June 16, 2022

E333: Why I joined Men's Group Therapy | Trauma Healing Coach

In this episode, I talk about why I joined Men's Group Therapy.
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e333-why-i-joined-mens-group-therapy-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes

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In this episode, I talk about why I joined Men's Group Therapy.

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I remember the day that it hit me; the day that I realized that I hated other men.

What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. Yesterday, I was having dinner with a friend and then breakfast with a friend, the next day both days I'm sitting having these conversations and eating breaking bread with these two really amazing men in my life both similar and an age and experience but very different backgrounds, very different walks of life, very different things out of blood to where we are today. And in both the conversations something really fascinating came up that I've known but it's interesting as you grow you see this connection starting to happen more, around the truth that a lot of us grow up being the word that I wanna use here and I don't wanna be calis when I said this, we growing up hating each other as men. And for some of us maybe hate strong but hear me out, you know, when I was a child my step father really reinforced me fear like this massive, massive sense of fear and that fear was a violence – mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, violence that came from his hands, he was arguably the most abusive person in my life, he would literally beat the shit out of my brothers and I, he would smash my head into the walls, you know, the whole nine and that was just the physical side, the emotional side might have been worse actually because those ideas get instilled in us about our worth, about our validation in the world, about who we are and it felt like constantly my identity. And you guys, have heard me talk about childhood trauma theft identity, that whole idea that I've been sitting in for the last year or so started because I realized it was my step father had stripped me of my identity probably more so than my mother and my grandmother community so and so forth, right? So, was making meaning in these conversations I'm having with these guys and just realizing like, wow, wait a second, the thing that we had in common was the willingness that we had to step in through discomfort to connect with other men. And for me, what happened is when I was about thirty years old, I started kind of looking at the men in my life up to that point and there been some really amazing men in my life and there's been really fucking terrible men in my life, a lot of those were friends or mentors or whatever, the whole walk. At thirty years old, I was sitting Monday day it was in therapy and I realized that one of the things that I felt so desperately, probably more so than anything else was a lack of connection with men because growing up what happened and again you have to understand causation and correlation in this conversation like, how do you get to this place. And what I realized was that growing up in a violent household with a man who beat the shit out of me, made me terrified of men.

Growing up not having my father in my life having never really met him or connected with him or have him around at any capacity made me want to be avoid of men. Growing up this super poor homeless kid along with my brothers put me in the situation where in school the other boys would pick on me, they would bully me, they would whatever comes along with that and so that made me not want to be in connection with boys either and so that leads to this place where it ends up being this thing where I notice there's this massive disconnect with my relationship and men. And then what I started to notice and especially in my twenties now of course like, anything guys hindsight, I assure you as twenty twenty vision because in the moment, I didn't realize it. Now, I'm not going to shit on all the guys who were friends with me and my late teens and twenties because some of those men are still in my life and I still love and cherish greatly. Some of them may know listen to this show all the time and some of them not so much and I think that's just a part of this journey of life. And so, on the one hand, I have these guys who pushed me and wanted me to be great and on the other hand I had these other guys who they just wouldn't me to party and be drunk guy and have fun. And you kind figure that out as you go, right? Well, fast forward again to thirty years old, I realized that there was this massive emotional disconnect between me and other men and the brotherhood that I had been seeking that I thought was the thing that I wanted at a deeper level was bathed in things that were not bringing value to my life.It was bathed in money, cars, drugs, women, food and all that shit you guys have heard me say this a million times. And what happened I was in that moment recognizing the lack of emotional capacity that I had in terms of connection with other men and I made a decision to join a Men’s trauma therapy group and it was fucking terrifying, I’ll never forget it, I'll never forget.

So, what happened was I'll paint a picture for you.

I had to go to therapist office first, he had been a guy I had sought out, who I knew was an expert in this space, who I've felt really could benefit me and help me and with him and in connection with him, I asked him hey, can I join your group because I knew they had the group and I think he'd been my therapist for a month or so maybe two months before I made the request. And so, he asked me a question and it's not that it caught me off guard but I didn't really know how to answer it and felt very strange in the moment. Now, I understand why he asked me a question, he said, are you willing to actually talk? And I was like, bitch sitting here talking to you right now, what are you talking about? And what that question actually meant was like if I stepped into that room, that's circle of these men sitting here, would I be willing to actually speak my truth, to have a conversation, to look at and acknowledge the experiences of my past that led me to this moment.

And I sat there for a second, really thinking about that because here I was in this new depth of therapy and I was doing gestalt if you're familiar and it was really, really powerful for me because what I started to kind of like puzzle piece together were the experiences of life that had brought me to that place. And I thought to myself well, what is the point and the meaning of all of this? The answer of course as you know was, what am I willing to do to have the life that I want to have? The answer being, no excuses just results and in that the willingness to follow up and show up and follow through for the things that I believe are going to move me further into what it is that I wanna create in my life. So, the answer as I sat across from him was yes, I’ll show up and that decision singular in that moment felt like the scariest thing I'd ever said, yes to in my life because I had so much, I wish I could convey in words that would really carry the weight of what I'm about to say but I don't think I can because from an emotional standpoint it was so heavy, because my attitude towards men in general especially around emotional things were like, I don't like them, I don't wanna be around them, there was a lot of fear. This is a thing people do not talk about and the reason that sparked this conversation when I'm getting into is because as I'm having dinner and having conversations with these friends, these men friends of mine, we all kinda came to the same conclusion, there was always some kind of disconnect for us as boys as having emotional connection with men. And so, as I'm sitting across from the therapist, making this decision, getting struck by this idea that I don't have any emotional connection to men any capacity and understanding that I want to attempt to build that, it required me really effectively to step into fear, a deep-deep sense of fear because I was terrified like, it was the fear of judgment of shame, of guilt, of not being manly enough, of not being someone who had a shit together, of not being strong, you know, words you hear all the time when people are having comparison and I was very much in that space and there's this whole space and time between the moment that I said, yes and then we actually having the first session with these guys.

In that space and it makes sense what I’m about to say.

There had to be an approval to enter the group it was an approval in ie and someone's going to check off some boxes and see if you qualify but it was they had to be willing to welcome someone else and I wanna say it was about two weeks before I got the confirmation and every day just constantly for two weeks, I felt this massive sense of anxiety and that anxiety was like, what if they reject me? What if they say no? What am I gonna do? Because I want this, right? I want so badly to be able to connect with other men and to share this vulnerable experience and to put myself out there in a way that is going to be beneficial for me. And it just it kinda haunted me for two weeks and then at one point I distinctly remember this, I was walking home, I think I'd grabbed lunch up there's this like Teri Chicken place I used to go all the time and walking back home like, I don't know thirty minute walk I chose to walk that day because it was a nice day and I remember a sense of anger coming over me like, this massive, almost rage again that word hate that I used came up and I was like fuck those guys because it been like eight days or something, I was like fuck. And that was just me, you know, throwing up a wall and putting it there to keep people out like, I recognize I understand that about myself. And in that the next day because I didn't not have the tools seven years ago to see what I'm about to say because today I just be like oh, yeah, I understand where that comes from, it'll be fine seven years ago it was like, I'm harbor in the chaos of that.

And so, the next day or it might have been two days later, I get the call, hey, you've accepted the guys wanna have you come in but the way that we always do this is its preliminary so, you come in for a month, you do these sessions and at the end of the month everyone will actually vote whether or not you stay. And I was like, what the fuck is this survivor, I literally said that on the phone to my therapist because look dude, we created it this way for a reason and it's beneficial on all sides, so it's reciprocal on all sides, so its people pushing each other on all sides. I thought to myself, oh, okay, that's interesting that makes sense to me, I'm willing to go through that, I'm willing to put myself in this what felt like a precarious situation of massive discomfort for a month not knowing the outcome for the very thing that it is that I wanted connection emotionally with other men and a healthy in and safe space and I said alright, let's do it. And the next week, I go to the first session and I walk in this room and there's these five guys and in the therapist not the burger places it's funny, I used to joke about that it's not even that funny but it's funny to me. And I'm sitting there, I walk in and all eyes are on you, you're the new guy, now they're talking but you can kind of feel the fucking tension in the room not necessarily like a bad tension but just the tension of the unknown. And I'm sitting there the sessions about to start and therapist goes alright, this is how we do this, ‘first thing we're gonna do is we're all gonna do a check-in and the check-in was very simple’ where for two minutes you just talked about your week or your day or the moment you were in and then they were going to have me introduce myself and a deeper level, they didn't wanna interrupt the flow of the check-in which I actually respect, I thought that was really cool because I did not want the fucking spotlight on me like honestly so, uncomfortable a moment, I was like do not make me do this first. Then what I would find out is like there was kinda like, this system where it kinda always started with the seat you were in and I won't only get into that but so the first guy goes in next guy goes I'm the fourth guy and I go when I do my check-in and I'm like, I'm just really fucking nervous about being here and I said it exactly like that. And you could kinda see the look the other guy's faces and there was a little bit of nod in the room that I get that, yeah, we all have this experience too we've been in that seat and just kind of like the seeing that feeling the expression of their reaction to that calmed me and the next guy goes, next guy goes and I'm kinda rap and kinda get into this thing where whoever wants to take space, take space except because it was my first day, what I had to do was talk about my story.

Now at this point it's been probably four years that I'd been having these conversations, talking about some of the darkness that had happened. And you know, I've always told you guys on this show, there's things I will literally never say on this podcast, they just do not see need to see the light of day I cannot fathom a planet on which these things need to be said in a public aspect like this with tens and tens of thousands of people listening and that's just because they're so fucking dark, right? I've healed those things of move through those things but they're just very, very dark. And as I sat there and it was my time to go through, it was about that emotional dump and it was actually the first time I've done it outside of a one-on-one therapy situation. And as a sat there with these guys, just feeling, they were all looking at me too not in a judgment way but obviously I'm fucking in the room talking I'm the new guy they're looking at me and they just start to paint this picture. I talk about my mother cutting my finger off, I talk about being homeless, I talk about bad wedding, I talk about putting a restraining order on my mom, I talk about the abusive psychopathic grandmother who's a racist my step father never meeting my dad, the high school dilemma, the money, the sex, the drugs, the cars all that stuff and also talked about the other things; the things that I again will never say on this show. And it was fucking heavy because it was like here I am in this room and let me preface this case I might have maybe glazed over it too quickly, I was encouraged to just lay it all out on the table by my therapist leading up, he said, you know, this is a space for you to come in and keep it real and these guys are gonna see through your bullshit if you come in hear bullshit. He said, you know, in this space the thing that you can do is be yourself and know that there's no shame, no guilt, no judgment and that doesn't mean that people in this room, these men in this room aren't going to push you or push back or call you out and I was like great, that's exactly what I fucking want and he encouragement me said, dude, just lay it all out, if the whole session is yours everyone in that room will get it, you lay it all out.

And that's exactly what I did and at points in it just tearing up, feeling massive sense of anger just sharing the story and kind of wrapping it up and saying you know, I hate that I'm even in this room with you guys but I know that it's gonna change my life. And seeing the reaction from that, that was like my closing sentence like oh, fucking, I don’t wanna be here, I hate all of you but really sucks but I know it's gonna matter. And so, I have this this moment with them and what was really beautiful about that moment is that every single one of them and were just like dude, we get it, we understand why you're here, we're here for the same purpose, we wanna build and bond and connect and go through and work through the chaos of our lives to become better versions of ourself, to be better men. It was the first time I'd felt a real sense of connection, now that would grow over the couple of years that I was in that group but initially it was very much a back and forth and there'd be good days in that room and there would be bad days in that room and there'd be days where there's a lot of fucking anger in that room and there were days that we called each other out in that room and there's days we pissed each other off but there's days we've loved each other and hugged each other and brought each other massive value and showed care for each other.

You know, I'll put it this way, did what we needed that we didn't get when we were boys. I mean, I'm even get low emotional thinking about it because it was beautiful and it's hard to describe, it's hard to describe when you actually have that moment happened in your life, where that thing that you're seeking is like right there and you're like oh, my god, like this is what I was looking for, this level of connection, this level love, this level of admiration but also this level of like realness and they're were fucking drag out arguments in there, nobody ever hit each other but I'll tell you what we were damn close a couple of times. You know, that's why I think sometimes you definitely need to you know check in with yourself before you walk in a room like that and be like what am I really needing today because without the openness and the willingness to be called out, you're gonna have a real hard fucking time.

I'll never forget, I was sitting across from one of the guys who has played just a tremendous role in my life, somebody I'll never forget the day I die and I mentioned this on the show before he called me out, he goes you don't know how to be angry and I remember like, I literally, go fuck you, I not to be angry, no you know anger, you know how to hurt, you know how to break, you know how to destroy but you don't know how to be the emotion, you don't how to let it sit and exist and be a part of who you are. And I thought about that, in that moment and it really if I could pinpoint any pivotal moment in that men's group program, over the course of that two years, all the hundreds of conversations, so many interactions, so many back and forth, all the everything, nothing brought me more value in that time frame than that one sentence that one call out, that one here does motherfucker pay attention because we are the mirror of who it is that you are and if you're willing to see this it'll change your lifeand that's exactly what happened and he called me out and I sat on that, I was like he's fucking right and it just it hit me so hard, I was like, I know how to break things, I know how to hurt people, I know how to smash and I know how to scream and yell and hit but I don't know how to be in the emotion anger because it was stripped of me. Like, being a little boy, being told anger not okay, being told don't cry, being beat so hard that I literally physically could not cry gasping for air, being beaten ways that it was like if you cry hit you harder and what happened is eventually, I've learned how to put anger at the very bottom.

And so, every time I got mad it would be like this massive lash out and it could be over nothing like my brothers will attest to this all day long. In my teens and my twenties is like the littlest thing would send me through the fucking roof and it was chaos sometimes. You know, the last time I got in a fight and I got on a lot of fights in my life hundreds like I don’t have no idea many fights have been in and the last time I got on a fight was fourth of July like twenty-four years old and punch my brother in the face and I was just like dude, what fuck am I doing right now? And it was over nothing just things that don't even matter like could not possibly matter less than the human experience. But because of the person I was and because of the lack of healing that came up, because I didn't know how to process anger, I didn't know what to do with the emotion of being upset and that call out was so powerful for me in that moment and so, now when anger shows up in my life and know how to navigate it.

And so, couple years in that group had such a profound and tremendous impact on my life, not only in that human connection with men that I was talking about but understanding the truth like, it's okay to have men in your life like, I know this might sound weird if you don't connect to this but the people that do this makes sense and know it makes sense because it made sense for me. And as a look on the other side of the studio right now at the pictures it's me with all these incredible men who have spoken in my life, who was given me their tools, have taught me who have mentored toward me and winged me and shattered me and been what I needed, a depth to get to where I am and who are going to support me to get to where I want to go. And had I not had the moment at thirty years old of recognizing a really strong truth of my fear of men, there's no fucking way I'd be her talking to you right now, I never would have found the courage and never would've have found the bravery and never would have the support to be here having this conversation and I joined that group because I so desperately wanted to be a part of something and because I so desperately wanted to be a part of something that was a about men, I had to go and seek it, I had to go and find it because I found a lot of value in therapy just in general, and I've said that before. I found a lot of value in coaching, I found a lot of value in books, I found a lot of value in support groups but I never found anything I don't have the word for it nothing remotely fucking close to what I found in the emotional and mental support and the pushing and the growth in the healing of being in that men's group and it was everything to me.

Now obviously it was with a spin through therapy but in in the years have been in other men's groups that have been supportive as well, mastermind transformation courses like you name it, just trying to play this a little bit closer and understand it a little bit more and be able to navigate it better this thing called relationships with men. And as I look at some of the guys I've spent time with over the course of the last couple of years like they're fucking amazing, amazing people and what's really interesting is now I'm not scared of them anymore and I'm not afraid of the emotional capacity of connection with them and also I can notice when those men are not emotionally connected, right? I don't necessarily go into this very often on the show but the men that I've coached over the years that of stepped into this journey like, that's amazing fucking amazing to sit her and watch their life change. It is for the women I've coach too and everyone who identifies who they are like that's amazing too. But I'll tell you right now, I heard this quote one time from Neil Strauss and I actually wrote in the book I'll paraphrase because I don't remember the exact quote he said, ‘we are living in a society of men walking around like little boys’and that struck me so hard because I thought to myself that's incredibly true, that's who I was, I was an immature child for a very long time.

Now of course again, causation and correlation, I know why that happened and that's what kind of has driven me into what's starting to happen and Think Unbroken now between writing Unbroken Manwhich will come out in a few months, you can go check that out and pre order that thing everywhere but also getting ready to launch and officially it's kind of unofficial but it's unofficially official right now, The Men's Trauma Transformation Mastermind which is in endeavor six month group coaching program, there's a website up it is the theunbrokenman.com and it's for men and these leadership roles, to get unstuck, to learn who love themselves become the hero of their own story and take control after childhood trauma abuse. And I wanted to create that program because I realized it hit me like, I can't explain it was like it's just when I started Think Unbroken, it just hit me and I was like oh, this is the thing I'm supposed to do in this shift, I'm gonna step into a different lane for a little bit and this thought about working from with men felt incredibly important me it's calling to me in this way I cannot explain.And my hope is that I'm gonna be able in this group, in this community is gonna be able to be the same thing that it was for me seven years ago. And so, as we go through this, there's so much to come, I mean that website is not even ready yet, the program not ready yet, nothing's ever ready yet, I tell you guys this all the time but I'm talking about it because it's ready enough to start having the conversation.

So, if you are a man or if you know a man who is in this position of their life where they know childhood trauma abuse has impacted them and some of their calling signs are very similar to mine, lots of issues, lots of anger, lots of not knowing how to communicate and speak and really violent experiences and all the stuff that comes along with it.

Go check out theunbrokenman.com

I'll leave you with this and this is regardless of if you're man or a woman or whatever doesn't matter.

Communities is everything, I've said this to you guys so many times community is absolutely everything in this journey because without community you feel like you are on the middle of on a raft in the middle of the ocean by yourself and the truth is you are and until you find community until you make a decision to join a community, until you put yourself in a position to have community because you decided some of motherfucker guess what, nobody is coming to knock on your door to be like hey, you should join this group until you make that decision for yourself. And there are so many different groups, I mean go to google, go to meetup.com, go to reddit, you can find these community, you can find these groups and until you do, you're gonna continue to feel ostracize. And the fear that you have I resonate with like thought get it, get it so much, I get it, so fucking much because that was my experience, that was my journey I just felt constantly like fucking terrified walking in that room until I didn't and then I felt a part of something, I was a part of a brotherhood and a community and a place where I had support and my hope is that you will go and seek that for yourself. It's not Think Unbroken and it's not to do anything that we do over here, that's fine, it doesn't matter to me, just go and find it. You have to be willing to do that, for some people it's like jitsu or the running club or it's you know kick ball in the summer or it's book club, there's always something, there are always people, who are looking for people, who are looking for you, you've gotta go find them my friend.

So, I'm gonna stop here. I'm gonna tell you, thank you for being here Unbroken Nation, I appreciate you greatly, thank you for giving me the space to share this story.

Of course, thank you for listening to the show, I just found out today, we ranked as the number nineteen me podcast in Sweden this week which is phenomenal like, amazing, we've hit the top twenty in like ten countries because of you guys, thank you for listening, thank you for supporting, thank you for leaving those reviews on iTunes because I promise you that's really how this happens, and listening and sharing with friends and telling people it matters so much, so, thank you my friends. That website again if you wanna check it out it's theunbrokenman.com and don't forget if you have not read Think Unbroken, it's totally free go to book.thinkunbroken.comyou can download the pdf eBook version for frame.

So, with that Unbroken Nation, thank you my friends.

And Until Next Time.

Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.