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Story Work For Men Outgrowing Porn: How To Respond To A Story (Part 4)

April 29, 2024 Drew Boa
Story Work For Men Outgrowing Porn: How To Respond To A Story (Part 4)
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Husband Material
Story Work For Men Outgrowing Porn: How To Respond To A Story (Part 4)
Apr 29, 2024
Drew Boa

How do you respond to someone else's story with curiosity and compassion? In part 4 of this 4 part series, Marcus Spaur shares his story: "If I Only Could Have Been..."

If you love story work, you'd love Husband Material Groups.

Apply to join a group at husbandmaterial.com/group

Drew Boa (MA, PSAP) a Certified Unwanted Guide and Inner Child Recovery Specialist. Drew is the founder of Husband Material, where he helps men outgrow porn. Learn more at husbandmaterial.com

Wendell Moss (MA, LMHC) is a therapist, lead instructor, and facilitator at The Allender Center. Wendell serves as adjunct faculty at The Seattle School Of Theology & Psychology. Email Wendell at bishopmoss@gmail.com

Marcus Spaur is a Certified Husband Material Coach, Inner Child Recovery Specialist, and CCAR Coach. Marcus is the founder of Between The Covers Coaching. Learn more at betweenthecoverscoaching.com

Chris Inman (M.Div, PSAP) is a Certified Unwanted Guide and Certified Professional Recovery Coach. Chris is the founder of Porn-Free Masculinity. Email Chris at chris@np-recovery.com

Resources for responding to someone else's story:

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How do you respond to someone else's story with curiosity and compassion? In part 4 of this 4 part series, Marcus Spaur shares his story: "If I Only Could Have Been..."

If you love story work, you'd love Husband Material Groups.

Apply to join a group at husbandmaterial.com/group

Drew Boa (MA, PSAP) a Certified Unwanted Guide and Inner Child Recovery Specialist. Drew is the founder of Husband Material, where he helps men outgrow porn. Learn more at husbandmaterial.com

Wendell Moss (MA, LMHC) is a therapist, lead instructor, and facilitator at The Allender Center. Wendell serves as adjunct faculty at The Seattle School Of Theology & Psychology. Email Wendell at bishopmoss@gmail.com

Marcus Spaur is a Certified Husband Material Coach, Inner Child Recovery Specialist, and CCAR Coach. Marcus is the founder of Between The Covers Coaching. Learn more at betweenthecoverscoaching.com

Chris Inman (M.Div, PSAP) is a Certified Unwanted Guide and Certified Professional Recovery Coach. Chris is the founder of Porn-Free Masculinity. Email Chris at chris@np-recovery.com

Resources for responding to someone else's story:

Take the Husband Material Journey...

Thanks for listening!


Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Husband Material podcast, where we help Christian men outgrow porn. Why? So you can change your brain, heal your heart and save your relationship. My name is Drew Boa and I'm here to show you how let's go. Hey man, thank you for watching part four, the last installment of our series on story work for men outgrowing porn. Sadly, we did have some technical difficulties with the recording, so the first part of this episode will be audio only, but then, when you hear Marcus's story and see all four of us interacting, that was actually recorded correctly. So thank you for bearing with us. It's an amazing series. Thank you for sticking to the very end, and I think you'll really get a lot out of part four.

Speaker 1:

How to respond to someone else's story. Hey man, welcome to part four, the final chapter in our story group series. In this episode, you will learn how to respond to someone else when they share their story with you. If you've ever heard someone's story or you've been in a story group, you know the feeling of like what am I going to say to this person? How can I help them heal? How can I be a safe person? How can I allow this to turn into a moment of connection and redemption. That's what we're going to talk about today with expert story listener Marcus Spahr, and then, at the very end, you will hear Marcus's story shared with our group. Our goal in this series is to empower you to do story work with other men, whether at Husband Material or somewhere else. Enjoy the episode.

Speaker 1:

Welcome back, marcus. In this final episode of the series, we are talking about something incredibly important for all of us to understand how to respond to someone else when they share a story with us. Marcus, you are not only a story writer and a novelist. You are one of the best story listeners I have ever met. Every time we talk, every time we go deep and every time I share one of my stories with you, I have been blown away by how much listening, understanding and love pours out. It's really powerful. What are some of the things that you focus on when you are listening and responding to a story?

Speaker 2:

You're making me blush here. Drew. When I am listening to someone else's story, I am doing everything I can to attune to their experience. Again, in the previous one we were talking about those two different kinds of details. I want to really zero in onto the emotions that they are experiencing or, for some of my clients, I've worked with the emotions they should have experienced but didn't.

Speaker 2:

When someone is, when someone is sharing about a bullying experience from someone that they really admired and they put up with it year after year after year, and it's just, oh, that was just kind of how our friendship was, and I can look at them and be like, was that really how it could have been or how it should have been? Because there is oftentimes a disconnect in what we're hearing from the other person and the emotions that they are expressing.

Speaker 1:

That's very true. And the emotions that they are expressing? That's very true. Somebody can be telling a very dark story and pepper it in with laughter every other sentence.

Speaker 2:

And that's a defense mechanism. It's one of the reasons why, in new situations, I often introduce myself. I'm like, hey, I'm Marcus. I use humor to mask over my insecurities, because when we are feeling insecure about something, it feels like it's too much for us to actually honestly share what happened here. Sarcasm or humor or deflection, just as a means to make ourselves feel better, without actually getting into these dark details and the emotions that come with them.

Speaker 1:

So, in other words, sometimes we protect ourselves from what we're really feeling.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. Why do you think there are so many people that have these maladaptive coping mechanisms? We're not just talking porn, we're talking eating food. We're talking about exercise, workaholism, we're talking alcohol.

Speaker 2:

Those are all ways for us to run away from what we're feeling because we don't know how to feel them. We weren't taught how to feel them, and so one of the things that I try and clue in on when I am hearing someone's story and responding to it is one I acknowledge what they are experiencing, I try and mirror back what it is that I'm hearing and in a lot of cases I mirror back with the appropriate emotions. I have had some clients who have looked at me and it's like I wish I could cry over this, like you are right now, because they just have never felt the sadness from that story. And then, while I am doing that, I am also cluing on any kind of dissonance that I'm hearing. If I am hearing someone talk about this experience and then how they're delivering it or the emotions don't match up, oh, that is a clue. Right there, there's something big going on right there.

Speaker 2:

And those are the opportunities for me to just come in and gently question. I don't want to just come out and be like hey, drew, hold on, I think you're lying to yourself here or you're lying to me. No, that's not really going to help in that kind of situation, but what I often do is I can just say you know what, drew, I'm picking up on something here. What you just said doesn't really match up with how I'm feeling about the situation. So not just cluing into the storyteller's feelings, I need to be aware of my own.

Speaker 1:

It's true. So this is a delicate dance where-.

Speaker 2:

Very delicate.

Speaker 1:

We are attuning to what the other person is feeling, being aware of what we ourselves might be feeling because it's easy to get triggered or to get carried away by someone else's story and responding with curiosity and compassion. I love how you said gently questioning Rather than assuming that I understand your story or I understand you. I'm simply making little observations. Could be about your body language, Could be about the word choice, Could be about something I'm picking up on and I could be wrong. That is so important, rather than pretending to be some kind of story sage who has all the answers. Marcus, what are some of the biggest mistakes people make when responding to a story?

Speaker 2:

Oh, where do I even begin with this question, drew? One of the things we don't want to do when we're listening to someone else's story is discredit what they experienced. You want to talk about causing someone to just distance themselves and close off, Just tell them oh, it wasn't really that big of a deal. No, you don't know what they went through. You don't know what they felt. We want to honor what they experienced, even if it's something where you're looking at it in your own story. It's like that's really not that big of a deal. Why did they have that kind of experience with it? And that was something I wanted to bring up. And when we're responding, we want to separate our story from theirs, because we can come in and hijack what someone is sharing, and we want to focus on their experience.

Speaker 1:

That's really important because if you share, let's say, a story about your twin brother, your sibling, and it brings up some stories about me with my sister, then I might want to project my experience with my sister onto you and think that you probably felt exactly how I felt, or I could respond to you saying that reminds me of this story with my sister. And then I've taken the spotlight off of you as the storyteller and I've hijacked it, and now it's okay to let somebody know that you can relate to what they're sharing, that they're not alone. I have experienced something similar and I feel so heartbroken I mean that's appropriate. Then you take the spotlight and put it back on them.

Speaker 2:

Exactly Because we want to create a safe environment for the individual who is sharing their story. We want to let them know that they are heard, that we respect where they are, how that made them feel, and that we are going to take what they're sharing and we're going to hold it with the most gentle care. And we're going to hold it with the most gentle care, even if it's just something of just saying, man Drew, that sounds like it was such a really hard thing to go through. I'm just acknowledging what you shared and maybe even mirror back what was shared. It's like, yeah, that what you shared with your sister, that sounded like a really rough thing to have to go through, especially with someone you're around with every single day.

Speaker 2:

Take what the other person is sharing, mirror it back, express proper emotions, you'll notice. I say proper because when we get dysregulated by someone else sharing their story, then we don't want to start as you were sharing. Project our own experience on what someone else is sharing. They might have shared something that really triggers us and makes us feel insecure, or we're just awash in our own emotions. That would be a time to take a nice deep, calming breath and just say OK, something came up. I'm going to need to address it, maybe write it down and be like, hey, I need to look into this on my own or with someone else that I trust, but don't take away from this experience with this person who's being so brave to share their story.

Speaker 1:

And that's one of the benefits of sharing your story in a group, because even if one or two people are triggered and are not able to fully respond, there are others who are able to enter in with you and truly offer what you need in that moment. One of the most beautiful parts of doing story work in a group is that you don't have to be the only one responding to this person. You can share just a little detail that you noticed. You can ask just one question and that's enough, and the group can carry the story much more than any one individual can. And even if you're just hearing somebody's story one-on-one, you still don't have to have all the answers.

Speaker 1:

And when you say hmm, it sounds like you were feeling angry. Maybe you get it wrong, and that's okay. Healing comes when there is repair. So there's always going to be rupture, there's always going to be misunderstandings. You're never going to fully get someone's story, but the point is that through this process we're building a relationship with each other where, when we do get it wrong, we realize it and we repair the rupture.

Speaker 2:

Exactly it and we repair the rupture Exactly and even being honest with the storyteller that I don't have the answers, that can even be a safety net that you have placed under them. In fact, with some of the clients that I work with, they will share a story and I will preface this observation or this question with okay, I just had a thought about what you shared and I don't know if this is going to land or not, and that is effectively giving them permission to let me know. You know that's not really fitting with what I was sharing and it just creates that safety in. I'm not the expert of your story, you're the expert of your story. The best that I can do is offer some interpretations and just be this space where you can just openly share and have someone sit with those feelings with you.

Speaker 1:

As a story listener, we observe we take a little bit of risk in sharing our interpretations. But that most important piece is just sitting in the dirt with each other, empathizing together, grieving with those who grieve, so that we can move through it into new life.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. In fact, it reminds me of this saying and I could be saying this wrong that when we share our joys, it's doubled. When we share our grief, it's halved. And so there's a lot of people and I've been there too where I'm just holding on to all of this grief by myself, when in reality, I can find people that I can share it with, and it helps lift the load and it makes it easier to carry, and that's not to say that when you share your grief, you're putting your grief on someone else. It makes it so that it is easier to carry. That's all it is.

Speaker 1:

Beautiful, and we can do that with each other. You don't need to be a mental health professional or even a professional coach to be a great story listener, and one of our hopes with this story group series is that you all will get an imagination for what a story group might look like for you, maybe in your local church or maybe with some men who you know, who you trust. Go through this series together, learn how to write a story, how to respond to a story, and take some time to share your stories and see what happens. It can be amazing when you apply some of these principles. They're really not that hard once you have witnessed what it looks like and experienced it for yourself and I would even say that this is a learned skill.

Speaker 2:

It's something that you might not be the best at when you start, and that's totally okay. We all have to start somewhere. Allow yourself the grace to learn how to get better at this so that the next time you hear someone's story, you will be better prepared and more able to respond in a way that is going to empower the storyteller.

Speaker 1:

That's right. The more you practice, the more you will see what resonates and what doesn't.

Speaker 2:

One of the things that you can do is you can even ask the storyteller for feedback on how you're responding, or if you are the storyteller and the listener isn't responding that well, you can be brave to actually speak up for what it is that you need. I have a great story of this happening even just recently is my wife was working through some anxiety and she was talking with me about this thing that she was anxious about. I wasn't responding the greatest to it and she actually was brave enough and she said honey, I need you to be more compassionate right now. Oh, I hated to hear that, but I really needed to as well, because she was shedding light on how I was not giving her what she needed for what she was trying to tell me.

Speaker 1:

Man, what a gift your wife gave to you. And that's how we need to view this. When we are listening to someone's story and they take the brave risk to let us know that they need something different, wow, we need to honor that and respectfully, sensitively attune to what they really need.

Speaker 2:

How many of us would love to just have someone give us the playbook on how we should respond to them when they're telling us something? And in those moments, that's exactly what they've done. They have told you this is what I need, and then we can turn around and give them exactly what that is. You don't need a guess. The guess work was taken away and I love it when that happens even though it hurts. I love it, when that happens.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, Marcus. What's your best advice for someone who wants to grow as a story?

Speaker 2:

listener. Well, first of all, listen to stories is one thing, and it doesn't even have to be in a one-on-one or like any kind of recovery setting. You can even do this from like reading a book or watching a TV show or a movie. Put yourself in their shoes and allow yourself to experience whatever it is that you would experience in that same situation when you are prepared. Listen to someone's story. Maybe a group setting is the best way to begin, where there's less pressure for you to respond appropriately. You can watch how other people respond. You can see how they empathize. You have the opportunity to just process what's going on inside of you in that moment and then be that brave one to just step up and say I would like to create that safe space for you and be ready for feedback.

Speaker 1:

Community is a mess, and it's a mess worth making. Some of the strongest community you will ever form is with people who know your story. It's going to be messy and it's a mess worth making.

Speaker 2:

And when you make that mess in community, you have more people to help you clean it up. True.

Speaker 1:

And we're trying and, I think, succeeding at building that kind of community at Husband Material. We are all growing as storytellers, as story listeners, especially in our private small groups, but really anything you do at Husband Material is going to engage your story because your story and your sexuality are so connected. So I hope that this series will empower you guys to do more story work where you are locally. And if you want to go online, husband Material is always here at husbandmaterialcom with our private groups, with Husband Material Academy doing story work every week and with coaches like Marcus, who are incredible at being with you in your story, who are incredible at being with you in your story and the last story in this series is yours, marcus.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and when we were preparing to have this call and I shared my story with you in advance, you even gave me permission to be like this is raw. If you don't want to share this, then you can come up with another story. And yet, the more I thought about it, the more this story kept coming up and saying you have been keeping me hidden for too long. I want to be told, and I honored that. It was not an easy story to tell and even with some of the questions and the feedback that I was getting from you guys on the call, it was difficult and yet it was so worth it. At the same time, it was that redemptive risk.

Speaker 1:

Now. What you hear next will be the original recording of the last story in our story group with me, wendell Moss, chris Inman and Marcus Spahr.

Speaker 2:

Well, I will admit that, as much as I feel like this story is wanting to be told, there are parts of me that are like no, you have kept this a secret for so long. Parts of me that are like no, you have kept this a secret for so long, you still need to keep it hidden. It's not safe to to share, even though there there are parts of me that are just, uh, sharing this resounding sentiment that this doesn't need to be shared.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to share it because this story is screaming to be told, and so this story I titled. If I Only Could have Been. There are two things you need to know about this story. One is I grew up hearing that my mom always wanted a daughter and was disappointed she never had one. The other is that I was bullied for three and a half years prior because being a boy with long hair naturally made me homosexual.

Speaker 2:

As a freshman in high school, I decided to grow out all of my hair. It's a little shameful to admit, but in all of middle school I had a mullet. It was time to grow the rest out. Middle school I had a mullet. It was time to grow the rest out. This made for an interesting transition period. While it tried to catch up with the length of all the rest Once it started getting in my eyes but was not even close to being long enough to reach the rest of my ponytail, I decided to tie a shorter length in a separate ponytail on the top of my head. While it served its purpose of keeping it out of my eyes, it also garnered some unwanted attention.

Speaker 2:

In one particular moment I walked the hall from the classroom to get something from my locker or use the bathroom. The school had three distinct wings for classes and this one was the green hall. Between the lockers, pillars, railings and paint, everything was a shade of green, either mossy or forest leaves. Some upperclassman that I didn't know was walking to the adjoining hall to go to one of the other wings and called out to me are you doing that for your boyfriend? I brushed this comment off because I've heard worse from middle schoolers. Yet it triggered something deep inside me, a shame I couldn't quite put words to and a fury no longer willing to remain suppressed since my parents' recent divorce. No longer willing to remain suppressed since my parents' recent divorce. Rage at the world and at God for taking away the only semblance of safety I had in this hellhole called life. My family was ripped apart and never whole again, and it was my fault.

Speaker 2:

At the impressionable age of 14, I still believed that I could have done something to prevent the divorce. I could have done something to keep the family together. I could have done something to prevent life from being torn to pieces. If I could only have been the daughter that my mother wanted. Maybe she would have been happy and stayed in the marriage. If I only could have been the daughter in the family, then my family would still be together and whole. If I only could have been the daughter, my life would still be normal. Are you doing this for your boyfriend? Well, I didn't respond to those words. Maybe I wanted to because a part of me deep down felt that as the last child in my family, I was the last hope of being the missing daughter. As the last child, I was the last hope to be what my parents wanted in their children and family dynamics. But I wasn't. If I only could have been the daughter in the family, it wouldn't have been my fault that my family broke.

Speaker 4:

Thank you, Marcus.

Speaker 2:

I have never shared this with anyone other than you guys and probably like five people in my circle.

Speaker 4:

Marcus, as you tell the story what were you aware of buddy? What were you aware of as you were reading?

Speaker 2:

The thing that I am the most keenly aware of right now is how my it's like my eyes are wondering is it, is it okay for me to cry right now? Is this something that's worth crying about? It's like it's almost trying to hold back a damn at this point, and I have read this aloud a couple of times, and so I'm not really feeling anything in my body other than just kind of this pressure behind my eyes as it's trying to decide do I let these tears flow? And yet I also couldn't stop from fidgeting with my thumbs while I was reading this story.

Speaker 4:

And yet the story, the story holds the same question who can I be?

Speaker 2:

And that is a question I have wrestled with for a long time now. I have been on a rather long journey of restoring my self-confidence and my self-esteem and allowing myself to be just who I am, and yet I've had a lot of questions about this since I was a kid. One detail that I wish I added to the story is that I heard from both my parents that someday I would make someone a good wife, from both my parents that someday I would make someone a good wife. And when? When I look back on it now, it's like, huh, no wonder I wrestled so much with this part of my own identity.

Speaker 2:

I I've held a lot of shame around my own masculinity because of this, because it seems like I've resonated more with the feminine than I ever did with the masculine, and I have been very uncomfortable in my own skin. I'm not man enough. I don't know what it's like to be a man. I mean my wife and I. We have one of those marriages where she's the one who wants all the power tools. I could care less about any of that, and so tears are really starting to build up now. It's like where do I belong Really? Where do I belong Really? Where do I belong? That question seems to come up a lot in my story. So where do I belong?

Speaker 4:

Marcus, I'm curious like how did you come to know so well that your mom wanted a daughter? How did you come to know that so well?

Speaker 2:

know so well that your mom wanted a daughter. How did you come to know that so well? I can't tell you who I heard it from, but I heard it from several people. I think I. I even heard it from my mom, my, my parents. Originally they wanted to have four kids, but then they got a two for one deal with twins and my dad was like nope, I'm not doing this anymore. And I heard the story of how my mom cried the day that my dad went to get his vasectomy because he wasn't going to have another kid. And my mom lost her only chance of getting a daughter and she cried. She was so heartbroken, she felt like that was stolen away from her.

Speaker 4:

So, you're saying in a lot of ways it was communicated to you.

Speaker 2:

In a lot of ways.

Speaker 4:

To even see her tears. Yeah, weep over her husband that get him to second me, and you're being the last one, so there were a lot of ways I have to imagine that you heard or saw or saw this yeah.

Speaker 2:

There were a lot of ways that I heard and I saw this in my life. There was that time it was the darkest time of my life when I was in high school, when I had felt the most alone because in middle school I felt abandoned by my twin brother. My oldest brother didn't really want to do much with his younger siblings. And then in high school my parents divorced and my life shattered. And there was a time when I was in high school I was literally trying to do what I could to be a pseudo daughter in the family. My dad in the first home he moved into after the divorce, was doing a lot of work in the backyard and he wanted to have all three of us boys out there helping with like shoveling rock and making this gravel driveway and helping with the lawn and everything. And I would much rather have been inside just baking cookies for everyone to come in and have a nice treat when they were done. But no, that wasn't acceptable. But that's that's what I felt like I should have been doing.

Speaker 2:

What should you have been doing I? I should have been doing things that were more feminine and serving the masculine that I. I should have been the one who was just making sure the house was tidying, making sure everyone had food, taking care of all of these, but not actually going out and doing any of the physical work myself.

Speaker 4:

And it feels like we're not talking about merely fulfilling a gender role, but as I hear you you describe it, you have learned well how you had to live to not disappoint your mother and your father, especially your mother.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if I necessarily learned that very well, because I feel like I disappointed my mom and my dad a lot.

Speaker 4:

Well, but here they put you in a situation where there will be no way to not disappoint them. Yeah, that bond is there and that it stopped you from trying, or to learn. How could I at least what would be my attempt to keep them?

Speaker 1:

yeah, marcus, I have this picture in my head of you being pulled apart by your parents your dad's pulling you to shovel the rocks and your mom's pulling you to bake the cookies. Does that resonate with you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was just another way that just my entire life was just pulled apart. For anyone who has ever experienced a divorce, once that happens, it's hard to know truly where you fit or where you belong, because you thought you fit and you belonged in one place and now you've got to split that up between two different homes, maybe even two different cities or two different states.

Speaker 5:

And I just I really wrestled with where I belonged. Marcus, I resonate with you so strongly in that, as a child of divorced parents and just as you were crying out, I could have done something, and that went on for a season and you're the last hope. That seems like an immense amount of pressure to lay on top of this identity question. Where do I belong in that space? Is there some space to be able to see other causes, other dynamics that weren't your fault, that wasn't your responsibility for mom or dad in their relationship?

Speaker 2:

I have learned a lot as I have engaged with my mom and my dad, just kind of sharing with them some of what I've gone through.

Speaker 2:

And I know that, like it was just a couple of months ago, I was talking with my mom and my mom shared with me that her relationship with my dad was so abusive even from the beginning so abusive even from the beginning that she was in such a dark place that if she continued to stay married to my dad that she likely would have ended her life and my dad eventually, when he remarried.

Speaker 2:

I remember him saying to my mom one time it was like at a graduation or something like that he said to my mom. He said hey, I'm treating my wife now the way I should have treated you then and I'm so sorry. And so I know now I know it, it wasn't my fault, but that 14-year-old couldn't see any of that. And I have heard over and over how just the egocentric nature of kids whenever something happens, they always assume that it's their fault. Kids whenever something happens, they always assume that it's their fault. And I was no different as a teenager, thinking that somehow I could have done or said something or been something different in order to keep my family together.

Speaker 4:

But, mark, as a tragedy of this story is that that little boy didn't come to that conclusion on his own. He had a lot of help. Yes.

Speaker 4:

A lot of help he did Again for him to know you were supposed to be the daughter to have a sense of essentially cursing in this story. I don't know how to more curse this boy's sense of masculinity. And even when you say where I belong, one for your mother, it's in some ways to make you her daughter and at least her coffee that she could talk about dad too.

Speaker 2:

Well, that was one of the things that's also interesting about this story.

Speaker 4:

My mom, she did not confide in me when I was growing up, she had that respect. She had that respect, she had that boundary and yet how would you come to the place so well that you knew it was your job to hold their marriage together?

Speaker 5:

you were betrayed in your identity. It's not because there's something wrong with you. It's because what was given to you was not what was true about you. You were given the identity you. You were given the identity of daughter. You were given the identity of feminine. You were given the identity of. You'll make someone a good wife. It's not the ego that drives us to want to take responsibility. It's our own shame in the silence.

Speaker 4:

And in some ways, also given the role because, marcus, you were very intuitive. Yes, I don't think you had to be told much of anything. The boy you described here is really intuitive You're picking up stuff.

Speaker 2:

I picked up a lot of stuff. In fact, another part of just my story is that I was the cry baby in the family, and a lot of that is because I. What I have learned now is I'm an empath, and so I could pick up on emotions. I could pick up on feelings and experiences that other people were having, and I found out that's something I inherited from my mom. She's an empath as well, and yet she was in such a dark place for so many years she could not empathize with me, and so I'm not just experiencing my own feelings and my own experiences, I'm picking up on other people's as well, and I didn't even know how to handle my own, let alone handle others.

Speaker 4:

And would your parents not have known how intuitive their little boy was?

Speaker 2:

I was an avid observer and I still am today and they would have.

Speaker 5:

They would have known how observant you were yet they didn't step in and see you and say marcus, it's not your fault, you're not to blame. You couldn't have saved this relationship. There were other I not. Until a few months ago did you get clarity and then some nuggets tracing back. But that's the big piece is that you were left alone in that betrayed identity of who am I? Where do I belong? You saw, and yet nothing was coming back.

Speaker 2:

And the people who could see you, and then they were more than happy that you played a role yeah, and I could not express or even ask about what my experience was, because I didn't feel safe to but that's not the job of a 14 year old.

Speaker 5:

You're developing, you're growing. Your caregivers are responsible for that, carrying that for you and that's the tragedy of this is that you were left so alone to see so clearly. I'm so sorry, my friend.

Speaker 2:

And I would even say that I was left alone to see so clearly until I couldn't see beyond my own pain what's crazy is I almost want to up the ante.

Speaker 4:

Not only were you just left alone, the setup was that you would play that role, because in some ways, to be left alone would mean that, like I leave you alone to do something, it's almost like there's something I don't know or don't want to know. Again, there's something much more intentional here than you just being left alone. Yeah, there's a yes to this role. There's a yes to this role. There's a yes to that. They know how did he not know this that their boy is bearing their marriage, that is, bearing the fallout. That he would have a sense of my masculinity is not welcome.

Speaker 1:

Marcus, would it be too strong to say they lusted after you?

Speaker 2:

I never would have put those words to it and, as you say, that my first inclination is to just mock and laugh at it Like there's no way that could be true, to just mock and laugh at it Like there's no way that could be true, and at the same time, I'm now looking back and like, wait, could that have been true? I don't know what these people thought would have happened by making these comments of that, I'll make someone a good wife someday and sharing in front of these boys that my mom always wanted a daughter, always wanted a daughter, and that there was, there was something, something shameful about my wanting to have long hair.

Speaker 2:

Cause I enjoyed it Going back to that. Did they lust after me, drew? I honestly don't have a good question for, for, or a good answer for you on that. I don't know.

Speaker 4:

That may be something that I'll have to wrestle with for a little while.

Speaker 2:

Well, at least the story provides a little bit of data that says they wanted you to be their girl.

Speaker 4:

At least my mom did, and did your father not abdicate?

Speaker 2:

he did not defend.

Speaker 4:

He did not defend against her desire for you to be a girl. No, he didn't defend so in some ways in his, did he not join her?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that silence spoke volumes.

Speaker 4:

Oh, it said much no-transcript.

Speaker 2:

Are you still calling me a horse's ass? Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I feel really angry at the men in this story.

Speaker 2:

You feel really angry at the men in this story. You feel really angry at the men in this story. How about you? I, I have harbored a lot of anger towards all of the men that, uh, left me to fend for myself on what it is to be a man and like even recognizing that there were things about the masculine that I'm like that's not right.

Speaker 2:

That's not good, that's not healthy, and those are things that I have since been able to label as toxic masculinity, and yet I didn't really have a good example of what it is to be the masculinity and I wonder, in some ways, for your father to advocate and give you over to your mother in.

Speaker 4:

In some ways, you see that in your father essentially, and in some ways, as you're talking about masculinity, are you able to even bless that sense of a boy who is very, very intuitive?

Speaker 2:

At first I would not have been able to bless him. I really would not have been able to. Yet, as I have been engaging in my story more and recognizing that he had this beautiful gift of empathy and this intuition to see what's going on beneath the surface, behind the mask of what other people are presenting, I've been able to look at him and just like man, you had such an awesome gift that people didn't even realize was there but have you been able to bless those characteristics and those characteristics that make you a good man?

Speaker 4:

I have, I have.

Speaker 2:

I think there's a sense that those characteristics have been labeled as feminine, for you yes, these are the things that girls do yes, and I have also recognized that just within creation that it was man and woman together who were good. When you think about it, if you have, if you have girls or women that tend to portray more masculine characteristics, you just call them a tomboy, and that's even something where it's like they can absolutely just grab a hold of that identity and be like hell.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's who I am. But as soon as you have a guy who shows more feminine traits, you're gay and there's such a bad image tied to that and I'm like no, I am a different representation of the goodness of how I was created. I was created to be empathic. I was created to be empathic. I was created to be intuitive. I was created to be able to observe these more destructive forms of masculinity and be like I don't want a part of that. No, I want to embody something more wholesome, something that is a different kind of strength, a strength of character. Yeah, not just a strength of who's got the bigger brawn and who can throw something the furthest. No, I have a strength of character that, even growing up, I grew up with messages that Marcus dances to the beat of a different drummer and I have continued to honor that even today, that I am who I am and I am going to honor and be exactly who I am and I love. I love being who I am and I love, I love being who I am.

Speaker 5:

Marcus, that strength was consumed instead of being blessed. Exactly, you were the strength in your family and others could not see it. You were present with it and you gave and you gave and you gave and it exhausted you and it left you with this whole, this identity, whole, this who am I? Where do I belong? Whole, but what we're saying and what you're saying, I mean I just I want you to go back and listen to what you just said as a blessing to yourself, because it is absolutely true that you have a strength that was unique in your family, that wasn't recognized, but we see it and we love it and we, like drew cheer it, celebrate it as strong and good and mighty and powerful yeah, and also like a request and also recognize that it has come at a great cost.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, it came at a huge cost. It would make sense that during this time, when I was more exploring the feminine, I mean, for one thing, the masculine was not safe yeah absolutely was not safe, and so the kind of pornography that I would look at was was all around women, kind of understanding what it was to like be a woman, even though I couldn't experience that myself, and marcus do you?

Speaker 4:

do you hear kind of even your implicit cursing? Do you still, even how you even call yourself, like I, hold these feminine traits? Do you hear yourself even continuing to do that? You don't allow your intuitive for that to be Marcus, and who Marcus is as a man? There's something of I would hear you going, yeah, this, these feminine traits, and I go now feels like you're back in with a cursing and yeah, wendell, I can see myself backsliding into that.

Speaker 2:

I mean, we're talking about trying to unravel something that has just been a part of my being and my story for so long, and I appreciate you mentioning that because it's like, yeah, I'm just reinforcing that it's a curse, I'm reinforcing that it's the qualities that I have belong with women and they don't belong with men, but no they do, they do belong with men, they can be and they're important and they're necessary.

Speaker 1:

And you belong yeah.

Speaker 5:

So, marcus, as a cloud of witnesses, as men who are standing with you, what message do you have for that 14-year-old boy? If you're free to do this, and if you're not, I understand what would you say to him? How would you bless him? How would you initiate him into manhood, with us standing alongside and cheering on that blessing?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, what I would tell that 15-year-old self is, first of all, that there is nothing wrong with you, that you are good, you are whole, you're not lacking in anything, and I would want to just stress over and over that it truly is not your fault. It's not your fault what happened, and that you have this magnificent and powerful gift to give to the world, and that was something that needed to be nurtured. It wasn't.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and can we even say, will you offer that same thing to your wife? Because the thing is in some ways, I guess, since when you've launched it, you made yourself small in comparison to your wife, because she is holes in the mask. And in some ways, marcus, I wonder what you need to repent to your wife and that you haven't come with strength, in how you come with strength.

Speaker 2:

In owning who you are.

Speaker 2:

This is really hitting home with what my wife and I are going through right now. We are Drew knows this we're in the midst of a mental health crisis in my house right now. I'll be honest with you guys. There are times where I don't know where I get this energy from to continue to support her her, I mean. It's sometimes every spare moment I have is being used to help her through this crisis that she's in, and I don't know where that energy is coming from. I don't know how I'm continuing to do it, but I do Go back to your story, my friend, your story my friend.

Speaker 4:

Oh my gosh, are you kidding?

Speaker 5:

You're there.

Speaker 4:

Are you kidding? You've been doing this since you were a little boy.

Speaker 2:

And it is a power that I am now not stepping into, that I'm walking in.

Speaker 4:

Yes, it's almost like can you go ahead and own it? You've been doing it. Can you own it? It's not new to you. Can you own it? It's not new to you, can you own it?

Speaker 5:

That power is where you belong.

Speaker 4:

In a substance can you own your own masculinity. That's hard for me to do. Uh-huh. The question I have to ask is how come? You don't have to answer that, but I wonder how come?

Speaker 2:

Because for so long I've believed it was wrong, I believed it wasn't masculine, I believed it just didn't belong.

Speaker 4:

And at some point you get to break that agreement and at some point you get to break that agreement.

Speaker 2:

I feel like every single day I am walking in, this masculinity is just taking. I just envision myself like just trying to step and I've got one of those really strong resistance bands behind me trying to just yank me back, and it's like every step I take forward is just one step closer to just breaking it. So I don't slide back into this belief that there's just something innately wrong with my masculinity.

Speaker 5:

The most powerful thing a man can do is be present and see. That is where strength lies in the human condition. It's not muscles, it's not tools, it's not abilities, it's presence. And you, my friend, have an amazing presence. We see it in you, we invite you into it. And you, my friend, have an amazing presence. Amen, we see it in you, we invite you into it. I mean, that's what Mandela is inviting you into. That repentance with your wife is to say it's been there the whole time. Will you let it go? Let go of the curse that you're feminine and step in to the strength of your unique masculinity.

Speaker 2:

I think what I need to do is, instead of fighting against this resistance band, I just need to, like, take a couple of steps back, lift it up and just let it go over my head, just release me and, essentially, Marcus, in some way I gotta say this.

Speaker 4:

Quit saying that, I'm just starting to walk in it. Yeah, marcus, you have been doing this forever.

Speaker 5:

Yes, it's been there. It's just had the wrong name. Give it a new name, that's what.

Speaker 4:

Marcus, marcus, masculinity looks like that's right baby and it is good and it's strong and it comes with tears, it comes with being empathic, it comes with being very tender.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, I receive that, you guys. I do thank you, marcus, we love you brother.

Speaker 4:

Yes, yeah, I receive that, you guys, I do. Thank you, marcus, thank you.

Speaker 5:

We love you brother.

Speaker 1:

Glad to walk with you.

Speaker 2:

Marcus, how are you feeling right now? I am feeling so unburdened right now. I really am feeling unburdened Like I just let go of the largest boulder that I've been carrying and I'm just walking away from it, saying no more.

Speaker 4:

I'm done with you and may you not feel shame or curse when you need us to remind you you will. You will need Amen to that, your limbic system is still there.

Speaker 2:

I mean, how many times did you guys try and remind me just at the end of this call on?

Speaker 5:

its own.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I recognize that I'm going to need the reminders.

Speaker 5:

It takes a chorus. You know I can't believe one voice, maybe even two voices, but when I hear the chorus can't argue with the chorus.

Speaker 2:

Thank you guys, so much Thank you for trusting us with that story.

Speaker 1:

I knew there was a reason I needed to share it, and can I just say that was one of the most masculine things anyone could ever do. A story you've never told anyone, and now it's here.

Speaker 2:

I had not told this story until I emailed it to you guys like a month ago. That was the first time I spoke the story out.

Speaker 5:

Bro, that's poker. Baby, you went all in All in.

Speaker 2:

I, leroy, jenkinsed it like I always do.

Speaker 5:

And it paid off baby. It paid off Leroy Jenkins baby.

Speaker 2:

It paid off, Leroy Jenkins and I just want to say thank you guys so much for honoring the story and being here just to ask those. Those were some difficult questions you guys asked and I appreciate you guys asking every single one. I appreciate the pushes and the challenges.

Speaker 1:

Appreciate your tears and who you are as a man. Hey, what a redemptive risk for men telling our stories, listening, learning, loving, and I hope it's a blessing to all you guys who have been sitting with us and being a part of it.

Speaker 5:

Thank you for making it happen.

Speaker 1:

What has it been like for you since sharing that story?

Speaker 2:

Ironically, since sharing that story, one of the things that has happened is I have become much more comfortable in my own masculinity and it has allowed me to accept that, on the spectrum of what masculinity is, I was just swinging a different direction from everyone else, and it was still a beautiful representation of what it is to be a man. I'm still not one of those guys that you will see out there lifting weights to build muscle mass, or even learning how to grill a steak on a grill to the perfect temperature or anything like that, and yet I am so much more comfortable with the empathetic and compassionate representation of masculinity that I have begun to thrive under.

Speaker 1:

Man that is so good to hear. Oh, that's the power of story work.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, exactly. It's worth it, you guys? It really is.

Speaker 1:

And that's it, the last installment of our series on story work for men outgrowing porn. Thank you for sticking with us to the very end. It was pretty amazing to be a part of that group. I hope it inspires you. I hope it gives you a sense of what this work can look like, especially when you have some trained story listeners who are leading the way. It's incredibly vulnerable. Yes, it takes a lot of courage and it results in connection when there's a culture of curiosity and compassion, like what we're building at Husband Material.

Speaker 1:

Once again, if you want to go through a group like this, go to husbandmaterialcom slash group or join Husband Material Academy when it opens up next twice a year. And, of course, your story is always welcome in the Husband Material Academy, where we help men outgrow porn. My friend, your story is not over. God is doing something amazing. It is my deep honor and privilege to be able to hold this space for the stories of other men, to be able to share my story with you and to know that so many of you have trusted me with your story. Thank you so much for being a part of this, for believing in our mission to help men outgrow porn and always remember you are God's beloved son and you he is well pleased.

Responding With Compassion in Story Work
Effective and Empathetic Story Listening
Journey Towards Self-Acceptance
Navigating Betrayed Identity and Emotional Burdens
Exploring Masculinity and Femininity Blessings
Masculinity, Strength, and Acceptance
Empathetic Masculinity and Story Work

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