Allison Doss has a multi-faceted midlife transition that took her through several harrowing phases. She moved to the “big city” after high school and was quickly recruited to become a stripper. She went from stripper to high-priced escort to homeless and drug addicted, prostituting to pay for her fix. At 40 she got into recovery but quickly replaced her pursuit of drugs with the pursuit of a man, who she ultimately married. That should be enough lessons for one person, but her husband came out to her as trans, which sent Allison into a relapse before she recommitted to recovery and to healing.

Guest Bio 

For Allison Doss, what started as the life of a party girl in her 20s, ended as a drug addicted alcoholic prostitute at the age of 40. God‘s gift of desperation came in the form of another drug addict, who jumped her and cut her face and instilled fear that she knew existed. She began the journey to recovery at 40. She met a man, fell in love and got married. And just when she thought that she had created a life that was predictable and stable, her husband confessed to her that he thought he may be transgender. Nothing rocked Allison to her core like the love of her life not meeting the expectations for the marriage she had planned for them. Her story is that of transformation of surrender and self discovery. She found freedom in letting go of control of others and allowing them to walk their own path without her interference.

Turning 40 and Going from the Streets to Safety to Shock and Awe

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie talks to Allison Doss, who moved from a farm in Louisiana to Washington DC when she was 17. She was recruited to be a stripper,  which she thought was quite glamorous and made her a lot of money. That career introduced her to a party lifestyle and she eventually evolved into a high-priced escort, flying around the world on private jets. But the party didn’t last forever. She didn’t realize that she had slipped into addiction and, by the time she was 35, she was homeless, into heavy drugs, and prostituting herself to pay for them. Nobody knew where she was and she didn’t want to be found. 

Allison is honest about the turning points in her life, including losing custody of her children, living on the streets, and a violent encounter that eventually led her to seek recovery at the age of 40. When she entered recovery she met her “new drug of choice” – a man she would pursue vigorously and who would ultimately become her husband. 

She reflects on the process of making amends, reconnecting with her children, and the challenges she faced when her husband came out as transgender. This revelation sent Allison into a relapse, which she would blame on her husband. Recovery and healing led her to a deeper understanding of herself and the concept of control. This is the story of how she found her way back and healed her relationships, most importantly the ones with herself and her children and the lessons learned about life, expectations, and the release of control.

“I thought there was something wrong with me,” Allison said. “So I went on this journey to dissect the fabric of my own cloth to discover what’s wrong with me.  And, of course, there was nothing wrong with me.”

Guest Resources

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Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from this insidious midlife malaise. www.fortydrinks.com/ick

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Transcript

Stephanie: Hi Allison. Thanks for being here today.

Allison: Hi Stephanie. Thank you for having me.

Stephanie: It's such a pleasure. I am very, very interested to get into your story. You and I have spoken once before and we kind of got into it, but you have a story that I have not run across yet in 90 something conversations. So, um, I know we all have our own paths, but, um, I'm really interested to hear more about yours.

So why don't we just jump right into it? Why don't you start by telling me a little bit about how we get to the beginning of our story. So I always call the beginning, like the beginning of that transition. So for you, I think it's like 35, 36. So set us up for the story. Who, how'd you get to who you were when you were 35?

Allison: At the age of 35, I. I had, at that point, been a raging alcoholic and drug addict, for 12, 15 years. Um, I had lost custody of my children. Um, The party was over, but I didn't know how to stop.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: I was homeless, in what we call the hood, and I was walking the street, this well known street where girls like me would jump in cars and, you know, see Johns for money and I just did the same thing day after day, night after night.

My children didn't know where I was, my family didn't know where I was. And I didn't want to be found. It's what I knew. It's what I was doing. I didn't know that I was in the grips of addiction. I didn't know.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: just thought that I was selfish and self centered and everyone was fine without me. So that's where I was at 35.

Stephanie: How'd you get there? Tell me a little bit about being a kid and growing up and, and, and how did you get from being, a little girl to that.

Allison: I was the youngest of three kids. I was coined at a very early age, about three or four, as the youngest and the meanest.

Stephanie: Oh,

Allison: I would, I would do outlandish things that my brother and sister didn't do. They were beautiful, active and passive children. And I was always looking to tear some shit up.

Stephanie: Like what? Give me an example.

Allison: For example, for example, we're sitting in the living room. Everyone is winding down. I'm four years old. My brother comes barreling into the door and he had just returned from the Rick Springfield concert and he was ecstatic. He was about nine years old. He has an autographed copy of a Rick Springfield poster.

He's joyfully showing it around to the entire family and I'm screaming, I want to see, I want to see. And my brother looks at my mom and was like, mama, don't let her touch it. She'll just ruin it. And my mom says, no, Alison, you're not going to ruin it. Are you? No, They give me the poster, I look at my brother, he looks at me, and I rip it right down the center. This is just one of the stories of me, of just how I barreled through and was really reckless. I, I was so young, I don't know why I did what I did. But my mom said that, she could never get me to settle down. I was always wanting to go, always on the move, always pacing back and forth. I had to be the star of every play the winner of every contest. The all star of every sport. I was always on the move. I don't even remember much about my brother and sister growing up in the house with them.

Stephanie: Oh, wow.

Allison: I don't have a whole lot of recollection of them being there. I know stories that I was told, but I don't recall. So, um, I believe that I've learned now that that was, anxiety and like all of the isms that come with being an alcoholic.

I didn't know that. And my mom was always just like, I didn't know what to do with you. I just, I always did the next wrong thing, did not care about the consequences. But drugs and alcohol didn't get involved in my life until I was 17 and I moved away from the farm in Louisiana and I moved to Washington DC, where I was very quickly recruited to be a stripper. I had never even knew that was a thing. And of course I thought it was incredibly glamorous. The money was. I mean, this is back in 1993, 94. I'm 17, straight off the farm. And it was glorious to me. I had no idea the effect it was having on me, my self esteem and, and being sexually used.

I wasn't aware of that, but alcohol and drugs were a part of all of that. And to me, it was just a big party. And, over the years, I met my very best friend, Kelly, who is just like me. I finally had a ride or die. She was down to do whatever and we were high paid escorts and we traveled around the world in private jets and we were always inebriated, always high, but we were around people that were doing that too.

We just lived a lifestyle where everyone was doing the same thing. Along the way, when I was about 24, I got pregnant by my drug dealer. He was also, he wasn't just the drug dealer. He was kind of like the guy who took out with us all the time, and he would like look out for us. He was a big bully from Long Island, New York.

And, we had sex. I got pregnant. So for a short period of time, I was, able to not be in that scene in the, you know, and so things calmed down for me until my son was probably about six or seven months. And then I got my body back and my hormones were now like going crazy again. Like I believe for me being pregnant settles me in the most beautiful way.

And it's the only time that I ever feel grounded and purposeful. Well, at the time, it was the only time I ever felt grounded and purposeful. But once, um, the baby was not breastfeeding, I was just off to the races again. And that child, he's now 22, he didn't live with me for most of his life, but, uh, he lives with me now.

So, yeah.

Stephanie: Oh, that's nice.

Allison: And a lot of during the time that my son was small and my friendship with my girlfriend. We still were friends, but she was off. She was doing the thing. And I was trying my best to maintain some semblance of control being a mom. So we weren't as close as we had been. We weren't living together.

Stephanie: Makes sense. Yeah.

Allison: And then about 3, 3 years later, after having my son, he was practically living with his grandparents in Long Island at that time. I met a guy and we were together for a few years. I ended up getting pregnant with his child. Didn't marry either one of these men. And I ripped through men like, like a hurricane rips through the coast, you know. Like I, I didn't care if you were there or not. You were a disposable to me. And I didn't know that my alcoholism was pushing that agenda because the, the moment someone had anything to say about my use, my drinking or my, my drugging, then you don't get to be a part of this now.

Stephanie: Yep.

Allison: Now you're on the out. So I, I ripped through relationships and, um, I even ripped through my children's relationships because of it. And around the age of 32, my very best friend, Kelly, who I've spoken of, um, a lot, she was really high and she was on the roof of her building in New York. And she stumbled and fell over the edge. Um, She was on the phone with our friend, Carrie, and the reason we know exactly what happened was because there were some construction workers across the street building an elementary school. And they were watching her all afternoon in her string bikini with her blonde hair and her boobs and pacing back and forth on the phone, and they saw her like, stumble and fall over the edge.

She fell two and a half stories and, hit the awning of the, the deli and then hit the, the concrete. They kept her alive for a couple of weeks, but she, um, was an organ donor. So they brought in the organ donees and that was the first time in my life that I had experienced any type of real feeling when that happened.

But instead of the sanity coming back to the mind, I was exposed to a different type of drug that was everything I'd always wanted. It wasn't just alcohol and ecstasy and doing some cocaine and smoking some pot. It was now like the deep, dark, dirty world of crack cocaine.

Stephanie: And tell me, tell me though, what, what was it about it that you said it was exactly what I want? What did it do?

Allison: What it did, it made my ears ring. I drooled, I was completely numb. There was no thought or feeling of anything at all, except "more."

Stephanie: And so that's what it was. It was the no thought, no feeling. It actually closed the door to all the stuff that, yeah.

Allison: And like the first time I did it, I was, I drooled. Like I was, it was just, my ears were ringing and nothing mattered at all. And so I spent years chasing that and that's what ended up homeless and prostituting. Because I had been able to, what I consider keeping all my balls in the air,

Stephanie: Right. You thought you were keeping it together.

Allison: I thought I was keeping it together, but, the crack cocaine world is not a social world.

Stephanie: Okay.

Allison: And so that's how I ended up at 35. That's how I ended up on the streets and prostituting.

Stephanie: Wow. Did you have any concept at the time of how did I get here? I never thought I'd be here. Okay. All right. There just wasn't even any room for

Allison: not, not. I was so arrogant.

Stephanie: Oh, really?

Allison: I was so air when, when I'm in my addiction, I feel like I look like a seven foot linebacker. My whole personality is what. What. That's who I become.

Stephanie: Wow.

Allison: And you can't tell me shit.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: And I don't want to hear shit. And I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do. You know and just get out of my way.

Stephanie: So there was no thought obviously before the, the, before you were introduced to crack, there was no thought of like, This isn't quite what I meant to do or like, how did I get here? You were just like, you were, you, you sort of had like your back up of like, yeah, this is who I am and what I am. And I'm here. Rather than realizing it was a path that maybe you hadn't actually chosen or didn't intend on.

Allison: From the age of 17 I was in an altered state. I was so delusional that I thought I was not not necessarily in the right, but not in the wrong. My kids I thought we're fine. They're being taken care of. They're with family that love them. My mom and my immediate family were so far removed from what was actually happening in my life. They couldn't fathom. They didn't have the vocabulary to even verbalize or think or know the world that I was living in. So I was good. I'm fine. Mm

Stephanie: Wow. Okay. All right. so that brings us to 35 and you spent a couple of years kind of in that situation, in that haze, and then there was a turning point when you turned 40.

Allison: I had burned every bridge out on the street. Every drug dealer bridge. People would let me stay on their couch and I had just burned every bridge. No, I was loud and I was arrogant and I was abrasive and I didn't care if I got you kicked out of your apartment. So nobody wanted me around. And I had no safe place to go, although I hadn't been safe in years. In my mind, I had no safe place to go.

Stephanie: Right. Right.

Allison: And I hadn't, I didn't experience fear. So I didn't think anything could happen to me. And I was offered a safe place to stay at this guy Hollywood's house in the hood. And he was just a guy, definitely not Hollywood.

Stephanie: Right, right, right.

Allison: More like, uh, where the, where the, where the homeless people live in, uh, Hollywood in

Stephanie: Skid Row.

Allison: more like,

But this guy, he would let girls like me stay at his house. So, I was told I could stay there and I was going to be safe and I was so happy to be able to sleep because at the time I would just find an abandoned house. And just crawl in the back or get in the window and pass out.

Stephanie: And now remind me, before we go any further, you're in Florida at this point, right? Okay, cause I'm sitting in, New Hampshire right now and, and it's winter. Up here, being homeless is a very different thing. So in Florida, at least it's temperate. So if you find someplace outside, you're not in sub zero.

Okay. Okay. So just for some context there, there was one other thing that I wanted to ask you, cause you were, when you said something about, you found a safe place to stay with Hollywood. I know you had been in this life for 20 years at this point, but it sounds like nothing really terrible or horrible had happened to you to that point. Is that correct?

Allison: Not that I could recall.

Stephanie: Right. Okay. Right. Right. Right. Right.

Allison: You know, um, there's been many of, I mean, thousands of blackouts where I wake up and I don't know who's been there. You know,

Stephanie: yeah, yeah.

Allison: But at this point I was still arrogant and brazen. Like, go fuck yourself, everybody.

Stephanie: hmm. Mm hmm.

Allison: And so I'm, I'm at Hollywood's house. I've been there for a couple of days. I'm like, okay, this is, this is good. Like, no one's asking me to sleep with them to stay here. No one, like, okay, I am safe. And the second day, I was in the bedroom with my crack pipe and my lighter and I hear some girl screaming at the front door, coming in the front door. I want that bitch out my house. I'm gonna kill that fucking hoe. And I'm like, I'm the only bitch or hoe in here. She's talking about me. And so I come out of the bedroom and I have a lighter in my hand, and this little thing is charging at me. And I know her from the street. She's this little tiny thing named Tink and she's a heroin junkie. And she probably weighs 80 pounds. I mean, I was probably a buck 20 at the time, but tiny.

We had like turned tricks together. And I say that like I'm talking about an actor in a movie that's not me. I'm so far removed from all of that. And she's charging at me and she wants me out of that house. And I looked to the side, I looked out of the corner of my eye and I saw a can of Raid sitting on top of this old TV.

And I picked up the Raid and my solution was to use the lighter in the Raid can. In my mind, I thought that it would like, it would be a flamethrower in this split second moment. And I thought, if she's coming, I'm burning her. She got closer and closer, and I couldn't do it because I still had light and hope in my heart and my soul.

I could not do what it took to maintain my position in that house, but she, she could. She jumped me, and she, she beat me down pretty good, and she cut my face. I have a scar that lives right here on my face. She cut me pretty good with a, a piece of glass and I didn't, I didn't know that she had cut me until I, I pulled myself off, off the floor. And there were two guys in the room recording this, I might add. And I, and I get up and I look up and, And one of them, his eyes just got really big, and he's like, Yo, she cut your face.

And I was just like, Is it bad? And I, I just saw blood all over my hand. And I ran down the hall to the bathroom and closed the door and pushed my butt up against it, because it wouldn't lock. And I looked in the mirror. And the mirror, mind you, wasn't a pretty Windex clean mirror. It was a dirty old mirror and the bathroom was really fricking shitty. And, um, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and in that moment was when I said, how did I get here?

Stephanie: Yeah. Mm

Allison: Like I've had so many lives and promise and opportunities and family that loves me and everything. And everything just kind of like, I heard them say, she gone, she gone. You can come out. She good. She got you. She good. And so I looked at the, I saw this old crusty sock in the corner of the bathroom and I picked it up and put it on my face.

And I was, at that point, it was about seven blocks from the hospital, St. Mary's Hospital. And this was July 4th, I was 40 at the time. I'm 48 now, so eight years ago. And I walked to St. Mary's Hospital and they, tried to glue my face shut. That didn't work. They stitched it shut. But all I wanted to do was get out of there and get back out on the street so I could get high.

I wasn't high. I, I, I, all my adrenaline had like kicked all, kicked it all out and I just, I just had to get high. I was a prostitute that was making money by doing things for for money and my mouth was stitched shut and I'm like, how the heck am I gonna do what I need to do? But I tried. I tried for like 48 hours. And but it was the first time in my life that I didn't walk down the street at 5 00 a.m. in the morning, like what. I was terrified. I was vulnerable. No one had ever, had ever gotten me. And my mom and my mom and daddy used to always tell me because I thought I was something tough.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: My mom and daddy used to always tell me, little girl, you're gonna meet someone much bigger and much badder than you are one day. I had no idea that that would come in the form of the tiniest heroin junkie you've ever seen.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: She got me because she was so desperate and I realized in that moment that I wasn't as desperate as she is. I always had this weird, like, tingling, like, moment in my brain that would be like, this isn't my end game. Like, I kind of always knew I could always make a call. I always knew that I could get out of this somehow, some way. But I guess she never felt that.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: You know, I just didn't realize until 40 how long it had taken like, to me my face getting cut was God's gift of desperation. It had to be my vanity. It like, you know, because things had happened along the way. So many. Losing my children, like there's so many things that are like rock bottoms for people, but it's such an individual thing for people, a rock bottom. And I remember being dirty and skinny and hadn't showered for weeks and walking the street and catching a glimpse of myself in like a, a window, a shop window and thinking, well, it's not that bad because I was still vain.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: And then when my face got cut, it's like God going, okay, little girl, how about this? Knock, knock, knock.

Stephanie: Right. Right. Right. We've tried to get your attention several times before. Excuse me, Miss. Excuse me, Miss Allison. If you would please pay attention this time.

Allison: rock bottom

Stephanie: Holy cow. Yeah. Yeah. I'm just thinking of a, conversation, with, uh, Vince Kramer, um, a few episodes ago that he talks about wake up calls.

And he, he had, he had several wake up calls during his adult life. And he said, you get a wake up call and you think, oh, I'm going to do things different. And you, you, you said that after you had your first child, right? For the first six or seven months, you were trying to do things different. He said, but if you don't, if you don't really take advantage of those wake up calls, the window shuts.

And you kind of go back to it. And I know I've had those kinds of experiences in my life as well. But it sounds like, you know, there's, there's always one that finally gets your attention.

Allison: And you would think that that would have been the rock bottom of all rock bottoms.

Stephanie: You would, you would. But this story has got more twists and turns. I don't know. I'm seeing some sort of mountain road with switchbacks in my mind. You did make a change here at this, at this junction of the story. So tell me, tell me a little bit about that. Tell me about the change you made and what you, what you tried to do.

Allison: So I had a really beautiful chance encounter with someone during that, those few days that I hadn't seen in years, but knew me years prior when I was, you know, driving a Lexus, you know what I mean? When I I still holding it together.

Yeah. Yeah.

um, And he had moved to South Florida, from New York. He had just gotten out of Rikers, had spent several years there as a, he's like a leader of a gang, home invasions, and God knows what type of messenger I need.

Stephanie: The tough broad needs a tough dude.

Allison: It was all so sexy.

Stephanie: Okay. Mm hmm.

Allison: You know. And he told me that he was working at a treatment center and that I needed help and he was going to bring me there. And I was like, I don't really think I need help. But because it was him telling me it could have. No one could have said anything to me at that time, but because it was him, this convicted felon, home invasion, gang leader from New York. Like he put me in his car and took me to treatment. He came down here to get his life together. And, uh, so he took me to treatment. Yeah. So I started my journey, in recovery. Um, I started going to AA and working with a sponsor for a few months,

Stephanie: Mm hmm. Ha

Allison: And then I was introduced to my next drug of choice. And his name was <Redacted for Privacy>.

Stephanie: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Allison: And every feeling that I had anticipating getting drugs, preparing to do drugs, and using drugs. That he gave me.

Stephanie: Because if I recall correctly, he was a sexy Italian stallion.

Allison: Oh, I remember being in high school, my high school sweetheart, being, my body being lit up by him. And I had not experienced that in all those decades until I met himand I demanded attention.

Stephanie: Okay. All right.

Allison: I demanded attention. He was 10 years younger than me, no kids. He's in recovery also. And he wasn't really giving me the time of day. And I couldn't take it. So my competition was like, Oh, gotta get this guy. I gotta get this guy. So I did all the things that I knew how to do that would make a man like me, which is all sexual stuff. Cause that's, I didn't know at the time, that was my only value.

Stephanie: Right,

Allison: Cause that's what I had done, and it had worked for me in all the ways that I needed it to in the past. And so, I ended up getting my guy.

Stephanie: Do I recall though, um, I remember there was a great, NPR, or actually NHPR, uh, podcast, last year or something about, treatment centers here in New Hampshire and, and about, the 12 steps. This podcast was called The 13th Step. But do I remember, so I have a little bit of, uh, exposure to the, the AA, process. Do I recall correctly though, that they frown on relationships while you're early in recovery. Is that right?

Allison: Well, it's a suggestion, but it's not in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Stephanie: Okay. Okay. All right. But it is, it is, it is a suggestion.

Allison: It is a suggestion, but it is not in the Alcoholic Anonymous big book, so it's just some type of something that has evolved over time, which is not necessarily a principle of AA.

Stephanie: Okay. All right. All

Allison: But who gave a fuck anyway, because I was going to do it anyway.

Stephanie: The girl cannot be stopped when she wants something.

Allison: I cannot be told no. Cannot be told no.

But, that, that person that I met, we ended up getting married and I thought that I had figured out the key to life. I thought if you don't drink and you don't do drugs and you are a mom to your kids because I began showing up for my boys, I established beautiful relationships with them. This is all happening very quickly in like that first two years.

Stephanie: hmm.

Allison: And, but I, I did spend more attention on my relationship with my partner than I did my children, because that was my main focus. And throughout that relationship, there were behaviors that my partner was doing that my body was uncomfortable with, but I wasn't familiar with my body messaging me, because I've been so altered, so drunk and so high my whole life.

Stephanie: So, what, when you say that it made you uncomfortable in your body, what did that feel like in your body that you weren't able to attach back to your brain?

Allison: Anxiety, in my chest and my stomach. I could feel uneasiness, like on the verge of being nauseous. Uneasiness, distracted, not comfortable. And there were, there were things like, he had a huge appetite for sex, but sex with things that were outside of the box that even me, stripper, escort, prostitute, even I was uncomfortable doing. But I was probably uncomfortable because I wasn't high anymore, I wasn't drinking. So, in actuality, it was like, the real me.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: um, The real me showing up in a real relationship and I had no relationship standard. I didn't even know how to do that. And so I just continued to press forward with the, um, outside of the box sexual requests and. And, and they even started wanting to do things like wear women's underwear and wear women's clothes. And when I leave to go to work on Saturdays, they dress up in my clothes. And all these things were happening. But I kept justifying it because I was so magnetically attracted to this human being and I'm married.

I've never been married, men have always been disposable to me. Like this was like on a different level for me and I would stop at nothing to make it work. And when it was just me and my husband laying in the bed and there's no women's underwear, there's no women's clothes and there's no sexual requests. And like I was in love, I was in love with that feeling. It was, there was such a high for me and I thought that I deserved it. Because I've been through so much. I thought God had like given me this gift of this handsome man that adored me.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: Until the behaviors for, for years, I continue to tolerate, and make sense of, and, and, oh, well, maybe this is all just triggering me because of my past making it my fault.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: I thought I could control it and I would make demands. You can do this certain days. You can do this once a month. We'll do this once a year. Controlling it. But the whole time my body is like, you stupid bitch, what are yo u doing? We don't like any of this. There was a lot of fight or flight that was happening. Those moments of <inhales>. And that reminded me of being a kid because my dad was very aggressive and abrasive. And so that was the environment that, that I lived in. There was a lot of like, and I just remember those feelings a lot, which I recognize them now because I don't have them anymore. They don't exist in my world unless I'm about to rear end someone and I have to push the brake. You know, that, that feeling, that pump of energy and adrenaline I had lived with my whole life. Yeah. So the chaos was comfortable, familiar, not

Stephanie: Familiar. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Allison: I'm so, I'm so far removed from that now, but I recognize it when my body does that jolt of fight or flight. And I'm so grateful for that. Let me just add that. So grateful.

Stephanie: Right. To be able to identify that as a particular feeling now, whereas previous it had just been part of the noise.

Allison: Part of the part of the norm. Yeah. The noise and the norm.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: Um, so I finally began to put my foot down with the behaviors cause I didn't find it sexy. I didn't want to have sex with this person because of the things that they were doing. And, um, the person that I married told me that they think they might be trans. And I, coming from the mouth of the person I was looking at, I didn't care. It didn't make sense to me.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: Okay, you can say whatever you are, but how does that affect me? I don't even know because I'm looking at you and you look the same and nothing's changed.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: So, okay, whatever.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: Whatever.

Intermission

Allison: And, um, and they told me that they want to start taking hormones.

And even that I was able to justify because, the person I married was a bodybuilder. So our house was full of stuff, needles and supplements and hormones. And, you know, I'm like, okay, whatever.

Stephanie: Right. How is this different? Yeah.

Allison: How's it any different than what we've been doing?

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.

Allison: and I'm like, well, what's it going to do? and they were just like, it's going to soften my facial features.

Mind you, this person kind of looks like Buzz Lightyear. Like, like square jawed, very masculine, and I said, okay, whatever. Because how, bad, how bad could that be?

Stephanie: Right. Right.

Allison: And, and then, they were just stuttering and stuttering. I'm like, what the fuck? Talk to me. What's going on? Because I could tell this was big.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: I could, the feeling was big because the normal, masculine, confident person I'm usually sitting on the bed with was in this position. And like not looking me in the eyes and like a whole like cowering, you know. And I'm like, well, what's that going to do? What's it going to do? Talk to me. And, and, um, and they were just like, and give me breasts. And it was like, that was the first information I had been told that my response could no longer be, okay, whatever.

Stephanie: Right. You couldn't justify that

Allison: No, it just stopped me in my tracks and I felt my body crack. I felt my body crack and just Just start trembling. You know, and,

Stephanie: Well, everything else had been behind closed doors. Everything else had been private. Everything else had been only you really knew, or I mean, maybe other people knew, but it was okay. Right. So only you knew. So there was always a way to justify around that, but talking about softening facial features, like, okay, you're right.

What does that mean? Like, so you're going to have like some, you know, puffy cheeks or right. But yeah, once you say I'm gonna get breasts, that's, that's not something that we can hide anymore.

Allison: It was, it was the, the nail in the coffin of my sexual chemistry.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: And that was so important to me.

Stephanie: Yep.

Allison: I loved that I was so magnetically attracted to this person. It was everything to me. I didn't think I was going to have that later in life. I didn't think that was possible anymore. You know, I thought that ship had sailed.

Stephanie: Sure.

Allison: So I immediately just went into terrorizing mode. Terrorizing, shaming, manipulation. Threatening to leave. Withholding sex. Leaving.-+ Doing all, everything that I've always used in my controlling others toolbox that's always worked.

Never, it never occurred to me that one of these things is not going to put them back in the box where I needed them to be.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: I left and I, I just knew that I would get a call and be like, I'm sorry, this is stupid. I don't know what I was thinking. The weeks turned into months. And months turned into more months, and I'm screaming on the FaceTime camera, screaming, calling names, saying horrible, ridiculous things.

I thought to myself, well, it's been like four years since I've had a drink. I could probably drink like a normie. So I tested that and within 10 days I was back in the hood smoking crack.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: I blamed that on the person I married, screamed it, shamed it. and they wouldn't take responsibility for my relapse.

And that was devastating because we were so, what I thought, happily codependent on one another. I'm not okay if you're not okay. You know, we had been like just joined at the hip. And then one day and I'm screaming in the FaceTime camera, calling this person by name and she says to me, you've got to stop calling me that. That person's dead. I had no control. I was completely out of control like I had never experienced before. I'd never met a situation where I couldn't seemingly manipulate it to go the way that I needed it to go for me.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: And I felt so unimportant. I felt sacrificed, easily sacrificed. I thought, how can there be something more important to this person than me? I don't care if it, if it's your authentic self, put it back in the closet and let's keep it moving.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: And I had never thought that I didn't have a... Girl, I have Boss Doss tattooed on my knuckles. Houston, we've got a problem.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: It was so hard to take that I couldn't get this person to do what I needed them to do.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: I realized I was losing control of even my sobriety and then in work and everything just started falling apart. One day I had some type of sane moment and I thought to myself, why am I destroying my life when this person just wants to be who they want to be?

Like it doesn't, it's not making any sense, you know. Just some sanity came to mind. And so I jumped back into recovery. You know, got a sponsor and surrounded myself by other sober women and set out on a journey to what I wanted was to heal whatever it was that was keeping me separate from her. That's what I wanted. I wanted to not have any feelings towards the transition. I wanted to be able to be with her.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: And I thought there was something wrong with me. So I went on this journey to dissect the fabric of my own cloth to discover what's wrong with me. And, um, of course There was nothing wrong with me.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: Except I was a controlling, manipulative asshole.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: About a year into the healing journey, I'm talking about inner child workshops and hypnotherapy and prayer on my knees, which I still do and will not stop. I, therapy, psychotherapy, healing weekends. Like everything I could possibly do. I needed to get rid of whatever it was that I was feeling. The disdain, the discomfort, the anger, the judgment, like all of these things towards the transition and towards the person that I'm married. I didn't want to feel that way anymore.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: Do I still have days? Yeah, because I'm not perfect. I really thought I could shed my human skin and just be a soul, an unconditionally loving soul. I really thought that was possible.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: Um,

Stephanie: For saints, I think, maybe, but, know, most of aren't that.

Allison: It's not possible. And I had to forgive myself for not being able to be with the new person. And I didn't want to be another consequence for her because the consequences have been so massive for someone transitioning, you know. And I tried for the longest time to try to be friends, but I just feel like I'm in conflict with myself.

Stephanie: Okay.

Allison: I feel like I'm in conflict. I feel it in my chest. I feel it in my throat. I feel like there's things I'm not saying. And then I'm like, well Is that just me being the old mean, Allison that I was coined as when I was younger, the littlest and the meanest? Am I... Is that mean person coming out? How do I make sense of all of this?

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: Today, it's been a couple of weeks since we've talked, which is the longest it's been. And I think we have a, um, our divorce Zoom hearing is coming up next week.

Stephanie: Wow.

Allison: And I, I haven't dated. She hasn't. It's been three years now.

Stephanie: Okay.

Allison: I haven't dated. She hasn't dated. We both long for what we had, but it's not possible. Um, it's not possible, and I deserve to get everything that I want in this life, as does she. Um, and so it's, some days I feel very loving and accepting and comfortable, and some days I'm just like, what the fuck, bro? You know, I can't even like, I'm like, is this like, Is this some type of universal, like, like, Jedi mind trick? Like, I don't, I don't, sometimes I just feel completely conflicted, you know? But it doesn't last long, you know? It's just human shit, I guess.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah.

Allison: But, um, the resentment, this is the most beautiful thing, is that, like, the resentment that I've had against her, and the transition, is simply like my unmet expectation of like, what I thought that person should be and how they should show up in this world for me.

Stephanie: Right.

Allison: You know, and like, it's hard to take because I still want that person to show up for me, like, I think they should, but I recognize that it's just my expectation.

Stephanie: Right. Yeah.

Allison: And when I was granted that gift, I can carry that into every relationship that I have.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: My children, freedom. Freedom from trying to control their path.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: Um, freedom from thinking that people need to meet my needs and my expectations the way that I think they should. And like just trusting that I'm not in control, and trusting that I'm not the boss, and trusting that God has favor and will and I can just pray every day to be a part of that and understand it and see it, you know. But it's just, it was never about me.

Stephanie: That's one I'm still working on too. Do you have any idea? I, I know you've done a lot of work, right? You were talking about, you know, workshops and weekends and therapy and, you know, all of it. Um, do you have any idea where your expectations came from? Where your very high expectations of other people around you came from?

Allison: No,

Stephanie: Okay.

Allison: I think we, I think that, um, I think, I think we do it out of fear because we, we think we're controlling the outcome, you know. And we have no control over anyone or anything. Nothing. And, and, and when it, when it boils down to it, who the fuck do I think I am anyway, thinking I know what's best for anybody?

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: Well, you know,

Stephanie: My, my version of that was a little bit different. I had a big problem with that. And I think in my thirties, it was, it was obvious. And there were people who would, um, say something to me about it. Like, I'm, I'm always, I'm always so afraid of disappointing you and of, of not meeting your expectations. It was mostly in friendships, a couple of relationships as well. But, I think my version of it was, um, I'm gonna turn myself inside out for you. I would go to the ends of the earth for you. So, then, I expect you to return the favor, right? And when people didn't, or couldn't, or wouldn't, it, it caused, it caused a lot of conflict.

Um,

Allison: Absolutely. That's, that's manipulation at its finest. You know, like I've, look what I've done. Look what I did. You know, I loved you till you loved yourself. I pulled that one out. You know, I loved you till you loved yourself. How dare you do this to me? When really like, Oh my God, it worked. Congratulations. Yeah. But yeah,

Stephanie: it is, there's, there's the Saint right there. Right. You, yeah.

Allison: God, but yeah, that's just, that's, that's very manipulative to like, you know, do for people with the expectation that they're going to do the same for you or more. You know, we have to give freely,

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I had a hard time with that for a while. I, I, I think I'm better now. I do think I'm better now, but,

Allison: But you probably, you're probably similar to me where people, walk on eggshells around you.

Stephanie: Not as much anymore, but definitely in my thirties. Definitely in my thirties. Um, and, and I didn't even know it. But there was, there's a couple of friends I'm thinking of, a couple of boyfriends I'm thinking of that, that, yeah, there was, there was definitely some of that where, you know, I was so generous and loving and giving. And, and then when people would fall short of that towards me, I would, I would get very angry.

Allison: Oh yeah, like, like a forked tongue.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: My mom had told me, my mom told me as a, as a child, as a teenager, later in life, she told me that the whole family walked on eggshells around me. Boyfriends have told me that. And even now in my healed wisdom, like mature person, people where I work tell me that I come off like, I don't care about the people around me. But for me, it's just, I'm at work. I'm busy. I'm focused, you know? So they, as they walk on eggshells or someone drank one of my drinks in the refrigerator. When she found out it was mine, she ran to the store. She's like, I don't want to make Allison mad. I'm like, Oh, wait. Like, why am I, why am I still being perceived that way? What is that? So I relate to you.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. For me, there has been a lot of softening and and, and, and sort of like, not taking down of walls, softening is really the right word, right? Cause I, I had a lot of that, that same, not the same energy as you, but that, but the like big, bold, brassy, you know, in control life of the party, Julie McCoy, cruise director, like all of it, right? I was the, I hosted all the parties. I threw all the parties. We, I led all the parties. I was, you know, the pied piper going down the street from my condo to the bars. And,

Allison: Yes. Girl.

Stephanie: And then out on the, you know, to, you know, different, you know, vacations on the weekends and stuff. Right. So, uh, you know, I did all of that. But I, I definitely think there was like, I had a, a, a, a definitely a hard candy shell on. Right. And, and so melting some of that candy shell has, I think has reduced the need for that. And also I'm in a different place personally after my midlife transition. And, you know, I met my husband and. He's been amazing for me. So that's helped with a lot of the softening as well. So I don't experience it as much anymore, but then again, my life is, you know, 180 degrees from what it was in that period. So, yeah, yeah.

I have another question for you. So you were. in this lifestyle for, you know, 20 something years. And then, your experience with your husband was, you know, into your forties.

Allison: Mm-Hmm.

Stephanie: So you said you've been in recovery for eight years, and I'm very curious, how much healing you think you can do, or you think you have done versus all the years of living a different way? Like, is there a, is there a balance? Is there a weight? Like, do you feel like you've cleared some of the. I know you, you said a lot of your therapy work and a lot of your work, your personal work has been about forgiving the transition and forgiving the person, but what about the, have you been working on what led you to the life you lived in that first part of your adulthood? Have, do you, have you uncovered any of those pieces?

Allison: Well, yeah, that is all the miracle of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is where I uncover all of the selfishness, the self seeking, the judgment, the resentment, and I make amends to everyone I've wronged. And it clears the wreckage of my past. And I seek a connection with source, my higher power, God. And because I've cleared all that out, I can actually feel it and connect. And that's a daily routine, daily routine. Where was I selfish? Where was I judgmental? Where was I resentful? I was someone in the midst. That work doesn't stop and that is the shit. That isn't just something to keep you from drinking.

Stephanie: right.

Allison: That's not something to keep you from doing drugs. This is something that I know if I like packaged it up for like women in a way that, that the way that I took it, I can give it and, and take out alcohol and drugs. It's, it's everything. It's how it is, how we let go of controlling others. How we release our expectations of others. How we surrender to the will of God and not my own.

That, you don't, I don't need any other therapy than that. Although I've done all the other things. The inner child, and inner child work is really I say fun because I love to get to know me. If you're scared to get to know you, inner child work can be scary. There's nothing I love more than healing me. It's a, I love that shit. And what I had discovered that all of that energy that I had as a kid,

Stephanie: mm hmm,

Allison: that was crazy and reckless and mean and, wasn't that. It was labeled as that. And that was the narrative that I was given in life. So what did I do? I rose to the occasion. This is who I am, so let's do this.

Stephanie: right,

Allison: That's not what that was. I was just a child who wanted to feel things, touch things, get a reaction from people. Like, there's so many other things to it. And I try to bring little Allison, little 8 year old Allison, along with me every day. And from the wise Allison standpoint, I take care of her. And I let her know that she's not bad. But that shit, it doesn't not creep up. Any time, like, my ex texts me, and I have a feeling in my gut, like, I don't want to talk. That little bad, that bad mean thing pops in. Cause that was the narrative that I lived with for so long. But that was given to me. It wasn't mine.

Stephanie: No, it wasn't. And it also, you know, not to excuse anything from your family of origin, but, you know, it was, what was it, the late 70s, the early 80s? Like, we didn't know from, you know, my mother always says to me, you know, cause I, I found out that I was, uh, you know, I had issues with gluten, allergies as a, as an adult. And my mother was like, what did we know from gluten free in the seventies? Right. And so, but it's the same with mental health and it's the same with some of these, really nuanced things with children where today somebody would be like, Hmm, we should get her into, you know, some play therapy or some, something and figure out what these issues are coming from. And, but that wasn't what the late seventies and early eighties were about. We, you, they were very broad brushes that, that we were painted with.

Allison: I mean, some children, um, like in the 80s and 90s, I think they changed it, but like, we were not to be seen or heard. Most people say to the kid, you are to be seen, not heard. They didn't want to see us and didn't want to hear us. Go outside and play.

Stephanie: Yeah. Gen X. Yeah. Quintessential Gen X.

Allison: Yes.

Stephanie: Come back when the streetlights turn on.

Allison: Yes. Um,

Stephanie: yeah. Yeah. So you said that you are not dating, uh, now and that you are in touch with your children. Tell me about your relationship with your children and how you repaired those.

Allison: I, being a mom didn't come naturally to me.

Stephanie: Mm

Allison: And I had to show up like I knew a mom would show up, and for a couple of years in my early recovery, I had supervised visitation with my youngest son, who is now 16 and a half. And I showed up for that and I kept showing up. And then after a couple of years, I was able to have him for the weekend. And, and then he was able to come here to me in Florida. And before I knew it, my oldest son had moved in. My youngest son was requesting to move in with me. And I had always told my, the first moment I entered into recovery, when I was 40, I had told myself that I would think about forgiving myself for being the mom that I had been to them. I would think about forgiving myself the moment that I had both of them on the beach with me in South Florida. And that moment happened like a couple of years ago. You know, they were both like playing in the water and I'm like, Oh my God, I forgive myself.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: And just thefact that they want to live with me is, and I've made so many amends to them that, cause you're supposed to do that stuff daily if you feel like you need to, you know? And they're like, stop already mom, we're over this amends thing.

Stephanie: Yep. Yep.

Allison: But I just, I try to come at them, come, I try to be with them, not from like a, an aggressive, dominating parent standpoint, which both of their fathers are, as well as my father was, trying to talk to them from my experiences. You know, and just let them be and also knowing that I cannot articulate the path that they're going to go on. And I refuse to insert myself in the lessons that they need to learn for themselves because we only learn our lessons by learning our lessons. And I had to go through everything that I went through to be where I am now. You know, with the wisdom and that I have. And I know that my boys will go through their own things and they will learn. And if they don't, the consequences will get bigger. And one day they will.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: And I just hope they make it through.

Stephanie: That's, yeah, that's a really interesting thing that you just said. I'm curious if you, if one of your boys ended up wandering towards or down the path that you took, do you think you would, you would try to encourage them otherwise? Or,

Allison: Well, yeah. I mean, if I saw that, if there, if I saw either one of their lives becoming unmanageable because of drugs and alcohol, I would definitely call up my 102 resources that I have here in South Florida to get them into treatment.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Allison: 100%. Um, my oldest son has, he's a convicted felon. He, right now, is facing another charge that could put him in prison. Um, He punches people. And, He grew up with the dad who was my drug dealer and the grandparents who were enablers and no one ever made him do anything and I was nowhere to be found. So I'm just thankful to them for keeping him safe. But, um, he's led a life that I had absolutely, no rule over whatsoever.

Stephanie: Yep.

Allison: And so now I just, I show up for him in the way that I can without enabling his bullshit. Wait, I'm lying. I did retain an attorney for him. I did retain an attorney, and if I was in Al Anon they would say don't do that. But, come on.

Stephanie: Right. Right.

Allison: You just want to keep your baby out of prison. You know.

Stephanie: Right. Yeah.

Allison: So, so I do as much as, as hard as I work my program. I am not perfect. And yeah.

Stephanie: Yeah. Well, none of us are. No matter what our backgrounds are, no matter what our twenties, thirties, and forties look like, you know. None of us are perfect.

Allison: But I'll tell you what, like, I, I have never felt so free. So good. I've never had such little anxiety. I, I feel at 48 years old, like my life is just beginning.

Stephanie: Yep.

Allison: And it just, it looks beautiful from, from where I sit. I'm excited.

Stephanie: That's wonderful. And I think just such a beautiful place to bring our story to a close. So Alison, thank you so much for joining me. I'm just, this has been amazing. I I'm sincerely grateful for how generous you've been with your story. And, um, I just wish you all the best.

Allison: Thank you. Um, just one last thing. I did write a book. I had wrote a book and, it'll be published in about three weeks.

Stephanie: Okay.

Allison: Working on the book cover and it is about the transformation the last three years and, uh, what I've learned and gained from my husband coming out as transgender. And, uh, it's called The Unbossing because for a lifetime

Stephanie: Yeah.

Allison: I was the boss. And, uh, just about surrendering, you know, that I don't know what's best, but I can do what I gotta do.

Stephanie: And where will people be able to find it when it's released?

Allison: I, right now I'll be out Amazon, The Unbossing When The Life You Choose Doesn't Choose You.

Stephanie: Okay. I love it.

Allison: Um, my, my Instagram is The Real Boss Doss and that's where I will be, you know, talking about the book and when it's coming out and stuff.

Stephanie: And I will put those details in the show notes. So

Allison: Yay.

Stephanie: can go and find those links and find you. So

Allison: Thank you.

Stephanie: thank you, Alison. It's been a pleasure.

Allison: Thank you.

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