sense. Weird question. Which messes you up more, the initial realization that this is happening, or when after that year things thaw and you try it again and you realize, Oh, it’s broken now?
Caller [00:21:50] Oh, good question. I think it was the initial reaction. The initial like, I mean, when you go to the bedside of someone and they’re like, Yeah, I think I’d rather be alone. You know, like they’re in a hospital. They have all of the machines still hooked up to them and and they literally they, Yeah, I don’t really want to see you. That was definitely the hardest. That was. Yeah. That was when everything, you know, I just had to kind of reshuffle the deck and say, all right, this is never going to happen again. So being able to rebuild a friendship with him was kind of a bonus, I guess? And also just part of that long standing like I, I still care for this person. I still want to help this person in whatever capacity I can.
Chris [00:23:04] I can see why this really threw your life for as many loops as you’ve indicated. Like hearing you say you went through a bunch of years there of just, you know, questionable partners and decisions in that realm, addiction. I sit here, I go, everybody’s been through a breakup, right? Everybody knows that feeling of like, oh, you can’t open up your heart because someone might do you dirty, right? You open up your heart, someone might cheat on you or someone might… Leave one day and not be able to explain why and this and that. And you’re in this, I have to imagine not too many people in the world that are like, Yeah, or you might give someone your heart and then you’re introduced to the idea that life is exponentially more fragile than any of us consider on any given day and that humans are like a concussion away from exposing that love isn’t real. We could have that.
Caller [00:24:07] Yes, yes. And to see the person, hear the same voice, see the same form, and know that the person you fell in love with isn’t still in that body. You know, like, it’s still that person, but it’s not that person.
Chris [00:24:26] That’ll change your perspective on the romantic notion of love and if you can give yourself over fully moving forward, I see that.
Caller [00:24:36] Yeah. It’s a mind fuck for sure. Oops, sorry, Sally.
Chris [00:24:39] Oh, please, it’s. It’s fine. It’s fine. I think she would say it. I don’t know if she’d say it back, but I think she’d say, you know, she at a point, she should she can say the F-word. You get a pass. I think you get a Sally pass on that one. And now here’s the biggest question of all. In in what way does this lead to you becoming a DJ? Because I fail to see how these things are totally connected.
Caller [00:25:10] All right. So. This happened in, like I said, about 20 years ago, so the early 2000s. And this breakup forced me to move out of the tiny little town that I had been living in with this person. And I moved to the nearest big city to where I was living. And that put me into a whole new social circle. And one of the first things that I did to try to make friends was I went to the local college and I became a deejay on their radio station. Because luckily for me, you didn’t have to be a student of that college. They would accept just members of community. And from that radio station I started playing house music and clubs, different kinds of club music. Which it only took me about about, oh, maybe a year, year and a half and I started getting gigs in clubs. And then the real fun started.
Chris [00:26:30] What’s that mean? What’s the real fun?
Caller [00:26:35] I mean, the real fun is standing in front of a crowded club of people and getting them all to dance and cheer and yell and thrash around with reckless abandon because of the music and the vibe that you’re creating.
Chris [00:26:55] Well, when you put it like that, it does sound rather cool. Yes.
Caller [00:26:59] I know you can relate because you have been able to move a room full of people, you know, with with your words alone, which is a much, much harder thing, I think, than what I was doing.
Chris [00:27:16] There’s definitely a science to what to what you what you do up there on those turntables. There’s definitely a science that I don’t understand.
Caller [00:27:27] It’s it’s a powerful thing, man. I mean, I’d put it right up there with some of the most, most strong drugs. When you get that rush, when you you see heads turn and facs glowing and arm’s reach up into the air because they are moved by the music that you’re playing. It is really fun. It’s an amazing rush.
Chris [00:27:52] And is this something that you’d been interested in before everything happened with your ex?
Caller [00:27:59] Nope.
Chris [00:28:00] Not at all?
Caller [00:28:01] Barely even. No. Barely even listen to the music. Barely ever. And my introduction, part of one of the things about that radio station is that we would not play commercial music. There’s no if you could hear it on another radio station, we could not play it. So it forced me to look at a lot of underground music and a lot of music that was noncommercial. And that led me to a lot of a lot of house music and a lot of electronic music. And it really was like the learning curve was just very steep into that world. And before I knew it, I was, I was hitting clubs in big cities, and I was going to after hour clubs that wouldn’t open until two in the morning and stay open until, you know, three, four in the afternoon the next day. It was a it was a crazy, wild life that I led for probably 15 years.
Chris [00:29:10] You know what’s striking me about this? So you’re a person. You’re an individual. You’re also a member of a couple. The other member of the couple has this traumatic brain injury, this surgery. They come out of the surgery and they’re not themselves anymore. Right? They’ve lost a lot of memories. And it’s fair to say that there’s, they’re not recognizing the world. It also makes them is recognizable, right? At the same time, you’re not the one who had the injury or the surgery, but it sounds like as a result of it, you also became an unrecognizable person to people who knew you before that surgery. And it wasn’t your injury and it wasn’t your surgery. But the people who probably knew you before that must have been looking at you in those years afterwards, going, How the hell did this happen?
Caller [00:30:11] And I think I think you’re absolutely right. And I think that subconsciously that was a coping mechanism so that I wasn’t still living in that world of pain. And trust me, there were a lot of club drugs helping me forget that pain, you know?
Chris [00:30:31] And from what I hear, those club drugs of the early 2000 were really high, high shelf stuff. I hear that it was a real fun scene back then.
Caller [00:30:45] Yes. Yes. I mean, of course, the underbelly is always a little dirty and grimy and gross and dangerous. But yeah, the surface of it, you know, pop a pill of E and dance around and hug your friends and then take another one before you go to the after party. And, you know, lots of lots of uh lots of strangers become your friends within minutes and lots of connections that, you know, you form that don’t that last for many, many years and um it was, you know, any number of of different concoctions of different drugs, be it ecstasy, molly, ketamine, you know, mushrooms, all sorts of different stuff were would go into a night. And you’d come out of it exhausted and in need of a lot of sleep. And, you know, and incredibly low on serotonin. But, you know, you still you had the time of your life. Not to condone that kind of lifestyle for anyone, because trust me, in the long run, it did um it did force me to not deal with my problems for a long time. And I ended up having to face them eventually. But and I and I know that the drug world is very, very dangerous right now with fentanyl. So I don’t recommend anyone do that. But when I was there and when I was in it, it was my coping mechanism. And it provided it ended up providing me with a community that, you know, inadvertently kind of helped me get through all of that pain.
Chris [00:32:53] It’s really a remarkable thing. I mean, uh too that this one surgery so severely altered two lives. And then a lot of substances, a lot of substances helped kick that momentum right downhill. I’m glad you came out of that. I’m glad uh I’m glad you’re sober. And it sounds like healthier and happier.
Caller [00:33:24] Yes.
Chris [00:33:24] I’m wondering… There really is a you know, there’s that, you know, that phrase Sliding Doors moment which is a reference to that movie of like if I go if you go through this door, your life will be one thing and this other door, you have these moments where you make these choices. It… Do you look back now… It feels like more than a lot of conversations I’ve had with anyone in my life, it sounds like you spent two years with this guy. Sounds like maybe you would have gotten married and settled into something and never at all had that stretch, stayed up all night, and eventually becoming who you are today. It sounds like, I mean, that’s something that I would think a… That’s something I would say, and I’m not saying this facetiously at all, I would have to imagine that if you if you have ever sat down with a shrink, there must- I’m sure there must be a phrase for people who go, My life was going to be a different thing, and I can tell you exactly when that altered. Do you do you sit and think about, it was supposed to be this other life? Let’s pause right there. It’s time for some ads. Ads are necessary, right? In the same way that this caller had the flow and momentum of her life disrupted by this event, now, the momentum and flow of this phone call has been disrupted by some ads. It’s it’s what happens. We’ll be right back. Thank you to our advertisers. Now let’s finish off the phone call. Do you sit and think about, it was supposed to be this other life?
Caller [00:35:14] Oh, absolutely. And and every time I hang out with my former partner, it like at the moment he lives about an hour and a half away from me, and the last few times that I went and visited him, you know, the drive home was nothing but. Wow, what would have happened? Wow. You know, we would probably have had a kid. We probably would, you know, who knows where we would we would have wound up living. Who knows? You know, if… Who knows if, you know, we, yeah, if we had a family, if we- how that would have happened, you know, if we would have broken up because we couldn’t agree on how to parent the child or if, you know, like all of those weird things of like um yeah no, I, I, I go through it all the time.
Chris [00:36:10] Still?
Caller [00:36:10] And I have spoken to a shrink about this. On what was interesting is the shrink was able to actually- the shrink- my my therapist was able to actually pinpoint something a little bit deeper, too, which was I didn’t grow up in a very nurturing household. My mom was a pretty classic narcissist. And so when I did get this relationship with this person, I it was the first time that I really felt supported and secure and like I had a safe home and a nurturing environment. So when this all got uprooted from me, you know, overnight, essentially, I actually lost the only support system that I ever thought I had. Which kind of explains why I went into such a chaotic place like club life. You know, if I can’t have if I can’t have any if if any structure that I ever thought I had got taken away from me, I’m going to have no structure. I’m going to have no pattern of sleep. I’m going to have no, you know, absolute chaos was was my life. And I thrived in it.
Chris [00:37:39] I mean, that’s- to hear that, you know, there’s this scramble to get yours, you know, to get it together in the traditional way. Right? Of head- that’s the traditional path. Head towards a relationship. You know, live your life. Head towards a relationship. Marriage, kids. Homeowner, this, that and the other. And then to go, Oh, yeah, well, if I can’t have that, I guess the one thing I can control is sprinting headfirst into the chaos. If the chaos is going to find me, maybe in some way it feels like some slight demonstration of control to go, Well, if you’re going to push me right up to the deep end, I’ll dive in. And I’m controlling that choice to dive into the deep end and I’m in it.
Caller [00:38:28] Oh.
Chris [00:38:29] It’s wild.
Caller [00:38:30] And I’m and… Go ahead.
Chris [00:38:35] Just going to say it does… I feel like um, not that there’s any story like this per say… But when you hear things about random chance affecting people’s life, when you hear about these, you know, missed opportunities or tragedies that pull people in directions they never saw coming, very often you’ll hear somebody say like, Oh, and I have- but at the end of the day, I have no regrets because I am who I am now. And I’m sure there’s elements of that that are true. Maybe we just haven’t gotten there yet. But to hear you say that when you see this person every now and then, that it still fucks you up a little bit, it’s it’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking. Because it makes me worried of wondering how you’re feeling about who you are now. And if it’s who you’re supposed to be. Or if there’s a part of you that still feels like, No, I was supposed to be this other entity. I was supposed to be part of this other unit. That’s what I was supposed to be. I’m wondering where you’ve landed on that.
Caller [00:39:41] So, yeah, it took me getting sober to really start embracing and recognizing who I am, what I like, what I want to do. You know, I have I have stopped being a deejay. It turned out to be way too much of a trigger to get behind decks and be sober. Any time that I have relapsed, it was around around a deejaying event. So I have put up my headphones, as they say. I’ve put down my headphones for the last, I don’t know, three years, four years now. I haven’t deejay’ed an event. And I have um I have through a therapist, I’ve started to recognize what I want in my relationships with friends, what I want in my relationships with partners. And I’ve been able to really start locking in, locking in the people that support and embrace me in a sober lifestyle. And I have been able to put set boundaries with people who don’t. Healthy boundaries, I should say, with people who don’t. And and, you know, regardless of if they accept those boundaries or not, they don’t get past the boundary from me. And I have I have found other outlets of getting those endorphin rushes. One of the things that I have embraced is something that I did a lot when I was a kid. I was a pretty rebellious kid. And I used to get I used to get grounded all the time. But one of the few things my parents would let me do is take a bike ride when I was grounded. And I have picked back up a lot of cycling and for my 40th birthday, I rode my bike from Canada to Mexico all the way down the West Coast.
Chris [00:41:56] Didn’t see that coming either.
Caller [00:42:02] Yeah, I started biking a whole lot. And even though I had never done any kind of a long distance bike rides, I put that in front of me as a challenge and I knocked that out in about seven weeks. And um I am right now getting I’m taking some classes to change my profession. And when I finish those classes, my next bike ride is cross-country from Seattle to Maine.
Chris [00:42:36] Living on the extremes.
Caller [00:42:38] You know? It’s I got used to some really big endorphin rushes. I got to figure out a way to do it in a healthy way now.
Chris [00:42:49] Well, will say, and I say this with nothing but tenderness and an extreme amount of sympathy seeing that you’ve been through a lot. My question effectively was like, So how are you feeling about who you are today? Like, did you get to that point of like no regrets? And your answer was, Well, what I do is I ride bikes from across continents. That’s a very revealing answer, isn’t it? To a question that is a little- sounds-it’s a a little bit of a more complicated answer to, I guess, a question that’s not that simple. At the end of the day.
Caller [00:43:33] Well, it is, but it isn’t, because, you know what? If if you’re going to learn about yourself, if you’re going to embrace who you are, you have- I mean, spend seven weeks alone on a bicycle with nothing but your thoughts. You figure out who you are pretty damn fast. You to figure out what you really need and what you really want. I did that bike ride solo for a reason, and I learned a whole lot about myself through that bike ride. Enough that I want to do it again. Put it that way.
Chris [00:44:04] Wow. Do you ever consider the fact of… How do I want to put it? Like… the really tough thing is that when something gets cut off abruptly, through the cruelty of the world just being a bizarre place sometimes… The dialogue- and again it’s, you know, for you to say, Yeah, I went and became this different person and wound up chasing the endorphin rush of, you know, deejaying large events and also club drugs getting involved and it sent me down this rabbit hole where I eventually had to clean up, like, that’s that’s an amazing story. But when something gets cut off abruptly, we do tend to then assume the whole fairy tale. Like there is a world in which none of this ever happened and you guys dated for six more months and then one of you went, I’m not feeling it anymore. Do you ever think about that?
Caller [00:45:16] Yes, absolutely. I mean, yeah, that is that is part of that, you know, hour and a half drive home thought of like, well, maybe… Maybe, you know, yeah. In a year and a half time, I would have gotten pregnant, and he would have freaked out and backed off and said, Nope, I don’t want to have kids. And it would have been the ultimate demise. Maybe, um, you know, he, he would have pursued, you know, a lifestyle that I didn’t really want to do. He, you know, he used to dabble in in growing marijuana way back when it was really dangerous to do that. And, you know, perhaps I wouldn’t have wanted to live in a house where he was risking my my my safety and my freedom because he wanted to grow weed, you know? Like who knows what would have happened. The irony of that is, of course, you know, right after I moved out of that house, I went way harder into risking my freedom and safety. But yeah, no, there is, trust me, if there is any lesson that I can pass on to anyone out there in the Beautiful/Anonymous community it is that lives are a tenuous balance and can be changed in a moment. And you know, it’s certainly cliche, but, you know, tell the people you love that you love them. You know, as as another podcaster says, text your crush, cut your bangs. Go for it. Do, do what you think will bring you happiness. Because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Chris [00:47:19] Well said to whomever that other podcaster might be.
Caller [00:47:25] Can I give them a plug?
Chris [00:47:26] Yeah, sure. If there’s one thing that’s great about this show, it’s a lot of people’s second or third favorite show.
Caller [00:47:32] Yes. So it’s Ali Ward with Ologies. It’s a fantastic podcast. So for everybody listening, don’t stop listening to Beautiful/ Anonymous. But if you want to get nerdy, listen to Ologies.
Chris [00:47:44] That sounds good. Now, okay, here’s the real elephant in the room.
Caller [00:47:49] Give it to me.
Chris [00:47:51] This whole situation messed you up. We’ve talked about it. It affected everything. It defined the next two decades of your life, this experience. Right? And in some way or another, it was the snowball at the top of a lot of different hills. But you still see this guy. You still talk. You still end conversation saying, love ya. Is there any part of you that still contemplates, like, and I don’t know. I don’t know. I actually haven’t asked where you’re at now with relationships. If you are single, is is there any part of you that ever wonders like, I’m going to go see him, like, what if all of a sudden he does remember? What if one day those memories flood back and he goes, Holy shit! And he turns around and goes, I remember. Let’s pick it back up. Do you ever fantasize about that?
Caller [00:48:39] Oh, well, Chris, so I’ve let go of the fact of him ever remembering because he I don’t I just I think those are all, you know, forever deleted from the hard drive. But make no mistake, we did we did try. And we have had a couple of physical interactions a few times over the years. We’ve tried to have, you know, a bit more of a physical- well, we have had a physical relationship a couple of times, briefly, but it it always winds up with a lot of sadness because he’s still he’s ultimately not somebody that I want to be with romantically. His personality is very different. He is incredibly impulsive and incredibly uh he you know, in a in a weird way, he’s very shallow right now. He doesn’t… He… doesn’t habe the depth of emotion that he used to have. And all I walk away from in those interactions is wishing he was the person that he was and not the person that he is. So ultimately, I have stopped trying to have any of those physical relationships and start stopped trying to rebuild a romantic relationship with him. Because it I knew what it was and I kind of can’t let go of wanting that again with him.
Chris [00:50:28] Now, you were extraordinarily classy about what you just said. I’m going to try to match that. When you decide to try seeing if- I have to imagine… Part of it, at least subconsciously, is like, well, maybe if we have physical relations again, it might trigger some of the memories of what was good. And then you’re saying that that has happened a few times, but it doesn’t work that way. I have to imagine the first time you attempt that has to be one of the most intense experiences of this whole saga, right?
Caller [00:51:11] Oh. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Because, you know, make no mistake, the healthy relationship that we had in the past was full of really good sex. So you can imagine my excitement to try to get in bed with him again and um you know, while the, again, the physicality was similar and we were very compatible in our- trying to stay classy now- while we were very compatible in our physical movement with one another, there was a there was a shallowness, there was a lack of deep emotion in it that was really obvious to me. It was very it stood out to me as a big difference if, you know, as compared to what we had before. And uh yeah, it was it was pretty difficult to walk away afterwards and to realize that it’s, well, it wasn’t the first time that I- it wasn’t after the first time that I walked away, realizing that it was never going to be the same. I gave it a few more tries. But uh.
Chris [00:52:39] Wow.
Caller [00:52:42] But it became obvious that it would never be. It would never have the depth and have the emotion and have the meaning that it used to. So I ultimately stopped doing that with him. Although it is interesting because we are able to talk about our partners with each other. And you know, I have met a number of his partners and supported him through those and helped and been friends with his partners, you know, over the years. And, you know, there’s no jealousy, there’s no weirdness, there’s no nothing. I want only the best for him. I want only for him to be happy. And if he is happy with a different person, then I want to support that. And I want to show that other person that, you know, he’s got other good people in his life that they can, well, I mean, what they can come to for, you know, a little bit of background as to why he may be super weird or why he may have big gaps in his memory and why he may not be able to know the meaning of certain words still that are pretty basic.
Chris [00:54:04] It’s I have to say, like, hearing you describe those sexual experiences, I feel like there’s a lot of people who will get out of a relationship that’s really meaningful to them. It runs its course for whatever reason, and then they have the infamous rebound sex. And that can be exciting and it can be pleasurable, but oftentimes emotionally has this fall out of like uh this is empty calories compared to what I had, and I can’t pretend it doesn’t. And that’s like a sad, empty feeling. And that’s one of the things as you grow up, I think a lot of people start to realize, Oh, you have a relationship with sex and sexuality and you’re- the first time you have rebound sex that doesn’t strike the chord you’re looking for is one of those things where I think a lot of people on their course to adulthood go, Oh, you’ve got to be careful. Like, the choices you make sexually have a real effect emotionally. It almost sounds like you had rebound sex with the guy you were rebounding from in a weird way.
Caller [00:55:07] Oh, I totally did. That’s a really good way of putting it is like it was rebound sex with the same physical form, but it was still a different person, which made it all the more of a weird, confusing, you know, ultimately empty feeling afterwards. A lonely feeling afterwards. So yeah, I, you know, and, you know, there’s been two rounds of this. There was one round of rekindling a physical relationship, maybe eight years? Maybe eight years afterwards. And then there was another brief physical interaction about two years ago. But it’s still it still just left me with the same feeling. And, you know, it’s like uh it, it, it only took once that second time a few years ago for me to realize that it wasn’t something that I should I should pursue, regardless of the, the physical attraction that I still have to his physical form.
Chris [00:56:24] And how are you doing today? That’s a question I haven’t asked that I should have asked a long time ago. Because this is it’s clear. I mean, to hear that even two years ago you thought about dabbling. I’m worried. I’m worried about how you’re doing today.
Caller [00:56:41] Oh, you don’t have to be worried, Chris. So, you know, today I am good. I have. I do still have some challenges in in creating good, lasting relationships with other men. It has been an up and down road where I, you know, I have in the past looked for men that weren’t necessarily healthy for me or I have run away from the men that would have been healthy for me. But, you know, with every year of sobriety that I get, I am able to recognize my patterns and I am able to see the red flags before they are- before I’m in it too far. As- I like to say that for many years I was like a bull in in, you know, in the arena, just running at red flags whenever they’re waved. And and I’m starting to I’m starting to not do that. And, you know, more than anything, it is the friend network that I have built up through all of those years of being a deejay that really fill any void that I might feel from not having a partner. There is this incredible network of about 40 people that, you know, whenever one person is having an event, everyone shows up. Whenever there is this big annual party that we all throw, and it’s, you know, at a minimum, 40 people that I have known and loved for the past, close to 20 years, 18 to 20 years, that I trust implicitly, that I can be however crazy or however reserved that I want to be around these people and they will love me and they will accept me. And if I get out of line, they’ll tell me. And then they’ll still invite me to the next event. And, you know, through all of those, through all of those friendships, I have had the support and I have had the, you know, the resources to either, you know, help somebody out and make some make some cash, you know, in between jobs or, you know, use them as a network to find people that will go out and support me as I’m being sober at live shows. And all of these, you know, all of the different ways of integrating sober life back into my back into my world, I do have this group of people that, you know, love and support me through all of it. So it’s it’s probably why I am able to be sober and I haven’t relapsed in six years. And I did, ugh, here’s a good one to throw out in the last, like, what, seven, 8 minutes?
Chris [01:00:12] Four and a half.
Caller [01:00:14] Oh, I did a lot of ayahuasca retreats, which really helped me figure out um really helped me figure out a lot about myself and about my situation. So that was that was my form of therapy for a number of years.
Chris [01:00:32] Wow. So between the ayahuasca and this strong friend group, you feel like you’re doing pretty okay.
Caller [01:00:37] I am doing okay. And like I said, I’m currently putting myself back through school. I am getting a certificate so that I can change careers. I am, you know, I’m forging a path to owning my own business, which will give me a lot of freedom and a lot of flexibility so that I can work remote and I can bike all over the world and still be able to generate income and, and being my own person. Be the person that maybe I would have been if my partner didn’t go through such a traumatic change. And, you know, maybe this was the person I would have been 15 years ago. But now I’m finding it in my late forties.
Chris [01:01:31] I love that. And I love hearing, you know, hearing that you’ve had to do so much… self-analysis and self-actualization as an individual, it makes sense because part of being a couple is what led to so much trauma. I do wonder. It sounds like a part of the path you’ve walked is realizing… You need to make choices for yourself as an individual. You’re doing this individual athletic pursuit with cycling, looking inward with ayahuasca to yourself as an individual. That all sounds healthy and strong and part of why you’re able to say those things and I’m psyched to hear you say it. I am curious if you’ve pondered your life as part of a partnership moving forward or if that’s something that you’re just staying away from?
Caller [01:02:20] No, I do, I have tried to be a partner to someone just recently. And, you know, he looked to be a pretty- well he is a pretty stand up guy and he’s a really good father to his children. And he’s, you know, a very- he doesn’t party. He doesn’t like all of the boxes were checked except that he couldn’t show up for me and he couldn’t, when I, you know, when I would explain to him that something that he did hurt my feelings and he would say, oh, you’re right, I understand. I won’t do that anymore. And then, you know, three weeks to a month later, he’s doing the same thing. You know, I have I now have the ability to set that boundary and state it very clearly and tell them that if they continue to do this, that I have to walk away. And I have recently walked away from that person because they continued to hurt my feelings, which is something that I wouldn’t have done before. You know, so I think that while I am not currently in a partnership, I at least can see healthy partnerships from unhealthy ones now. And, you know, perhaps that will at least lead me to something that, that will that will be fruitful and will end up in a partnership for me. You know, a girl’s got to get some, too, though. Let’s not forget.
Chris [01:04:05] Yeah. I think that’s fair. I think that’s fair.
Caller [01:04:08] You’re speechless. Listen to you.
Chris [01:04:10] No, I love it. Well, because again, it’s so much of it is you saying, like, I need to be fully I need to find my full strength as an individual. And then also I need to, you know, catch a hook up here and there because everybody’s got needs. I think that’s a fair way to think of life if that’s where you’re at.
Caller [01:04:30] Yeah.
Chris [01:04:32] Our hour just came to completion. I want to thank you for talking. This is a hard story to hear and a heady story. And I’m glad that you’ve wound up okay. You’ve been through so much.
Caller [01:04:43] Yeah. And that’s what I ultimately want to get across to your community, is that, you know, shit does happen, but and it might take you a little while to rebound, but you can rebound and you can find happiness in, you know, in life and you can rebuild your life in, you know, in whatever way makes you happy. And if, if, if you, you know, there’s resources out there, there’s therapists out there, there’s different people that can help you get back on track. And even in the depths of your pain, you know, you can remember that things will get better and life will have bright moments again that you can look forward to. And you don’t have to take a bunch of club drugs to find that brightness.
Chris [01:05:40] I love that. I love that. Can I ask you one deejay question as we run over time?
Caller [01:05:47] Oh, please. Yes.
Chris [01:05:49] I mean, it sounds like you you mentioned house music. So this and I mean, we coulda got into that, too. It sounds like you were doing this at a high level when EDM was exploding and all that. Like you were there for a lot of stuff in that world. But I have a friend who’s done a lot of deejaying, leans a little more towards the pop music side. So you might just go, Oh, that’s not my world. I don’t know. But he has told me that no matter what type of music you are playing, that if the crowd isn’t feeling it or the crowd is dying out and you need to bring them back to life quick, there are certain songs by The Fugees that are just the break glass in case of emergency, like The Fugees will make a crowd go apeshit anytime, anywhere. This is his claim. Can you verify these claims?
Caller [01:06:32] I can verify that I have a house remix of a Fugees song that will get people moving. Yes, indeed. It might not be the pop versions. It might not be that, you know, more commercial, but The Fugees are definitely crowd pleasers.
Chris [01:06:58] This is so my buddy is not lying. New Jersey’s own, Essex County, New Jersey, that is a deejay break glass in case of emergency trick. Play some Fugees, get it back on track.
Caller [01:07:11] Your friend does not lie. I wish him all the success on the dance floor that he can get by throwing out some Ooh La La La.
Chris [01:07:23] That’s- right? As soon as you hear that opening guitar lick from that, (IMPERSONATES BASS GUITAR) get your ass movin on that goddamned dance floor at that point and let’s hear- unless you have no soul- how can you hear- anyway, okay. Okay. Our time is up. We could just spend another hour talking about The Fugees and other DJing other DJ moves in your bag of tricks, but there’s already so much to discuss. Thank you so much for opening up to me. Means a lot and I wish you the best.
Caller [01:07:53] Oh, Chris. Thank you for this opportunity. I got a lot of love for you and this community and all that you do and your stand up and all of your side work. And I hope, I know you’ve been looking for answers in your career path lately, and I hope that you find peace and happiness within those as well.
Chris [01:08:13] Thank you so much. That’s super kind of you. Yeah, I think I’ll get there. Wherever I land, I’ll be okay. And it means a lot coming from you. Thank you.
Caller [01:08:21] Absolutely. Much love to you, Chris. Thank you.
Chris [01:08:29] Caller, thank you so much for calling. Sincerely. Thank you for indulging me with my deejay- related questions at the end. I wish you nothing but the best. This show is produced by Anita Flores. It’s engineered by Jared O’Connell. Our theme song is by Shellshag. If you want to know more about me, including my live shows and the dates coming up, go to ChrisGeth.com. And wherever you’re listening, there’s a button that says subscribe, favorite, follow. You know the type of button that I’m speaking of. When you hit that button, it helps the show so much. So please think about doing so. Find our latest merch at PodSwag.com. You can get your episodes ad free at Stitcher Premium. Go to Stitcher.com/premium. Use the code “stories”, get a one month free trial.
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