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Emotional Intelligence

Sins of the Fathers

By | Emotional Intelligence, Spirituality in Addiction Recovery | 8 Comments

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!” – Rumi

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I had the recent privilege of attending a “Soul Retreat Gathering” hosted by The Hero’s Journey Foundation . It was held at a wonderful place called, Anubhuti Retreat Center in Novato, California.

The long weekend was fashioned after a “Soul Tavern” where in the tradition of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey work, we gathered to invest time for renewal and discovery for the next phases of our lives. A space to, “Renew intentions that bring us more fully alive and reactivate our capacity to make ourselves useful in this ordinary world.”

What made it especially meaningful for me is that my oldest son, Tyler attended with me. Our family chose names for Christmas gifts last year and I picked Ty. I thought it would be nice to do something different together and when the weekend experience came onto my radar, I secured two places in…The Tavern.

Neither Ty or I knew exactly what to expect and as was pointed out on the introductory evening by the facilitator and master storyteller, Michael Mervosh, what we expected probably would not occur and what we came for was not for our individual selves. Something else would happen.

Michael was right and what did occur, another gift of my recovery and life-time.

Intergenerational Wounds–Sins of the Fathers

My story has carried with it the trauma and the wounds of both my namesake, maternal grandfather and my father committing suicide when I was a baby and then young boy, respectively. While I don’t really think we humans completely “let go” of central themes and issues in these life times, we can lessen and soften their impacts on our here and now living through the choices we make.

Somehow as Providence would have it, I found it necessary years ago to leave my family after nearly 20 years of marriage through divorce and the confusion of my addiction. A choice I regret, but convinced at the time, the right thing to do. Ever since, and increasingly as the years pass, I have felt as if I perpetuated the sins of my fathers on to my sons via my own inner tug-of-war of abandonment and survival.

The Tavern–and Tyler–offered up a different interpretation of the story for me to consider. During the course of our work over the weekend, Tyler pointed out, “Dad, you’ve got an agenda here”, and he was right. I wanted Ty to have a way of getting at the inner struggles of what…I was projecting onto him, my own abandonment issues. I wanted to say to him again how utterly sorry I am for not having the strength and good integrated health to stay with the family, with him, his brothers and Mom and work through it.

Getting At It and the Gift of My Son

At one point Tyler was poised to leave the event provoked by my often awkward effort to “get at” the work. I have a strong tendency to bring Court Jester energy to gatherings with complete abandon, something that makes Ty and most others very uncomfortable. The combination of my largely unconscious antics, but mostly Ty’s willingness to “stay with the process and work through it” led to our breakthrough.

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The gift to me from my gentle and caring son, Tyler through The Tavern is that the sins of my fathers are not mine. Ty showed me through his graciousness and patience that I can give the “sins of the fathers” and their illusory burden back to my Dads, and while Ty may have some of his own individual work to do, he has given my sins–back to me. He made it clear that we can accept what has happened and be present with and for each other and Live for today.

While something still and always will live in me to try to protect and “save” my sons, the truth is that Tyler is his own man on his own Hero’s Journey and an admirable and accomplished journey it is.

I have eternal gratitude to the The Hero’s Journey Foundation and especially my son, Tyler who showed up in a place he wouldn’t have chosen for himself and stayed in that place until its gifts could be received with gratitude. You can’t find a better man.

I love you, Ty. Thank you, my beautiful son.

emotional-intelligence

Emotional Intelligence, Feeling Better and Recovery

By | Emotional Intelligence, Wellness | 15 Comments

Emotional Intelligence? No, Thank You

I spent the first 40 years of my life practicing strategies to cover up, push away or otherwise keep deeper feelings “at bay” because…well because I didn’t know how to deal with them. The feelings, (that is, the ones I could actually name) seemed irreconcilable, useless really. And if I was going to “get ahead”, I’d better buckle down and deny permission to that kind of self-sabotage. What am I–gonna be one of those guys, “still trying to find himself” as the message goes? Baggage, dude. Lose it, or at the very least, keep it in one of those public rental spaces away from the mainstream, Okay?

About 180 degrees from where I needed to be, but “getting ahead” and “doing well” were at the helm for the master plan in the first 40 and hey, isn’t that what life is all about? A grown man with a beautiful family and everything anyone could ever ask for–without a clue. Now and in retrospect, I give myself a break because active addiction was onboard my mind, body and spirit and in fact, an intergenerational legacy in my family. Emotional intelligence and active addiction do not go hand-in-hand.

On the waters edge asking,  "Why am I here?"

On the water’s edge asking,
“What am I doing here?”

But as authentic good fortune would have it, at the age of 40, in a burning bush kind of experience, I found myself on the water’s edge saturated with anger, disappointment and shame and asked out loud, “What am I doing here?!” Without skipping a beat another voice as clear as mine responded by saying, “You’re here to feel.” “Feel what?” I asked. The voice said, “You’re here to feel everything.” “I’ll need some help with that”, I admonished and then and finally heard, “You got it, and remember, you are part of the help.”

I Can Feel It

At age 40 I gave up some of the emotional repression practices I had including the use of drugs and alcohol. And over the course of the last two decades, I’ve been learning to feel better–to feel everything better in a process of progress and certainly not perfection. Early on, the practices inspired me to create this video clip, I Can Feel It.

So now, soon to be a part of the 60-something crowd, I frame my quest for emotional intelligence in an even larger context. Having not anesthetized myself with drugs or alcohol for two decades, I’m frequently startled by just how much I do feel–and feel better. Because oh yeah, I can feel it…”Coming back again, like rolling thunder chasing the wind, like forces pulling from the center of the Earth again, I Can Feel It”…with amazing, unadulterated and often raw gratitude.

With all of the reasons to stay armored and, “I’m Okay!” becoming no longer valuable, I revel in the emotional domain in a way I never knew was available–and I really am Okay, right now…today. I’ve learned that no matter what feelings are passing through, to be hospitable to them as Rumi’s ancient poem, The Guest House suggests, “Be grateful for whatever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

Emotional Intelligence? Yes, Thank You

Emotional intelligence is at the core of it all

Emotional intelligence is foundational for brain health and addiction recovery

Daniel Goleman wrote the seminal, Emotional Intelligence back in the day and now has co-authored a sequel, Primal Leadership describing the emotional intelligence core competencies that are now gaining the attention of corporate America. In the development of the book, the authors describe the “neuroanatomy of leadership” and the paramount importance of emotional intelligence in the leadership of any successful organization. It’s a great read and maps seamlessly with the importance of including an ongoing emotional intelligence practice in addiction recovery.

Addiction is a brain disorder and disease having to do in large part with the center of the brain dealing with memory, motivation, learning, emotion and reward. The neuroanatomy of leadership in my life includes reinforcing memory by staying motivated and well invested in an ongoing learning curve about my ever evolving emotional intelligence practice. The healthy reward has been immense.

Emotional intelligence along with working on our core human competencies of intellectual, moral and spiritual intelligences brings deep empathy for self and others and the sense of unity for more joy, productivity and peace of mind.

I am very grateful for having listened to and acted upon that emotionally intelligent voice I heard in my mind–all those years ago.

Yes indeed, I am feeling better.