Permission to Heal

Permission to Heal Episode #52 - A Special Family Conversation with Michael Weiss about Addiction & Trauma Recovery.

November 03, 2021 Marci Brockmann Season 1 Episode 52
Permission to Heal
Permission to Heal Episode #52 - A Special Family Conversation with Michael Weiss about Addiction & Trauma Recovery.
Show Notes Transcript

Michael Weiss is a truly empathic and open-hearted human and also my first cousin. In this episode, Michael shares with us his own addiction story, how it impacted his life, and the path he traveled to unravel it all and heal himself. All this lead to his life's mission to help guide and mentor others in their own healing journeys and addiction recoveries.

The question's not why the addiction, the question is why the pain? Addiction is nothing more than an attempt to solve a problem.  Recovery and healing are just reconnecting with these parts of ourselves that have left us such a long time ago because they didn't feel safe and then helping them to feel more complete, more integrated, more whole in our present-day experience. - Michael Weiss

Connect with Michael

Website, Facebook. Request a Call.

If you are in need of assistance with your own or a loved one's addiction recovery remember you are NOT alone. There are many places to get help. Michael is available, as well as all these places, and many more.
Caron Treatment Centers, SAMHSA’s National Helpline, Caron Treatment Centers on FacebookAddiction Center

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PTH 52 Michael Weiss 
Hello everyone. And welcome to permission to heal. I am Marci Brockman, and I am thrilled that you are here today. I bring you a really special episode I interviewed my first cousin, Michael Weiss. He is an extraordinary human. Who has such an open-hearted, generous kind, amazing soul. And I love him dearly. 

And he, he went through hell and back as a multidrug addict, trying to mask pain and. Find a way to feel okay with how he felt on the inside and feel safe and used drugs like so many do, to cover up the sole psychic heart pain that he felt. But he turned his life around and did, and continues to do the hard hard work of digging deep within himself to heal all of the different parts of himself, to reparent his inner child, to come into touch and connection with all of the previously slivered off parts of his heart and soul and reunite them into. The healthy, amazing man that he is Michael was born into our upper-middle-class Jewish family, and while him in New Jersey, me in New York, and our moms were sisters. 

My mother was eight years older than his mother. So we share a pair of maternal grandparents and great-grandparents and so on. And Michael hit his addiction for a very long time. He worked hard to graduate college and finish a master's degree in psychology and had to make a choice either. 

Really die doing what he was doing or find a way to get clean. And he went to an inpatient treatment facility in Pennsylvania. Karen treatment centers. You've heard me talk about them before in my, Patreon commercials and they saved his life and set him on the journey of figuring out. 

What other problems there were he said that the goal of treatment isn't to solve problems but to show you where the problems are. And that's what he learned. He learned where the problems are, and he learned some tools to, try to reintegrate his whole heart and his whole soul into his life and everything that he has learned in the 10 years that he is now in the addiction recovery world, as a professional has given him more. 

Clarity and more modalities from Shamanic drumming, and soul retrieval. To, parenting your inner child to parts therapy, to meditation, every possible thing that a person could use, all sorts of alternative healing practices he's into trying and introducing to his clients. 

So, quite recently, Michael has left the corporate world of treatment centers and has put out his own shingle. Michael Weiss mentoring. He is located in salt lake city, Utah, and sees patients in person or clients in person and all across the world via the internet. 

It's a beautiful thing. And he is doing. An absolute blessing. To everyone who has the privilege of having him in their orbit. And so we have a lovely conversation piecing together our different perspectives on our same family. Talking about childhood memories and our moms who were sisters and our grandmother. 

And, You know our experiences in life and he's just a beautiful person. So it's a rather long episode, so you can listen to it in parts. You don't feel like you have to listen to the whole thing all at once, but you not really gonna want to miss any of it. So save your place and keep going, or listen on a long car ride or take an extra-long walk or wherever it is that you listen to your podcasts and And thank you for joining us. 

This is an episode that really touched the heart of me and, and him as well. Brought me to tears a few times and was just really beautiful. So if you like the episode, as much as I think you will, please leave me a review, please like, and share, and subscribe. Please share it with your friends. 

 And if you're interested in helping me produce permission to heal episodes if you're interested in helping me publicize permission to heal episodes so that more people can be inspired by the work that we're doing, my guests and I, and if you're interested in supporting my mission, please consider subscribing to my Patreon account for the podcast. 

You can go to patrion.com, P a T R E O n.com and look up permission to heal podcast. And it'll be there. You'll get all sorts of perks and swag and all sorts of things for each level of subscription. And I'm making a commitment that 50% of our proceeds after costs. 
Covered. Cause I am running in the red, every single episode that I make, I pay for this whole thing out of my own pocket which I'm happy to do. But I am, I'm pledging that I'm 50% of what I make after expenses are paid. I'm going to donate to Karen treatment centers in Pennsylvania and in New York to give scholarships to. 

 Those who want to change their lives and need their tools to do it. They saved Michael's life. They could have saved my mother's life if she was opened to it. But she wasn't open to it. The opiate addiction monster had changed her brain enough where she couldn't get past it. So, Thank you for being with us. 

Thank you for following. Thank you for listening each week and for sharing and being your lovely selves. And remember you only need your own permission to live your best life. Thanks so much.

Welcome to permission to heal, Michael. Thank you. I'm so glad that you're here. This is like, you know, family. Yeah. I love this. I know I am too. I've been excited for this all week. It's like a visit. I somehow in my mind forgot that this week was this week and I thought this week was last week. I don't know, and it's just insane. 

And so I was like, what do we have going on Thursday? I don't think I have anything. And I looked at the calendar and I saw your name. And I was like, yes, I was so excited. 

He was so excited so, so we're here, not just to this little love fest, but we're here to talk about addiction and recovery and intergenerational trauma and your new venture as an addiction counselor in Michael Weiss mentoring.  

[00:00:49] You got it. Awesome. So, so we're first cousins. Our moms are sisters. We shared maternal grandparents. And I think that Despite the fact that we have this close familial connection and spent a lot of time together during our formative years. I think our perceptions of that are probably different as, as would be normal. 

[00:01:11] We're different people, you know, I'm 14 years older than you. And I remember carrying your little infant body in my arms and, you know, I don't remember that, but of course not so excited when you were born because I was only 14. The hospital rules were then that you had to be like 16 or something or 17 to get into the maternity ward and actually see the babies. 

[00:01:37] And so my mother and grandma gave me a pair of grandma's high heels and put makeup on me and dressed me up in an outfit that made me look older so that I could get into the maternity ward and see you as an infant and your mom. And it was this, all of this anxiety about it. And I don't think anybody gave a shit. 

[00:01:56] I don't think nobody was carding me at the door. You know, I was going in with my mother and the grandmother of the newborn. Like it wasn't that story though. I can totally picture it. It was such a good memory. You know, the two of them were just like, all for puts about the whole thing, you know, like we want to get her in, you know, it was so funny. 

[00:02:16] We were driving to Jersey. We had picked grandma up from work because she was working for that advertising agency in Woodbury at that point. And then we stopped at her house and I changed and then we drove to New Jersey. It was just hilarious. I love that. Okay. So what I learned about you much later, you were a grownup, you had grown up in, you know, your, your parents' house. 

[00:02:44] You'd gone to a public high school. You'd gone to college. You were in grad school and then all of a sudden I hear from you. My mom, your mom, some combination that implosion Michael is in addiction recovery in an inpatient facility in Pennsylvania. And I, all these like shady details, you know, like sh don't talk about it. 

[00:03:08] We don't know it's their story. Let's not talk about it. You know, it was like this, all this like secret on my mom and I was like, I hope he's okay. I hope it's Marion's okay. Rachel's okay. A buckler was okay, what's going on? What do we know? We knew nothing. And, and I was just like afraid to ask, you know? 

[00:03:24] Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm really glad that we have the opportunity to do this today because. I'm really getting tired. And I think a lot of people are getting tired of the stigmatization of addiction and it's something that most people deal with, maybe not with substances, but usually behavior. 

[00:03:40] Really, everybody can identify an addictive pattern that they've been in at some point in their life. Mine just happened to include drugs and alcohol. And I think it's important to share these stories. You know what? I also think it's important not to get lost in their drama of. I used to spend a lot of time when I was in early recovery, really attaching to that story of who I was in my experiences. 

[00:04:03] I just learned I'm so much more than that, you know? Yeah. But this was a big part of what brought me to do what I'm doing today and you know, it's interesting because I only have my perspective of what it was like going through that. And I didn't read and realize that it was kind of this hush-hush secret. 

[00:04:19] You know, and I understand everybody trying to be respectful. Of course, but yeah, you know, that was 10 years ago and, and things look different now in the world than they did 10 years ago in terms of addiction talking about mental illness or mental health or addiction at all. Right. So I you tell me, I, can start from the beginning. 

[00:04:40] I can tell you, well, you know, my first question really sort of starts at the beginning to sort of unravel this. , there are my questions. I lost them. Oh no, here they are. So you know what okay, so, so we are first cousins. We do. We do share grandparents. What was your perception of your childhood or our family, or any like intergenerational trauma that you were feeling, but didn't know that you were feeling, you know, like, like I have certain perceptions of, of our multi-generational family that I'll share. 

[00:05:14] But I want to hear your take on it. Like, what was your childhood like and what was young Michael like? Yeah. So a lot to unpack there. I mean, it's, you know, it, I grew up in a, what I would consider an upper middle class Jewish family in the suburbs of New Jersey. For the most part, I think I had a pretty normal childhood. You know, I had two parents that cared about me. I definitely know, just from what I know about our parents, our grandparents, their parents you know, being Jewish just alone. 

[00:05:49] I mean, the intergenerational trauma that comes from fleeing from your home country to find and seek shelter and safety. You know,  

[00:05:57] and I think a lot of what I felt in terms of, of that trauma was the anxiety of my parents. Which I think is all but natural because they were raised by two parents who were raised by two anxious parents, you know, it's just, you can see how that continues down the line. Our great-grandparents the ones we share in common. 

[00:06:18] Immigrated from Russia to the United States at the early part of the 20th century. So somewhere between 1899 or 1898, and let's say 1904, somewhere in that window. And so they were literally fleeing for their lives, right? They were being segregated and you know, the whole antisemitic thing, just because they were Jewish. 

[00:06:41] So they come to the United States brand new country. I know for sure they didn't speak or write English. They had very little education and they were expecting the United States to be a party, to be like the great Gatsby, you know, to be the streets are paved with gold and everybody has equal access to the American dream. 

[00:07:00] Well, it's 2021 and we still don't freaking have that. But back in the turn of the 19th century, into the 20th century, they came over here and were dirt freaking poles. Living in tenement housing first in, in Massachusetts and Springfield. And then in Brooklyn, our great grandparents, just for the listeners to get a little context. 

[00:07:22] Our, our grandparents, grandparents, Nathan, and Anna had three sons all died in infancy. The rumor that filtered through the family was that they died of strep throat because penicillin hadn't been invented yet, but I don't know how they would ascertain that it was even strep throat, but some in fact, After the third baby died, then our grandmother who was the oldest of four sisters was born. 

[00:07:47] And then in pretty quick succession, they had four daughters. So imagine being raised by parents, immigrant parents who are not native to the language, very little education, dirt, freaking poor three dead babies. And now four small baby girls imagine the level of anxiety and trying to keep them alive, trying to feed them, trying to educate them, trying to, you know, give them a good start in the world. 

[00:08:14] I cannot imagine the level of stress, right. I can't either. And you know, we also know that young children borrow their parents' neurobiology for the first year of their life. And so they're feeling and absorbing all of that, you know, and that helps to shape our brain, you know, as we're growing up. 

[00:08:31] Absolutely. And then our grandmother, who was the oldest of those four sisters gave birth to two girls. Well, the oldest was my mom. The youngest is your mom and w we love them and know that they had their own neuroses or have your mother still with us. Thank goodness as her own neuroses. And my mom could never sort of get past hers. 

[00:08:52] I think she, she was ill or very very ill and spent a year in bed during her 10th or 11th year of life. And I think that her personality development arrested at that point, and she was stuck in the egoic stage of a child and found that being the patient and the victim and the child gave her the love and attention and nurturing that she wanted needed. And didn't ever evolve past that because that word. So in essence, I always imagine my life, or since I've figured this out have imagined my life, that I was basically raised by a 10 year old and an adult body. And when I reframe my own emotional trauma, that way I ceased to become a victim at all, I'm just someone who had to parent herself because her mom was really 10 years old, you know? 

[00:09:48] Right, right. Well, I think, you know, I just think so many of us were raised in the same way, you know? Just of course, you know, there is, I, I don't feel that victim stance that you're talking about and I feel. Every single person I've ever met on this planet is doing the absolute best that they can. So it's not a judgment or a blame thing, but I think most of us are lacking some sort of, emotional support that we need as we're growing up because our parents probably lack the same emotional support. 

[00:10:18] Right. And they don't know how to provide it. They probably don't even know what's missing, but everyone's always looking for some extra love and safety that they don't know how to provide for themselves or their kids. Right. Right. Okay. So I interrupted you. So you grew up upper middle class family, New Jersey Jewish family, loved by your parents continue. 

[00:10:39] Yeah. I had a normal childhood. I mean, I did all the things I wrote bikes and played with friends and did all the things that you do. I, from a young age, really struggled with my weight. I was overweight from a really young age. I can't really remember when that started probably seven or eight years old. 

[00:10:56] And I think that was because I was using food as my first comfort, you know, I kind of I had a lot of anxiety as a child and I think the thing that was closest and most available to me, it was food to kind of Sue that anxiety. And so I, it was kind of this double-edged sword though, because on one hand it was making me feel great in the moment short term. 

[00:11:17] And on the other hand, I was getting all of this negative social feedback about my weight. And so I was in this place where I felt like I needed this to feel good. And yet at the same time it was making me feel bad because I was getting bullied at school. You know, I, I struggled in relationship. I was just going to say that I don't remember you ever being heavy enough to garner bullying. 

[00:11:43] I'm that kind of shocks me. Yeah. It, and I remember it very distinctly, like starting in later elementary school, probably fourth, fifth grade. I started getting picked on for my weight and really noticing in getting these messages that, you know, the way I look physically, it determines some of my self-worth, you know, according to other people, I guess. 

[00:12:06] And so, you know, I really, really struggled with that for quite some time. I just, I had a lot of anxiety. I had a lot of difficulty in school. You know, I think my family was always, You know, intellect was a measure of success and, you know, while I think I'm a pretty smart person, I had a really difficult time in school. 

[00:12:23] And I think really it was a bloody genius. It's hard to compare yourself against, against him. Yeah. I know. I mean, watching jeopardy with that guy was just the most annoying thing ever because he knew every answer before it even came on. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and so like we, we were expected to be good students and smart and, I really did struggle and you know, it wasn't until more recently that I look back at that I realized the reason I was struggling to focus on school was because I was dealing with, or trying to deal with all of this anxiety and all of this pain that I had nowhere to put. 

[00:12:58] And. I don't think I had the space for that schooling, you know, it was just too much mentally. Right, right. Order of needs were not being met. Exactly. Exactly. I just, you know, and I thought I had ADHD for awhile which I laugh at now because I definitely don't move quickly enough to be ADHD, but you know what we know about that now, too, it's the same thing. 

[00:13:23] It's like, you know, we go through something traumatic as a child and part of our attention splits off to protect ourselves because the present moment is too painful. And so it's a coping mechanism, just like anything else is. And you know, so I struggled both socially and academically through my early childhood. And I just felt awkward. I felt, which is probably partly just going through puberty. But you know, I felt like I didn't know where I fit. You know, God bless my parents. They're doing the absolute best that they could. But I don't know that I had that kind of emotional support that probably I was needing at the time. 

[00:14:02] I do remember a conversation with my dad when I turned 14 years old and he said to me, you know, my, my, my dad died when I was 14. So at this point I really don't know what I'm doing. And I, so looking back appreciate that insight and his willingness to share that with me, because I get it now, you know, back then for what it was like to be the father of a 14 year old boy. 

[00:14:26] Exactly. And his father was working seven days a week at a small business. And then he passed away and my dad had to take that business over at 14 years old and basically was going to school and working and taking care of his mom. And so, you know of course he doesn't have that experience. So, you know, there were just, there was just a lot of emotional turmoil and pain, I think, you know going through bullying for many years, I mean, it has an effect, you know, and I, I was fortunate to have a group of good friends, but I felt, I always felt like I had to hide who I really was because if people found that out, then I'd lose all the rest of my friends that I had. 

[00:15:03] And, you know, looking back, I don't really know what I was still afraid of. But it was like, I felt, I always felt like I had to hide my true identity from people that somehow I wasn't good enough. Somehow I was just not okay. And, yeah. Yeah. I, and I, it's so common, right? It's such an interesting thing that we all know wear masks. 

[00:15:21] There's our secret self that we only let out, you know, in our bedrooms or bathrooms, or if we're eaters in our kitchens and the rest of the time we have this public face on this persona of what we think. The, what we perceive the world wants us to look like. Right, right. I would say 99% of the time we're wrong. 

[00:15:45] Yup. Exactly. Exactly. I know the store. Can't always trust those stories in our head. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it's interesting too, on that note, I you know, both my parents worked in sales, they were both in real estate. And so they learned that mask in a good, you know, in, in a professional sense, it was very helpful and it was something they wanted to pass to me. 

[00:16:08] You know, like being assertive, asking for what you want. And you know, I, even back then, I really struggled with being assertive. And so it was like even getting on the phone was a really hard thing for me. I was just afraid of being found out and, you know, like I said, I was using food to cope from a young age and I'd get in trouble if I was pulling snacks out of the cupboard as, as any probably kid would. 

[00:16:30] And I learned to hide at a really young age, you know, I learned to hide the food and candy and snacks and things in your room all the time. And you know, my, my mom was really good at trying to feed us healthy food. But healthy food wasn't was, wasn't making me feel good when I needed comfort. And so I'd go to school and I Gorge while I was at school because it was the only place I had access to unhealthy food. Thank you. School lunch program you know, So, yeah. Yeah. So our napkins they're made from plants you know, 

[00:17:07] so, you know, that progressed and then around 13 years old, I remember having my own, my first drink at my friend's house and, and having that warm sensation of alcohol running down to my stomach and all of a sudden, like that voice in my head is a lot quieter, you know, like, wow, okay. So this could be helpful. 

[00:17:26] And so, you know, for the next year, until I was about 14, I would drink every once in a while. You know, when, when I had friend, it was, of course it's hard to find alcohol when you're 13 years old, but whenever it was around, I would drink. And I started noticing very quickly. I couldn't just have a drink. 

[00:17:41] I was the guy who was drinking everything that was insight. And people were annoyed by my behavior afterwards in your dad's scotch. You know, it's funny. Yeah. One of my favorite memories, well, one of my memories is going and he had a bottle that was probably from 1970 of old grandad whiskey, which is that hundred and one proof bottle. 

[00:18:04] It's orange label. And I remember, oh yeah, man, that, that stuff is no joke. And I didn't know what I was doing. So I took that bottle and I drank like a cup of it. And you know, got violently ill, but you know, the strange thing is the next day I thought I could do it again. I just got to figure out how to do it better. 

[00:18:25] You know? I kind of knew I was in trouble, I think because I knew how good I felt like it solved my problem. Right. My problem was I didn't feel good being who I was. I was anxious being around other people. I felt like I was being judged and that quieted those voices inside my head. And so, you know, on one hand I'm like, oh, this is going to be a great solution. 

[00:18:47] This is how I'm going to get through this life. And then another hand, it was like, man, this could get out of control very quickly. Forest fire, like a forest fire. Yeah. And then, you know, it's interesting. I. 15 years old. I discovered pot and yeah, and that was it. I mean, I, it was like a love affair. 

[00:19:07] Yeah. It was a love affair. And, and I, you know, it's, it's a medicine and it's an important medicine when it's used correctly. At the time I was using it again, just to survive, just to be okay, to kind of get out of my head and get out of the anxiety that I had been living in. And to escape the pain I had been holding on to, it kind of helped me slow my mind down enough that I wasn't, it wasn't racing. 

[00:19:29] And I, after I smoked pot for the first time, which interestingly, I did before any of my friends, I, you remember the dare programs. Yeah. I knew nothing about drugs until the dare officer came in and showed us this whole you on how to do it. And I was like, wait, what are these things? I want that one. 

[00:19:49] And that one and that one as a, as a middle school teacher, when I first started teaching, I was the liaison with the dare officer. So I'm like this, this is not helping them. This is educating them on what to do, not what not to do. Yeah. And that's exactly it. I've got a great education on what to do. And so I, you know, it was interesting. 

[00:20:11] I also was really interested when they would talk about psychedelics. I was like, oh, okay. So they're talking about this thing that can expand your mind and change your perception, but it's also really bad. So you shouldn't do it. I'm going to look more into that. And so with all of this stuff, being. I may not have been good at school, but I was good at the things I was interested in. 

[00:20:32] And right, right. And so I took a real interest I grew up with the internet, right? So I grew up at the beginning of the internet. And so all of a sudden we went from not being connected to having connections all over the world. And it started slowly, but by the time I was in high school there were messaging boards up and AOL was a thing I can't believe AOL was a pink. 

[00:20:54] And you know, I spent my time doing research online about all of these different compounds and how they worked and people's experiences. And I started seeking these things out. None of my friends were doing drugs. I went out and started talking to people that I thought might be able to get these things for me. 

[00:21:10] I found them on my own. The first time I smoked pot, I did it alone. The first time I took mushrooms, I did it alone. The first time I did heroin, eventually I did it alone. I was just wasn't it scary, you know, terrified. I was more terrified of just feeling the way I was. You know, it was just so uncomfortable that the prospect that, that there was something that could help me not feel that way was enough to just run with it. 

[00:21:38] And, and, you know, I smoked pot. I was with my high school best friend, and we stole joints out of her mother's night table drawer. And we thought this was the perfect crime because her mother couldn't call us out on it without admitting that she had the pot in her first, in the first. Pretty brilliant that it works. 

[00:21:55] Yeah. Yeah. That's to steal, we used to steal joints from her mother's night table drawer all the time and go up to the bluff and smoke by the water. And we were 80 minutes and it was crappy pot. I don't even think we got high what we thought we were so bad ass. So cool. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, back then, while things were still kind of innocent and not out of control, I have really fond memories of those times. 

[00:22:19] You know, I had a lot of fun and you know, nothing is all one thing or the other, I, I like to try and remember that there's balance in all of this stuff. I spent, I instantly started smoking pot every single day. As soon as I found it, cause I was able to escape from the pressures and expectations at school. 

[00:22:35] I was able to just relax a little bit quiet, you know, the noise and all the internal monologue in your head. And you could just focus and be Zen about. Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, you say being Zen about things at that same age, I found the book be here now by rom Doss. And the book changed my life trajectory. 

[00:22:55] Like instantly when I read it, I, you know, I was 14, so I don't know how much of it I understood, but I think a lot of my soul understood a lot of that book, if that makes sense. It, it helped me to understand that the game was a lot bigger than I thought it was. And I became really interested in understanding consciousness and the parts of it that I hadn't experienced yet. 

[00:23:19] And so from a young age that that self exploration was big part of my drug use. I, I started went from using a pot to LSD and psilocybin mushrooms and really having some pretty profound experiences. You know, I actually will tell you, I. Credit the fact that I'm still alive today to my first real mushroom experience. 

[00:23:46] Really? Yeah. I had an experience of complete ego death where, who I thought I was completely dissolved and I merged with the universe. There's really, it's kind of ineffable at some point. And so I can't really describe it, but I had this divine fueling. Listen purpose that I don't think I would've continued to fight for my life, had I not experienced. 

[00:24:12] And so when people ask me about the most important day of my life, that is the most important day of my life. Because it's the only reason I'm sitting here talking to you right now. And it's also a reason why I'm a proponent for, you know, psychedelic medicine used in a therapeutically appropriate way, because I think it can really be helpful under the right context, you know, the right set and setting. 

[00:24:33] I've heard a lot about this, that there's been a lot of research in microdosing. Silicide siliciden as a way of, combating stress and anxiety and PTSD, especially PTSD and like combat veterans and so on. And it really radically like one dose guided with the professional alters the trajectory for that. 

[00:24:54] 100%, 100%. And the research is just astounding and staggering. I mean, you know MDM is in phase three clinical trials with the FDA. It's pretty soon going to be a prescribable medication for PTSD and depression. That's medication resistant ketamine is widely available now in clinics to help combat suicidality, depression and PTSD. 

[00:25:17] I'll get into this later, but that's actually, some of the work I do is with ketamine clinics and some of the people doing this this work helping to. Guide them through this process and then help them with integration after they complete their their, their course of treatment. So anyway, I, I had all of these really profound experiences. 

[00:25:37] And I had, it's so weird to describe it. On one hand, I was this miserable version of myself and I was so uncomfortable. And so and just so much pain. And on the other hand, I had this zoomed out perspective that I had gained from my psychedelic use helping me to, you know, recognize that these little stories of who I was, wasn't the complete picture of who I really am, you know? 

[00:26:02] And so there was balance even there. But you know, I kept going on and the interesting thing is the way I found my friends was actually through drug culture. All of a sudden I had something that I could be. Friends with people over, you know, that we had in common. And so I was the guy smoking a joint outside of the high school with the other people who were smoking pot. 

[00:26:24] And all of a sudden I had this other family, you know, healthier. Otherwise it was, it was family. And I think at the end of the day, that's really all I was searching for was a family where I felt like the version of myself was enough. And you know, I think in many ways I found it in many different people. 

[00:26:42] You know, we have our biological family and we have our family of choice and that that family continues to build today. And it's too, it's been really healing for me evolve that evolves. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And so, you know, I also was very much into the jam band scene. I was traveling around the country and seeing fish. 

[00:27:00] I love the grateful dead. Again, there is another family for me, it was these people who were interested in expanding their perception and following, you know, following this band around the country and seemingly taking care of each other, you know, it was like this, oh man, okay. Here's another group of people that just they'll take care of me if I need some help, you know? 

[00:27:21] And so I really quickly attached to these groups and spent a lot of time and a lot of money being with these people. I still go to see fish today. I'm going back yet. Any of this was going on because the age difference, I, at this point I think was married or yeah, if you were in late high school, I was married already and had a kid. 

[00:27:42] So I was like totally out of, out of it. I. I was cutting school and going on tour, you know, like doing all of this fun stuff and it was the, no that you were doing that I had no clue. I couldn't tell you if we'll have to ask them, but, you know, it was like, yeah, it was like I felt free, you know, and I think at the end of the day, when it, when I look back on all my drug use, that's really what I was always searching for was freedom from the burden that I had been carrying for so long freedom from the pain I had been carrying for so long. 

[00:28:16] And then, you know, interesting side note, have you seen the show dope sick that's on Hulu right now. No, it's about the. Purdue pharma and Oxycontin and their marketing strategy and, and the fallout from Oxycontin in, in, you know, this country. I'm one of those numbers. Yeah. I'm one of those numbers, you know, I went to college, I failed out my first year at the university of Vermont. 

[00:28:44] I was so uncomfortable. Yeah. Yeah. I, I know he had a different experience than I did, and I was happy about that. But I went and I spent a whole year just numbing out, so find places and, things to numb out with. Absolutely. It's a very NOLA kind of like cannabis town. It absolutely is. Absolutely. 

[00:29:11] And, and, you know, it was like my people, you know, like I went there and it was like, all these pot-smoking hippies that followed his fish and like the grateful dead, it was like, I'm home. You know, it didn't occur to me. I was supposed to be going to school. So because that, to me, when I first went to go visit him his freshman year Mitchell, we were walking up and down church street in Burlington and he puts his arm around me. 

[00:29:30] He goes, mom, this town is the same kind of weird you are. If it wasn't so cold, I'd suggest you move here. Cause you're the same kind of weird as Burlington. I'm like, I feel at home. Yeah, but it's too cold in the winter. It's like 10 months of winter. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's nice. But it was too much. And actually, you know, it's the second cloudiest city in the country I believe. 

[00:29:53] So it's really easy to get depressed there. You know, if you're not getting enough sunlight but I spent the year, just not at all being prepared for being in college. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I hadn't figured this school thing out. I was in a ton of pain. I hadn't addressed any of it. 

[00:30:09] And so I failed out of school. You know, at the end of the second semester I called my parents and told them, I, I thought I had a drug problem. I think I just needed to give them an explanation, as to why I had failed out of school. And that seemed convenient. Probably true also for sure. For sure. 

[00:30:27] Little did I know? I would, I would come home and they had me see a therapist who. To this day informs the work that I do with other people. Because I learned everything that you shouldn't do as a therapist from, from being her patient which is fine. But, I, I essentially got pushed into a residential treatment. 

[00:30:48] At that point. I was given an ultimatum by my parents, which was led by that therapist. I had zero interest in stopping using because I hadn't found any other way to feel. Okay. And they weren't offering you a path to wellness other than exactly just stopping. No, I remember she kept telling me you're no different than your parents, you know, you want the same things that they do and you just, you need to get over yourself. 

[00:31:14] You, it was just another person telling me that I'm not okay. The way I am, you know, sorry. Me too. Thank you. It was, it was really. It was like the last thing I needed, you know, to just be told I was wrong again. Right. And so I got out and then I went to community college to get my grades back on track so I could apply to a four year university. 

[00:31:35] And it was at that time when I found both cocaine and Oxycontin for the first time. I can tell you that I hate, hated and still hate cocaine. I hated it. And I couldn't not do it. That's how powerful addictive it is. I hated the way I felt and I could not stop the compulsive act of putting it up by notes. 

[00:31:57] It's so bizarre. I still can't really wrap my head around it. But I did find Oxycontin and, that was a love affair at first sight, you know, love at first sight, it was the key that fit my lock. You know, it just, 

[00:32:16] it was a warm black. It was a, it was a soothing voice telling me everything's okay. You know, I mean, it's the siren song, right? Like, you don't know you're headed towards the, towards the shore and you're just keep following this voice into oblivion. And, I didn't like the way Oxycontin and Vicodin and all of that. 

[00:32:34] I don't like the way that makes me feel. I feel, I feel very uncomfortable. I have images of like unzipping myself and stepping out. Like, I really just want it to end. I'm grateful. Like I've only had it like post-surgery. So I'm grateful for the fact that it made the majority of the physical pain go away, but I mentally, emotionally did not like it. 

[00:32:57] Yeah. And when I had my ACL replacement surgery and I said that I really didn't like the Vicodin. The doctor said you cannot rehab this re this recovery without it. You cannot, it's not physically. No. And after my disastrous C-section with Mitchell, there was no way I could handle six months of that recovery without it. 

[00:33:17] But I was very careful to take the minimum amount of it that I could get away with because I just hated the way it felt. But for me, I love peanut M and M's and love cake and brownies and ice cream and large amounts of comfort food. And so that's my, you know, why would I wish I'm right there with you, peanut M and M's are my favorite during the lockdown of the. 

[00:33:49] I could easily in a weekend eat an entire like family sized bag laying on the couch, watching TV. I was happier than a clam. It just created all of that anxiety. I'm home. I'm safe. I've got PNMs. I'm good. Anyway. Yeah, I totally get it. You're not actually, you're adding to it because I forgot to mention one thing. 

[00:34:13] That's also very important. , at that time in my life, I developed an eating. I was bingeing and purging. I needed that comfort food to feel okay. And I didn't want the negative attention. My weight was was giving me. And so I learned that I could continue to eat out of control and then purge and not have to worry about gaining weight. 

[00:34:33] This actually started earlier than, than some of this drug use. It was probably around 13 years old. And so again, around every corner I was just trying to feel okay. You know? And then I hit, I found Oxycontin and it was all over. I, I managed somehow to graduate from college, with straight, almost straight A's. 

[00:34:54] And the way I did that was by telling myself. The only thing that seems to matter to people is that you do really well in school and that you look good. And so I learned how to play that game. You know, I was able to keep doing what I was doing to try and feel okay while satisfying the needs of all the people I thought, mattered around me. 

[00:35:12] And so I ended up the demons enough in your head with the Oxycontin and the, and the pot and whatever else you were doing so that you could actually have some. Focus on the school. Absolutely. A hundred percent. I mean, I would smoke, I would smoke pot before I went to class in the morning and all of a sudden class was interesting, you know, like, and I'm like, I can pay attention to this. 

[00:35:36] This is cool. And when you're in college, you get to choose your coursework. So I was picking classes that I was interested in, so it made it a lot easier for sure. But you know, then I graduated college with a full fledged Oxycontin addiction, and you're college students, so you're poor. So it's, it's a really hard thing to manage and, and, it's really expensive. I got out of school and all of a sudden people are looking at me like, okay, what are you going to do now? I'm supposed to know, what, what are you talking about? What am I going to do now? Oh yeah. Right, right. And I had no idea. I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I decided to take the path of least resistance and try commercial real estate because my dad was able to get me a job in commercial real estate and they didn't have to try. 

[00:36:17] Yeah. I was just able to show up. Right. This is a totally new information for me. I think that only lasted about six months. I was not cut out for it. I, it just wasn't for me, I was actually really miserable doing it. And my drug use progressed yeah. And anxious people looking for approval. 

[00:36:33] And trying to find some sort of personal safety sales seems completely the opposite of your personality needs. I suck at sales too, for that exact reason. I just, I always felt like when I was trying to get somebody to buy something, that they were going to be doing me a favor, I felt like I was bothering them. 

[00:36:54] Like how dare I waste their time with the shit that I was selling or whatever it was. And I just, I just couldn't do it. I felt like this is an absolute waste of a college degree for me. This is an absolute waste of my time. I hate every second of this. Yeah, I, I felt the same way and I always knew deep down inside. 

[00:37:18] I wanted to do something to help others and give back. And I just didn't know how, because I needed help at the time too, you know, and, and until I started working on my, out my own stuff, I wasn't going to be able to see that clue that path forward clearly. So, I continued on and all of a sudden, around 2004, Oxycontin, like the news got wind of how terrible this drug was. 

[00:37:41] And all of a sudden the doctors were prescribing it any more because people were dying left and right. They were overdosing. And Purdue pharma is just so culpable in the way they marketed this drug and told people it wasn't addictive. And so overnight this thing that I was using to feel okay, every day was gone, it was literally nowhere to be found. 

[00:38:00] And so, you know, my habit at that point was about $250 a day. I couldn't afford that either. I was doing all sorts of shady stuff to try and. B. Okay. Cause my brain is telling me I'm going to die without this and I need to do anything I can to get it. And then I remembered someone once telling me like, oh, you know, that $40 pill of Oxycontin is exactly the same strength as this $5 bag of heroin. 

[00:38:26] You can save a lot of money. Is that true? Yeah. Yeah. The only thing that's not true is that Oxycontin is obviously a pharmaceutical, so it was completely created in a lab and created perfectly to be the key that fits that lock in your brain. So the withdrawal from Oxycontin is so much worse than it is from heroin. 

[00:38:46] Prescription narcotics are so much more difficult withdrawal wise to get off of than street heroin is at least in my experience and the people I've worked with. It's so scary. All it takes is feeling withdrawals once to say, I never want to go through that again. 

[00:39:01] I just remember the feeling so well, like it was yesterday. In fact, watching that show on Hulu with my wife, Whitney, I had to shut it off and take a break at some point. Cause it was like, it just hits so close to home, being the go-getter that I am, I didn't know where to get heroin living in suburban New Jersey. So I went on the internet. I knew we lived close to Newark, which was, you know, pretty notorious as, a good area to get drugs and all sorts of bad stuff. I went online and I looked up where the most arrests in Newark happens. 

[00:39:30] And then I put, put that address into my GPS and I drove there and I had heroin in five minutes. Yeah, never in a thousand years. Magic what I could do with this go get it. You're doing it now. True, true. so yeah, I, I found heroin and again, it was the same thing and of course it starts out, you only need a $5 bag to get high. 

[00:39:52] What they don't tell you is that two weeks later you need $80 to get high. And so by the end of that, my, my habit was like a $300 a day habit. I had, so just to kind of sum this whole part up real quick, I moved several times. I kept thinking the problem was where I was not me. I made every change except the changes that needed to happen. 

[00:40:14] Trying to just figure out how to be okay. In and out of a couple of really, unsuccessful relationships, I wasn't available for a relationship. And so I was hiding what was going on. I had been in relationships. Totally clueless, which if you're watching this, I'm really sorry I was doing the best I could. 

[00:40:33] But man, you know, it was again, I was getting that message. It's not safe for people to know who you really are, you know? And so I spent the first 30 years of my life hiding and putting on masks and pretending so that I wouldn't get caught so that people wouldn't take my comfort away. you know, all the mean time. 

[00:40:52] I wasn't comfortable at all. It was just a diversion from the original discomfort. Yes. Afraid of the afraid of not getting the safety and the love that you craved exactly. A hundred percent. A hundred percent. Yeah. And so through all those moves and everything I moved to Colorado for a while. I moved back from Colorado after restarting my heroin addiction there. 

[00:41:15] And that was the first time I used intravenous heroin and cocaine. And that was it. Once I, once I found the needle I was done for and I spent the next four years off and on using about two years before I went into treatment, I decided to get a master's degree in psychology because in my head, I thought the way out of this was through my head. 

[00:41:36] You know, I figured if I get a degree in psychology, I can logically untwist this. I can make myself. Okay. Well, I mean, it, it's, it's an overly simplistic line of logic, except that it does give you neuroscience education. It does give you psychological vocabulary and it gives you some of the tools. 

[00:42:02] That we all need to start to unravel this. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that it was helpful in that regard. I thought, I think what my misconception was that if I logically understand. That I could stop it. And, you know, I ended up, you know, I ended up finishing school with a needle in my arm. It obviously didn't work, you know, and I, I ended up going to treatment. 

[00:42:29] I called my, well, that's not true. My family called me and they said, dude, you need some help. Like, it's very obvious that you're not doing well. And I think I was just excited that somebody saw the pain I was in for once. And so I said a hundred percent, I want to go to treatment. I'm ready to go. 

[00:42:48] And I went to treatment. I spent four months at a place called, Karen in Pennsylvania who gave me the foundation I needed to keep moving forward in my life. I really appreciate the time that I spent there. I think they do good work. I've donated to them, philanthropic. 

[00:43:05] Multiple times because they saved your life. And because a place like that could have saved my mother, if she had agreed to go, and I think they do amazing work. And what I would love for this podcast. And I've, I've pledged this on my Patrion page is that if this podcast ever becomes profitable and it it's so far, it's not because I pay for all of it out of pocket. 

[00:43:26] But if I get Patriot subscribers, I'm going to donate, you know, 25 to 50% of what's of what I, what the podcast earns above costs directly to Karen for. So for scholarships, for people who need help recovering, I mean, that's what I want to do, but I can't quite get there yet. So yeah. Listening, subscribe to the Patrion page and you can do that. 

[00:43:53] Yeah. I, I love that idea. That's fine too. Yeah. Yeah. I believe in what they do. I really do. I, I think, a person has to be ready, right? Like one thing I've learned from working in this industry for a decade and from my own story is that nobody can force anybody to do anything, that we all deserve support and we all deserve to be met where we are. 

[00:44:16] But as soon as you start running your agenda through somebody else's. There's no chance. There's no chance. And you know Karen, I spent four months there and for the first time in my life, I actually started delving into my trauma. I cried for the first time in a decade and I cried a lot. 

[00:44:35] I remember crying and, and in this group and I said, I don't know, what's wrong with me. I feel angry. I feel sad. Blah, blah, blah. And the counselor said, you've been a heroin addict for 10 years. I'm just really excited. You're feeling anything right now. And I was like, yeah, you're right. You know, this is better than the alternative. 

[00:44:53] Yeah. You were numbing everything out for so long everything. And so I spend the next four months really doing trauma work and the details of which I don't need to get into here. But, It was stuff that I had been running from for 30 years stuff that I had been still afraid to look at. 

[00:45:10] And it had been so painful that I had pushed it so far down that I didn't even know it was there anymore. You know, it's and it's funny, I'd heard this the other day. Somebody said, you know, one of the definitions of the word depressed is to push down and as we push things down, we become depressed. It's not surprising, you know, and that's exactly what happened. 

[00:45:31] Okay. You know, and our brains may not be thinking about it, you know, you're pushing it down so that you don't have to think about it. And whether you're numbing it out with, with whatever substance or behavior, you're, you're doing that with. Even if your brain isn't thinking about it, your body is feeling it all the time and it's festering away in all the systems of your body wreaking on untold volumes of havoc along the way our bodies don't forget. 

[00:46:04] And so, you know, it's a lot of, of unraveling the mental aspect and then figuring out how that all affects what's going on in the body. You know, like my anxiety, it goes directly to my stomach, the gut and the brain and the, whatever. I'm not a neuroscientist, whatever connects to them is very tight and integral, you know? 

[00:46:31] Yeah. It's so true. And, and, you know, addiction is not a trouble. Right. In fact, a lot of the things that we do are in a conscious choice, a lot of the decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis are being made from a place that we were in 15, 20 years ago. 

[00:46:46] And, and that, that part of ourselves that's still just trying to feel. Okay. And so I kept bumping up against these same walls and I had no conscious understanding of why, and it wasn't until I started doing this deep work and doing inner child work and parts work and really understanding which parts of myself were screaming for my attention and for my love that I started to understand why I kept running into the same problems I did, and it changed my life and it changed the trajectory of my life. 

[00:47:14] And, you know I left treatment and I did want a fresh start. My counselor. Do you need to go somewhere that you have no history? Yeah. Don't go anywhere near Newark. And so I had a friend who had lived out in salt lake city for about almost a decade, and I told him what was going on. And he said to me, if you promise not to tell anybody, sorry, I'm breaking my promise now. 

[00:47:36] This place, this, yeah, this place is amazing. I don't, don't tell people because I want this place to stay the way it was. We'd all want to live there. Exactly, exactly. And I moved out here, I moved into a sober living house. I found a trauma therapist. I continued to do work with her. I lived in sober living for about two or three months was continuing to do some of the healing work. 

[00:47:59] And I think one of the things that's important is most people think they go to treatment and then they're cured. You know, the goal of treatment is not to fix all of your problems. The goal of treatment is to just show you where they are. So that you have, you have, you know, you know, you know where to work, do that again is not to solve all of your problems, but to just shine the light of awareness on where they are so that you know where to look brilliant. 

[00:48:25] Yeah. Yeah. And, and so I left treatment with a really good understanding of where my pain was and, and a good roadmap for continuing to do that work. And I did, and honestly, I kept feeling better and better as I started waiting through all this trauma. And my healing has taken, it has required me to take the journey from my head down to my heart. 

[00:48:51] And it's not something I ever thought I was capable of doing when I was here. Nothing. Yeah, because it wasn't safe, you know, it wasn't, it hurt too much. And I am quickly realizing that while my intellect is a great gift and I don't knock it because it's been very helpful. My heart is the greatest gift that I have, and it really has been my heart through which I've been able to heal and through which I've been able to do healing work with other people. 

[00:49:20] I am just continually now in this process of trying to unshielded, you know, I just think we all grow up and we go through difficult stuff and we put a wall of armor around that thing. And pretty soon it gets so tall. You can't see behind it anymore. And this whole process of recovery is one of just taking that wall down brick by brick so that I can remember who I really am and I can see myself more clearly, you know? 

[00:49:46] Do you ever read a book called braving the wilderness by. I haven't, I haven't I've read the gifts of imperfection. Yeah. I did the gifts of imperfection when it was first published and I just did it for the 10th anniversary. And I went through the whole thing. She did all of the guideposts with her two sisters on her podcast unlocking us. 

[00:50:04] It was fabulous, but braving the wilderness I did as an audio book. And it's all about this. Taking off our armor and learning how to live in a vulnerable open-hearted way, even if we're standing alone, naked in the wilderness and being brave enough to show up and, and do our best with open-hearted vulnerability is really the only way we're going to give and receive the love that we crave in this. 

[00:50:33] 100%. And I don't think many of us get that message growing up. I think their vulnerabilities assign a weakness in, in, in a lot of places. And I actually funny story real quick. When I first got to salt lake city and I moved into this sober living, there was a sober softball league. And if you were to ask me what the hardest part of my early recovery was, I would tell you, it was the first game that I played in silver softball. 

[00:50:59] I was so afraid that I was going to strike out, playing slow pitch softball that I didn't sleep the night before. I was so afraid of what's going to happen. If you struck out, was the earth gonna swallow you whole? It's what it felt like. I thought that, you know, I had to be perfect and good at everything I did. 

[00:51:14] And here I was trying something that I didn't know if I was going to be good at. And was I going to be made fun of, you know, and it really was. Yeah. And guess what happened? I got up and I struck out and nothing happened. I turned around and my whole team was laughing and I was like, mortified. And then I get closer to them and they said, welcome to the club. 

[00:51:33] Now you can have fun, you know, like we've all done it. Like, it's okay. That's part of this. And so I really make a conscious effort to try things I might not be good at now. Because I had missed out on so much of life worrying about whether or not I'd be perfect at the things I was doing. I did the same thing. 

[00:51:51] I was so worried about what other people were going to think of me or the things that I was trying to do, or the things that I was interested in that I wasn't letting myself explore what I was curious about. And at some point in my mid forties or early forties, I, I, when I was having a Tiffany after apifany, after apifany I realized that failure doesn't matter. 

[00:52:18] It just means that that iteration of that, that you tried wasn't successful. It doesn't say anything negative about me, except that I'm not good at that thing yet, whatever that is. And so did I like it enough to keep pursuing it? No. Then I find something else. If it's yes. Then I keep doing it. Like I figured out that failure didn't hurt as much as saying, what if right? 

[00:52:42] What if I, I paint that? What if I show someone what's going to happen? What if I don't paint the thing that I want? What if I don't make that phone call? What if I don't write that book or start this podcast? How am I going to feel? You know? And, and it was always more regret to say, what if then it was to fail? 

[00:53:03] I don't give a shit if I fail, like, so they know what I love that I, I, that's such a great way of looking at it. I think it's important because otherwise life passes you by and you end up with a ton of regret for the things that you never did. Exactly. It was like the same way when I was dating in between my marriages and people were like, oh my God, I'm so nervous for a first date. 

[00:53:22] And I'm like, why you literally have nothing to lose, walk in empty handed if you leave empty handed. So what, yeah. You're no worse off than you were before. In fact, you're probably better off because now, you know, there's one less person on this earth that you're meant to be with. I like it. You're narrowing it down. 

[00:53:44] Exactly. That's a good way to put it. I, you know, I always, I was terrified in dating and. I don't think it had anything to do with the other person. I think it had everything to do with being afraid of being rejected. And you were hiding yourself, wearing your masks, afraid more nervous about them liking you. Then you were even concerned about whether you liked them. Oh, a hundred percent. Or whether you liked yourself with them because that wasn't even on the table to begin with. That was how I, a hundred percent. I can't even imagine. I wish I could talk to the people I went on first dates with, because I wonder what version of me they got. 

[00:54:22] It was probably pretty far from the truth. It's interesting. It's really okay, so,  

[00:54:26] so here you are, you're sober living, you're living in salt lake city. Then what, you know, I just had a thirst for healing at that point, I was just like, okay. I have tasted what it feels like to actually face my demons and I want to run. 

[00:54:43] Right into the fire. You know, now why aren't you at this point still lingering over the ends of your master's degree? Didn't you have like a thesis still to write? Yeah. Yeah. I had to, I had, okay. I had one of the most gracious mentors ever. Her name was I'm going to give her a shout out Dr. Ruth proper at Montclair state university. 

[00:55:01] And I had been doing some, I was in charge of a study there and was in charge of the financing of that study and was dipping into it for my own drug habit, crap. This I had to call from treatment and let them know exactly what had been happening. And instead of turning me in and probably ending that ending with federal charges I was allowed to pay that back and told that all that matters is that I get the help that I need. 

[00:55:32] Wow. That's gracious. I mean, that's, you know, that's one it was just one of the kindest things that anybody has ever done for me, and she continued to help me after I got out of treatment and helped me finish while I was living in Utah. I learned a lot about compassion from her. I really did. 

[00:55:50] Cause it would have been really easy for her to turn her back on me, you know? And she didn't, for whatever reason she didn't and I really, to this day still really appreciate her because I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now without having had that support. So I finished sober living and very quickly realized with my background in psychology and the fact that I'm in the addiction world myself, I really want to keep doing this work. 

[00:56:15] So I actually got hired by sober living to do case management and to be at a live in house manager at the sober living, which is the great rooms. So I changed bedrooms. I had my own bedroom with a locked door and it was the greatest lesson in establishing healthy boundaries that I could have ever been given because I was living where I worked, you know, and I had to very quickly navigate that. 

[00:56:40] And I just really quickly realized I had a real knack for this. I mean, if anybody is going to be able to get through to people who are trying to live a sober life after a difficult addiction road, I would imagine all addiction roads are difficult is somebody who's walked through. Yeah, no, I don't think it's possible. 

[00:56:58] I would imagine for a non addict to ever make any successful inroads with somebody who is, it can be difficult. I, you know, I was out of a textbook. Why should I listen? And, you know, I had a really great therapist once who this was back when I was a smart ass still who I said exactly that you've never been through what I've been through. 

[00:57:25] How the hell are you going to help me? And her response was genius. It was something like, wouldn't you like to learn from someone who didn't have to go through that? I can tell you, no, I may not have your experience, but I have the experience that allowed me to get through my day to day life without needing to go where you right. 

[00:57:42] And want these tools. Exactly. And I started to recognize, whoa, we all have something to offer. In fact, the therapist I, I see personally today, She has no history of addiction, at least with substances. You know, I think we all have some degree of addiction in our lives, but I feel more comfortable doing deep work with her than anyone I've ever met. 

[00:58:05] And it has nothing to do with whether or not she was an addict. It has to do with how open her heart is and how deep her compassion ruts, and the fact that I can talk to her and tell her my deepest and darkness that I've never, once in my life felt judged. I think at the end of the day, the most important thing is that someone feels safe with you, you know we're all just craving that safety and non-judgment and so very quickly I decided I wanted to continue doing this work. 

[00:58:31] And I, at that point actually met my wife at work who it's just so funny how everything started falling into place. Once I moved out here, it was like, I was on the right plan, but you know, I, on the right path, I remember looking at the mountains one morning, drinking a cup of coffee outside and going whoa, for the first time in my life. 

[00:58:49] I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. What in novel feelings, you know, like snow is falling on the mountains, I'm drinking coffee, I'm all bundled up. I'm like, yes, I don't wish I was somewhere else right now, you know? Yeah. Thank you. And, and so I met my beautiful wife, Whitney, and, she is amazing. She is. 

[00:59:10] Yeah. She's really as well as I would love to. And I just love. Well, we were going to get you out here and we'll spend some more time together. Exactly. Michael and I are very excited. As soon as I said, we're going to Utah. He's like tell me when I'll pass. Exactly, exactly good. I'm glad. Yeah, she, she's absolutely the love of my life and has been so healing for me. 

[00:59:32] You know, her story is hers to tell, but I can very generally say that we've been through a lot of the same stuff through our childhood and have both been on this quest to heal, you know, and so what a great partner she's been to help me open my own heart and to help me heal the wounds that I've been feeling like I needed to hide from other people for so long, all of a sudden there's someone that I can trust, you know? 

[00:59:56] And it's just been that we've been just used that you've been hiding exactly, exactly. For all your flaws and. Yeah, in spite of them, but because of that, because of exactly. And I heard, and it's such a beautiful thing. And I, it was so new to me. I had never felt that in my entire life, you know? 

[01:00:15] And so she had three kids from another marriage when I met her. And all of a sudden I was like, I had this instant family. It's like, oh my God, like, this is what I've been looking for. I just didn't know I was looking for, do you know, I didn't have to change diapers. And now I have three amazing kids and I loved them all so much. 

[01:00:38] And I learned so much from them. I see so many different parts of myself in them, and it's just more than I could've ever asked for. You know, at that point too, when I met her, I then got another job. The place I was working out in the sober living that I attended was shut down by the state for fraud. 

[01:00:54] So again, it was one of those places where I learned so much not what to do, you know, what not to do. And I'm very appreciative of my time there because I really learned a lot and learned a lot about ethical practice, you know? So thank you in some weird way. It was totally dysfunctional, but I appreciate the lessons I learned from my time at that place. 

[01:01:15] And I started a job at a much larger corporately owned treatment facility. And I was running groups and doing man, I started out doing transports for them, like driving patients around and, taking them to groups. And the greatest thing is that when you're driving a car with 10 patients in it, they forget that. 

[01:01:35] And so I've learned more about them driving the van to the treatment center than they would ever open up about in therapy, some about our car ride, the rhythmic movement brings out all of those difficult to have awkward conversations, suddenly seem more doable. Exactly. Yeah. And I loved it. Like I loved the work. 

[01:01:54] I was doing group work. I was really good at it and I felt like I just felt oh, I found my calling. I found my passion, you know, and I spent the next eight years very quickly moving up the rights in that company into a management position and then the company got bought out by a much larger corporate entity about halfway through and the entire culture changed overnight. 

[01:02:23] And while. No. I mean, it, it, in many ways it lost its heart, and it became a factory in some sense, you know, it's really tough to, I there's no one to blame. I mean, when you have a board to answer to you're a business through and through, and it's just quarterly earnings are what become most important to the people that they have to answer to. 

[01:02:46] Right. And so I got further and further away from patient care and just more into the operations of the larger picture of this business. As my salary and my responsibilities increased my desire to continue decrease as I got further away from working with people, I just became disillusioned by. 

[01:03:05] And I want to just make clear, it's not just this place, it's this, this industry as a whole. So then the nature, I think, of any upper level administration, suddenly you're not working with the people. Using your heart in the same way. It's the same reason why I remained a classroom teacher for all these years and didn't pursue a job in administration. 

[01:03:27] Last thing I want to do is be a principal of a school. Goodness. There are people who do that. I mean, that's just not my wheelhouse. There's just not a thing. That's going to use my strengths to me. I'm the best, the happiest, the most Zen in my life. When I'm with my students in my classroom, leave me the fuck alone with them, close the damn door, leave me with my teenagers and let us have a good time. 

[01:03:53] And we're going to make magic happen, but at the other adults, the administration level, grownups, thank goodness. They're there to deal with all that stuff that I don't want to deal with, but you know, Yeah, I, I feel the same way. I had to very quickly cause I had a team of people that reported to me at that point. 

[01:04:09] And I decided that if I'm going to do this role I'm going to do my best to show up for my team in the best way possible. And at least try and affect people's lives in that way and show up positively for them. So I, you know, for a while that worked right, but it really, I just, it left me hungry. 

[01:04:24] I wanted what I had and was no longer doing. And again, always having grown up feeling like I wasn't really good enough for if people found out who I really was that they wouldn't, that they wouldn't like me or approve of me. I stuck around because I was really afraid to go out on my own and feel rejected by doing that. 

[01:04:45] But you know, COVID happened and a lot of things happened around that time. That led me to the decision to, to leave. My wife and I wanted to leave salt lake city. So we moved about an hour away. We're now up in the mountains and in a town of about 1800 people. And you know, we have just horses on our street and just we got to live in nature, which is what I always really connected with her dream house from the ground up. 

[01:05:14] We did, we did, and now we live in 550 square feet of bliss. You know, like I can clean my whole house in 20 minutes. It's like the greatest thing in the world. And we have what we need and nothing more. I left and I decided, okay, you know, I've done enough of my own healing work. I need to actually put this stuff to the test. 

[01:05:33] I know I have something valuable to offer and I think I can help people. So I'm going to do just that. Forgive me. Cause I feel like I'm all over the place. There are a couple of things along the way that I should mention before I talk about the beginning of this business along the way and this is stigmatized too, and I'm saying this purposefully in a public setting, because I think it's important. 

[01:05:56] Psychedelic medicine played a very large part of my own recovery story after I went to treatment. I continued to use psychedelic medicine, very, I mean, once, twice, you know, once every year or two in a supervise and in dirty, intentional way to kind of shine that light on, on those dark spaces that I hadn't been able to move through on my own. 

[01:06:16] And I've become an advocate for it. I really have, because I really do believe in its healing potential. I recognize it's not for everyone, that's for sure, but in the right set and setting and with the right supervision and intention, it can change people's lives. Very intrigued by this myself, because I feel like there are some dark corners that I have. Scratched open. And I, I had a friend years ago who was a biochemist and grew or made or whatever the hell, his own psychedelic mushrooms and gave me some, and I was alone. I was single, I wasn't dating anyone. I was a single mom of two kids. And I was like, I can't do this on my own. 

[01:06:57] Like I was so terrified that I had it of, of how, what my experience was going to be like. And if I was going to need help and how I was going to get it. And like, I, I didn't feel safe doing it by myself. And it sat in my house hidden, hidden, hidden, hidden, hidden, hidden, hidden for like years. And then eventually I found it and I was like, yo, yeah, this is just has to go in the garbage. 

[01:07:20] And I threw it out. But, but I would be open to exploring that onto the right side. Yeah. And I, I mean, honestly, I think you made a wise wise decision. It's really important to feel safe when you're doing something like that. And especially if it's your first time, it's a really important thing to have somebody who has some experience to help guide you through it. 

[01:07:40] So, you know, and, and that's becoming more and more available now. I mean, there are therapists that I know all over the country, all over the world that even though this is. Legal yet are willing to do this work with people because they recognize how important it is. And, and the research shows the same thing. 

[01:07:57] Its potential has been noted many, many times through scientific study. It's just a matter of jumping through the hoops to see yeah, exactly, exactly. And that's happening. And I'm really excited about that. You know, I think we're moving in the right direction with it at the same time. I got involved Whitney's uncle is a Lakota and runs a sweat lodge and an EAP ceremony or a sweat lodge for treatment centers up here. 

[01:08:22] I've been doing that for several years now and have found a lot of healing in that, in that respect. He has been a great mentor to me too. I love the guy he's Just another person with an open heart. You know, all the people that really have made an impact on my life are the ones that have an open heart and are willing to show it. 

[01:08:40] And that, that was very impactful to me. I spent time studying with another man who does shamonic practice. He does a soul retrieval in your bio. I don't know what that is. Yeah. So soul retrieval and shamonic drumming. It's a practice, the idea, the idea behind this practice and in the shamonic context, when we go through something traumatic, like a car accident or surgery or trauma from our past the belief is that a part of ourselves, a part of our soul actually splits away from us in order to protect itself. 

[01:09:15] And so the idea of soul retrieval work is using a trance-like state to then journey back to find those pieces. Those last pieces of ourselves and bring them back so we can feel more complete and integrated in our present day life. It's been going on for thousands of years. Well, yeah. You know, and it's so funny because it's, I don't know if you've ever heard of parts work before or ifs all of this parts work. 

[01:09:42] It's exactly the same thing. It's just reconnecting with these parts of ourselves that have left us such a long time ago because they didn't feel safe and then helping them to feel safe enough to come back so that we can feel more complete, more integrated, more whole in our present day experience. 

[01:09:58] And so through the use of drumming, which we know now through study and through thousands of years of experience of cultures around the entire globe, that drumming. Allows us to alter our consciousness. And so free. Yeah, frequency, I mean, frequency of medicine. It's very powerful. You know, there's, they're studying the use of frequency to kill cancer cells right now. 

[01:10:20] They were able to isolate and kill leukemia cells without harming regular healthy cells, just using the resonant frequency of that leukemia cell. Yeah. Sound is medicine 100%. And so I started doing this work personally and started really seeing changes in my life. I felt more like myself. I felt like those old pieces of myself were coming back and I felt like there wasn't a hole inside of me that needed to be filled as much as there was before and I got really interested in it because it was working for me and this wonderful man decided to mentor me and teach me this, this process of soul retrieval. 

[01:10:56] And so I think in all of these different interests of mine and experiences I've had in the last 10 years and created a business so that I could share them with people one-on-one. And so I also, while I was at that last treatment center that I was working at, I really wanted to be able to, to create a group so people could experience this drumming because I think recovery can look like a million different things and I don't really care what it looks like for someone as long as they can wake up and look in the mirror and say, I'm happy, you know? 

[01:11:29] And I'm not this person who believes that abstinence is the only way I don't believe there is one way. I believe in compassion, I believe in meeting people where they are. And I believe in helping them to make their own lives better than they were the day before and whatever we can do to, to, to aid somebody in that, in that process is what I'm interested in. 

[01:11:48] I created a group, a shamonic drumming group that I brought into the country, all the members drumming or at the same time or somebody, somebody else's drumming and everyone's witnessing. Yes. So for, for soul retrieval works, somebody else's drumming for you. The practitioner's drumming, that person is usually laying on the ground with their eyes closed, entering a translate state. 

[01:12:09] So we know that when we hit this drum at a certain tempo, it creates a frequency that we're altering your your consciousness. It will actually shift you into what's known either as an alpha wave brain state, or even deeper than that. A fade away brain state of the alpha wave brain state is sometimes referred to as the flow state. 

[01:12:24] It's the state of deep attention and awareness people who do People who do extreme sports will know that flow state. It's kind of like if you ever have gone skiing and you have that one perfect run where everything just clicks, you're not thinking you're not doing anything. It's just all happening. 

[01:12:40] That's that alpha wave state. Can you get it like through creativity, creative things. Like, I think that I've actually on occasion felt that way while painting is that that makes perfect sense. Fly fishing, same thing, anything where you are so completely in the moment and in what you're doing, that you're, you're just focused, you know, so absolutely through art. 

[01:13:05] And then even deeper than that is the theta wave brain state. You know, it's, it's that as deep meditation. And I like to kind of describe this state is like the time when you go to lay down to go to sleep at night, you're not quite in a deep sleep, but you're not really awake anymore. It's kind of that in between space Twilight ish. 

[01:13:20] Exactly. The beauty of that space is it gives us the opportunity to process things in a way then that's different than we normally do. And so I'm able to use this drumming as a vehicle to help people process their trauma in a way that might not feel as overwhelming as it does in normal waking consciousness. 

[01:13:37] And so I brought this drumming in and it worked really well. And so for the past three years, I've been bringing it to a bunch of different treatment centers and doing this drumming and then people who really are interested in it are drawn to it. I can continue to work with them one-on-one after they leave treatment and do more soul retrieval work specific to them and kind of just be a mentor, be a support for them as they're navigating their early recovery. 

[01:14:04] You know, one of the things, I don't know if you've ever heard of a man by the name of Dr. Gabor Montay he's he was at a general practitioner, a family doctor from Vancouver who has been working in addiction for a long time now. And, his idea has changed my perception of addiction. 

[01:14:22] You know, he asks this question, you know, he says, my paradigm is the, question's not why the addiction, the question is why the pain, you know, that addiction is nothing more than an attempt to solve a problem. And until we figure out what that problem is and, and find another way to heal it, we're never going to be able to move through our addictive patterns because they're still serving the purpose of helping us to keep feel safe. 

[01:14:46] And my focus with people has, and the focus of my work has really been helping people to wait through this trauma. I used to think that drugs were the problem. I thought I went to treatment so that I could stop using drugs. I didn't know why I was even there. It wasn't until after I left that, I recognized that no drugs were not the problem. 

[01:15:05] Drugs were just an effect of the problem. They weren't the cause of solution to a problem. Exactly. And you know, it's I don't know about you, but public school didn't teach me how to emotional intelligence, you know, like, no, they didn't. And I, I have tried to make it my business, especially since the birth of my own enlightenment, shall I say my, my own, walk down this healing path. 

[01:15:31] So we're talking like eight years. I've been trying to use. The characters and the circumstances in each of the pieces of literature to teach emotional literacy to my students. And so I've been trying to look at the literature from a mental health lens like, well, why did she cheat on her husband? 

[01:15:54] You know, what was missing in her life? What, what was going on? You know, let's look at that behavior. And what does this remind us of? You know, just today we were talking about we're totally deviating, but we, I just, today we were talking about the crucible and why Abigail Williams would throw her ex-lovers wife under the bus, so to speak, like cry her out as a witch to kill her. 

[01:16:20] Why would she think that her lover would be okay with. You know, and like, what was she trying to? And her parents had been killed and there was all this trauma and her uncle was mean to her. And this was like the first man who was ever nice to her. And she was doing anything she could to keep that love that connection that without him, otherwise she would not have. 

[01:16:47] Right. Right. And so it started off on this other long conversation and, I'm all about, I mean, the whole podcast permission to heal. We're all about wellness journey and healing journeys and figuring out how to give ourselves permission to heal, to explore, to create, to mold ourselves and our lives in whatever healthy, meaningful, joyful way we freaking hell one. 

[01:17:15] Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I am so grateful that you're interacting with students in that way, because it's something that everybody needs and you know, there aren't, I mean, I'm taking time away and where we're tapping and we're doing yoga and we're doing stretching and we're doing meditative exercises and I'm bringing them Ted talks about various things. 

[01:17:35] I'm not a therapist. I tell them I'm not a therapist. A practicing healing person like everyone else. But if you can be introduced to some of these modalities that may or may not work for you, if you like it, go do more of it on your own. But if you've never heard of it before, you don't know what's out there, so maybe this will work for you. 

[01:17:59] Exactly. No, I love that. I always talk to the people that I'm working with when I was working in inpatient treatment. I would tell them, use this experience as an. Go into everything with an open mind, knowing that some of it's not going to be for you, but all you have to do is find one or two things that is for you, right. 

[01:18:16] That are for you. And, and that's, that's all it takes. You know, we just got to find something. So it's so cool to be able to introduce people to modalities and therapies that they're not, they're not already, involved with. It's so cool. And that's why I love bringing this into treatment centers. It's something different and it gets right to the heart of things. 

[01:18:34] I, you know, I watched people process stuff that they've been afraid to talk about in therapy for years. And it's because it, it's a right brain process. You know, you, you get through all of that. Left-brain analytical. I gotta keep my mouth shut. I have to protect this. Somehow. It overrides all of that and gets you into a state of mind that allows you to just be with whatever shows up. And it's, it's been really powerful. That's really cool. 

[01:18:59] Yeah. And so I've been doing that. I've been doing mentoring. I work with families as well. A lot of my work starts before somebody actually enters treatment. Again, I believe every single person on this planet deserves support and it doesn't matter where they are in their addictive process. I've worked with people for a long time before they ever decided they wanted to stop. 

[01:19:20] And it was just knowing that there was somebody out there that wasn't judging them and caring for them and supporting them. That was enough to keep them going until they were ready. So I do a lot of early intervention work. I help when it's appropriate to get people to services, supportive services when they need it. 

[01:19:35] And then I worked with a lot of people after they leave treatment who want to continue doing this deep work. You know, I got out of. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And I, you know, I went to AA after I got out of treatment. Cause I was told that's what you have to do while you're, or you will die. Right. And that scared me enough that I got my ass to a meeting every day for the first year my early recovery. 

[01:19:58] AA saved Michael's life. He was like third generation morbid alcoholic and knew at some point that it's his story. But he just knew at some point it was either he stopped and got sober or he was going to die. Yeah, exactly. And he started going to meetings and he went as often as necessary. 

[01:20:21] He's more than 10 years sober now. So, yeah. Yeah. And you know, in many ways it works. Like I, I credit AA to giving me that foundation of that first year that allowed me to springboard forward. And, and I don't know, without that social Support that I would have made it without it. I think the thing that was tough for me and the thing that I know now to be true is that AA just like many other institutions in many ways is trauma phobic. 

[01:20:47] They are afraid of actually dealing with trauma. And so you have a lot of traumatized people who haven't actually done healing around that have decided that without AA I'm going to die and because I'm going to die without it, it means you're going to die too, if you stop coming. And so I, I realized that my work just had to keep moving forward. 

[01:21:06] I like the 12 step program. I think it's helpful. It really helped me quite a bit, but I knew there was more work to be done after my work there. So I've been, I've been doing, that's where I've been spending. A lot of my time is running groups with treatment centers and working with people one-on-one doing a lot of soul retrieval work. 

[01:21:22] Shamonic drumming work introducing people to new stuff. You know, that's what I'm always I love doing is yes. Is, Hey, this isn't for me, but maybe it's for you. You know, maybe this is why I saw this the other day. And then I also, I am, I'm a firm believer that the universe guides us, not only to what we need, but to, so that we can be the conduits for other people. 

[01:21:43] Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. And it feels good. It feels good when you're able to do that. I mean, service is selfless and selfish at the same time. It's, it's a wonderful thing. The other part of the work that I do now, like I was saying before is I do integration work for people using ketamine therapy. 

[01:22:02] Ketamine obviously is a completely legal medicine and is used in clinics around the country to help people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidality. Some of these clinics do it very well. Others don't we know through research that this has to be done in conjunction with, psychotherapy to really be effective in the long-term. 

[01:22:21] A lot of these clinics just stick people in a room, give them ketamine and then send them on their way. And while they have enough of a physiological reset of their brain, that sometimes they can snap out of depression. There's a lot of lost opportunity when it's done that way. So I work with people who are doing ketamine therapy. 

[01:22:39] I work with them before they go in to help them set intention and get clear about what their work is. I'll then sit with them while they're actually taking the medicine and use shamanic drumming to help them get to a really grounded and centered place and help them to really focus their work while they're on that medicine. 

[01:22:56] And then work with them to do integration work after they're completed so that they can actually incorporate the things they learned from these experiences into their day to day life and, put them to use in a practical way. So that's fabulous. It's been great. It's been really great. 

[01:23:10] Yeah. You have a lot of success with your clients without I would imagine I do. I mean, you know, not just me, I can just talk about numbers in general. We know that ketamine can be a very, very effective tool for people who are struggling with depression, especially medication resistant, depression. A lot of it's all trauma. 

[01:23:29] I really do believe that I, you know, I see some people who will say that they've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder only to find out that they have a ton of unresolved trauma and they're manic episodes or attempts to just feel okay and not focus on any one thing for too long, you know? , it's all trauma work at the end of the day. 

[01:23:47] And, I think ketamine and psychedelic medicines in general are really useful tools for us self exploration and, and working through some of this trauma. So it has been very successful and, and I've watched people really take part in their own healing, which is my favorite thing. I hate people looking across from me and thinking that I'm the expert in their life because I'm not right. 

[01:24:12] We're all the experts of our own life. Sometimes we just need a little bit of guidance to get to some of, you know, to get to that place inside of ourselves that we can trust. So I actively get to watch people participate in their own healing today. And that's the most exciting part of this work. 

[01:24:26] That's why I love what I do every day. So yeah, that's extraordinary. Yeah. Wow. My cousin, I know I'm so happy to share this, to share this with you. It's I appreciate the opportunity to do this and but I just love, I love that we get to connect in this way too. It's really exciting. Special. 

[01:24:48] Yeah, I agree. I agree. Yeah. You know, cause there's so much there so much that even the closest friends or the closest family don't talk about. And I wouldn't say that we were particularly. You know, I love you. And if you needed me, I would be there like white on rice. And as fast as my legs could carry me, but I don't have enough connection, enough deep, authentic connection, hearted, vulnerable connection with my family and my close friends that I need. 

[01:25:27] And I know that I have to work on them. That's a thing I have to work on. I'm get lost in my head. And I start like turning in on myself a little bit to get all the things done that I need to do. I'm very task oriented. And then I forget to reach outside of myself too. Like I keep saying, I'm going to call your mother and I haven't, and I can't even tell you how long. 

[01:25:49] It's just my brain. It's just my behavior pattern, whatever it is. I totally forgot what I was. I don't know, but I I'm guilty of the same thing. And I think most people are, you know, we're the center of our universe is in our stories, pull us in very quickly. And so, you know, it's true. But I think that now I remember what the through line was. 

[01:26:10] I think that we really need to start asking and answering these deep vulnerable questions. I, I crave this kind of a connection. I've wanted for years to know really what the story was and how similar and different our stories would be. No, and I would love to get your sister in on this. I mean, maybe not for the podcast, but I would love to get your sister and on this combination, cause as first cousins we have this like front row seat from birth and. 

[01:26:50] Share the same web of traumatic BS. That's been down in a way that no one else on the planet has. Right. You know, I don't have a biological siblings, so it's not like I could ask them. And my dad's not a great source and my mom's not here. So not that she was a good source while she was here. Anyway. Yeah, I just, I think that that it's would be so much better for all of our happiness and wellbeing and so on to be able to have the, the whole hearted connections that we have. 

[01:27:24] Yeah. I think you're right. I think, I think just those connections are healing in and of themselves. I, I, you know, and compassion, which we need. Exactly, exactly. And, you know, chemically, I had a doctor on Dr. Jess day, who was on the podcast three weeks ago he's a neuroscientist, a neuropsychiatrist in California, UC San Diego. 

[01:27:46] And he has been doing studies for years and years and years and years. He's a geriatric neuropsychiatrist. And so they have clinically found that deep wholehearted connections, empathy, volunteering, being consistently involved with things that bring you joy, that bring you, meaning that bring you close with your friends and family within a community of, of artists or athletes or whatever you want to go play bridge, play bridge. 

[01:28:18] You want to go be a acquire plate, you know, whatever that it actually slows down the degeneration of the brain cells as we age so that we retain more of our mental faculties. It increases circulation and all those good things. And in our body so that we literally can arrest and, or slow aging. 

[01:28:43] Well, and that's why you look at these countries and in Scandinavia that, that put the youngest people in there in their society with the oldest people in their society, the conversation we were talking about, that exact exact thing, combining assisted living and daycare center. Yeah. And Okinawa, Japan has the oldest population in the world. 

[01:29:00] They take care of the young children. When, when they're elderly, they all drink Saki together. During the day, they have lots of, of communal living activities. And I think it makes a world of difference. I mean, we're wired for connection, right? Babies that aren't held die. There's a reason we need it. We crave it, you know, but at the same time, it's really easy to get lost in the day-to-day life and forget about it in American life. 

[01:29:24] Right now know. We we've got our Puritan Christian European ancestors, regardless of the fact that we're European Jews, we still have been where we're Americans. So we've got this puritanical influence of like, you have to be independent and you can't ask for help and you need to be stoic and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. 

[01:29:46] And I made it on my own, so you should make it on your own. And if you don't, there's something wrong with you. Like that's like 17 levels of bullshit. Well, if you look at the people who are successful in that way, you look at the, the worst successful on their own. And none of them got there by themselves. 

[01:30:03] Exactly. Well, and usually those people who are CEOs and heads of companies are highly traumatized individuals that learn to cope with their pain by overworking. Right. Exactly. They're workaholics. Exactly. Right. It's so interesting. I mean It just does such a disservice to people. I feel like we're failing this experiment in many ways, and I'm very hopeful. 

[01:30:22] I'm not a pessimistic person, but I feel like a lot of the things we're doing and killing ourselves, they're just not working anymore. And we're seeing the fallout of that, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And I think the pandemic has not only exacerbated that in a thousand ways, but also illuminated it in a thousand weeks. 

[01:30:42] So now we're having these conversations that are so, so long overdue, and I think it's opening up people's consciousness, their minds, their hearts to, to, to see how much emotional, psychic, physical pain we're all in. And that we need each other to fix it, heal it right to, to hold space with it, to put a loving arm around it and say, you know what, I'm there to let's do this. 

[01:31:15] You're right. And the only way to do that, just to have these conversations, that's where it all starts. That's it at the beginning and end of everything. Yeah. This was amazing. Yeah. Thank you. I love this. This, I love you. I'm so proud of you. I think you're doing such amazing, amazing things and the people who are lucky enough to have you in their orbit are just blessed from the. 

[01:31:41] Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate that. You, you I love you too. And you've always been someone I've admired and respected, and I love what you're doing with this podcast. I think this is, you know, one of those ways to expose people to something that maybe they're all familiar with. 

[01:31:56] And I think that's so important. I don't think we get a lot of that in our culture. And we're in the, we're in the age of information, but there's so much of it. That's irrelevant to us actually healing that it's easy to get lost in bullshit. And, and every other thing that goes past my newsfeed on Instagram or whatever, they're swearing, our product, our service is the one thing that will cure everything that you, not, everything can be the singular answer that I'm looking for. 

[01:32:23] No, I mean, but consumerism, I mean the capitalistic society we live in is designed to create a new. It's designed to tell us that we need things that are going to make us happy that ultimately don't. So we keep chasing that and spending more money to do it. The system's not failing, it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do. 

[01:32:39] Right, right. You know, we just have to make sure that we each understand that we have the choice about whether we're going to buy into it. Right. Exactly. Exactly. Yep. So true.

 So let's do the six quick questions. Sure. Okay. Let's do it. So what six words would you use to describe yourself? Six words, any parts of speech doesn't matter? Okay. The six words I would use to describe myself caring. Open-hearted compassionate. Inquisitive. 

Thoughtful and absentminded. I think it's a family trait. Absolutely. What's your favorite way to spend a day drinking coffee? Looking at them. I mean, it's not bad. I, I love I love the fall here and I love the spring. I never thought I was this kind of person until we moved up here. But being outside with Whitney and the kids, having the kids. 

And doing yard work together. Like it's that simple? I absolutely love it. Or going hiking and camping. I mean, anything just being up here in the mountains is healing and just being outside. She, I think she shared on Instagram a few weeks ago, you were all splitting logs and raking and doing all sorts of stuff. 

And I was like, I don't like doing any of those things, but that looks fun. It's really good. I didn't think I liked it either until I started doing it. I'm like I could get into this and now I have no choice because the house isn't going to take care of itself. So no, no, definitely not. Definitely not. Now this one might be dicey in light of the conversation we just had, but what is your favorite childhood memory 

[00:01:38] when you say childhood? I mean, younger than you are now, any point younger than 20. Okay. You know, I'm going to tell you one of them. I mean, obviously, I have several, but I want to tell you this one, because we're talking right now. One of my favorite childhood memories was actually when my parents would drop me off at your mom's house. 

[00:02:00] The weekends that we would spend together and swimming in the pool and watching TV and just hanging out. Yeah, I don't know. It's just really interesting. I think The way your mom showed up as an aunt. I kind of felt not judged in the way that I sometimes did at home, you know I just felt safe there. 

[00:02:18] And that, that definitely is, is one of my favorite memories that, and being dropped off at grandma and grandpa's house again, same feeling of safety. Like, you know, like just feeling that love all the time, you know? Watching wheel of fortune and eating cantaloupe and grandma and grandpa's kitchen and getting two quarters to go down to the arcade to play two video games, just like stupid stuff that just sticks out as good fun 

[00:02:44] well, you know, I could say the same, like, I didn't feel that nonjudgmental safety in my own house, but I felt it in yours. I felt it with your parents. So baking apple cake with your mom in the kitchen or multiple soup, or just hanging out and talking like she was the pivotal, pivotal person in my career journey. 

[00:03:09] Yeah. And I remember when you came and lived with us for awhile. Yeah, I did. I was like in between living arrangements in between relationships, I had, I had a job in New Jersey anyway. I was working at the Livingston mall, you know, not so far from your house. And then sometimes in the wall mall in new Brunswick and sometimes the mall in Secaucus, but I was like the assistant manager of a men's clothing store that had all these branches and they kept sending me Paramus new Brunswick, Livingston. 

[00:03:37] Well, you know, I just bounced and parents' house was like right in the perfect spot to do all that from, and. I just remember thinking it was the coolest thing that you came to live with us. It was, it was great. I love that. I got to read the books and hang out with you and your sister and, and have the normal in air quotes, family life that I. 

[00:04:04] Ever half my parents, marriage was a disaster from the get-go and we didn't ever eat dinner together. And they always fought and they slept in separate rooms and there was never a peace, peace in that house at all. I always felt unsafe. They fought, I used to hide in my closet with my Teddy bear. Like it was bad. 

[00:04:25] I mean, not as bad, but I don't like to competitively catastrophize things, But I felt safe at grandma and grandpa's house. I, you know, would crawl into your mom's childhood bed in their house in Syosset and play like pretend games with grandma. And we just had such a lovely time. I remember her feeding me oatmeal H oh instant oatmeal, which I still freaking eat every goddamn day of my life with, with milk and honey, of course now it's oat milk and not cow's milk, but whatever. 

[00:04:56] And every single time I eat a bowl of oatmeal. I think of grandma telling me the puzzle story while feeding me in her yellow and green kitchen in that house and say, awesome. I remember, I remember that. Ugly green carpet. Your parents had in the whole room and dining room in the house and running around with you as a toddler. 

[00:05:19] And what felt like an indoor playground? Because the green grass kind of thing, I just had all these wonderful memories. It was just, it's wonderful that we each have. Our, our grandparents and each other's parent's houses to go to. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, it's really cool. I just, I, you know, as we're talking about this, I just need to mention it because I love it so much. 

[00:05:42] Our grandmother's house. She could make me laugh. She was just so funny and just so loving and just the hours she'd spend playing card games with us and just, I don't know. I just, I, I definitely miss her she's she was just so great. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I loved that even as she got older and she was in her eighties. 

[00:06:07] She would get her hair done and learn a tiny joke before going to the cardiologist's office so that she would look attractive for him because he was very handsome and she wanted to make him blush and laugh with this, you know, pornographic joke, you know, whatever. It was just such a riot. You know, she, she was a fashion forward. 

[00:06:27] Amazing person. She wore, like, I remember going through her closet looking for something and she was in her early seventies and she was wearing an electric blue leather miniskirt, like whose grandma does that? She just never dressed like a grandma. She always whatever. It's just she's she was just amazing. 

[00:06:46] She was, yeah. Okay. So let's go to number four. What is your favorite. 

[00:06:54] Okay. So when we bought this house whoever had lived here before, left a grill that is probably 40 years old and that was built by hand by somebody. Somebody actually constructed this thing out of a steel barrel and. Anything that comes off, that grill is my favorite meal. Like you can't mess food up in that thing. 

[00:07:16] It just, you can taste the 40 years of flavor that's been collecting in that thing. It's really charcoal. Charcoal. Yeah. Oh, it's so good. Oh, so I would say that or I make a pretty mean red sauce. So anything with that sauce? Yeah. Well, when we come to Utah, I want something cooked in that barrel. 

[00:07:35] You'll eat well. You'll eat well, definitely. Okay. What one piece of advice would you like to give your younger self I would say that 

[00:07:46] that you're doing a good job that you're enough beautiful. And that you're doing a good job. Would you have believed yourself if you somehow could have your older self talk to your younger self, do you think 14 year old Michael would have believed you? The 14 year old Michael was very, cynical and had a hard time trusting people, but you know, in the, in the, in the parts work therapy that I'm doing right now, that's exactly what we're doing is I'm going back and talking to these younger parts of myself and It really makes a difference. 

[00:08:18] I don't understand how it works. I just know that it has had an effect. It absolutely works about a year ago, year ago, two years ago, it was in the middle of writing my book and I was meditating more regularly than I seem to find time to now. And I had in the middle of a meditation, I had a vision of myself as a 50 year old. 

[00:08:45] Talking to the eight year old Marcy and hugging her and saying, I know what you're feeling now, but you actually are loved and you always will be so healing. So powerful. So, and I had this vision of myself hugging my little girl self. And since then, I've just. Better about it. Yeah. That's amazing. I can't explain it technically, but that's what happened. 

[00:09:18] Yeah. Okay. Last one. What is one thing you would most like to change about the world?  I would say it's what we were talking about before. I wish we could talk more deeply and more vulnerably with one another and not have to feel like we have to defend our position, but accept the fact that people with other opinions are just as just that their, their opinions are just as valid as ours and be able to start a dialogue because I think so much of the problems we see today is because we're not able to talk to one another anymore. 

[00:09:54] I think we have less of an ability to talk to each other than we did 40 years ago, or even today. I agree. Yeah. And it's so divisive. It keeps us separated and it's, I mean, it keeps us controllable and in one way or another, but you know, it, it keeps us stuck. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, cool. You're welcome. 

 Well, thank you so much for doing this with me. Oh, you're so welcome. Absolutely. My permission to heal family. Thank you for having me. I just, I love you so much and I really appreciate your time and, and everything you're doing and all this good stuff you're putting out into the world and yeah, just let me know how it can be a service. If there's anything I can do to help. I'd be happy to. Excellent. Thanks. Cool.