Fatherhood and Trauma Healing
On my ongoing deep healing process...
I wanted to give an update on how things are going since my recent post about struggle.
I've been feeling pretty well overall the past few weeks.
There are still some up-surges of anxiety, anger, and sadness. A couple days ago I cried a lot while spending time with my daughter, listening to some heart-opening music. That felt like an important moment of the ongoing healing process.
I believe my dear 11-month-old Lila has been a core catalyst in sparking this entire process. Opening my heart to Fatherhood and to Lila’s radiant innocence has seemingly reactivated my cellular memory of my earliest experiences and wounds in this life. I've been writing a lot on this as it's been quite revelatory. I’ll likely share more soon.
For now suffice to say that human birth in itself is a significant abandonment wound for all of us—a literal slicing of our physical connection to our mother—and that on top of that, our culture's norms around birth and early-childhood care (e.g. over-medicalized hospital births, circumcision, "sleep training," infant daycare, often zero breastfeeding, frequent separation from mother, etc.) tend to dramatically compound this primordial trauma of abandonment and separation.
I'm beginning to understand just how profoundly these early-life wounds shaped my trajectory in life—how from one perspective, I designed my entire life and identity to avoid the possibility of coming face to face with these deepest wounds. Even as I have sought and found deep healing—ever since psilocybin mushrooms first found me in Lincoln, Nebraska 12 years ago and initiated a journey back to wholeness—I can still see many subtle ways I have continued to hide, insulate myself, and run away from situations that might trigger my deepest pain.
On some level I always wanted to face the truth, but I wasn't ready to do so. As such, as it does, the intelligence of Life found ways to bring me to the layer I was ready for, then the next, then the next, and so on. I imagine this process is virtually unending, as beneath our personal trauma resides the vast ocean of ancestral trauma, collective trauma, parallel-life trauma, and so on.
I believe the process of facing my birth trauma and early-life trauma began circa ~2018 when I found my way to ayahuasca—that unsayable, many-faced, uncompromising, tough-loving grandmother medicine. It now feels like wise old ayahuasca knew that I would soon find my way into marriage and fatherhood—the true long-term pressure-cooker that would not allow me to hide from myself any longer. It feels as if she began pre-paving the pathway, preparing me for these deeper doses of medicine she knew Life would soon give me. She humbled me many times. I am thankful for her (and still pretty scared of her 😅).
I believe that sharing my recent post on struggle was a crucial healing moment for me as well. Though I have endeavored for years to share myself with raw, radical honesty, it’s not always easy to do so. It seems we all feel the pressure to present ourselves in a certain way, especially when we feel like our livelihood depends on it.
I had to collapse the gap, though. For months I’d been feeling a dissonance between the image I was projecting online and the reality of what I was going through. This felt increasingly corrosive to my soul. I had to burn down the false image.
I had to be honest about the fact that I am simply another ordinary human being—messy, wounded, conflicted, emotional, stressed, struggling to find my way through this chaotic world like everyone else. For years I believe one of my deepest subconscious fears has been the fear of being an ordinary human being from an ordinary small town in Iowa. From an early age, I had to be ‘special.’ I puffed myself up and told myself I was exceptional and smarter than everyone else, and so on. Later, I created a special inflated identity as some kind of “wise world-traveling online guru guy who escaped the matrix.” In these ways I protected myself from the feelings I wasn’t ready to feel—the vast repressed reservoir of my shame, guilt, inadequacy, not-enough-ness, rage, and grief.
As such, it feels like a big moment for me to not only state publicly that I’m just an ordinary dude, but to increasingly really and truly *feel* that too—and to actually love it. I love JB, the ordinary dude from Iowa who loves family, friends, animals, rap music, poker, golf, beer, food, stories, laughs, nature, books, art, and adventure. I love that guy.
I cry now as I write this because I rejected JB for so long—and on many subtle levels, I’m sure I still do. But he’s so damn beautiful and innocent, just as he is, just as we all are. We’re all these radiant children of God, absolutely perfect just as we are, and we can’t see it. Because of these deep primordial wounds, we feel like we’ve got to *go, go, go* and achieve this and become that and “live our best life” and “reach our highest potential” and self-improve and transform and project an image of flawlessness or enlightenment or “having it all together.” Our entire life can become a compensatory mechanism—a theatre of puffing ourselves up and shielding ourselves in a veneer of shiny ‘achievements.’ And yes, these wounds and resultant episodes make us who we are and I want to honor *all* our experience, but I also have to say that…
We don’t have to play this game. We don’t have to go, go, go and jump through all these hoops. We don’t have to do any of that to be enough.
Because all the while, we’re perfect. Utterly, pristinely perfect. Just as we were when we emerged from our mother’s womb—with bright, shimmering eyes full of hope and light. That original wholeness and innocence never left us. It’s still there. It is our very nature. It’s always there, patiently waiting for us to rediscover what we already are.
We simply can’t see it, because our lens is dusty—clouded over by so many layers of wounding. Some of this wounding is unavoidable and inherent to human life, but a lot of it is not. A lot of it is a direct result of growing up in a civilization that has lost its way—a civilization disconnected from its heart, possessed by a demonic, unquenchable thirst for ‘more, more, more,’ ‘faster, faster, faster.’
That thirst can never be satisfied by acquiring the prizes this civilization glorifies. It can only dissipate when we begin truly to come home to ourselves. When we relax into what we already are—what we’ve always been and always will be. When we allow ourselves to become still and feel the pain we’ve been pushing down all these years—really feel it—and hold it in love.
Only then do we begin to rediscover that which has been with us all along:
The Grace that this very moment is made of. The Grace that is our nature. The Grace that can never, ever be changed or tarnished in any way.
I am not special. I am a simple man. Like you, all I really want is love. I want to love people exactly as they are, and I want to be loved exactly as I am.
That’s what I’m here for. That’s why my soul came to Earth. I don’t need more than that.
Thank you for reading. May you and yours be blessed all the days of your life.
P.S. Men: 10 days till The Tao of Man—the free digital men’s retreat I’m hosting. If you feel a call to know yourself, return to wholeness, and deepen into the Tao of artful manhood, register to join us here.
Also, Brothers of the Ever Innocent Heart starts soon. You have about 12 days left to apply. If you feel called to return Home to Grace, bring love to your deepest wounds, relax into who you already are, blossom in new ways, and feel the sacred support and bonds of brotherhood, apply to join us.