The Cry I’ve Been Waiting For (Plus Attendee Stories)
Over a hundred men stood together in a circle in the Pacific Ballroom at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside hotel.
A microphone laid in the middle of the circle.
One by one a man would walk some 40-50 feet to the middle of the circle, pick up the microphone, and share the thing that he least wanted to share about himself.
The thing that secretly ate him up inside. The thing that had been plaguing him for years. The thing that he thought made him less than perfect.
Then after the share, every man who shared that same story would walk into the circle with him.
They would stand around him and look him directly in the eyes. Sometimes they would put their hands on his shoulders. Sometimes they would collapse into a giant ball of tears and hugs.
Sometimes four men joined him, sometimes forty. Sometimes he stood alone, but he felt fully seen by a group of his brothers.
After a couple dozen men had shared some of their deepest, darkest secrets, I took the long road to the center of the circle, picked up the microphone and with tears in my eyes, I said…
“I wish I had a better relationship with my father.”
I closed my eyes for a couple of seconds to let that sink in. Then I opened them and saw that over half of the circle had joined me in the middle.
Most of the speakers, many of my closest friends, and dozens of men who I had just met the evening before.
As I slowly turned in a clockwise circle and made eye contact with the men standing around me, I realized that I wasn’t alone.
A few minutes later, my brother David walked into the middle of the circle. He paused, took a look around and said…
“Ever since my mom passed away, there hasn’t been a single woman who can fill this void in my heart.”
He went there.
I walked directly towards him like a soldier walking into battle, eyes locking in on my target. Everything around me started to fade away.
I threw my arms around him and let him sink into me. And then we had the cry that we’ve never had together.
We completely lost it.
I didn’t care who was watching. I didn’t care that it was my conference. I didn’t care about anything but holding space for my brother to grieve.
As I held him up and let him collapse into my arms, I felt the arms of other men around us. One man, several decades older than us put his arms around the both of us and sank into his own grief.
We weren’t the only ones who missed our mommies.
For at least a minute I held David. I rubbed the back of his heart with my right hand, like I do so often with my partner or with my friends who I’m closest too.
And in that moment I knew all of the hard work was worth it. The sleepless nights, the stress, the pain of growing faster than I was ready to. It was all worth it.
To have this moment with my best friend in the world.
This fucking moment. Yes.
And then all the men in the center of the circle walked back out to the periphery, waiting for the next man to speak his truth.
It’s been almost two weeks since The Conference For Men and I’ve been struggling to put words on the paper.
Put simply, it was the most beautiful event that I’ve ever been a part of.
Over a hundred men from all over the world flew to San Diego to the the deepest transformational work of their lives. And I had the honor of watching over the entire process.
Two and a half days felt like a week together.
We talked about sex, we talked about money, we talked about death, we talked about shame. We led them through a death meditation where we simulated them being buried alive. We had a team of extraordinary women come in and give them feedback on how they show up in the world. We taught them how to dance. We helped them tap into their inner warrior.
Most importantly, we created a safe space for them to put down their masks and for once in their life get a little support from other men.
And after it was all over I secretly had 80 amazing women join us at the after party to welcome the men back from their initiation.
Even now I have dozens of stories whirling around in my head that I want to tell, but trying to put them down in words doesn’t do them justice.
So I asked some of the men who attended to share their experiences. Here are the stories from the first (but not to be last) The Conference For Men.
- 20 Lessons I Learned From The Conference For Men from Spencer Lanoue
- Becoming A Man In One Weekend from Steve Daar
- The Conference For Men Ruined My Life from Bob Schwenkler
- A Weekend of Awakening from CJ Thomas
- The Conference For Men Was Life Changing from Dameron Midgette
- Key Takeaways From The Conference For Men from Tommy Jia
- I Am Judgmental and Childish from Alex Portillo
Special shout out to Robert Domingo who not only bought the very first ticket to the conference, but called his boss after the death meditation and quit his job on the spot. I talked to him after he did it and I told him, “I’m a little scared for you and totally excited at the same time.”
Now that it’s two weeks after, I’m not worried one bit. Risky is the new safe. Thanks Robert for reteaching me this lesson.
- Death, Resurrection, and Quitting from Robert Domingo
Thank you men.
Thank you men for showing up fully.
Thank you men for choosing yourself.
And thank you men for doing some really scary work for the sake of making the world a better place.
I’ll never forget this weekend.
And this is just the beginning…
PS – Share this if you think men should be able to ask for help, express their emotions, and live a remarkable life on their own terms.
PPS – Or share this if you love having super amazing sex with someone you love.