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My guest today is Ben Goresky.

We go deep talking about: 

  • Addiction…what it means, what it is, and why it happens,
  • The role of trauma and pain in the creation and continuation of addiction,
  • Using introspection to identify behaviours that are negatively affecting your life,
  • Ben’s story through addiction, rehab, and recovery,
  • Shame and how to connect positively with your kids, 
  • Ben’s unconventional approach to talking to our kids about drugs,
  • Building trusting relationships with our kids so they listen when we speak into their lives,
  • Ben’s experience as a father and the emotional journey he undertook in an imperfect situation.

Ben is a coach, a counsellor, and has been working with men for 15 years. He is the founder of Evolving Man, focussing on men’s work and addiction recovery. Through The Evolving Man Podcast, Ben hosts guests to talk about relationships, consciousness, men’s work, and plant medicine work. Ben is a leader and director of The Samurai Brotherhood, a society of conscious men who are doing their work to evolve. He also teaches (and practices) conscious relationship work Sheleana in their course Creating Conscious Love. For more about Ben’s story, click here.

Find Ben online at:

Podcast: Evolving Man Podcast

Web: EvolvingMan.Com

Instagram: @evolvingman

Samurai Brotherhood: Samurai Brotherhood

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. I'm excited for today's episode because I get to talk to my friend Ben Goresky. Now Ben actually played a pivotal role in me becoming part of the men's group that I currently am a leader and captain in. And it was great to be able to circle back around with him after a couple of years since that moment and get his opinion and his wisdom on addiction where he is an expert. We go deep in this conversation talking about addiction, what it means, what it is and why it happens. We talk about the role of trauma and pain in the creation and continuation of addiction using introspection to identify behaviors that are negatively affecting your life. Ben's story through Addiction Rehab and recovery, shame and how to connect positively with your kids. Ben's unconventional approach to talking to our kids about drugs, building trusting relationships with our kids, so they listen when we speak into their lives, and Ben's experiences of father and the emotional journey he undertook in an imperfect situation. Ben is a coach a counselor and has been working with men for 15 years. He's the founder of evolving man focusing on men's work and addiction recovery. Through the evolving man podcast, Ben hosts guests to talk about relationships, consciousness, men's work and plant medicine work. Ben is a leader and director of the samurai brotherhood, the Society of conscious men who are doing their work to evolve. He also teaches and practices conscious relationship work with Shalina his wife in their course creating conscious love. For more about Ben's story, you can visit evolving man calm, listen to the evolving man podcast at evolving Check out his instagram at evolving man. And if you want to learn more about samurai brotherhood, where I am also involved go to Samurai So we're about to kick this off. I really appreciated Ben coming on and sharing his wisdom with us. This is an issue that speaks into so many of our lives. Whether or not it's drugs or alcohol or something that you consider damaging, or even phone addiction. This is an important conversation to understand where addiction comes from, why do we get addicted and how to help yourself and others through it. All that being said, I'm excited for this. Hope you are too. Let's dive in with Ben Goresky.

Ben Goresky, thank you so much for joining me. And I gotta say, Man, this is a privilege because you have been an instrumental part of my journey from being the guy that was recommended to me by a mutual friend for breathwork. And then you're like, Hey, have you heard of this men's group called the samurai brotherhood. And I joined that I'm a captain in that now. And then it has just changed my life. So thanks. Thanks a ton for just doing this for me. And also coming on to the podcast man.

Ben Goresky 2:48

It's a privilege to be on your podcast and just to see how far you've come in such a short time and to have been a part of your journey. Like the way things go for guys, when they contact me. And then I plug them into something. I just it just warms my heart all the time, seeing what happens to guys lives. And I'm just I'm blessed to be in the line of work that I'm in where where I can offer this kind of help to guys and you do work man like you You dug in over the last couple years here to totally transform your your relational, the relational side of your life. And it's it's done wonders in your life. So kudos to you, man. And thanks for hosting this podcast and, and being of service to your community.

Curt Storring 3:29

Yeah, thank you so much. And that's that's a great way to put it changing, transforming the relational aspect of my life with my kids, with my wife, showing up with my friends, my community. And it's all been, yeah, instrumental by joining the men's group. And I talk about that a lot. Almost every single man who comes on here is like, you know what, it's a lot better to do the work with other men. And so it just, you know, the the daily reminder for anyone listening to do the work with other men. So the point of this conversation, I would love to be talking about addiction, because I know this is an expertise of yours. And the two things that I'd love to cover and sort of almost kill two birds with one stone or feed two birds with one stone, as a friend of mine says is, is how can men dads struggling with addiction, look at that and start to heal and move into a place of healthy relationship to the things that might be addictive in their lives? And how can they make sure that they support their sons and their daughters so that their sons and daughters aren't challenged by addictive behaviors moving forward? So that's sort of the the frame of this conversation. And I'd love to start with just defining addiction, because a lot of guys are like, well, I drink a little bit is that a problem? But what is sort of the limit of addiction versus just something you do every once in a while?

Ben Goresky 4:48

Yeah, good question. A diction is very much a self defined issue. You know, one person's Two glasses of wine per night is an addiction and for other people that's, you know, just just normal, healthy living, right? An addiction is really defined by continued use, despite negative consequences, some level of loss of control, a compulsion to use whatever the addiction is, and withdrawal symptoms when the using isn't occurring. And withdrawal doesn't necessarily mean like a physical withdrawal symptoms, it really might just mean intense discomfort. And so a person can be addicted to, you know, substances. Alcohol is a typical one. Cannabis is one that I think people imagine that you can't be dependent on. But you surely can be addicted to cannabis, but also all kinds of processes that are involved with the reward system, the reward pathways in the brain. So anything that makes you feel good, you can get addicted to, there's probably not been anyone in the world who's addicted to broccoli. But there are millions of people in the world who are addicted to cake, or some version of it, right, or sex or gambling. So that's really what addiction is about. It's about harm. And so if you're trying to look at your life and see like, oh, is this is this actually an addiction, have a look at whether this thing is actually causing consequences in your life. And if you need help seeing that, ask the people around you. And if the people around you have been saying, Hey, this is a problem, you know, your wife, or your men's group or your friends, or you've heard this from people throughout the years, it probably is you just don't want to look at it.

Curt Storring 6:44

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So it harm seems to be the thing that I have continued to hear something that you do that has these harmful consequences and that you can't stop. And my question is, where do these come from? And I imagine they come from a load of places, but one assumption that I make not being well versed in this, and maybe I'm totally off base. So I'd love to hear your your side of it is that when I'm doing my work, and a lot of my work was anger, frustration, feeling abandoned, all of this kind of stuff that I've worked through, it all came back to this childhood trauma, or at least that's where I brought it back to. And so I wonder, is, does addiction come from that same place? And and if not, where does it come from?

Ben Goresky 7:27

Long story short, yes. When you look at when you dig into the lives of addicted people, and you look at their past, you look at their trauma, you look at their life story, you inevitably find inevitably do find trauma, you do find past hurts or neglect, that left them with a certain kind of void. And for everyone, it's different. But a lot of people report feeling this sense of feeling cut off from the world and feeling like they're not really connected to the world, right? There's this sort of disconnection going on, you know, like I could even be I could be in a group of people and not feel like I was one of them. Or like the world was a cold on safe dead place. And so inevitably, you find that when you look at pretty much every addicted person's life, in their in their in their history, but you also find that in other places, right, you might find that in your own life, right, where you're trying to recover from, from anger, maybe depression, maybe it's anxiety. You know, it, trauma doesn't always create addiction. But if you look at an addicted person, there's virtually always some form of trauma. And trauma isn't necessarily a car accident, or like you were you went to war and you saw people die. It's, you know, in my current, or in my particular case, it's a certain type of emotional neglect as a child and a lack of emotional attunement from a mother who and a mother and a father who didn't really know how to relate emotionally with me, as well as sort of like a dominant bully bullying situation that I was in with my brother. And that was enough to create a pre deep pain in me that was just looking for a way to resolve that. Right. And so that's generally what you see in people and for people who end up as addicts, their system grabs on to something to to feel good. And that's a substance of a process, right? It's, it's gambling, it's sex, it's drugs, it's alcohol. And alcohol is a drug, but for other people, that the system may grab on to anxiety or might totally shut down and you're suffering from depression. So the origin seems to be the same between all these things, like a lot of people. Basically, if you're suffering from something in adulthood, you should go back and look at your childhood and dig around in there. And each of these things, requires a different solution, you know, you're not going to treat anxiety with the same tools that you use for addiction. So there are sort of real time current tools that a person needs to use to treat whatever it is they're trying to deal with. But they also I, I think it's essential that people also dig into their past, particularly, if you want to have long term success, like with addiction, the best thing I can recommend for people who are dealing with addiction is that they actually go to rehab, or they isolate themselves so that they can do deep work on themselves for four to eight weeks, or longer, if possible, right, the rehab starting point is, is the best start a person can get for addiction work, and then and then going to 12 Step Step groups multiple times a week, for years, you know, and doing that work, what I was gonna say is that, that, that gives a person a really good start in recovery from addiction. And somewhere along the line, a person wants to take a really deep dive into their past, whether that be through one on one therapy, or group therapy, or, or, or, you know, some other kind of like deeper journeying with shamanism, or whatever. And that can take a long time, I do that with guys on a coaching basis. And if you just do the, the surface level treatments, you know, modifying your behavior and trying to change the externals of your life to deal with your, your addiction, and you know, attending meetings regularly to remind yourself of where you came from and, and stay connected to a certain program. Without digging deep into the past, in my opinion, you risk not reaching really long term sobriety because those wounds from the past will still be there. And so you gotta you gotta dig deep and, and go to the the hardest place if you really want long term sobriety.

Curt Storring 12:03

Right, okay, thank you for all that. So it sounds like, you know, getting sober or whatever it looks like not engaging in these addictive behaviors anymore, is maybe the first step, you know, you need to stop doing these things. But if you don't heal this underlying wound, it's going to continue to be triggered in your life. And you're just going to either go back to the addictive behavior that you once knew, or you'll find something else to get away from that feeling and, and trick yourself into believing that you're feeling good. Is that what I'm what I'm hearing here?

Ben Goresky 12:31

Yeah, exactly. And I think the most common mistake that people make is they measure their success by whether they're using or not using, right, so you'll have guys clean up their usage, you know, I haven't been drinking for 30 days, but they haven't been doing the work, the inner work necessary to maintain, you know, what they say in a as like, your spiritual condition that will keep you sober long term, right? And so it's just like, Oh, I've been I've been clean this amount of time, but I can't tell you how many people I've met who are one year sober, five years sober, and absolutely miserable. Because their internal state is the thing that made them us in the first place, you know, like, you're not addicted to the drug, per se, you're addicted to the feeling that it gives you the relief that it gives you. Because internally, something's not okay. You know, there's a, there's a there's a deep pain there. And so, government, he says, Don't ask not why the addiction, but why the pain? Right? Where's the pain? Because that's where we need to go. versus, you know, talking about the drug or, or managing the intake of the drug. You know, like, Oh, you got it, you've just got to stop using and then everything will change your life will get back together. No, that's not. That's that. There's no evidence that that actually works. You do need to get off the drugs in order to do your therapeutic work and to change your life. But that's when the work starts. Right? Once you get clean.

Curt Storring 14:05

Right? Is this the type of work that must be done in the rehab setting or with a professional or a counselor like yourself? Or is there anything that people in the throes of perhaps, I almost want to differentiate between serious addiction and something like a phone addiction, which is highly harmful, but not quite as as dire. But in the case of a serious addiction, does that always require professional help?

Ben Goresky 14:27

No. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 by a man named Bill w. And he started he had been attending something called the Oxford groups, which was a church based group that was dealing with alcoholics at that time. They alcoholics were just sort of left to die in society from they didn't know how to deal with them. They ended up in hospitals, they ended up in mental institutions, and oftentimes it would end up in these sort of shelters in in churches. And he started becoming obsessed with trying To help other alcoholics, and he took some of the steps that he had been doing in the Oxford group, which they had created around, you know, seeking the power greater than yourself and sort of the admission that you have a problem and the support group structure, they had a bit of support. And he put that together. And when he when, and in the early days of A, this was just alcoholics helping alcoholics, and it was working, and they were having meetings, you know, and even into the 60s, there were not, I don't know that there even any rehab centers for addiction in the 60s, it was it, they were still just locking people up sending them to institutions. And so the only people that are getting clean, were these guys who would go to a, and, you know, the walk in the doors, and guys would put their arms around them, say, Come with us, man, we're going to take you through the steps. And as voluntary only, you know, you, you pay what you can at these meetings, and these guys just helped each other get sober. And a lot of them would do a meeting every day, and they would get a sponsor. And your sponsor is another alcoholic who did it himself. Right. So in many ways and stuff was clumsily done. And still today, when you go into a you get a sponsor, your sponsor might relapse on you just disappear. It I know a ton of people who that's happened to, it's part of having an organization like that, where there's like no oversight over the you know, how people sponsor one another. But it has worked for, for many, many people, you know, when I was attending a meetings in the 2000s, I would go to these meetings where there's lots of old men there. And these guys got sober in the, in the 60s in the 70s. And this is how they got clean, you know, they just walked in the rooms, they got a sponsor. And in some cases that sponsor babysit them in a sense, like, you're moving into my place, you're sleeping on the living room floor. And and then after 30 days, we're gonna go back to your house, we're gonna clean out all the alcoholic and flush everything down the toilet and make sure your place is safe. And you know, they would take a guy through this. So no, it doesn't have to be professional. In fact, the most important thing, if you're seeking help is that there's a resonance with the person who's providing the help that you trust them to some effect. And so that can that can be the case with with a therapist or with rehab, or with a coach or a sponsor, you want to find someone who you resonate with them, and you trust them at some level, and then jump, you know, really just jump in, and trust whatever they bring your way. Because there will be times where your trust is tested. And you just need to take a leap of

Curt Storring 17:41

faith. Amazing. Okay, thank you for sharing that. Because it can seem daunting, I'm sure. And you know this, we don't even have enough time in a podcast like this to dive so deeply into all the ways that men can get help. But what I what I want to do here is we're setting the stage for this idea of addiction as part of a bigger story. And that is the story of pain and inner wounding. And I want to just touch very briefly before we dive into how to identify some of this pain in your own life, if you're struggling and talk about things that seem less damaging, like phone addiction, like porn addiction, like sex addiction, these must all come from the same place, but they don't seem to be quite as bad. What is your experience working with men who have addictions like this that are that don't seem as bad as well, at least I'm not, you know, doing coke every day or something like that, but then have serious consequences. Could you just talk to some of those that seem more societally acceptable?

Ben Goresky 18:40

Yeah, you know, the societally acceptable thing is so funny because there's so many things that are societally acceptable now. I mean, alcohol has always been there, right? And it's legal, it's the service at restaurants and, and alcoholism kills so many so many people each year, smoking tobacco. You know, cannabis has its issues. It doesn't kill people, per se, but it's it certainly sucks the life out of people's lives. Not always right? I'm just talking about the people who are addicted. Same with your phone. Same with porn. Porn certainly can be extremely damaging to guys lives because I know many men who have spent multiple hours each day on porn, like you don't have that many hours in the day, like you're taking that time away from all the other productive things that you could do in your life. And you're sort of injecting it there and you're also sucking that energy out of where you could be putting it in relationship. You know, maybe you're single and you're looking at porn, but maybe you're in relationship and you're looking at porn. What are the damages there to your relationship and to your sex life? So yeah, this is a pretty wide ranging topic, but basically like this This all happens on a spectrum. And it's really up to you whether you want to address this stuff or not, like, if you're, you know, if you're looking at porn for an hour a day, it's not gonna destroy your life. But, you know, if you only have like, eight productive hours in a day, do you really want to be spending 12.5% of your time? Just staring at a screen blasting your energy out of your body and losing that? Or is there something more optimal that you could do? You know, like, some things, they're, they're, they're really damaging your life, other things, they just keep you from being optimal. You know, and I'm at that place in my life where like, I'm not trying to get rid of the things that are wrecking my life. I'm trying to, I'm trying to deal with the things that are keeping me from being an optimal guy, and optimal dad and optimal leader, an optimal business guy, you know, so I'm, I'm sort of hacking or I'm tweaking to improve my life. And so you just got to know what you're working on, and address things from that level, I think.

Curt Storring 21:11

Yeah, and I think that's a very important message, what you just shared there, it's giving guys a perspective to find whether or not an action is damaging to them. Because if you just go through it, and you're like, well, it's just what I do. Use this as a bit of a pattern, interrupt. And just check in, check in with what you do every day, check in with your phone usage, or pornography usage, you're smoking or drinking, whatever it may be, and just ask yourself, like, what are the actual consequences of this, and not the ones that you ignore? But what are those true consequences, and you know, from that, maybe you need to identify things that will help you move forward, and maybe aren't destroying your life. But like Ben said, just to be optimal. And so the next stage that I'm interested in is identifying this pain, because I want to get men, tools and practices that they can use to dive deeper into inner work. But I also want to help men from stopping from making mistakes with their own children, that will lead to the creation of this pain, because as fathers as parents, we have immense power and responsibility when it comes to how our children live the rest of their lives. And so this is an important topic for dads, because you could be treating your child in a way that you don't even anticipate leads to a perceived trauma in their life. And perhaps one day, you know, addiction is the way that they deal with that pain. So would you walk us through Ben, your experience, I think through your teenage years, just to give us a sense of what that can look like for a young man to be wounded in his household. And then after that, we'll dive into sort of how to identify where these pain points might be.

Ben Goresky 22:52

Yeah, and I definitely want to distinguish between like working on the man and working on the, the child or the son, son or daughter as it may be, because I sort of have different things to say on each one. But yeah, you know, as a teenager, I entered teenagehood with this sort of pain inside me that I didn't know how to deal with and my parents didn't know how to hold space for there was no language for it and my family. And as soon as I found masturbation, I was jerking off all the time. And as soon as I found cannabis, I was I was smoking all the time. And found alcohol around the same time. And it just I would drink as much as possible. And it didn't take long before I was like, really tanking it in my life. And I was just a neighborhood all the time. And, you know, people ask me what I was addicted to. And I say escape, because I really just wanted to not be in my life. I wanted to be outside of my body. If I could just check out that I that's what I wanted to do. And inevitably, it sucked. Because, you know, cannabis actually just made me more kind of insular and it brought up this sort of judgmental jerk in my mind, and I was judging myself and so I was like, building on my shame every day that I smoked pot. And then my parents were shaking their heads at me, you know, basically saying like, you're a loser without they did not say that, but it was like, you know, they were not happy with what I was doing. I was just following in my brother's footsteps. And so I just went in a downward spiral basically the using just created more shame and more of a useless life. And unfulfilling life. Right? And that just made me want to use more and so it's a it's kind of not a funny thing, but it's it's just a weird thing how addicts will use this use something to make themselves feel better, which then makes their life worse and then they need to use something to make this make their lives feel better. Like it's it's it's sort of a perfect storm to to to take someone to the brink of suicide, and that is what happens, right. So that's kind of like the general story of how my story went. And I wasn't at that point, like, my parents, were not going to intervene in a way that I was going to hear them, you know, you're a teenager, teenagers very much out of the hands of their parents that you know, that it's, it's like, built into the program, not to listen to their parents, you know, so very hard to control a kid at that point. Luckily, they, they found a rehab center that they could sign me into, and they had peer counsellors this, they had younger folks there who are counselors, and they had a very sort of strong arm approach. And it actually, in many ways, it's like, what I needed, you know, and I was thinking last night, like, you know, I may never have repaired the issues with my parents, and I may have never found recovery, if we didn't happen to have that rehab in our lives. So I was lucky, in a way. Yeah, thank

Curt Storring 26:01

you for sharing that. And you mentioned shame there. And I wonder if that took up more of service space in your life as a child, you mentioned before, emotionally disconnected from your parents, you know, a brother who was, I guess bullying in your life at the time was shame, a big part of this and his shame, a big part of this work that maybe men can can use as a as a guidepost to guide them towards where this pain might be. Because for me in my life, you know, shame was just huge, toxic shame, especially in reading this book, Healing, the shame that binds you by Bradshaw was just, you know, fundamental to my transformation. So was there more about shame that you can talk about? Because this is so so damaging for kids?

Ben Goresky 26:45

Yeah, there, there was shame. And, you know, I, I recall it more strongly in my teen years, because I was a little bit more conscious back, then, you know, and when I was in rehab, sort of processing this stuff, a lot of my childhood is actually sort of like blanked out. And and I don't have a super great memory of my childhood. But I do. I do know that through the work of Mark Wolin, who wrote the book, inherited family trauma, I believe, no, it didn't start with you. That's what his book is very interesting. He talks about shame. And I did a course with him recently, where he talks about shame about basically, like when when you behaved a certain way, or you were yourself in some way, and your mother was not able able to mirror that back to you, or it wasn't appropriate, and she punished you for it. Essentially, we end up with feeling shame, just for being who we are, right. And I know that. And it's not just about your mother either. Like, I know that my brother shamed me very much just for being who I was, he was I was the younger brother. And I think my mom was really concerned with protecting me from him. And he was jealous of the energy that she gave me. And so he would lash out at me all the time. And so anytime I was sort of shining, or get in the limelight, or something, he would seek to knock me down. And so I ended up feeling ashamed just for being myself and just for existing in my house. And that is a part of that ball of pain that I was describing, when I when I started using that, that I needed to soothe that I didn't even know how to describe the time could not even articulate that not even close for years, until until years afterwards. But you know, if you want to talk about ways that guys can contact that the best way that people can do this, in my opinion, is is in a group where some where other people are talking about this stuff, you know, where you sit and you, you hear someone tell their story, and what was damaging for them and what they experienced. And when there's a resonance, there's just like a ping inside you. It's resonating with something in your story, you know, and this is, this is why rehab is done. It's just not not just out of convenience that they put people in groups in rehab. There, you know, we relate to each other, like we think or we think our story in our experience is so unique, but go sit in a circle in rehab, and listen to people tell their stories, and you can just try playing the silent treatment but just listening to other people. You're like, oh, man, like I'm, I see myself there. I see myself there. I see myself there. There's a resonance, right. So the number one thing that said in in the rehab center that I went through is I relate, I relate people put their hands up, I relate, I relate, I relate, you know, everybody relating to each other's experiences. And that's how you start to build the language of talking about shame, like the language that you've gotten that I've got, were you sort of able to sort of tell your story and go oh, yeah, I felt this at that time. I felt as an oh yeah, there's that happened, you know, because that exploration, you're going into a place for which you basically don't have a vocabulary. And so this is why group work is so important because you're stepping into a space where there is that vocabulary, and you can sort of build it in your own mind, you start to have a different understanding of your past. And you sort of wake up to all the stuff that occurred like I, it's, it really is sort of this like waking up, that happens for people.

Curt Storring 30:27

That's a great reminder. And like I said, we talk about this on pretty much every podcast, even if you're not in the throes of addiction or something, doing the work with other men, other people that you can see yourself in. And it's so powerful. It's so powerful for so many guys. And the thing that I would like to ask now is, what are the other tools beyond sitting in a group. So let's say you've done a little bit of work, let's say you're not in the throes of addiction, but you're just not really sure what the pain points are. Maybe you're angry, maybe you get triggered at stuff, maybe your kids coming into your office, if your work at home just triggers you and your yell, what tools have you used with yourself and with other men to sort of identify where these pain points are, and then start to heal them?

Ben Goresky 31:11

Mm hmm. Well, certainly, taking space for introspection is super important. You know, we don't always know why we're reacting. And we won't find out unless we take the space to reflect on what that's about. So for myself, I find that having saunas and cold dunks and processing internally thinking about what occurred, and just sort of breaking it down and trying to get my ego out of the way and see, like, what's this about, for me, has been very useful in my life, I get a sort of clarity that that occurs in my life when I'm, you know, have a workout and have a sauna and have a cold dunk. But I also find it's really useful to do that with other people, you know, I, I have a sauna at my place. And guys come over all the time. And we, we real talk about what's going on in our lives. And we're, we offer reflections on what's happening for each other. And it's not always balanced. Sometimes we have a son, and all you do is talk about the other guy, because he's got something going on. But that relational piece and hearing reflections from another person is super useful. Those are my top two tools, man, you know, space with some form of embodiment. And conversations with people who really get me and and who can navigate the space. Those are the two biggest tools. There's, there's all this other stuff, you know, books and you know, you read a lot of good books, I've read a lot of good books. There's, there's podcasts like yours and like mine, and even guys like Aubrey Marcus, who, who, you know, serve in the healing arts. On a very practical note, those are the main two things that I like to use, you know, some really good confidence people to talk shit out with, and, and some embodiment and some space for reflection, you know, so I do a lot of Wim Hof breath work. I sometimes do mindful meditation, mindfulness meditation. But yeah, that that's those are my, those are my top two tools that I would throw it, people.

Curt Storring 33:29

Yeah, that's fantastic. Thank you for giving that sort of a broader lens, because I, you know, my, my space in this situation is often meditation, and hearing, it sort of brought to the level above that, which is like, Hey, if you're not going to do meditation, then then breathe, or get into your body or workout or whatever, like just intentionally going to a place where you can have that space to have those internal conversations is so, so powerful. And I don't know how many times we're gonna say this on this podcast, and all the rest of them, you got to do the work with other people. I heard recently, I think it was Jason Henderson on this podcast I was talking to, and he said, most of our wounds, all of our wounds are created in relation to other people. And so we have to heal with other people. And it's like, man, there's just no way to do the full suite of work on yourself. There's a lot of shit you can do by yourself. But it has to be like has to be finished almost with other men. Is that does that ring true to us? Wow. 100%

Ben Goresky 34:25

Man, that's so well said. You know, we live in a society where everybody kind of wants to do this shit on their own. They want to do it in isolation. Because they there's we all have a fear of being seen in our vulnerability. We only want to present ourselves when we're well put together. Right? But that's exactly it. He's, he could not have said it better. I totally agree.

Curt Storring 34:48

Nice, nice. What are some of the common pitfalls and pains that you see come up with the men that you work with? Because what I'm getting at here is as a father One of the hardest things for me is realizing, you know, I've got my own shit to deal with that came from my childhood. But I'm now directly responsible for, you know, whatever perceived wounding and trauma my kids pick up. And it's not something I beat myself up over, because you know, they're going to deal with that their own way. But I have to be conscious, or at least I am conscious on not doing certain things like shaming them, like making sure that I always make sure that they know they're loved regardless of what they do. But more so for who they are. I always love them no matter what they do. So are there like, are no just top level, basic things that guys come to you with from childhood that are sort of maybe markers for dads to pay attention to, so that they are at least less likely to pass on these pains to their children?

Ben Goresky 35:46

Mm hmm. Yeah, so first of all, I, I'll say that I have a daughter, she's 12. I am not actively parenting her. And so I'm not going to speak as like an experienced dad. But I can tell you what my plan is for fatherhood. And, and some of the things that we know about what, you know, what it takes to affect positive change in someone. The number one marker of progress and change between a therapist and their patient, or their client is the relationship between the therapist and the client, the client trusts, and really believes in the therapist, they change they do? Well, that's the do all these statistics on what different types of therapy, you know, help someone recover from whatever, it's always actually the number one thing doesn't matter what therapy a person's using, if the person believes in their therapist, that's the largest factor in whether they actually change or not. And so what you're speaking to in that last statement is that in a way is like, Okay, I, first of all, I'm not going to be a perfect parent, my child is not gonna be perfect child, I'm going to be upset at them from time to time. But I'm going to, I'm going to maintain, I'm going to, as a top priority, seek to maintain the quality of this relationship, so that they know that they're loved, and that they can trust me, and that I'm here for them. Even if sometimes I disagree with what they say, or they do or what have you, the turns they take in their lives, I'm going to respect their autonomy. And that's beautiful, man, that's really important. I believe that's, that's, that's probably the number one thing that that dads need to focus on is, is maintaining a good relationship with your kid, as they grow up, secure attachment, you know, look at to secure attachment. And, you know, if I, if I could also sidebar, I would say, this work that you and I have been talking about, for the first half hour of this podcast, you know, doing this inner work, developing vocabulary for understanding your emotions and, and you know, knowing that, being able to sort of put a story on the shit that happened to you in your childhood and how it manifested in your adult life, etc. You're doing that for you, but you're you said this earlier, you're doing this for your kid, and for your kids, right? Because you're gonna pass on that awareness to your kids, and you're going to be aware of how you're relating to them more than our parents were aware with us because we've you know, we've got that language now, that's recently just really just come about in our generation, because we've had the space to do this kind of work in our lives. So yeah, it's important to do your own work because it it does pass down through to the next generation, it does prevent you from unknowingly passing your shit on to your kid for for lack of a better term. And, and then yeah, hard skill on the moment really, like maintain relationship with your kid as best you can, where you're giving them love and acceptance, despite not always maybe agreeing with their choices that they trust you. And they believe that you believe in them and they feel that and that's, that's the number one thing you can do as a father, I think and I also have some other thoughts around around drugs, which we can talk about at some point.

Curt Storring 39:46

Let's talk about now. Thoughts. Do you have a bad drive?

Ben Goresky 39:49

Okay, so I kind of have like an unconventional belief here I think because what what parents often to do with drugs, they decide like, Okay, listen, this, I've, I've had some bad experiences with the stuff, alcohol and other things have gotten me into some trouble in my life. And so what I'm going to do is tell my kid drugs are bad, and that they just shouldn't do them, they should just state say no, and avoid them at all costs until they're an adult. And I'm going to defer having any conversations or doing anything about this until my kids an adult, and maybe then they can make their own decisions, right. So you're sort of offloading all of the need to educate your child on to someone else on just society. And just just like leaving it to the government, right? I my position on this is that the kids actually need to be educated about drugs, and need to understand, you know, understand the risks, but they also need to understand the truth that you and I know, which is that every substance in the world can help you or hurt you, depending on how you use it, and how you engage it. For instance, with psychedelics, you know, we just tell kids to stay away from them. And then, inevitably, like when I talk to teenagers, and I asked them, What was your first trip, like, because I coach young men, it's quite a shit show. For her for nearly every young man who does mushrooms with his buddies, when he's 1516 years old, you know, that's, that tends to be pretty close to where a guy drops in maybe 17, maybe 18. No idea what a safe space is no idea what's gonna come up, no idea how to deal with the crisis or when you need help. And for all these young guys, they get into some crazy situations, because they didn't know what they're walking into. And they won't call their parents for help. Because they've been told not to do this, they think they're being bad. And they their parents are the authority figure that they have to avoid in this particular situation. And so the one person who could actually offer them some advice, and not not even just advice, show up for them when they actually need help, isn't there because they don't feel safe reaching out. So I'm not saying I'm going to like, allow my kids to just like, get drunk with their friends in the backyard all the time. Or just have a like, no holds barred? Situation in my household. But I, yeah, I will engage conversations about drugs in a balanced way. And I won't try to control them. And like I will say, like, hey, you know, when you're ready for this, it's your choice, because I know, I can't stop you. And so what I'm going to do is try to inform you as best I can about what the risks are. And I want you to know that no matter what, if you get into trouble, you call me. If you need help planning something, you're going to do it anyways. And you want to know like, what do what do I need to know to feel safe? I'm going to help you with that. I'm going to, I'm going to tell you what I know. Because that's, I mean, that's almost a harm reduction approach. But it also maintains the relationship, right, which is really, really important. It's what I was talking about earlier. If you take that stance with your kids, they trust you still, and you end up with a 1718 year old who's like, yeah, you know, I trust my dad, like, he, he, he doesn't like it when I do this or when I do that. But I know that if I if I tell him the truth, he's not going to scold me. And then he's, he's gonna hear me, he's gonna love me, and then I can always go to him for help. You know, I can always reach out to him if I need advice. Or if I, you know, my friends want to do this, like, what should I do? I'm like, well, here's, here's what I know about this, you know, and here's, here's what I know could go wrong. And it's your choice, you know, so I know that he'll he'll stick his neck out for me and that, you know, he's he's got my, my best in mind rather than just like, he wants to control me. And I can't trust him. You know, like, I didn't feel like I could trust my parents when I was 15 I didn't feel like they spoke my language. And all I wanted to do was just rebel against them. Like it's so much of what I was doing was just say fuck you to them because I was angry and ashamed inside. And they didn't know how to maintain relationship with me. They didn't know how to speak my language. They did not have an emotional language. And they took the drugs are bad stance, and you know, they were prohibitionists and it just doesn't work. It didn't work for me. I just felt more isolated from them. I wanted to push away more so my my stance that I'm going to take as a father is to go the opposite direction. But not with like I said with some guidelines but from an Let's just call it a conscious place from a conscious place.

Curt Storring 45:05

Man that was so well said. And I echo pretty much everything that you just said. The one thing that I want to add to that is that you build trust by doing this. But in my case, personally, I know that you need to also have engender trust until that point, so that I believe you Dad, when you say you can tell me, because if I recall correctly, my dad told me, you know, you can always call me if anything goes wrong. And in my head, I'm going like, yeah, right. Like, I'm not gonna call you, because I didn't trust him. And that's unfortunate. But everything else that you're saying here is, Dad's you either take responsibility and have these hard conversations with your kids, or they're gonna learn it from tick tock, and that best friend that you think is an absolute idiot. Like, what what would you prefer? You know, that sounds terrible to me. And so like, we were already setting up in my household to have conversations about drugs, and sex, and all of these uncomfortable things that I got, like one talk when I was like, 12, and never heard about it again, that's like, that's, like so neglectful when it makes up such a huge part of our lives. And it should evolve to it shouldn't just be like this one. Hey, kid, like, you know, to smoke some weed, and I'll make sure you're safe. And you can call me. It's like, okay, where are you at? Now, here's what your friends might be bringing up. Here's what I've done. Here's what I know, here's how to stay safe, and evolve that conversation with your kids, especially as they get into their teenage years, so that you're staying up to date and continuing to build that trust, so that they're not learning all this shit from Tik Tok, or wherever.

Ben Goresky 46:35

I, I totally resonate with that. And imagine, you know, I was I was on a hike with my buddies this summer. And I was, I was imagining what I would do with my teenager who wants to try mushrooms for the first time, you know, maybe we've had some conversations about what these things do. And his or her friends want to trip together. And they're planning it. And what would I want I, you know, in my best case, scenario, my son or daughter would say to me, like, or I would say to them, like, Hey, if you want to get to know this substance, in a safe space, I will, I will host you, just you on your own engaging with this, so that you can understand what happens to you how it feels, instead, I can be here as you get, you know, maybe scared or anxious, or some things start to happen that you that you don't really sort of see coming. And you can understand what it means to move through fear, and to stay with your breath and to, you know, move through an experience like this, because I think you know, it, at least 75% of the people listening to this are are going to understand it when I talk about what it's like to have a bad trip, right? And it was like, Oh, I got way too high. And like the world vaporized and just got super scared. And I panicked. And I you know, running here, and, you know, I thought everything was melting. And you need to know how to deal with when that's happening. Right? And when you're in a group with people, and that starts happening to someone. You know, I had a coaching client who told me a story where him and two other dudes were were, you know, baits and mushrooms, and the one dude started freaking out. And he was a big guy. And these guys, he needed to be quiet because they were hiding from the parents. And they were like, Dude, you need to shut up, you know, he was freaking out and being paranoid. And their response was to just tell him to shut up. And they ended up knocking him out and throwing him in a trunk. And then they drove him somewhere, and just pulled them out of the trunk and threw him on the side of the road. And he rolled down into a ditch. And luckily, he didn't die. But I could see how this whole situation came about because they had zero wisdom, accessible to them about the substance, and they're just given her go, right. And so imagine that you're in that situation, and that you've, you've had your first trip, you know what this substance can do? You know, you sat in your room in a safe place in your home, and you engage the substance and you had a nice little playlist on and whenever you needed, you could ring a little bell and your dad would come in and say Hey, honey, how you doing? I'm scared. Like, is everything okay? Like, I feel like everything's dark and like, No, I'm right here. Everything's okay. Just stay with your breath, move through the fear. You're safe. I promise you. No, you come out the other side. Like, okay, so this is what happens, you know, and then when you're in a group with other people, and you see someone start to freak out, instead of instead of hitting them with a hammer like these guys did, like, hey, you need to shut up, quiet down. You could sit with him and go hey, are you scared bro? Okay, let's listen to your fear. You know like you No, it's okay, we're, we're, you're safe here, you know, learn how to soothe each other in this way, like this stuff needs to be taught, like teenagers are going to teach this to each other who's going to teach it? Right? So the are because we don't have that language because we haven't engaged that work with ourselves. We just tell people not to do it. Just don't do it. It's dangerous, right? But people do it anyways. So my whole stance is like, Okay, well, let's lean into this work with our kids. And let's understand this for ourselves, and then really do try to pass on what we've learned without putting bars around them or cage around our kids. You know, so? Yeah, wouldn't that be beautiful?

Curt Storring 50:49

Wouldn't it be beautiful indeed, holy shit, man, that's what I'm trying to do with my kids. That's what I'm trying to encourage other dads to do. So thank you for giving that like basically, step by step way of just like relating, and going there because it's uncomfortable. But the the alternative, the consequences are fucking enormous. Imagine that was your kid. Imagine you find out your kid does that as a bad trip and winds up in a fucking ditch like, man, that's the consequence. So get your shit together, dad's like, let's have the hard conversations, learn what you need to learn. Alright, Ben, thank you for all that talk. And I just want to say as sort of a side note here that I know, we're both proponents of the responsible use of psychedelics in some of this healing work. And if you guys want to know more, please reach out to Ben. You know, I trust him very much with this type of work. And I know many other men do as well. So just a side note on that this isn't just recreational, you know, do mushrooms with your kids for a good trip? Yeah, this is serious shit. And if you want to know more, please make sure you check out Ben. Ben, one thing that came up for me was just this, this question of you said you had a daughter, and you're not involved in sort of the parenting for. And, you know, I just want to make sure that you're comfortable going to this place, but I'm super curious what that looks like, and maybe a little bit of the backstory to that. And mostly the emotions that you deal with as, as a father without, you know, a lot of input into her life. Could you maybe just walk us through that a little bit? Because I think getting perspectives from dads and other situations are just so powerful. And if you have anything to add for the dads listening, man, I'd be so grateful.

Ben Goresky 52:25

Yeah, yeah, I'm happy to share I don't think I've ever shared publicly like this, about this. So I'm happy to happy to do it on your show. So the short version of the story of how my daughter Eden came about is I was at I was doing the internship, an internship for my, my degree in addictions counseling, I was working at crossroads, the treatment center in the West, the East Indies, in Antigua. And long story short, I hooked up and had a, you know, two, three month relationship with one of the staff there. And she became pregnant. And it was unplanned. And I thought I would never see her again. But we had, you know, we had a good relationship. And when I went back home, she actually quit and went back home to her home in Georgia, in the United States. And she gave birth to Eden, and in the process was trying to figure out exactly what I should do. What's the right thing, you know, I hadn't made any commitments. She wasn't asking for any commitments, she was just like, do what's right for you, and like, she was older than me, had been through a divorce. And she knew that this was something that she wanted, she wanted to be a mother and this was her opportunity. And, you know, really said, like, test it don't feel guilty about this, like, this is this is I want this, you know. And so, that was really hard to deal with in my last year of university, like what do I do? Do I like drop everything and go down to the United States or Britt try to bring her here in the end, I decided I could not, you know, marry her and like, start a life with her and, and that I would stay in Canada and that her my daughter would stay in Georgia and so we connect we connect once a month on FaceTime and we connect in person when we can COVID has really made that difficult. And you know, it's it's done a lot it's done a lot of things to my emotional space, you know, having to accept the imperfection in my life that that that I've not created and in the imperfection in her life that I've not created this like perfect two parent family where there's no split ever and you know, it's it's sort of split From the beginning, and I'm really just like a side note in her life and, you know, me wanting to be more a part of her life and also feeling like, like her and her mother have got it covered over there. And like, in some ways, like, when I tried to push my way in there and get more involved, I get sort of a pushback. And yeah, it's, it's been, man, it's, it's been hard for negotiating that, sort of, with my parents and their judgments about the imperfection of all of this. And, you know, the whole child out of wedlock. thing is it's tough, there's a lot of societal judgments. And there's this sort of knowing that like, the best possible scenario for a child is, is, is the two parent family, where they're both, you know, their present dedicated, and this just isn't that and so, yeah, I've had to deal with my own sort of self shaming and acceptance of imperfection, and, and being seen in the world. And, and also looking at the, how funny it is that, you know, when I talk about when my wife and I are doing family planning, talking about how we want everything to be perfect, and then realizing like, man, you just can't do that in life, you know, it's never perfect, and we're never, we're not once we are parents, we're never going to be perfect parents. So for me, it's really been a huge spiritual lesson in you know, of imperfection, letting go, and just doing what I can do, and go to can each month each moment, showing up as best I can, when I do show up, and accepting that maybe, in this child's life, there will be a level of wounding, like we described earlier in this call, and that there's nothing I can do, all I can do is be present to receive and to be open for, you know, if some healing needs to occur, that, that that could I could be a part of that process. Because I've got that language, I've got that openness. And I'm willing to do it. So yeah, that's the that's the gist of it opened other questions if you have any.

Curt Storring 57:12

Man, thank you so much for going there. And just the courage and the intention behind both the share and you know, living with us, because like you said, it's full of shame and judgment from other people. And I can, I can only imagine, like, there must have been a time where you're just like, Fuck all you guys for judging me? Like, where's that in your life? Like, are you able now? Pardon me? Are you able now, to sit with whatever judgments come up and be okay with everything, like you said, it's not perfect, but this is how it is. And you can still move forward like your conscious guy, man, like you are so intentional in relationship with your wife is so beautiful. And yet, there's this thing that constantly reminds you that life isn't perfect. So what was your sort of? What was your transition from being like, everyone's at me, I'm being judged. What's the right answer here, to finding that piece, and still being engaged while you find the piece to be a part?

Ben Goresky 58:12

Yeah, it's hard to say, Man, I mean, my, my big deflection, the way that I deal dealt with shame. Back when my daughter was, was being born, was I just be goofy. And I would not take things seriously. You know, like, when I when I was telling my parents that my daughter's mother was pregnant, and that she was gonna have this child, I was on a zoom call, or a FaceTime call with them and my buddies were in the room, and we were just sort of like, we just sort of dropped it on them. And I was like, waiting for the reaction, you know, and ended up being like, we need to take some time, we're gonna hang up now. And they hung up and like, probably freaked out and then called me back later. And looking back, I'm like, wow, that was so rude of me. I was so it was almost like I was like, poke jabbing them, you know? Because I, I had my own shame. And that was my way of deflecting it was to, like, sort of play a game, you know, and I was really sort of reckless in my life 12 years ago. And that was my way of sort of deflecting. And so, you know, as I've, as I've learned to sort of take myself seriously in my life and take more responsibility for what I'm creating in my life. That I think has allowed me to more directly see any shame that comes up and just and just own it. Just take take it in, feel it, drop it, you know. And, because I'm more grounded in myself, like if you're more grounded in yourself, when shame comes up, you can just look at it As It Is, feel it, and then let it go. Right? So yeah, I, there's definitely not like a turning point. But doing men's work and doing my own inner work has really been the thing that has allowed me to sort of work through my own shame.

Curt Storring 1:00:24

Thank you for that. And are you happy or satisfied with your relationship right now? Is this okay for you? Do you have plans beyond this?

Ben Goresky 1:00:33

Yeah, it's, it's funny, because like, I know that I'm doing everything that I can, as far as I can tell. But I would love to have much more connection with her, I would love for her to live closer to me or for her to come visit more. That was actually supposed to just start when COVID happened, you know, shoot that first visit up to Vancouver was going to occur, and then I got got screwed up because of travel restrictions. So there's like what I want and what I wish for is much more than I currently have. And I know that currently everything is as it could be, if that makes any sense.

Curt Storring 1:01:13

Totally, yeah, totally. Then there's a, I think, a lesson in there between desire and wanting something and not being satisfied with the way things are and just the slippery slope that can lead to all sorts of suffering. And so it sounds to me and I'll just reflect it back. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not, but you've just accepted that there will be this level of discomfort. And there will be this level of desire. And you live with that. And like shame you look at it in the face, and then you sit with it and you accept it. And that is powerful man that is grounded that is powerful to note it to own it and then to drop it, as we say in the work center. Yep. So yeah. Who man this? I don't know why ma'am. But this just gave me so much energy, so much body feeling just like my heart is expanded for you. I didn't know this. I didn't know that this was part of your life. And man, I'm just you're courageous as as hell to, you know, tell me this. And, and just to be living this man. So so thank you for what you do. It's not perfect. I bet there will be people who judge listening to this and that's okay. But man, from my perspective. I just I love you for that. And I love you for showing up. So. So thanks for showing, and thanks for telling us that story.

Ben Goresky 1:02:22

Yeah, thank you, Curt. Thanks for asking man. And I I definitely appreciate the conversation.

Curt Storring 1:02:29

Yeah, for sure. Okay, man. Well, just be courteous of time. I think this is probably where we will wrap up. There's a lot more to talk about, including coaching young men, and you know, future family planning for yourself. As you mentioned, I'd love to know more about that. But maybe that's for next session. What and where can people find you? What do you do for man to help men and where can men get more have been?

Ben Goresky 1:02:53

Okay, I have a website evolving is, is the site, I have relationship stuff on there, I've got a relationship course with my wife. And the coaching that I do with men is is usually around relationships, or men's work. A lot of what you talk about on the show, or addiction, I also have a course called the Integrated man, which is on my website, as well. And it's basically an intro into men's work into, you know, a lot of the stuff that we've been talking about on this episode, you know, like, how do you dig into that, you know, how your relationship with your mother affected you? And you know, growing up, how does that affect your relationship with, with women? You know, how did your relationship with your father affect how you see masculinity and what you project out onto the masculine structures in the world? You know, what are some of the tools that I've learned in relationship to really like make relationship work? I share that stuff in the course. And the other place that people can find me is obviously my podcast, the evolving man podcast, which should be anywhere that you're listening, and I where am I putting all my media other than podcast is it's really Instagram at evolving man. I right on there. And I have an objective to record at least four videos over the next couple of months and put them out there as well, because people have said that I should be on video. So check out my Instagram at evolving man.

Curt Storring 1:04:30

Sweet Thanks, man. Yeah, I just want to vouch for Ben before, you know, you log off this podcast. He's the real deal. Like just so grounded, got me so connected, and just continues to show up as a leader in all the ways that I have seen him in his life, including as an executive as the part of the men's group that I'm a part of the samurai Brotherhood, which we should mention as well. And man, thank you so much. I just overflowed with gratitude right now for the time he took out for me and just going deep on it. Addiction and men's work and parenting man, I just thank you so much,

Ben Goresky 1:05:03

brother. It was a fantastic conversation and I really appreciated having this conversation and just speaking to dads and again thank you for doing what you do with the show all the best to men

Curt Storring 1:05:22

that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to dad dot work slash pod that's di d dot w o RK slash pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad dot work slash pod to find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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