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Welcome to this episode of Friday Reflections by Dad.Work!

Every Friday I share the best of what we have been doing in the Dad.Work community, to provide perspective, new ideas, and motivation for you to continue on your journey to becoming the best man, partner, and father you can be.

I recently talked to one of my dad groups to let them know that I was not really sure that they fully had my back!

As a dad and as a man, it’s been so difficult to honestly open up about stuff but in this episode, I get to be the most honest and vulnerable I’ve ever been with you all, in regards to why it’s been so difficult for me to build great relationships with other people.

We’ll talk about:

  • Why having friends has been difficult for me
  • What doing the work is like
  • Opening uo to my men’s group and letting them know that I’m not sure they have my back
  • Building relationships and finding friends as a father
  • Vulnerability and openness when building relationships
  • Why to stop expecting from others
  • The fear of being hurt by others
  • Perfectionism and realizing your core wound
  • How your ego and inner child may be representing you to others

Mentioned on this episode:

The village by Dad. Work

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. This is episode number 48, building relationships and finding friends as a dad, this is Friday reflections for January 21 2022. In this episode, I'm going to share with you a very personal, and I think vulnerable story that has happened to me over the last two weeks. And it's sort of a meta understanding of this story, the vulnerability that it takes to tell you this is directly related to the vulnerability that the story goes into. And it's all about building relationships and being open to that and not sabotaging yourself. We're gonna be talking about how my core wounding was coming back to bite me in the ass over and over again, even though I thought I had done so much work on it, it turns out that there's always more to do, I go into why having friends has been so hard for me why I want it more than anything, what that would look like to me, and how I was called out by a new friend, and had to then tell my own men's group that I wasn't sure they actually had my back. So I want you to listen to this one. This is a little bit more personal. And I wanted to share this because it shows you what doing the work is like, thankfully, and I'm so grateful for this, I have done enough of my own inner healing work, that I can make quick work of things like this. These are not a huge issues, but I'm able to see and meditate on and think on and make the neural connections between what this thing was, and this sort of deeper winning beneath that. But it's also a great way for you to see what it looks like when I do my own inner work. What am I thought patterns? What processes do I go through? How do I do the work? How do I process it? What does it feel like? And so I think this will be interesting to you. I'd love to hear if so you can email me obviously curt@dad.work or you can find me on Instagram dadwork.curt send me a message let me know. And you know what if you think this is good episode, and you listen on Apple or Spotify, would you just go hit the star rating leave me a rating and review that would help more dads get this in their pockets in their ears where they needed to start doing their own work. So that's all I'm gonna say about this episode. I hope you enjoy it. Let's get into Episode number 48 Friday reflections for January 21 2022. Let's go.

Okay, dads, this is going to be an example of me doing some of my own work and sharing that with you. So you get an idea of what it looks like in my life. I'm sharing this to you for a reason. And it actually ties into sort of the meta lesson that I want to extend to you today. And the topic is about building relationships and finding friends as a father, or as a man simply as a man. So I'm going to tell you a little bit of a story that happened to me over the last two weeks, this is very fresh, this is very new. And it was a shift. And at this stage in my life as I am focused on building Dad.Work As I am feeling grounded and really positive about my life right now, noticing that I can pull myself back from intrusive thought, from being overwhelmed with the kids from being angry, I can really process all of those things and feel very good and solid in myself. It sometimes comes as a surprise when new things come up for me to work on. And I welcome this surprise, because it's the way that I continue to show up more authentically as myself so that I feel better, even more grounded, less likely to be sabotaged by egoic, defense mechanisms, or triggers. And so I'm just extremely grateful for that the events that I'm going to tell you about. It starts with me expressing to my men's group, one of my men's groups, that I felt as though I had been inviting people over and we'd been having dinners and there was something blocking me from being friends with each and every one of them. And I thought perhaps it was because I was a father and many of them were not. I thought it was because I live a little bit outside of the main city near me. And they lived right in the city, which meant that if we can't just go hang out for an hour once in a while, it's gonna be hard to become friends. I had all these judgments and wonders and curiosity but deeply inside, I felt there was something about me that was almost icy almost hard, almost as though nobody could reach me. And I didn't know why. Because I have worked on this I have worked on being available and extending to people. And I have worked on being supported. I thought and so I express this and some of the responses were okay, well, I am going to support you now that I have an idea. This is what you want. Some of the responses were, well, you're not very good at responding when we reach out to you because you're busy a lot and all these kinds of things. So it's hard to build relationships. So there's a bit of pushback, a bit of support, a typical sort of men's group experience and I went away thinking about this, continuing to do my processing, poking meditating on it journaling. Why was I feeling this way? What did the man Group have to say to me that I want to take care of and I want to move forward with last week, or about a week and a half ago at this point, I made a new friend quite randomly. And he reflected back to me when I was telling him about this story, he actually asked me when the last time was that I was vulnerable and open and shared what was real for me with my group. And me, in the position of leader in this group, I don't always like to take up the space, I want to hold space for the other men who are committed and investing their money in their time to be there, so that I can just hold space and help serve them. Now, the interesting thing about a men's group is that it's supposed to be a brotherhood, they're supposed to be love support, brotherhood, calling one another hanging out with one another, supporting and challenging one another, from the circle leader from the one who is facilitating the men's group, to the members of the men's group, and back and forth between everyone it's supposed to be this cohesive circle, even though there is a leader. And I was not holding up my end of that bargain. I was not being vulnerable with them as much as I could have been. I usually like to assume that I am quite vulnerable, because I think honesty and authenticity and vulnerability are the quickest path to doing the healing work that you need, and being authentic and building relationship. But there's something missing. So clearly, I wasn't doing it very well. And so I admitted to him, yeah, I haven't actually shared anything that's been really real for me lately, I didn't really want to burden them. And he's like, Well, do you think these guys have your backs. And this is such an important part of men's group, we have each other's backs. No matter what unconditionally, you step in the circle, you make the commitment. Now your brother. And I said, I don't know. And that showed up as a huge red flag. Because I had the back of each man in that unconditionally. I believe in my core 100%. You call him me, I'm there. I love you guys. Like this is you are deeply held in my conscience, my soul, my heart. But why didn't I feel like they were going to be able to hold me.

And so I thought on this continuously before my next men's group meeting, because his suggestion was to bring this up, to use this as the vulnerable piece to go and do that work. And so over the course of the week, I came to this conclusion that rather than the guys not reaching out to me, not being able to fit my lifestyle as a father with their single or childless lifestyles, rather than blaming them. This was actually all my responsibility. I had to own that I have been carrying the burden of not needing or expecting my brothers, to have my back, even though I have theirs. And this was a very old story that comes from my perfectionism, my tendency to be a nice guy, if you, if I just do everything that people want, maybe they'll like me. And that, of course, leads to a lot of resentment when things are not met, when needs are not met, or even communicated. Combined with this lifelong feeling for me, that I had to be the emotional bearer and container for all things, including my parents, including everyone else in my family, because it wasn't safe for me to be otherwise, if I expressed my feelings or if I rocked the boat, there would be other people's feelings. And I as a child got to handle the brunt and the burden of all of them. That's how I perceived it, whether or not there was expected of me. That's how my family system my role growing up felt to me. And so I carried this as we do. This is an example of trauma of perceived trauma and wounding small t trauma I'm talking about here that lives inside of us and tells a story about how we ought to behave. And that judges a part of ourself, this part of myself is not worthy. It's not good. When I show it, people get mad. When people get mad, I have to hold their anger because they are incapable of regulating their own nervous systems and protecting me. I am alone, in if I don't want to be alone, I had better make sure I hold everyone's container of emotions. Otherwise, from everything I've experienced, they're probably going to leave me. And so this was my story. This was my this is part of my core wound as a human being. And I've done a lot of work on this. And so to realize that this random piece of inner work that comes up was actually related to this core wound was both terrifying because what else could be related to this that I haven't found, but also exhilarating, because I had done the work, to at least know that this was a pain point for me to know what this had done to me in my life, to know that it hurts that it exists, that I have healed much of it that I have a long way to go, and that I can handle it. And so as I came to understand these things, I was able to note them, I was able to own them. And then in this process of men's work, it was my responsibility to either transform, or drop, or alchemize them. So I noted it, I owned it. And now it was my time to move this energy somehow. Throughout the week, I felt this release happening in my gut. Almost as though there was this boiling sensation. Deep in my gut that was freeing up, it was almost like when you dump baking soda and vinegar down a drain, and it bubbles up. And it's actually cleaning the drain. That's what it felt like deep in my gut. And it was this lightening that I felt was lightning me having to carry the burden of these other men. Because the story behind that, in my own mind, subconsciously, of course, until this point was that if I expect them to have my back,

they might not. And that would mean a lot of negative things to me, it would mean that when I asked them for help, they could say no, because they are too busy. And then they would blame me. They have their own feelings. And when my feelings come up, which happened in my family of origin, when my feelings came up, they were met with bigger feelings that showed me that it was unacceptable. So if I trusted the men in my men's group to have my back, that would have to mean breaking that pattern. So my assumption was, well, why don't I just have their backs. And I'll just not expect to make sure that they have my back too, because that's a lot to ask of someone, you know, I don't want to burden them with that. And if I do burden them with that, they might come back at me and really hurt my inner child, they might blame me and shame me and get bigger than me and tell me that my feelings and needs aren't worth it. And why didn't I know better. And that was scary to think about. And so I held this burden that they should be holding in this reciprocal relationship. I had their backs, but I was also the only one who had mine. Because I didn't trust, I didn't extend, I didn't open myself up. And that is a huge point here. Another fear I have of intimacy, whether it's in my partnership, in my marriage, or with friends, is that if I let myself love fully, it gives the other person power to hurt me. And that is not a risk I have been willing to take for a long time. This was what was blocking my love as a husband and father for many years, I've only recently been able to open my heart fully to my wife and children. By fully I mean to the fullest extent, I can never have known what that felt like before. And I'm continuing to work on that. And so this was a multi triggered approach to both holding the burden and not expecting anybody else to be there for me, and not wanting to open up for fear of being hurt. And I've learned so much here, I just want to touch on that fear of being hurt part. Because I think this happens to a lot of men, a lot of human beings. Love goes hand in hand with the ability of the other person to completely fuck you up. That is just how it is. If you do not give your full hearts to the other person, and if them leaving you, or choosing to move on would not break your heart and throw you into grief and despair. I'm not sure you were truly ever loving. And I say that knowing that I wasn't before because I didn't know how. And I totally get it. I felt it. It's scary to give someone that power, especially when we have not been trained to hold our own container, to heal, to know that we are enough without that love of the other person to know that even though they can break our heart. They cannot ruin it forever. We can always repair it's always still hole in our souls. This is something that I had no idea about. And I think it's important to touch on in case you haven't heard this concept before. To love fully means opening yourself up to the most excruciating pain and that is what makes it true love in my experience. And so I go to men's group after realizing all of this, and I put this into practice. I decide to be vulnerable to let them see me to say here are my needs. Here is my deepest longing. I just want good friends I want friends who when I have a child, they bring over meals and leave it in my fridge. They asked me how things are, and they come over without me even asking. We sit around the fire together talking about our deepest, darkest hopes and fears. We grow old together. As we age, some of us die. And we do this process together. That is what I am missing in my life. And that is what I was trying to cultivate, not knowing that I was actually blocking it. I have a lot of great support from internet colleagues. I've been working online and traveling the world for the last 10 years. And I've made a lot of good people, and made a lot of good friends with a lot of good people. And so that part of my life feels satisfying. But the in person, have your back unconditionally, I'm coming over man, don't tell me you're okay. Because I can tell something's wrong here. I'm

going to come hold you right now. That is the type of friendship that I want more than anything that I don't currently feel I have. And so I told them this. So these are my needs. These are my longings, these are my fears. These are my ones. This is how I feel that you guys might react if I tell you this. And I'm scared that when I admit that I answered that I didn't know you had my backs, you guys are going to be very angry at me. And that's okay, I'm here to take that I can handle it. But I want to be transparent with you. And this was a turning point. It has been already and it's only been a number of weeks. Since this has all happened. I got such fantastic feedback. They listened and held the space for me, which was the first sign that they did truly have my back. One of the things that struck me most was one of the men told me that he didn't know what he had to offer me. Since I always seemed like I had it all together. What could he do? In his own mind thinking imperfect little me? How could I help Curt, who is always presented as so put together in such the leader and never touchable and never vulnerable? What do I have to offer him? Why would he want me to be a friend. And so I learned that through my still perfectionism. And this is something I've been working on for ages, I have been battling against this tendency to appear perfect, so that people will like me, because if they see beneath the perfection and realize that I'm just a normal human with flaws. My belief, again, internally, this traumatic wounding this self limiting belief is that they will not like me. And if they don't like me, they will cast me aside, they will not love me, they will abandon me. And that is my core wound. I don't want to be abandoned. Again, that sucks really, really badly. And so I do all these things to keep people at arm's length, even when I think I'm leading and helping and leaning in and doing all those things. It turns out that my so called perfectionism is actually keeping people farther away. Other men told me they felt drawn in towards me, they felt closer to me, they wanted to support me, they related to what I had to say. And I remembered the power of men's group in this moment, I felt that they actually had my back. And even if they didn't, I wanted to put the responsibility back on them, knowing that I didn't have to hold that anymore, because if they didn't have my back that is on them. It's not on me and I can hold my own broken heart. And so this was the inspiration for the podcast today. I've had men reaching out to me all week, I've had experience I have experienced a lot of support. And that feels good. And feels great. People are listening, they want to be with me, they see that I'm struggling and they are willing to be putting themselves out there. For me. It also feels overwhelming already, even though it's not that much compared to what a lot of people that I observe, have in terms of just quantity of friends reaching out. But I also learned through modeling, from a man in my group that even in my texting behavior, being the one who starts conversations all the time thinking I was always putting in the work. And starting first, I was still holding back. And so this friend of mine sort of dumped on me with things that were going not great in his life or that he just was feeling bad about not even something that was you know, atrocious or terrible, just something that was really annoying him in the moment. And he said Thanks for holding the space and I said man, thank you for bringing this I hear you I got your back Man that sounds like a really sucks. It's gonna be okay I'm here with you. And I say well hold on actually like before I let you go here you just mirrored for me something that I would never have thought to do. And he said what complain? I said no man the ability to express your messy truth with me and know that I have your back. I typically default to sending text messages that are like, Hey, man, how's it going? What's going on? Like, what are you working on this week? How are you feeling? And they never go anywhere. You only feel like I'm doing the right thing in the moment. But from my recent experience, what I learned is that sometimes we just have to dump we have to go like, Hey, man, can you hold this for me? I'm having a bad time. Just a little thing, just to be real. Hey, what's real free right now? Oh, not feeling great. Had to do this thing didn't feel good. It's better now. But I've got that like, lingering feeling in the back of my mind that I did it wrong. It sucks. And the buddy goes, Yeah, I hear you, man sucks. Can you get through this where you do later. And you just like hold each other's back, you have each other's back to hold each other space.

And it's okay. It's like, Oh, my goodness, this is the key to relationship as being messy with people. And I had no idea I thought you had to be perfect so that people would like you. Turns out that people actually like you better when you're messy and authentic and vulnerable and out there and doing the hardship that they see that you are actually putting the work in an effort. And so the point here is to get very curious about how vulnerable you are being and how much of yourself you're offering to the world. It's not that you are not enough, it's that your ego defense mechanism that's keeping you safe, allegedly, is actually keeping you separate. And making you seem like you are more than enough and therefore don't need help, or less than enough and seemingly desperate needy or generally not enjoyable to be around. And so it's probably not the fact that you suck, it's probably not the fact that nobody would like you. It's that whatever your ego is doing to keep you safe to keep your inner child from feeling these feelings of abandonment, wounding trauma from when you were a kid, however your ego is presenting to keep you safe. It's probably keeping people at arm's length because you either look too good, or you look too out of it. So go there. What is your ego protecting? What aren't you letting people see? Ask yourself this journal on this? What do I hide from people? What keeps me from intimacy? What would I tell someone if I didn't care what they thought about me? Ask yourself these questions and see what comes up. I encourage you to extend to the men in your life to be vulnerable to check your long held beliefs. Ask yourself what does friendship mean to me? Are you satisfied with your friendship right now? Are you truly getting your needs met? Or are you simply accepting the societal belief that friends, watch sports, drink beer and talk about women that are not for you? It's okay if it is. But it has to be a hell yes in your gut, to know that that is the truth. Because a lot of times many men, most of us as men, desperately long to go deeper and to be held and to be seen and to be validated and to be supported, to even be challenged, to be given a shit about. But you have to go there, you have to put yourself out there to find that. I also want to invite you to work with us. If you want to space to share about this type of thing. To do your work with a circle of other men like I have been doing. We're launching a new men's group community where I lead a group of dads and in weekly men's groups where we share have each other's backs, challenge each other do processes and training work to become better men, partners and fathers. There's training aspects, there's courses, there's challenges, there's online community, we're creating a brotherhood of fathers in the Dad.Work community that are going to do this together. In fact, tonight, as I'm recording, this is the last meeting of one of my eight week men's groups programs with dads, and we're loving it so much that I'm going to put together a way for us to stay together because even over the weeks, we become so close and I can't imagine leaving these guys. I want to give you a quick testimonial. This is hard for me to do because it allows me to be put in the crosshairs of gloating or being arrogant. And I'm not coming from that place in my heart. You can judge that if you want. But I just want to give you a sense of some of the work we've been doing. Christian from one of our men's group says, I'm sure you hear and see these metamorphosis of men on a regular basis. But for me, this is not to be too cliche, life altering. Again, I wanted to thank you from a very deep and sincere place in my heart, I only hope I can return the favor or offer you something in return as I feel truly indebted to you. I only share this, because it is my deep desire to sit with you in men's group and help you get the same sort of transformation that Christian has had to be there with you to be your brother to have your back to offer my support and then ask you for support when I needed to do the work that it takes to become better men, partners and fathers takes the feedback of other men. And I like to tell men this as a man we are often the rock we are often the container we're often the safe place that everybody else has to go to, and we're supposed to just take it. Well, how do we take it any more when it's our own stuff that we are hurting from?

Can we hold our own container and in some cases, yes, because we are strong. But when it is overwhelming when everything else in the world is against you, when you are healing your own deep, deep wounds, like I've been talking about today, sometimes your own container is not enough. But when you go into a men's circle into a men's group that has 10 other men, and they have combined their container holding skills, and they can hold the weight of your world, suddenly, you can do something about it, suddenly, you can take small steps to heal to be held. One of the podcast guests that I've had on this show, Jason Henderson, he said that all wounding starts in relationship. And therefore all healing must take place in relationship. I think that's incredibly wise. So if this is something that sounds good to you, if you would like this energy of brotherhood, I encourage you to go to dad.work/village dad.work/village VILLAGE at the bottom of the page is an application form. We'd love for you to fill that out if it's interesting to you. And I'd love after that to hop on a quick 15 minute call to be sure that we are a good fit for one another because I want to make sure we can help you and I want to make sure you are going to be a good fit. And if you are let's sit in group together. This kind of work has changed my life and it continues to change my life. Even when I think things are pretty good. It's a space where I can get even more authentic. It's an amazing experience. And I want you to join us go to dad.work/village if you want. And if you don't want, that's fine, too. It might not be for everyone. It's definitely not for everyone. It's hard, takes big commitment. It's not free takes a weekly meeting that you have to show up to have to confront yourself and be challenged in an uncomfortable situation. And that's where you grow. But for the men who are not ready, then please keep listening. I don't know how this is gonna turn out. But I feel in my gut right now that this was probably a pretty good episode, because I felt vulnerable. Because this is real for me, because I think it's real for other guys too. And so I hope I got the message across Well, I hope that it was able to be understood and that the points were meaningful to you. And if it was please just keep listening. Find me on Instagram dadwork.curt find my email list, you can actually get our free 14 day better man better dad email series at dad.work/email, continue to follow whatever method is best for you. Because we're just gonna keep sending out all this stuff. And this is stuff that has worked for me in my journey from being a sad, miserable, angry, lonely, terrible father and husband to being the calm confident leader I am today. So I hope this helps simply sharing my journey. If there's a piece of it that works for you, please take that and apply it to your life. Let me know if I can support any other way. Thanks for listening. Have an excellent weekend with your family. We'll see you back here on Monday

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 review work with us go to dad.work/pod that's DAD.WORK/POD. type that into your browser just like a normal URL dad.work/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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