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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 talk about what people don’t tell you about the healing journey…what it’s like when you actually get better.
I answer questions from a man in my men’s group for dads about my journey and what it looked like.
And I talk about expecting and accepting the trust tests your wife and kids may give to you to prove that you are genuinely healed and transformed.
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 54. What a successful healing journey looks like as a father and how to navigate your relationship as you heal. This is a Friday reflections episode where I will do a solo chat about everything is going on in my life, or lessons I have learned along my path that might help you. And I think this is a very good episode, I just finished recording it and recording the intro afterwards. And I answer a variety of questions from one of the men in my men's groups who was asking about what it looked like to do my healing journey and how it related to me as a husband, because I recently made a post on Instagram about what it looks like to be tested by your wife as you're going through this healing journey so that she can trust you again. Because often on our journeys of being miserable, non awake, hurting wounded men, we break trust. And we sort of lay to waste everything in our path, including our relationships. And so what does it look like then to reestablish trust, I'm going to tell you that at the end of this episode, what to look like, in my case, at least, if you would like to join us in a weekly men's group, there are still a couple of spots left, at least in the Wednesday group. By the time this comes out, we might have one spot left Thursday group, please apply at dad.work/group. We meet every week. And it's a safe place to share, to be seen to be heard to be supported to be challenged by other fathers who are walking the path of conscious fatherhood. This is where lives are changed, guys, and I am in there every single week with you doing the work right alongside you and building brotherhood. So if that sounds cool headed DAD.WORK/GROUP Otherwise, enjoy this episode of the Dad.Work podcast Friday reflections number 54. Here we go.
Hey, dads, I want to talk to you today about what it actually looks like to go through a successful healing journey. A lot of people talk about what it's like to be in the midst of it to notice that something feels wrong, that you are not living an authentic life that lights you up that you're always in fear or anxiety or depression. And that's so important, obviously. And I have found that there are challenges that come on the other side of a healing journey. Because if you think that everything's going to be roses, it's going to be so amazing things will be wonderful, you won't feel bad anymore. And man, like just rays of sunshine will be coming down from the heavens above. And I would like to tell you a little bit about my story. And this came up for me because I made a post yesterday on the expectations you should have as a healed man, for your wife to push and test and really see if she can trust you again. Because we often break trust through our relationships based on our actions that are often wounding or trauma based or conditioning based. And it takes a long time, it can take a long time to rebuild that trust in relationship. And so I made this post yesterday and I had a conversation with one of the men in our men's group for dads. And he actually sent me like seven really good questions that got me thinking about the answers, which really relate to how I went about my healing journey, what it looked like how it impacted my wife, my family. And so I want to go into that with you today. So I will answer these questions from the man in my man's group. And I want to talk a little bit at the end about expecting to be tested by your wife or your children even or any other close relationships to really be sure that you have done your work. And so the question that will start us off is what was the moment that you knew you couldn't go back to the way you were living? Was there an impactful event? Or was it a slow boil that you are no longer comfortable living with anymore? And the answer for me is that it was kind of both. There were instances along the way that felt like rock bottom. But it all started with simply hating how I was relating to my wife and my son. When I became a father I was young, I was miserable. There was a lot of pain involved and unhealed childhood wounds and traumas and conditioning that we're not even aware I was not even aware of. They weren't even in my sort of conscious mind. They were all subconscious. And I acted in such a way that was mean and scary and just really angry and miserable all the time. And so as this occurred, and I didn't know what to do, but I knew that I didn't want to screw up my kid any more than I already was doing. And I saw that I was not having a loving, supportive relationship with my wife and things just weren't feeling good at all. I wanted to do better and I had no idea what the case was going to be how I would get better. And it sort of fell into my lap and I was introduced to meditation by a business person that I was following. I was trying to build my own business at the time and I was using a lot of his tools and techniques to build my own. And he said in passing that he was very meditating and it was making you more productive. I thought, okay, great, fantastic. It makes me more productive at work. I'm all a game. But what it did was it opened my awareness. And it allowed me to get ahead of my reaction so that I could respond to things. And that was sort of the first time that I realized I could actually do something. So that was one event. I also remember events, specifically in Thailand. And I shared about this elsewhere. But I can remember being so overwhelmed being so out of my element, having let all of my self care habits fall to the wayside as we first moved to Thailand, and dealing so poorly with the larger reactions that my children were having, because we had just upended their life and made perfect sense. But I couldn't deal with it because I needed to be in control. And my fear said that if I was out of control, and that the people in our sort of shared apartment, heard the screaming of children that we would get kicked out, or we'd get ostracized, and we didn't know anybody in the country, we didn't even know where to get groceries, I was so bloody overwhelmed. And I was really acting terribly, you know, trying to forcibly stop my children from screaming and being loud and mean and in their face and trying to scare them into submission. And I remember lying on the floor, the concrete floor of the cold concrete floor of this Thai apartment, and like literally punching it in pain, as tears stream down my face, and I just was bawling. And this felt like rock bottom. And I feel like that happened probably two or three times. But what it did is it constantly got me back into the mindset that I needed to actually do the work. And so you'd start to get a little bit better, and then come off the rails again, and you weren't quite sure why you reacted so poorly again, and
then you just, for me, at least went off into sort of a shame spiral and a pity party. But every time that I hit rock bottom, it reminded me that I had so much work to do, and that I needed to take this seriously and almost looked at it like a full time job. So it was a general accumulation of having treated everyone like shit because I felt like shit. And a number of dark moments, dark nights of the soul, if you will, where things seem hopeless. And I thought my family would be better off if I was dead. And so these things sort of came together. But it was, depending on the day, it was slow boil and specific events. The next question is, did you have a plan in mind for your change or a clear path forward? Were you able to articulate your vision to yourself first and be able to bring it to your wife with clarity? And the answer to that is that I did not have a plan in mind, I had no idea what was even wrong with me, this type of work is so deep and so harrowing, especially when you start that you don't even know what you don't know. And that's sort of the playground in which we play doing this work. Why do I act like this? What are the sort of psychological underpinnings? Why am I triggered by this? What was my relationship with my father and my mother, like what happened as a kid like there's so much to go through that you kind of just have to start. And for me, starting is always about increasing your awareness and your mindfulness. So slow, walking, meditation, journaling, breathing intentionally. Anything that can allow you to get a deeper awareness of what is currently happening, seems to be at least in my experience, the pathway to a greater understanding of what's going on inside, which then allows you to start doing the work and the targeted work and at least Googling, what do I do when and then you put in, you know, your specific issue. And so my vision to myself was, I am going to unfuck myself, that is all I told myself, I will unfuck myself, because I'm so fucked up right now. And I made this commitment repeatedly, to my wife. And I am so grateful that she showed me the grace and the patience to stay with me when I was acting so poorly and breaking my work time and time again, because I deeply, deeply wanted to change. But I didn't know how and so I kept screwing up along the way. So my vision was just like, here's what I'm doing, here's what feels bad. And that took a while even to come to that point where I could communicate that because at first it was just shame and guilt. And like, I'm definitely going to do something to fix this. I cannot keep acting like this. I know how bad it feels to you guys. And that was it. Like I just had to white knuckle it along my journey and continue to apologize. Every time I screwed up, which was almost every day. The next question is how were you supported along the way friends, men's group? Did your wife support you? My support really was myself and my wife. I don't have a long history of deep friendships. I have very few legacy friends, if you will, because I moved around so much as a kid and as an adult, that most of my friendships were sort of online, and I didn't have many Group until about three years ago now. And so the first, you know, five years of my journey, six years of my journey were completely alone, other than my wife, not leaving me, and, you know, can believing in me or being scared of me or whatever it was. But she's also perhaps the smartest person I know, in terms of seeing into people and seeing what's real, and seeing what's underneath that. So she did help me quite a lot. But it was quite a lonely journey. And I think based on my experience, and what I've seen with other men, I think it would have been a lot a lot faster and less painful. If I was in a men's group, if I could have brought this to anyone, and shared how I was feeling because when I joined a men's group, things just went on, like overdrive basically was like rocket fuel to the journey. And I've seen that with other men as well. They can get through in a year, what took me like five years to get through with the support and the knowledge of facilitator, that would have helped me a lot. The next question is, what things did you have to leave behind in order to bring conscious living into your life. And there's a lot this is sometimes we do processes like this in men's work, where you sort of claim ownership to what you're going to drop, because often parts of ourselves have to die in order for authentic parts to be reborn. And so some of the things that come up to me right now are control in many, many ways, controlling what other people thought controlling how other people acted, controlling my reactions to everything, so that people would think I'm perfect. Like, so much of my journey was like releasing control, and I still struggle with this big time, I'd love to just be in control. Like,
if I was king of the world, things would be great. Just trust me on that. Because I just want to control everything. Because I think I'm very good at doing things. And so why would everyone else not trust me to do that for their lives? And go, you can probably answer that for yourself. It's not very good. So control was probably the biggest thing, the identifying as my wounded inner child was perhaps the maybe least obvious but most important thing I had to let go of, because for ages identified as this hurt three year old who just wanted, you know, mommy and daddy to be there be bigger than him somebody who could just take my burden. Let me be a kid, man, you know, like, just let me be a kid for a while. And identified as that hurt three year old for ages. And it wasn't until I was able to say that, to identify a note and own it. In a meeting with my grandfather, who I meet regularly with that, I got to grieve. And I got to let go of that part of myself and leave it behind and step fully into a mature masculinity into manhood. I feel like that was a huge part of my initiation journey. What changes is the next question, What changes have you noticed within your family, since you've made these changes? Pretty much everything, like every thing that I was doing is mostly fixed in in large part now. And when you are the worst part of your family's life, if you get better, a lot of the problems go away. And so I am not constantly miserable. My wife is not constantly miserable, I am not actively making my wife and children cry and live in fear. I feel closer to everyone. I feel like my heart is more open, we connect more deeply, we support one another more. The reactions of everyone else in my family are a lot more chill now because they're not constantly on edge with me. And because I as a father set the tone in the household to a very large degree, things are generally just happier and more upbeat and less serious about figuring this out all the time. And people are able to make mistakes without me criticizing them all the time, they're able to try new things and step more fully into their own identities, rather than an ego defense identity that is being created to keep them safe from my wrath. I think that's perhaps the best part of all is that everyone else can show up more authentically, because they're not protecting their, their hearts for me. And so everything has changed, like literally everything. And that's wonderful. Because things are terrible. I really did not enjoy any part of my home life. I only wanted to work, I only wanted to not feel what I was feeling. And to have that 360 degree or 180 degree change is remarkable because now, I really love being with my wife and I love playing with my kids. And I just I love the home life. And it's taken me forever because I just thought like, well, I guess I'm just a dude who likes to work and that's who I am. And that's changed significantly. Next question is What have been the actions that bring the most impactful and positive changes? And like I say all the time, it starts with becoming more aware. You have to have a mindfulness practice. And I don't care if you don't like meditating. That's part of your meditation. What is the block? Why are you So, why do you suck at meditating? Why can't you sit still with yourself for five or 10 minutes? Like, what is that? Can you do it for one minute? Can you do it for a minute? 30 The next day, can you do it for two minutes a day after that, you have to be able to do something. And look, if it's not meditating, I think everyone should probably meditate. But if you can't do something like walking, breathe intentionally 10 deep breaths, so that you feel more grounded and connected to your body, get out of your head, and into your body in some way. This is like the most fundamental impactful change you can make and everything else follows. I think that authenticity requires awareness. And awareness requires mindful practice, you have to continue to practice and stop that monkey mind, stop
the thought stop, not stop the thoughts, but stop identifying with the thoughts as though their reality that has been the biggest thing I still meditate all the time, I still journal all the time, I still do breath work, I still exercise like some of these very basic self care, things cannot be overlooked. If you do not eat well, if you do not drink a lot of water if you do not exercise. If you don't have general self care, mindfulness practices, start there. Like don't medicate, don't go to the doctor, don't try and get counseling or anything like that, until you've taken care of the very fundamental basics. And I say that very carefully, because you need to get whatever help you need. But if you are not taking care of the very fundamental parts of being a human being with a body, like what are you doing, you have to start there, you have to start with you and filling up your own cup so that you can help everyone else in your family fill up. There's some of the other things are learning how to communicate better. Learning about love and open heartedness, learning about polarity in relationships between the masculine and the feminine, learning how to parent, like most people become parents and just go like, Oh, well, I'm gonna do whatever comes to me. And usually that's a repetition of what they got as a child. And typically, that's not the best. And so I had to learn a lot about gentle parenting, mindful parenting, secure attachment, emotional intelligence, all that kind of stuff. How do you raise a child who feels like they can be authentically themselves and be resilient and be loving and accept love? Like, there's all these things that go into how you want to mindfully show up as a parent, and a lot of its active? Like, I spent so many years in my own shit, because I was the worst part of their lives, that once I wasn't, I had to wake up and go like, Oh, no, what do they actually need for me now that I'm no longer hurting them. And so that was extremely impactful in learning how to parent and learning how to connect and what do boys need what to girls need from their fathers specifically. And for boys, at least in my case, I love what John Eldridge says in his book Wild at Heart, the boys need to know the answer to do I have what it takes? Am I enough? And that is such an important question that requires challenge and requires active participation from a father that he says for girls that girls need to know that they are worth fighting for that they're desirable. And I think that if you can go into everything that you're doing, and just try to be more mindful, whether that's communication, whether that's relationship, whether that's parenting, like just feel more deeply into what is authentically real for you in that moment, and go from there. Like that's what all of these things come back to conflict resolution communication relationship, it's all about being so present in your own heart, in your own body, that you just intuitively know what to do. And that's where I try and go in as many places as possible in my life. The next question is, ultimately have the changes you've made brought you closer to your wife? And would she say the same, and this is like 100,000 million percent. We have been married for 10 years, next month. And it has literally never been better. I feel so filled up, I feel excited about what's to come. I am so attracted to her. I'm just like, really, really loving my role as husband right now. And that's so interesting, because I thought that you just sort of got married. And you know, if it worked, which in my experience, family wise, like never happened. So I was like, that's the one thing that I wanted out of this is like, we will not get divorced, because I wonder what it would look like for our kids to have a non broken family. Imagine that that would be amazing. So we luckily have been growing together, not apart because that's hard. A lot of times if each party is doing their work, they will realize that they are growing apart or one party doesn't work and the other one doesn't. And then of course you're gonna grow apart. What do you do then? Well, we were lucky enough to support one another in such a way that we both were able to grow in the same direction on the similar path. And yeah, it's just been fantastic. It's now perhaps one of the best parts of my life. Whereas before it was like one of the most painful parts of my life because I just kept fucking up. And yes, she would say the same. We talk about this all the time. Like we just have open communication at all times. We were talking last night even like, I feel so light and not burdened in our relationship because we share everything right away. Or as soon as we are able to figure out what we need to say and what our needs are an order boundaries are like nothing ever gets held in resentment. There's no, like long term things that we bottle up and don't tell. It's just like, Look, I know there's probably going to be a fight if we need to do this in a way that's not mindful. But like, here's what's real.
I didn't like this, or here's what I'm seeing, or here's what I'm judging. And sometimes I'm wrong. Sometimes she's wrong. And sometimes we just have to work it out. And maybe it gets fiery for a little bit. But communication is so much better. And it just like it fills both of our cups in such a way that man I can't imagine, like having to start dating right now. I can imagine being you know, early to mid 30s, and not having 10 years with someone because I even heard yesterday from another friend, he was saying that in this Harvard study of happiness, I think it was and longevity and whatever else we're looking at as a very long lasting study, they found that, you know, relationships, and monogamous relationships, marriage are one of the highest indicators of happiness as we grow, especially in 40s 50s 60s 70s. And beyond. It just seems to grow more and more happy and content in these relationships. Because there's such a deposit having been made in the last 1020 3040 years of marriage, in this one relationship, you've gone through so much together. And I feel like that's what we're doing that we've been married for 10 years, sometimes it feels like 20. Because of all the stuff we've packed into it with Thailand and everything like that. We feel like we've learned, you know, 10 years of stuff every year, just about just because how, how real we've kept it and how much we've lived and how deep we've gone and not been afraid to go there with one another. So yes, I intend to have her on the podcast. At some point, we've talked about that a little bit. It's mostly just a matter of timing with the kids. But we will definitely do a talk together. And I think our talks are really fascinating. And I love them even just like driving somewhere with the kids, we often go like, Oh man, if we just were recording this right now, it'd be a sweet podcast. So I'll have her on sooner, she can talk to all of this as well. And I just want to end on the expectation you should have if you are doing this work, to be tested by your wife, and to realize that it's going to be really hard when you are faced with all the reminders of how you used to be. So let me just start with that. Actually, when you come across, when you come to the other side of your healing journey, and you're like, Man, I'm so good. Now everything's gonna be sweet, like people just be so amazed at this differently. And then people don't realize that you've changed because how could they you've only recently healed or transformed. And they treat you in the same way that they would have the old you. And you're like, Whoa, no, I'm different. Now, like, you don't have to be angry at me like, I'm not going to be angry at you. And yet, they don't know that your children, your wife, friends may react to you in ways that are triggering. Because you're like, Dude, I've done so much work, why are you still treating me like this, or your child will react to you, because of how you usually react to them. For example, if you have been overbearing and scary and yelling and angry, and your child has picked that up, and then he responds to a simple request from you, even if you made it mindfully, and he yells back at you, or makes that really annoying noise that you hate. And you're like, No, man, I've done years of work on this, I'm better now Why are you treating me like this, I don't want to deal with this. Like, I shouldn't have to deal with this after having done all of my own work. Well, sorry, dude. That's what you get for healing, you get to use the tools that you've gained, you get to use this new, mindful, considerate place in your heart and your mind to deal with everything that comes up from how you used to act, you have to pay the price, basically, you have to get your lumps in for how you treated everyone else. So as soon as they are able to be themselves and act in a way that feels good for them. And that is protective of them, they are going to do that and it's going to hurt, you're going to have to pay the price, you're gonna have to repent, and it's not going to be pretty. And you must, and you're going to be in a place where you can probably sit with this better than you would have been able to obviously, if you truly have healed, if you truly have turned the corner in transformational work, you're going to be able to sit with that, but it's going to suck and you have to just let it ride. Because of course, this is how the people are treating you Of course, these are their reactions after you've spent perhaps years treating everyone else like shit because you hurt. So yeah, you're gonna have to get used to this and it's not pretty for the first while at least, eventually, people will start to trust you. And eventually the reactions will die down and eventually they will treat you like the healed, authentic man you now are but especially with your wife, in my case, at least, I had to deal with a lot of testing because I came back from a variety of journeys and I was different and I was saying different things. And I was more open hearted and I was not angry when I usually would have been angry. And the reaction I got was, yeah, right. Like, I don't really believe this, because I spent, you know, my wife saying this, I
spent the last 678 years dealing with your shed, why would I trust that you're just suddenly better. And so it was like a long journey of me having to be impeccable with my word, and how I acted and my mindfulness and my loving, and how I showed up, I had to be that man that I said, I was over and over and over, until she trusted me again. And there were times when she tested that trust poked me was almost overwhelming to me in a way that she knew would elicit a reaction in the old me. So she would do things that were within her right to test whether she really could trust me because she wanted to feel safe with me, she didn't want to trust that I was different, and then be blindsided by me screaming at her again. Because when you let those guards and those boundaries and those barriers down in your heart, it hurts way more, when they're crossed. In in relationship, you have to be able to trust each other's hearts and to hold each other's hearts, knowing that love also means you could crush someone at any time by withholding or betraying that love. And when you're in relationship with someone like I used to be, it makes sense to put walls up around your heart. And so if she just took all those walls down, and I wasn't really healed, man that would have hurt, it makes perfect sense that you wanted a test to see if I could handle it. So testing and poking and prodding, and all of the things that would have otherwise made me lose my shit, I had to sit with that and be graceful, and allow that to happen and hold space and prove that I could be trusted. And I was okay with that. Because I knew that I needed to re earn that trust, because I broken it so many times along the way. So I hope that this was eye opening a little bit in terms of what it looks like to go through a healing journey. And to come out the other side. And I have such a hard time talking about that. Because clearly I'm not done, I will never be done my work. I think it's a lifelong pursuit. And I will constantly be getting more authentic, more real, more loving, more grounded, and I really am excited for the rest of my life doing this work. And it is simply a fact that I am triggered significantly less than it used to be that I feel like a man and no longer a boy that I show up as a calm, confident leader in my house. And two men think all these things are simply true. So I have been successful. And I feel weird saying that because like I don't want anybody to think like, Oh, this guy's arrogant. He doesn't know that he has more work to do, like, No, I've got a lot more work to do. And the worst of it is behind me. And that feels so good. Because it plays out in my life. I see it in my relationships, and I get reflected back. I'm held accountable in my men's groups, like all of these things are showing me that yeah, it works. And there is hope. I felt hopeless, I literally thought it would be better for my wife and my kids if I was dead than in their lives. And I even knew the statistics of fatherless homes. Okay, so that's how hopeless I was. If you're somewhere along that journey between where I am now and where I was, there is so much hope to keep doing the work, do the work, like it's your full time job, because one day you will get better. And you will get to feel challenged by everyone in your life. And one thing I didn't mention, which I will is that after the trust is rebuilt and relationships like this, man to things get better. They get so better. And I answered that in one of the questions, which is, you know, what, have you noticed the changes in your family. But eventually, when you rebuild that trust, and you truly are changed, man, life gets so good. And I didn't even know life could be good. I thought it was just a series of feeling miserable and anxious. And I gotta say, it's not that and I'm so glad it's not that there is hope there's love. There's all these things on the other side of this, and you just have to keep going even when it seems impossible. I'm here to tell you it's not. And you can make it. So hopefully this has been useful. Let me know if you have any other questions. I love answering questions like this in podcast form. And I think this is why I'd love to offer office hours as part of our upcoming community that we're building. So anyway, that's it for me. If you have any questions, let me know firstname.lastname@example.org, make sure to leave a review on Apple if this was useful. And yeah, that's it. Hope you guys have a great weekend with your family, make sure to spend 510 minutes at least per person per day, giving 100% attention. And it doesn't have to be hours and hours and hours, but few minutes of 200% attention is better than a few hours of 20% attention. So make sure you get in there and enjoy your weekend. And here's the question. What if this was fun? Before I leave, I just want to touch on that because I've asked myself this instead of being stressful. What if this was fun? What would that look like? Could you feel the relief of that question in your body? Maybe play without this weekend? What if this was fun? And we'll see you next week on Monday with another episode of the Dad.Work podcast. Peace
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.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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