Your sister’s therapy is dredging up traumatic “memories” you’re not even sure are real, and it’s tearing your family apart. Welcome to Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- PSA: Listeners using Stitcher should be aware that the service is going the way of the dodo soon. Recommended alternatives: Podcast Addict (Android) or Overcast (iOS).
- Your sister’s EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy sessions are dredging up traumatic childhood “memories” you’re not even sure are real, and it’s tearing your family apart. How can you separate fact from fiction and mend the rift that’s grown between you? [Thanks to Brad Watts, a licensed professional counselor and the author of Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America’s Silent Epidemic for helping us sort this one out!]
- You worry that your significant other’s “close” coworker is trying to get a bit too close, and their dynamic seems tantamount to an emotional affair. He insists on maintaining this friendship in spite of how uncomfortable it makes you feel. Are you overreacting, or are your concerns perfectly reasonable? What should you do?
- How do you communicate your disinterest in the boring stories your significant other constantly shares about people you don’t even know in a way that won’t be hurtful or offensive?
- How does a stay-at-home dad on military disability who used his downtime to hone his education and skill set explain his unorthodox break in employment as a feature — not a bug — to prospective employers? [Thanks to HR professional Joanna Tate for helping us with this one!]
- How do you help your aging mom through her struggles with depression, anxiety, alcoholism, financial difficulties, and declining health without completely draining your resources and derailing your own efforts to succeed?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi and Instagram @gabrielmizrahi.
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Miss the show we did with Cesar Millan — the celebrated Dog Whisperer? Catch up here with episode 162: Cesar Millan | Seeing the World from a Dog Whisperer’s Perspective!
Resources from This Episode:
- Ryan Montgomery | The Hacker Who Hunts Child Predators Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Ryan Montgomery | The Hacker Who Hunts Child Predators Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- The Jordan Harbinger Show | Podcast Addict
- The Jordan Harbinger Show | Overcast
- Whose Story to Pick When the Charge Is Sick? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy | Cleveland Clinic
- “One Foot in the Present, One Foot in the Past:” Understanding EMDR | The New York Times
- Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America’s Silent Epidemic by Brad Watts | Amazon
- Brad Watts | Website
- The False Memory Syndrome at 30: How Flawed Science Turned into Conventional Wisdom | Mad In America
- QAnon Revives America’s ‘Satanic Panic’ | All Things Considered
- Is Marriage Impaired by Emotional Affairs? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce | Amazon
- Go the F–k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach | Audible
- Express Yourself Better | Toastmasters International
- The Hurt Locker | Prime Video
- Megan Leavey | Prime Video
- How to Fill an Employment Gap on Your Resume | Harvard Business Review
- Joanna Tate, MSHR, PHR | LinkedIn
- What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help | A Place for Mom
853: Memories of Trauma or Therapy-Induced Drama? | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:04] Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:21] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my Feedback Friday producer, the human Vitamix helping me blend up this bougie smoothie of life advice, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:00:32] Are you a Vitamix guy or are you more of a Blendtec guy?
[00:00:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: I can't believe you even have to ask. Don't you remember we talked about this like two months ago on the show?
[00:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: You know, I'm ashamed to say that I can't recall.
[00:00:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. We talked about the Vitamix and how it has like 10 horsepower. Yeah. It's like every vegan needs one in this kitchen.
[00:00:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you do. You do. I have a Blendtec and let me tell you, I'm also quite satisfied with it.
[00:00:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Get out of here with your Blendtec. It's a joke.
[00:00:58] Jordan Harbinger: On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating — do you even have a soup button on the Vitamix? The world's most fascinating people and turned their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you.
[00:01:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Embarrassed for you that you need a soup button—
[00:01:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:01:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Just want to say, just to put that out there.
[00:01:16] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe you don't even need it.
[00:01:17] Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. During the week, we have long-form conversations with the variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers, even the occasional economic hitman, gold smuggler, astronaut, or music mogul.
[00:01:33] This week we had Ryan Montgomery. This guy is a buddy of mine. He's an ethical hacker. Well, he breaks into systems, helps keep systems safe. He uncovered a pedophile ring, hacked into it, found the user information and exposed it, and is helping bust pedophiles globally but especially in his area. We talk about social engineering hacking and busting pedophiles. Really interesting conversation, two-parter. Definitely check it out this week if you haven't done so yet.
[00:01:59] By the way, if you use the Stitcher app to listen to the show, they are getting rid of that app August 29th. It will no longer be useful. So switch to a different app if you use the Stitcher app to listen to this podcast. If you're on Android, I suggest Podcast Addict. It might not be as pretty, but it works really well. If you're on iOS, Apple, you should use Overcast in my humble opinion, or Apple Podcasts, but definitely no longer Stitcher. It will not update anymore in the next couple of months. So if you're using the Stitcher app, now is a good time to switch to a new podcast app. And if you have any problems with this, you're kind of Boomer in terms of your tech, you don't know what to do, you can always email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to point you in the right direction, but the Stitcher app will no longer work for this show.
[00:02:42] On Fridays, though, we share stories, take listener letters, offer advice, play obnoxious soundbites, and mercilessly roast Gabe for his appearance and/or life choices.
[00:02:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or blenders.
[00:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: Blenders, yes. Now, blenders. There's just sort of a new category of destruction every single week here. All right. We've got fun ones. We've got doozies. Let's dive on in. What's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:03:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, over the last several years, my sister has been going to therapy for her depression, which has been severe at times. She's also been studying for her master's in counseling and has considered pursuing a PhD. Last year, she confided to me that she has been doing EMDR therapy and that it has uncovered trauma in her past. Specifically, she claimed to have a repressed memory surface of more than one family member sexually abusing her.
[00:03:28] Jordan Harbinger: Ugh.
[00:03:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: In one of the memories, she remembers me being present and asked if I remembered anything. I told her at the time that I believe her and I support her, but I've been thinking deeply about this for months, and I can't remember anything like that taking place. Over the past couple of years, my sister's relationship with my parents has taken a dramatic hit after she confronted them about her abuse. It grew into a shouting match. Though neither of our parents were accused or involved, I don't think she's accepted their apology or apologized to them. My mom later called me in tears over the whole thing. When my sister and I talk about our past, now I get the sense that she's trying to get me to reinterpret our past as traumatic so that I can corroborate her experiences. For example, if we can't remember every place we stayed on vacation when we were 12, she considers that evidence of large gaps in our memory. If we can't remember small details of our grandparents' homes, they moved out of 20-plus years ago. That's evidence of trauma. My six months of insomnia in college is also something that she keeps bringing up to see if I still suffer from it. I frankly think that this is all nonsense and I try to push back as respectfully as I can. I'm a stable 30-something with a good job, a circle of close friends and a stable relationship. I don't struggle with substances or my mental health, and I live a disciplined, well-adjusted lifestyle. In short, I have no reason to think that I've repressed anything, and I have no reason to want to dredge this up in therapy if it can only hurt me. I believe that could lead to strong confirmation bias on behalf of a therapist, and I frankly don't have a lot of faith in the objectivity of a specialist in this field, especially after seeing how my sister has interpreted what I think are totally innocuous events. She claims her therapy has been helping, and I understand that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, but it's been years now and I haven't seen any evidence that her mental health is improving and the fractures within our family have deepened, not healed. Is it wrong to be suspicious of my sister's memory? Is it selfish of me not to further investigate my own past in therapy and potentially corroborate her memories? And is it wrong of me to want her to forgive my parents and heal their relationship? Signed, Distressed and Repressed Or Living My Best.
[00:05:42] Jordan Harbinger: Whew. Wow. Another fascinating story about memory, ey, Gabe?
[00:05:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:05:47] Jordan Harbinger: This reminds me of the letter that we took a couple of weeks ago, the woman whose cousin who accused her friend of rape. He says he didn't do it. She says he did and she was struggling to reconcile those two narratives.
[00:05:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. Yes, totally. Another story about dealing with how subjective memory can be, right? I got to say though, I really feel for both of them in this story because I'm sure both of their recollections are equally real. I mean equally real to each of them. And it's got to be just so confusing to make sense of that.
[00:06:16] Jordan Harbinger: And what a strain on the relationship, right? Our friend here is going, "I have no memory of this. I don't think it happened." And it's possible that it didn't, but it's also possible that it did.
[00:06:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: That it did happen. And if it did, then he doesn't want to signal to his sister, you know, "I don't believe you. I don't support you in this."
[00:06:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I imagine you're depressed and you have all these issues and you're like, "Hey, I finally figured out the cause. It's because we are abused." And your brother's like, "No, you're just crazy."
[00:06:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Never happened.
[00:06:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it never happened. And you're like, "Oh my God, now I'm getting gaslit by my brother." So yeah, he's in a really tough spot. And just like that other story, it's really hard to get the data he needs to decide once and for all how to feel about this. It's tough. So we wanted to run your story by an expert as one does. So we reached out to Brad Watts, licensed professional counselor. Brad specializes in working with families where sibling sexual abuse has occurred. He's also the author of the book, Sibling Sexual Abuse, A Guide for Confronting America's Silent Epidemic.
[00:07:12] And just to be clear, we know your sister is not implying that you or another sibling abused her. We want to make sure — because I'm sure the person who wrote in right now is clenching every sphincter in their body because they were like, "No, my God." No, we just sought out Brad's advice because he really knows his stuff about trauma and family and repressed memories in general.
[00:07:32] And the first thing Brad said was, no, it's not wrong to be suspicious of your sister's memory, especially in light of your experience, the fact that you can't recall any of this, but Brad's take is that's not something he would advise saying to her because that might feel like you're discounting or outright dismissing her experience, as we'd said earlier. Brad is actually a trained EMDR therapist. He believes EMDR is a wonderful method to help people who've experienced trauma. It's evidence-based. It seems to work.
[00:08:02] And by the way, for anybody who doesn't know, because I had to look this up myself, EDMR, that's Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It's basically a therapy technique that's particularly useful in processing trauma. Your sister seems to have unlocked repressed memories of being sexually abused. And just because you don't remember those events, it doesn't mean they didn't happen. And of course, those were extremely difficult memories to deal with when they come out as you and your parents are now seeing.
[00:08:29] Brad's opinion is that you've done a great job in supporting your sister and validating her experience so far, which is exactly what you should be doing. And I got to say, it's really difficult when she's saying, "Hey, you were actually there, and you just have no recollection of that." Now you're asking a really interesting question. "Is it selfish of me to not further investigate my own past and potentially corroborate her memories?" On that point, Brad was also pretty emphatic. No, it is not selfish of you. In his words, that's a decision for you and you alone. In his view, that should be informed by what you want to do, not because you feel any sort of pressure from your sister.
[00:09:10] And your stance on that could change in time, but if you ever did discover that you were repressing any memories, you'd have to deal with the implications. And so you should be ready and willing to explore that in treatment. So is it wrong of you to want your sister to forgive your parents? Heal their relationship? Well, we asked Brad about that too, and his response was, you obviously want peace and harmony in your family, and it's certainly not wrong to want that. I would too. But this healing that you're hoping for, it's largely going to be on your sister's timeline, and she's probably working on that in therapy right now.
[00:09:45] As Brad explained to us that healing is extremely difficult. Survivors of abuse often feel anger towards their parents for not protecting them or doing more, so this is quite a natural reaction. That said, Brad's feeling is that your parents are doing a good job of apologizing and allowing your sister to vent her anger and frustration, which is obviously quite difficult for them. He said, this takes time and it wouldn't be a bad idea for your parents to attend some therapy sessions with your sister to try and facilitate healing if everybody is open to that. Although every family situation is different.
[00:10:17] And Gabe, now that I'm saying this, do we have any indication of who she thinks the abusers are? Because it doesn't sound like she thinks it's her sibling, but it also doesn't sound like she thinks it's her parents. Is this like—
[00:10:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:10:28] Jordan Harbinger: —a stranger-type situation?
[00:10:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, who knows, or extended family member maybe—
[00:10:32] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:10:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: —I'm guessing, or babysitter or something like that. Somebody, she would be able to point to her parents and say, "You should have done more," I think.
[00:10:39] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Because I was confused like, oh, of course, she doesn't forgive her parents, they abused her. Or were they just like not there and trusted the wrong person? That's where I'm not sure.
[00:10:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm guessing her case is you didn't look out for me and you trusted the wrong person, right? But look, this is really quite a conundrum because to me the real question of this letter is how do siblings navigate these competing narratives when there's so much at stake? And also how does our friend here stay supportive of his sister, whom he clearly loves, while also being true to his experience?
[00:11:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Like given how intent she is on having him corroborate her memories, can they stay close if they end up disagreeing about this?
[00:11:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, exactly. I really hope they can, and I actually do believe they can. But in order for that to happen, they'll both probably have to get to a place where they can accept that the other has vastly different memories of the same childhood or just had different experiences completely. And that doesn't mean that they can't be close or support each other. But, oh man, I worry about what that actually means in practice, because that might just be another version of, "Well, deep down, I think you're making this up sis," right? Or, "Deep down, bro, I think you're in denial and you're not supporting me."
[00:11:50] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Because at the end of the day, they're both going, "This is my story," and they're incompatible, or they feel incompatible. But you know, to be fair, she's also making them incompatible. I don't want to sound insensitive, you know, everyone's like, "You're a victim blaming," every time I disagree with anything anybody says when they write in about this stuff.
[00:12:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: No, no, but it's a fair, I see where you're going with this because his sister is obviously in pain. She's exploring some very heavy stuff in her life, and there's a world where this abuse did in fact happen. But when she's raging at her parents and she's approaching her brother, like "Admit it. You know you have trauma too. You just repressed it. That's why you can't remember that we stayed at the Ramada Inn in Oceanside in 1998 for a day and a half, and you needed melatonin to fall asleep in college." Like that doesn't strike me as very fair either.
[00:12:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's a little militant. Not that I don't understand why she's being this way, which she's angry.
[00:12:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:12:45] Jordan Harbinger: She's hurt. She's looking for confirmation, but now it's starting to kind of tip over into maybe rewriting his memories and telling him how he feels or how he should feel.
[00:12:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. Again, I'm with you. I certainly understand why she feels that impulse. I'm sure being a victim of something like this or believing that you've been a victim of something like this makes you feel very alone in it. And maybe she's also like, "Look, I would love this confirmation so I know that I'm not crazy." And her brother is the one who can offer it to her. But I agree, that doesn't seem entirely right.
[00:13:15] Jordan Harbinger: No, it's not. because look, if we were dealing with a guy who's like, I don't know why I can't get my ish together, but it's like his life is stable, productive, healthy.
[00:13:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:13:22] Jordan Harbinger: He has good relationships, he's doing well. He's not shining a light in that closet to find out if there's anything in there. It doesn't sound like a guy who's like low key wrestling with trauma.
[00:13:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, we asked Brad about that too, right? And his response was, everyone responds to events like this differently. And the fact that he's so high functioning in his thirties, honestly could mean a few things. One option, he just did not suffer any of abuse. Another option, the abuse did happen and he did repress it, but there's also a third option, which is the abuse happened and he's just very resilient. Or he was so young that it somehow didn't make much of an impact and he just might not remember it.
[00:14:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right. But again, we're back to this maddening place, which is they'll probably—
[00:14:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Never know.
[00:14:07] Jordan Harbinger: Never know. Yeah.
[00:14:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's right. And for that reason, Brad's final take was ideally you and your sister find some common ground where you can both agree to respect each other's experience, but maybe you put a boundary around this where you're not going to talk about this abuse for the good of your relationship for the time being anyway. And yes, that's easier said than done, we know. But it sounds like your sister has been pushing this really hard with you and with your parents. And she might also benefit from backing off a little bit from challenging your narrative as well. So Brad's advice, talk to your sister about how you feel and share your reasons for not wanting to address these memories any further for now. And hopefully, she can respect that. And in time when you guys are ready, you can talk more about it.
[00:14:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think that's the best course of action. And hey, maybe they all get into family therapy together one day. They dig into this with an expert and they find a way to heal. But in the meantime, I think Brad's right, you need to let your sister go through this while also appropriately protecting yourself. And I don't think you're being a bad brother by doing that. You can be loving while still being true to your own memories.
[00:15:09] Gabe, I also wonder how much her master's in psychology is playing a role in all this. I don't mean to speculate too much, but you know how medical students often start thinking they have all these rare tropical diseases all of a sudden.
[00:15:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:22] Jordan Harbinger: I wonder if something similar might be happening here.
[00:15:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, yeah. You know, that occurred to me too while we were reading the letter. But again, no way for us to know. You could also argue that whatever experiences she's had in the past drew her to this kind of work, consciously or unconsciously.
[00:15:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's possibly even more likely. But you know, just to be fair in both directions here, There's a part of me that wonders like, could this be a case of false memory or resurfaced memory that didn't actually happen? Again, I'm not trying to gaslight our guy's sister. I mean, look, we've heard good things about EMDR. I know people, patients and clinicians who swear by it, but we also know that false memories are a real thing and who knows what if the person she's working with was guiding her a little bit or interpreting her memories in a certain way. We've seen this with hypnosis therapy and stuff, and to go the ridiculous route, you hear about it with people who think they were abducted by aliens, and there's a survey. I read this the other day, Gabriel. It was about the Satanic panic. You know, when people were like—?
[00:16:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:16:20] Jordan Harbinger: "I was abused by a satanic cult." So they did a survey of a bunch of therapists. Therapists throughout their whole career had dealt with like zero to one cases of, I think it's called ritualistic abuse or something like that. Then other doctors had dealt with like 300 and when they investigated those doctors, because that's weird, right? "Oh, that's weird, every single person you see has the same problem." They found that those people's therapy process was like basically just guiding people into like, "Hi, what's wrong?" "Yeah, I'm a little anxious." Well...17 therapy sessions later, they're like, "I was abused by a satanic cult in preschool—"
[00:16:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, God.
[00:16:57] Jordan Harbinger: Even though it's just not what happened at all because the way the therapist operates. It's a real thing. It can happen to people who are not crazy. It's just your therapist guides you into this.
[00:17:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, that's worrisome.
[00:17:08] Jordan Harbinger: Very much.
[00:17:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: I got to say that's unscrupulous and worrisome. Yeah.
[00:17:12] Jordan Harbinger: So anyway, so maybe the person was guiding her. Maybe not. I hope that didn't happen. We've read stories from people who've experienced that. Like I said, I just heard about this in detail a couple of days ago. It can obviously be very dangerous, very damaging. I think the therapist, that's a whole nother thing, but I think the therapists do it because then they can write about this crazy thing that's happening that only they know about and they're the expert on this. It's just more satanic panic bullsh*t.
[00:17:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, damn. That's a fascinating theory.
[00:17:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:17:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Look, it's all speculation, but yeah, it's possible It happens. And I would hope that she and her therapist are approaching all of this in a very responsible way. But again, this is so delicate, right? Because he can't know what his sister actually remembers. And it's hard to question the legitimacy of her therapy without sounding like he doesn't support her, which again puts him in such a difficult place. I just keep coming back to, he's kind of painted into a corner here a little bit in terms of how to respond or how not to respond to this.
[00:18:08] Jordan Harbinger: The best thing he can do is support her in doing the best possible therapy for herself.
[00:18:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:18:14] Jordan Harbinger: And maybe ask her, "You know, can you share a little bit about how you and your therapist are processing these memories? I'm just so curious. How do you know that they're definitely real?" And phrase that however you want, because it is a tricky line to walk. You're going to have to be gentle because, well, she's obviously very worked up about this right now, and possibly rightfully so, but that would be one way to respectfully raise that question without looking like you don't support her.
[00:18:38] Anyway, big thank you to Brad Watts for his insight here. Check out Brad's book, Sibling Sexual Abuse, A Guide for Confronting America's Silent Epidemic. We're going to link to that in the show notes, along with his website and Twitter.
[00:18:48] And hey, we're wishing you the best and we're sending you and your sister a very big hug.
[00:18:53] All right. You know what you won't need to repress? Your desire to take advantage of the crazy good deals on the products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:19:04] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. We've all been there, right? Being everybody's favorite superhero, tackling their needs left and right, only to forget that even Superman or Superwoman needs his or her alone time in the fortress of solitude. Constant giving can make us feel like an overused rubber band just on the verge of snapping any minute. Therapy equips you with tools to find equilibrium in life or just vent to somebody who's not your boss, your colleague, somebody you got to see every day. You can continue to be everyone's rock without turning into the forgotten pebble your yourself. So if you got stress piled up, like dirty laundry, a therapy session is like a superpowered washing machine. It'll help you to de-stress, rinse out some anxiety, spin out a much better version of yourself. If you're considering therapy, I recommend Better Help. It's all online. It's extremely convenient. If you don't like your therapist that you get matched with, you get another one anytime. No additional charge, just a little questionnaire. You'll get matched within a few minutes to a few hours. It is that fast. Dip your toes in the therapy waters here with Better Help.
[00:19:59] Jen Harbinger: Find more balance with Better Help. Visit betterhelp.com/jordan today to get 10 percent off your first month. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:20:09] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Microsoft Clarity to build a successful product. The biggest advice I give to teams is to know your users. Same thing with podcasts and listeners, any sort of app or company that I advise, you've really got to know the end-user and you got to truly understand how they interact with your product, and Microsoft Clarity can help with that. We installed this on our website. It is amazing. It's completely free. You can check out session replays to see what works with users and where they struggle. So session replays, they show you what a user is seeing, where they're hovering, where they're clicking, where they're trying to click, where they're clicking, and nothing is happening, where they're navigating on your website. There are heat maps to see where there's engagement, what content gets ignored, and why. Frustration metrics like rage clicks, and dead clicks are interesting to see issues that are grinding your user's gears and Microsoft Clarity is really user-friendly and intuitive even for the tech challenge. We set it up in a few minutes. Again, completely free, works on apps and websites, check it out at clarity.microsoft.com. Jen set it up in a couple of minutes. It's that easy. There's no reason why you shouldn't check it out as well.
[00:21:09] Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us going. I do appreciate it. I know people think like, "Oh, it doesn't make a difference when I support. There's so many listeners. Everyone's supporting." I really appreciate it. Especially right now, you know, the economy's in a little bit of a rut. All these little sales matter for renewals, so little inside baseball, but go to jordanharbinger.com/deals and it does support the show. You can search for any sponsor using the AI chatbot on the website or the deals page, so please consider supporting those who support the show.
[00:21:38] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:21:41] All right, what's next?
[00:21:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, a couple pf months into my relationship with my boyfriend of two and a half years, he mentioned a close coworker he had been chatting with because she was going through marital trouble. I have close coworkers of the opposite gender myself, so I didn't think anything of it. Then one day, while he and I were on a date, she tried to reach him incessantly first by FaceTime, then by phone, and then a flurry of text messages. Even though I didn't feel comfortable with it, I didn't question it. He and I had just come back from a romantic trip and become official by then, and I trusted him. A couple of weeks later, he told me that she wanted to meet with me for brunch. She explained that she was trying to reach him that day because she was feeling anxious about her divorce. She reassured me that there was nothing going on. They didn't want to be together, and she's thankful for him because he helped her realize that she wasn't in a happy marriage. I liked her and felt that I could trust her. She even invited us to her dad's birthday party that summer. That's where I picked up on some strange vibes. In a sea of 30-plus relatives, it looked like she was trying to make an effort to sit close to him and catch his eye. I thought maybe she was trying to make him feel comfortable, but she didn't extend that same effort to me. If anything, she moved away from me to get closer to him. So I checked his messages. I know it's not right, but one of my previous relationships was with an abusive cheater, and I needed to make sure that there was nothing going on. Sure enough, they had been having inappropriate sexually charged conversations in the early stages of our relationship while she was still married. Granted, it was before we became official, and after a while the flirty messages were more one-sided coming from her. He might have toyed with the idea, but my boyfriend never made a move, even though she put it on the table. I didn't mention that I read the messages, but I did tell him that things didn't add up. His response was that they've known each other longer than he is known me, and they might have been a bit flirty in the beginning, but that got quashed quickly and now she's just a good friend. I wasn't satisfied with that answer. I was hurt and I couldn't let it go. Finally, in maybe our 10th conversation about this, I mentioned that I had read their messages. By that point, he felt we had exhausted the conversation and refused to talk about it with me saying I broke his trust by snooping. My boyfriend has made it clear that he will continue to remain friends with her, even though it makes me feel uncomfortable. She's now engaged to someone else and says, she's not a threat to me, though this feels like emotional cheating. I honestly hate her for making me feel like I've been backstabbed and would prefer that he not speak to her anymore. I get anxiety thinking about their level of closeness, but I can't force someone to end a friendship. How do I deal with this? Signed, Stuck in Strife About My Guy's Work Wife.
[00:24:32] Jordan Harbinger: All right, before I react to the rest of this. Whenever anybody snoops and then finds out something bad and then confronts the person and admits that they were snooping, and the person goes, "I can't believe you snooped." I always, always think like, mmm, that's just a crappy UNO reverse card that you're using. Because it sort of avoids the topic even when they're right. Like in this case, I'm sort of on the fence. And I think maybe he has a point, but I don't know. I just don't pull that easy reverse card, folks. It doesn't do you any favors. So this is a tricky situation.
[00:25:01] Gabe, it's interesting. There's a lot happening here. First of all, some very real anger and anxiety and heartache on her part for sure. But also, and this is probably just the guy opinion here, but nothing physical ultimately happened between her boyfriend and this woman as far as we know. It's almost like the pain is coming from the way they're each dealing with this almost situation, not from the situation itself.
[00:25:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:25:23] Jordan Harbinger: It's kind of a call is coming from inside the house type of scenario.
[00:25:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: A little bit. Yes.
[00:25:29] Jordan Harbinger: To me, this story has a lot to do with how they treat each other and what place other people hold in their lives.
[00:25:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, totally. And also just this feeling of, "You made me look stupid and you're not telling me the full story, and I know you're not telling me the full story because I read the text, but I can't tell you that because I was stupid, which makes me look bad."
[00:25:48] Jordan Harbinger: Totally. It is a weird place to be but she did finally, which is good, good for her. And his response was, "Well, you were snooping and you broke my trust." And like I said, crappy UNO reverse card that he probably shouldn't have played.
[00:26:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. But she's going, yeah, "But you broke my trust by flirting with this woman and not telling me. So we're both at fault, bro."
[00:26:06] Jordan Harbinger: But then, his response is probably, "Sure we flirted but it was early days. I stopped when you and I got serious. I never cheated on you with her." And basically, what he means is, "I never slept with her. We never fooled around." Okay, and to be fair, he didn't. I'm not sure if you really did anything wrong by engaging with this woman before they became official. If he was doing it now, different story. But where he started to go wrong, in my opinion, was in hiding the nature of their relationship from our friend here once they got serious. Why do that?
[00:26:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe in not explicitly redefining this relationship with his coworker at that point, you know, like he could have sat her down and said, "Okay, so look, our relationship could have gone this way. I'm dating somebody new. I really like her. We're together. I'd really like to stay friends, so we need to put these feelings away and be something different to each other now. Are you okay with that?"
[00:26:54] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And then he could go back to his girlfriend and tell her, "So here's the deal. We were flirty in the beginning. Now we're not. I've told her about you. I've told her that our relationship is strictly platonic and she's on the same page." I feel like that would've avoided so much of this conflict.
[00:27:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: So much of it. I agree. But you know, I guess there's also a world where her boyfriend wasn't explicitly trying to hide this fling from her because he wants to get with his coworker. He might have been hiding it to spare his girlfriend.
[00:27:22] Jordan Harbinger: Definitely.
[00:27:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: The one writing in right slash spare himself, the guilt of watching her suffer as a result.
[00:27:29] Jordan Harbinger: Me putting myself in his shoes, that's where I'm going with this. It doesn't mean that this is what happened. I just completely understand that. What's tricky though is that this woman might still have feelings for him. We didn't even address that yet.
[00:27:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, also kind of unclear though, right?
[00:27:42] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Because I mean, obviously she did at one point and really put it out there. I mean, she put it on the table like, "Do you want to hook up?" But she's engaged to somebody else. Now I do wonder if that might simplify things.
[00:27:52] Jordan Harbinger: True. Maybe she really means it when she says she's not a threat.
[00:27:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: In which case, the problem again is not so much about this woman in particular. I think it's about what this woman has revealed about the way these two respond to a conflict like this.
[00:28:06] Jordan Harbinger: I do feel like that's the crux of this story. So my take is, in a way, you're both right. Ugh, I hate when that's the answer though. And in a way, you both have some work to do. Your boyfriend is struggling to be a hundred percent transparent with you about this woman and maybe struggling to be transparent with her about the terms of their friendship. TBD on that, I suppose. I wonder if you can ask him why he chose not to tell you about those texts early on, whether it was to deceive you or despair you, whether that's an indication of his true feelings for her. I think there's a world where your boyfriend is not cheating on you or keeping this woman on the back burner or having an emotional affair, but he's also not engaging with you fairly on this or being very clear about the boundaries of the friendship. And that's where the honesty and communication piece comes in.
[00:28:53] On your side of the equation, you're struggling to trust your boyfriend. You're not entirely wrong about that. He's given you some reason to doubt him, but I also imagine that your relationship with this abusive guy cheating in your past, that probably did a number on you. Finding the text messages confirmed your worst fears, that your partner's lying to you possibly cheating on you, and that obviously hurts, and it flips some switches that. We're in there from your last relationship, but we're talking about texts from like two years ago, man, when you guys were not official. If he were carrying on with her, the flirty texts, it doesn't take a Columbo Sherlock Holmes to think like those would've continued, right? And like you said, he didn't reciprocate those texts after you became a couple, which I think is a pretty damn good sign — a pretty good sign that he wasn't feeding this relationship in that way.
[00:29:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree. My sense is that you guys are stuck because this conversation has been largely about what this woman means to your boyfriend, what she wants from him, which don't get me wrong, that's relevant. But the deeper issue is what all of this reveals about how you guys are operating with each other and how he's operating with her, and how this situation is bringing out different responses, anxiety and distrust and anger in you, and avoidance and protectiveness and some resentment in him. So when you say that your boyfriend will continue to remain friends with this woman, even though it makes you uncomfortable, I'm kind of two minds here. On one hand, I think it is a little dicey to maintain a relationship with her when he hasn't clarified what it's actually about, what it means. But on the other hand, and this might sound kind of weird, but just hear me out, I kind of appreciate that your boyfriend is saying, "Listen, I'm not going to narrow my world and cut people off, just to make sure that you feel comfortable all the time."
[00:30:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think that's interesting. And like he might be saying, "I know what this person means to me. I'm not trying to hook up with her and I'm not going to close myself off from my friends because you are uneasy about it." And Gabriel, there's also a world in which it's kind of too late for him to be like, "Hey, we're both engaged or whatever. By the way, just so we are clear, there's no feelings between either of us." And his friend might be like, "Bro, I haven't thought about that for two years. Just bring this up out of the blue. This is so awkward now. When did you decide that? I decided that years ago, and you're just now throwing it out there that we're platonic. Like, okay, I don't know how to react to this." It might be just weird now.
[00:31:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: And then that changes the relationship.
[00:31:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:31:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Now it gets weird and then he loses her for another reason. Right?
[00:31:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Yeah.
[00:31:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's true. It's another layer that I didn't even consider. I do wish he were being more sensitive to how all of this affects his girlfriend, but that might be a fair and pretty healthy position to take that. I don't want to cut this person off just because you feel uneasy.
[00:31:34] Jordan Harbinger: But again, doesn't that depend on him and this coworker being totally on the same page?
[00:31:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, of course. The big question for me is I'm not totally clear on what their relationship is about. Like is he staying close to her because there's a meaningful friendship there, or is he staying close because there's some residual flirtation and that's maybe kind of exciting, or there's a little bit of like an escape hatch in the background and he wants to keep that door open, or he just enjoys playing such a pivotal role in her life, which, yeah, might be a little bit problematic?
[00:32:06] Jordan Harbinger: I think that's the question because that determines the legitimacy of this whole situation. So look—
[00:32:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:32:12] Jordan Harbinger: I'm sure you hate this woman. Maybe you have a right to if she's trying to move in on your man, but that might also be anger towards your boyfriend, directed towards this woman, and maybe some anger at yourself for having these strong reactions and not being able to resolve them. Your anxiety that needs to be addressed to either by your boyfriend being more open with you or by you taking a closer look at why this coworker is so threatening, given that your boyfriend doesn't seem to be carrying on with her. Because you're right, you can't force him to end a friendship, but you can ask him to hear you when you say, "Hey, I'm feeling uneasy about this. I'm trying to let it go, but for me to put this to bed, I need to understand why this friendship is so important to you." And then you have to make it safe for your boyfriend to be totally honest with you, which it sounds like he struggles with sometimes. And if you're not comfortable with what you hear, then you can decide if this is the right relationship for you.
[00:33:05] But either way, I would try to separate out what your boyfriend is doing from how it's triggering you so you can appreciate what part of this is his, what part of this is yours, and how you can both work on things to heal this injury and enjoy the relationship again. And I'm wishing you the best by the way. Maybe after you guys have this chat, you host a barbecue at your place, at your house. You invite her and her fiance and you just, you feel him up by the grill. Give her a taste of her own barbecue sauce, sweet groppy Ray's barbecue sauce.
[00:33:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Groppy raised bar barbecue sauce. Sounds so disgusting. And also kind of sounds like a label on a sauce you would see in the market.
[00:33:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, that's exactly.
[00:33:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's strong branding right there.
[00:33:46] Jordan Harbinger: I did base this off of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, which I saw on Mark Zuckerberg's shelf during the video stream a long time ago.
[00:33:54] Anyway, I'm kidding. Don't do that. It would be petty and gross. I just wanted to say the phrase, feel him up by the grill because it makes me chuckle.
[00:34:01] And speaking of being in touch with people you shouldn't, you can reach us at email@example.com. Please keep your emails concise. Try to use a descriptive subject line that makes our job a whole lot easier. If you're finding dead squirrels in your mailbox, your stepdad has stolen your nudes, or your friend has accused your family member of assault and you're not sure who to believe, whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:34:28] Alright, what's next?
[00:34:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm a 45-year-old man and I've been dating a woman my age for a few months. Overall, we enjoy dating each other and have fun together, but she has an annoying habit. She very often tells me stories about friends and family, members of hers whom I've never met and likely never will. She thinks the stories are very funny, but I find them to be quite boring. I understand that in a relationship you'll hear about your partner's friends at times, but these are full-on stories about people I don't know or who aren't in her life anymore. What's worse is that she'll often repeat the same stories. It's kind of like hearing someone tell you about their dreams. It's only interesting to the storyteller. I feign interest for a while, but then wind up just staying quiet and not reacting. How can I tell her that I'm not interested in these stories in a way that won't hurt her feelings? Signed, Confronting the Snooze Without Leaving a Bruise.
[00:35:29] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man. This is actually kind of funny. I do feel for you here.
[00:35:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: A lot.
[00:35:32] Jordan Harbinger: A lot listening to somebody's boring-ass stories and having a feigned interest is so painful. The dream analogy is real, but at the same time, you don't want to turn to your significant other and say, "Look, honey, I can't hear another story about Tiffany, the woman who made you that custom candle eight years ago. I don't know Tiffany, you don't really know Tiffany. I'm never going to meet Tiffany. Tiffany sucks. One more of these random stories. I'm going to jam a chilled salad fork in my eardrum. Can we please just watch Vanderpump Rules and go the f*ck to bed?" That's a tough conversation to have. I just, I don't know how that goes down.
[00:36:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't know, man. I'm really torn here because I feel for this guy, but I also think there's something kind of sweet about this. Like, yes, it's annoying as hell what she's doing, but it's kind of like touching. She's talking his ear off because she's excited about him probably, and she wants him to be part of her life.
[00:36:24] Jordan Harbinger: Fair enough. The intention is probably good, but that doesn't change the fact that she's just putting him straight to sleep.
[00:36:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: She's making him want to hang himself from the chandelier.
[00:36:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly.
[00:36:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. It's funny, this is actually reminding me a little bit of a girl I dated briefly a few years back. She was a very sweet person, very smart, but she used to do this thing that was very similar to this, except instead of telling stories, she would go on these like long meandering rants about her positions on various topics like movies or politics or whatever, and. And she would go on and on and she wouldn't be like driving at anything in particular. And I would just find myself sitting there in silence going like, when is this going to end? Like what is the point?
[00:37:06] Jordan Harbinger: That is brutal. That is definitely the kind of thing that would make me look for the nearest chilled salad fork, for sure.
[00:37:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:37:13] Jordan Harbinger: Just gobble up all that word salad.
[00:37:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Seriously. That's actually really funny because she also had so much kitchenware now that I think about it, but—
[00:37:22] Jordan Harbinger: Random factoid.
[00:37:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's a very well-stocked kitchen. Yeah, but the worst part was like she would go on for 10 or 15 minutes sometimes just stumbling her way through these rants and then she would randomly stop and go, "Does that make sense?"
[00:37:34] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, no.
[00:37:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: "I don't know." It drove me—
[00:37:37] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, no.
[00:37:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: —insane, Jordan. Like every single time she would go, "Does that, does that make sense?" "I don't know." And one night, I finally said like—
[00:37:47] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, no, you didn't.
[00:37:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: "No, no, it doesn't. Like why do I have to decide if what you said makes sense all the time? Like, why don't you try to make sense? And then, I can get on board and then we will both know if it made sense."
[00:38:00] Jordan Harbinger: You know, Gabriel, I cannot for the life of me understand why that relationship didn't last.
[00:38:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, there was a lot more to it than that. But yeah, that's a pretty good indication of how it went down. Look, at a certain point, I started to realize that this person wasn't just kind of bad at monologuing. She was actually kind of disrespectful of her audience. She wasn't attuned to other people. And by the way, it wasn't just with me. She wasn't really thinking about what they might want out of a conversation. And I think that might be what's going on in this letter too. He's not just bored by the stories. I think he's kind of annoyed that she's not being thoughtful about what it's like to be on the other side of them.
[00:38:35] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay. I think that's right. It's the one-two punch of you suck at telling stories. And also it makes me feel like I'm just a warm body to give you an audience.
[00:38:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:38:45] Jordan Harbinger: Which then makes him have to feign interest for a prolonged period of time from the sound of it, which is one of the worst feelings, right? And then staying quiet, not reacting, because he literally just doesn't know how, or doesn't want to say, "Stop talking."
[00:39:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:39:00] Jordan Harbinger: So is there a way to fix this? Well, I think there is, but it's not going to be the most fun conversation. Basically, I think your best option is to say to your girlfriend, "Listen, I love that you want to tell me stories about people. I love that you want me to know about all of your friends. But I need to tell you what it's like to listen to these stories sometimes. I don't say this to be mean. I say this because I'm really enjoying our relationship. We have fun together. I want to continue doing that. Basically, I notice that you tend to tell me a lot of stories about people I don't know and will never meet, and it's hard for me to follow them because they're just not that meaningful to me. Or you tell me stories I've already heard, and that puts me in the position of having to feign interest until you're done. And that's just not how I want us to be with each other. So maybe we can work on this because I'd love for us both to be thoughtful about what the other person wants in our conversations."
[00:39:53] Something like that. You know, be kind, be gentle. Don't be cruel, and it might actually be okay. Maybe the answer is that she needs to appreciate what is and is not interesting to you, but also maybe you need to locate what's interesting to her in those stories and work a little harder to enjoy that although I'm guessing you've already tried, or maybe the answer is that she needs to become a way better storyteller, which you know, fair enough. Although I'm not sure how you've fixed that really. I don't know.
[00:40:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, look, he could give her like a gift certificate to a storytelling class for her birthday or something. Just like a very subtle hint.
[00:40:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, there's an idea. "Go to Toastmasters for six months, babe. Then tell me about the time, Linda, your facialist, locked her husband out of their hotel room in Orlando back in 1997.
[00:40:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: "I mean, it's kind of cute, like, I want to hear your stories. I just want you to work on your craft."
[00:40:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's so Hollywood, Gabe. Like I said, not an easy chat to have, but I just, I don't see this situation changing if you don't speak up, it's a whole set of bad habits.
[00:40:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: I have to say, I'm weirdly excited about this conversation because I feel like the way she responds is going to tell him a lot about her and about their relationship and if it's going to last.
[00:41:03] Jordan Harbinger: And a lot about himself, right? He's kind of hiding here by nodding along and staying quiet. Maybe this will be an opportunity for him to take a chance, speak his mind, which it could be a big step in their relationship.
[00:41:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's a great point. And if he says this and she goes, you know, "How dare you call me boring. This is what a relationship is telling your partner about all the drama from your first job at Blockbuster Video," whatever. That's not a great sign. But if she goes, "Oh, wow, okay. I had no idea. I'm really sorry. I'll try to be more thoughtful. You know, I'll stop repeating myself." That's promising. I like that outcome. To me, that's the ultimate litmus test.
[00:41:39] Jordan Harbinger: The other option is for him to become way more boring and start bombarding her with all of his lame mass stories and weird dreams until she snaps at him. And then he can go, "Well, now you know how it feels, Miranda." And they can just go back to eating dinner in total silence, like a normal dysfunctional couple with nothing in common.
[00:41:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow, that feels like dark Jordan, but just a few shades lighter.
[00:41:59] Jordan Harbinger: Bingo. Gray Jordan, just passive aggression—
[00:42:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Gray Jordan—
[00:42:02] Jordan Harbinger: —to the max.
[00:42:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: —it's a new Jordan just dropped.
[00:42:08] Jordan Harbinger: And anyway, try talking with the right approach. This could go surprisingly well. Gabriel does that, does that make sense?
[00:42:20] You know what you don't have to feign interest in? The amazing sponsors who support this show. We'll be right back.
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[00:47:35] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:47:40] All right, next up.
[00:47:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 33 year-old-dude who left the military three years ago after 11 years of being an explosives detection canine handler and an instructor. I'm now a full-time dad and we're expecting our third child next month. After a year, I went back to school and completed a BS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in digital forensics with honors. I've also almost completed an undergrad certificate in cybersecurity and obtained industry certs in security, incident handling, and soon advanced forensics and incident response.
[00:48:14] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:48:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm about a year out from being able to seriously job hunt. My biggest concern is the fact that I have had a very unorthodox break in employment. Being a stay-at-home dad has taught me so much about stress and time management, working under pressure, patience, care, gentleness, empathy, taking a genuine interest in others, and maintaining a healthy balance. I've loved every single second of it, but it was also less stressful searching for IEDs than it is to do both stereotypical mom and dad roles and finish school in the few hours I have to myself. My amazing wife is a nurse working five days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, so it really is me doing 90 percent of the home front duties. I can simultaneously make killer Swedish meatballs, fold laundry, potty train a two-year-old, kiss boo-boos, and execute a perfect rendition of any Disney's Moana song. Separately, I'm also 100 percent disabled due to a laundry list of military injuries. I'm not wheelchair-bound or anything, it's just enough persistent injuries plus mental health/PTSD equals you are totally broken according to the VA. How do I take this absolutely incredible experience of being a stay-at-home father while working to transition into a new career and convey it to employers in a way that my break is seen in a positive light, and can an employer hold my disability against me? Is this something I should be worrying about too? Signed, Off the Battlefield, But Still Trying to Diffuse These Bombs.
[00:49:45] Jordan Harbinger: This is an amazing story. You're basically Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker or that famous canine handler they made the movie about with the woman from House of Cards.
[00:49:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh yeah, Megan Leavey.
[00:49:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And now you're a full-time dad reinventing his whole story. I think it's super impressive, man. You're on an interesting journey. I know that it raises some big questions, so let's get into it. We wanted to get an expert's opinion on your story. So we reached out to Joanna Tate, friend of the show and professional in HR since 2006.
[00:50:13] And the first thing Joanna told us was that your education and military experience are both very impressive and appreciated. Staying at home might feel risky or uncomfortable for you, like it's a big ugly gap in your story. But as Joanna pointed out, that's what women frequently do when kids come along and it's normal to feel nervous about jumping back into work. In her view, all quote-unquote negative experiences, have a positive side, what you've learned, how you've grown, how you've adapted. So when you say that you're worried about this gap in your resume, what we want to know is how significant is that gap really. As Joanna put it to us, if you had said the job gap was based on several suspicious workers' comp injuries and running from the law, yeah, she'd be a little nervous for you, but that's not your story.
[00:51:00] You served in the military, you're going to school, you're getting all these certs, you've been a stay-at-home parent, you're not at home picking your nose, watching Netflix. In Joanna's experience transition time between military duty and civil work makes sense on just on a human level. You can tell that story, especially if your education is tucked in there. It makes sense to say, "Yeah, I was a stay-at-home parent while continuing my education," simple, clean, accurate. In Joanna's view, what'll make the difference in an interview is the confidence with which you tell that story.
[00:51:30] So I think there's some work for you to do in accepting your narrative, getting a little friendlier with it, and trusting that the hiring managers you meet will be intrigued and impressed and probably pretty touched by an explosive detection canine handler who went back to school and was a full-time dad. And by the way, you should definitely throw in that line about how it was less stressful searching for IEDs than it is to do both mom and dad roles and finish school. I just think that's such a great talking point in an interview. It's a great story, but you have to feel that, and that might mean integrating those parts of your life. And not feeling the need to apologize or compensate for them too much.
[00:52:08] After that, it's just practice. Try out your interview pitch with some friends, interview a bunch, get some reps in. It'll be better and better, but you already have all the pieces on the board. Truly, I just don't see any fault in wanting to spend time with your family and adjust to civilian life after a decade in the military. It seems totally normal to me.
[00:52:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree. I'm actually very pumped for him for this. I just think he's going to crush in these interviews, such a good story. As far as the discrimination question, Joanna reminded us that all employees have a legal right to work in an environment free of harassment. It's illegal to deny employment or to harass or to demote or otherwise discriminate against somebody because they're a veteran among other protected classes. It's also illegal to discriminate against somebody because of a disability, which can include certain mental health conditions. But depending on how severe the PTSD is or the larger disability is, they could still make it challenging for you to interview and for you to do your job as well as you could.
[00:53:05] Joanna actually told us a really interesting story. So she once interviewed a woman who had tragically just lost her adult daughter, and the woman started crying during the interview and Joanna's heart went out to her. But it was kind of difficult to keep the interview focused and really evaluate this candidate based on her skills because she was having this big reaction and the company ultimately didn't end up hiring her. Joanna couldn't say that it was definitely because the interview got kind of sad, but it did add an additional layer that put her in a weird position, which was feeling obligated on some level to send this candidate to the next round simply because she felt bad for her, because she had just gone through this really terrible thing, which is obviously not how you want employers evaluating you.
[00:53:50] So Joanna's other idea was it might be worth talking to a career counselor or a therapist or both about the job search and the whole transition into civilian work. And maybe you even talk to somebody who specializes in working with veterans specifically. I know those people are out there because you're going to want to get ready to be in the workforce mentally and emotionally and work through any, you know, lingering doubts or fears or any other issues that might get in the way of you really shining in these interviews. But Joanna's overall feeling based on your story was that you should definitely go into this job search with a lot of confidence because to quote her here, "It sounds like he has a lot to offer," and I just want to say again, I completely agree.
[00:54:31] Jordan Harbinger: So do I. I get the sense that your standards are very high, which is admirable, but that might also make you overly concerned about falling short. There might be a little anxiety piece about what gaps you might be overlooking and how people are going to perceive you. I'm not saying you don't have any work to do to prepare, but you are in a way better position than you seem to think. If I were a hiring manager or HR person, I would respond very strongly to a guy who served in the military, went back to school, worked his butt off to reeducate himself, and then was an awesome dad on top of everything. Just as a guy with kids, I'm like, holy crap, you did all that while kissing boo-boos or whatever he said. I can pretty much guarantee that you're going to be the only person in these interviews with that story. So start working on it. Start nailing down your story, and I know you're going to do great. So good luck.
[00:55:19] All right, next up.
[00:55:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 21-year-old college student studying to be an elementary school teacher. I'm very grateful to have my dad and his family supporting me through college and being a stable place for my younger sister and me. My 52-year-old mom, on the other hand, has been dealing with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism for some time now. Growing up, she always struggled with handling money, getting herself into large amounts of credit card debt. She filed for bankruptcy once and immediately fell back into debt a few years later. She lost her job three years ago and hasn't been able to keep another one since. She can't afford her mortgage on the house and keeps refinancing and taking grants out so she can continue living there. She also always comes up with ideas for apps that she wants to create, hoping one day this is how she can make a living. She also lives alone and has few friends, and now her health is deteriorating. She's developed high blood pressure due to excessive use of alcohol and almost had a heart attack about a week ago which she didn't even tell me about. I had to learn about it from my sister. I haven't been able to stop worrying about her since I don't make much money and am not in a position to be close to her the majority of the time. She doesn't want to die so young, but she isn't taking action to help herself. I feel helpless. My deepest fear, though is that I will end up like her too in debt alone and unable to keep myself afloat. After all, we all turn into some version of our parents eventually. How much responsibility do I have to help her? How do I do that without placing a big burden on myself? And how do I help myself deal with knowing that my mom is in trouble? Signed, Trying to Be Gentle and Not Go Mental while I Keep an Eye on a Detrimental Parental.
[00:57:02] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, this is a really sad story. Your mom is obviously struggling in a number of different ways, has struggled for some time. That must have been very hard to grow up with and very hard to deal with now, for that matter. I hear your sadness. I hear your fear in your letter, and man, I understand it. Watching a parent suffer and not being able to help, it has to be just an awful feeling. So I'm going to touch on a theme we come back to a lot on this show, and I'll keep it brief, which is, you are not your mom's parent and you can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do. If she's going to change, she's got to put in the work to change. She's got to ask for help. She's got to seek out the resources she needs. She's got to get a handle on her finances. She's got to look into treatment or recovery meetings. She's got to take better care of her body. Even if you could push her in that direction, you couldn't physically make her do all of those things every hour of every day because this is her life and not yours.
[00:57:56] Now, that doesn't mean you should just give up on her or that you need to punish her or that there's no point in encouraging her. You certainly can, and if she can capitalize on your help, then you should. What I am saying is that you are not ultimately responsible for your mom's health, happiness, or quality of life, period. Now, where this gets tricky is that even if you get to a place where you can accept that your mom's choices obviously still impact you.
[00:58:22] I'm sure it's very painful to know that she's addicted to alcohol, that she's super isolated. It's scary to hear that she's having financial problems that she ended up in the hospital and didn't tell you, and if things ever got worse, you might wonder if she will become your problem in a bigger way. I'm not trying to minimize that concern. I'll come back to that in a moment. But this is where your work begins, because when you have a parent like this, you basically have two options. One, you continue to identify with them completely. You continue to feel responsible for them. You let their pain determine a lot of how you feel about yourself, which is normal, but very, very problematic. Option two is you accept your parent's situation for what it is. You keep reminding yourself that you are your own person with your own life, and you get in touch with the boundaries that allow you to separate yourself from mom so that you can focus primarily on you. You're still available to her. You still love her, but her struggles don't dictate your mood your whole life. Now, obviously, option two is the only sane way to go, and I would argue the healthy way to go.
[00:59:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, but option two often means being more in touch with the pain that she's describing, right? It means making peace with her helplessness and also surrendering to the fact that her mom just might be caught in a cycle that she just cannot end.
[00:59:43] Jordan Harbinger: For a lot of people, that's ironically harder than trying to save somebody who can't or won't be saved. It can feel like losing or giving up, but it's not. It's actually the opposite.
[00:59:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree because once you accept your mom fully, then you're in a position to know what you can actually do to help where it's actually effective, right?
[01:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: So look, I obviously, I don't know what's going to happen to your mom. She might keep chugging along, scraping by. She sounds like a survivor, but she might continue to have problems just given her age and her history. So I would strongly recommend that you and your sister start talking about how to best help your mom. And what you guys will do if she ever needs more serious care, like if she has a health crisis and she can't work, who's going to take over the mortgage? Is one of you going to take her in? If so, who? Because remember, she's like an alcoholic, right? You don't want that necessarily around your kids. And so, I mean, what's fair to each of you? How can you guys share the burden? How can you help each other? I know these are scary questions, but the more you can get out in front of that, the easier this is going to be. I promise.
[01:00:41] Gabe, I'm also, I'm very intrigued by this detail that her mom didn't tell her about the near heart attack. She had to hear about it from her sister. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.
[01:00:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Neither am I. I'm confused. Was her mom hiding it from her because she was embarrassed? Maybe it could be. Or is her mom closer with her sister and depends on the sister more? Maybe the sister's like the point person in the family, or was she trying to spare this daughter, our friend who's writing in here, the worry?
[01:01:09] Jordan Harbinger: All three could be true, I guess, but I have to imagine that mom knows she has a drinking problem and is probably trying to save face here a little bit.
[01:01:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think that's probably right. But you know, Jordan, the part of her letter that really spoke to me is when she said that her deepest fear is that she's going to end up like her mom.
[01:01:27] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. She said something like, "After all, we all turned into some version of our parents eventually," and that is just quite a thing to say and believe.
[01:01:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: The fact that you worry that you are going to end up in debt and alone and broke, that breaks my heart also, but I absolutely understand why that fear is so real for you. You know, one of your big models in life is a woman who really struggles. She's an addict. She has a kind of delusional hope for her life without much of a plan. She struggles to stay connected to other people. She's seems to be generally resigned to her pain. That really weighs heavily on a child. It's very hard not to inherit these patterns from our parents. Or if we don't inherit the patterns, then we just inherit the vague worry that we're going to somehow fall into the exact same ones ourselves eventually. So what I find myself wanting to say to you is, no, you don't have to turn into her one day. We absolutely do not have to become our parents if we don't want to.
[01:02:26] In fact, one of the great projects of life, I would argue, is learning from our parents' dysfunction and their mistakes and whatever else they have going on and doing the work to not end up like them and ending these cycles. But yes, it will take some work and surprise, surprise, usually therapy, and a real commitment to looking at your mom's problems directly and taking concrete steps to be a very different kind of person which I think you're already doing. So where your mom is chaotic and a little delusional, you can be steady and realistic, and where she's unhealthy and isolated, you can take care of yourself. You can stay connected to your friends and your family. Where your mom is kind of bad with money and can be a bit reckless. You can be disciplined, you can be well-informed in so many ways. You can choose to work on these qualities. You can take this very tragic model of a parent you have and use it to show you how not to be.
[01:03:21] But I can't stress this enough. You do not have to end up like her. And based on your goals and your attitude and really everything you've shared in your letter, I have a very strong feeling that you won't be.
[01:03:32] Jordan Harbinger: Seriously, I'm having the same reaction, Gabe. Also, she's 21. She's still young. Use a baby over there. You're just coming to terms with this stuff. Man, 21, the stuff I believe at age 21. Oh my God. And you still have so much time to do all the work and figure out what kind of person you want to be. So, keep building a life of your own and trust that if the time ever comes, it'll be big enough to absorb your mom's tragedy, but you're on a very different path from hers, and that's something you should take pride in and be grateful for and keep pursuing along with your dad and your sister. And that makes sense. I do know.
[01:04:11] So I hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week, and everyone who listened. Thank you so much. Don't forget to check out our two-parter with Ryan Montgomery, ethical hacker, pedophile buster. Really fun conversation. I love the hacking and social engineering stuff. I chimed in quite a bit on this one, so it's two parts because I can't shut up. Definitely check that one out. Let me know what you think.
[01:04:30] The best things that have happened in my life in business have come through my network and I'm teaching you how to do the same thing for yourself in our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. It's not gross, it's not schmoozy, it's not awkward. You can find it on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. The drills take a few minutes a day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. Dig that well before you get thirsty. Build those relationships before you need them again, jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:04:55] Once again, a reminder that the Stitcher app will no longer work for any podcasts as of august 29th, 2023. So if you're using the Stitcher app, time to switch. If you're on Android, Podcast Addict is a good one, Castbox. And if you're on iOS, I suggest Overcast or Apple Podcasts. The Stitcher app is going away, folks.
[01:05:14] Show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discounts, and ways to support the show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Go try the AI chatbot at jordanharbinger.com/ai. I don't know, test it out by searching for a promo code for a sponsor you want to support. Maybe I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and you can find Gabe on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[01:05:40] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Ditto, Joanna Tate. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, I hope you apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you learn, and we'll see you next time.
[01:06:14] Stay tuned after the show. We've got a trailer of our interview with Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer. Cesar tells us how he went from impoverished Sloan kid to homeless immigrant to world-famous dog training guru. We'll also learn how to communicate better with animals by understanding the priority of their senses compared to our own. This and more after the cut, so stay with us for that.
[01:06:33] Cesar Millan: When I was 10 years old, I told my mom, "Mom, when I grow old, I'm going to, I'm going to be a drug dealer." And she shook.
[01:06:39] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[01:06:40] Cesar Millan: You know—
[01:06:40] Jordan Harbinger: —slapped you across the face—
[01:06:41] Cesar Millan: —slapped me across the face and say, "If you want to kill me, that's what you do." And when I was 13 years old, I told my mom, "Mom, you think you could be the best dog trainer in the world?" She turned around, she said, "You can be whatever you want." So I spent Christmas and New Year's at the border trying to jump it.
[01:06:56] Jordan Harbinger: You get this reputation as the guy who can walk 30 dogs.
[01:06:59] Cesar Millan: That's when I came, so that it was in San Diego.
[01:07:03] Jordan Harbinger: You were kind of this underground guy for a while that could walk all these dogs.
[01:07:07] Cesar Millan: Yeah, in LA.
[01:07:07] Jordan Harbinger: In LA.
[01:07:08] Cesar Millan: Yeah.
[01:07:08] Jordan Harbinger: With no leash. And the gang bangers are hanging out. Like there goes the crazy guy with all the dogs.
[01:07:13] Cesar Millan: Yeah. Yeah.
[01:07:13] Jordan Harbinger: Don't mess with the guy, with the dogs.
[01:07:15] Cesar Millan: My customers were NBA players, you know, NFL players—
[01:07:19] Jordan Harbinger: so you were—
[01:07:20] Cesar Millan: Nicholas Cage.
[01:07:21] Jordan Harbinger: —working at this point?
[01:07:21] Cesar Millan: Yeah.
[01:07:22] Jordan Harbinger: Nicholas Cage?
[01:07:23] Cesar Millan: Nicholas Cage.
[01:07:24] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:07:24] Cesar Millan: Vin Diesel.
[01:07:25] Jordan Harbinger: How did they hear about you?
[01:07:26] Cesar Millan: The Mexican guy in the street.
[01:07:28] Jordan Harbinger: You're washing limos and you're like, "Yeah, I want to be on TV."
[01:07:31] Cesar Millan: Yeah.
[01:07:32] Jordan Harbinger: People must have been like, okay, buddy.
[01:07:34] Cesar Millan: Most of them. I was first interviewed by the LA Times. At the end of the conversation, the lady says, "So what would you like to do next?" I said, "Well, I would like to have a TV show?" So I manifested the TV show way before producers came, and I had no idea. I didn't know that dishonesty part in Hollywood. You better have a good pack of lawyers.
[01:07:54] Jordan Harbinger: For more from Cesar Millan, including how animal behavior is reflective of their human owners, check out episode 162 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:08:05] Paula Barros: Hi, Cold Case Files fans, we have some exciting news for you. Brand new episodes of Cold Case Files are dropping in your feed. And I'm your new host, Paula Barros. I'm a Cold Case Files super fan true crime aficionado. And I love telling stories with unbelievable twists and turns. And this season of Cold Case Files has all of that and more.
[01:08:26] Male 1: I want to die.
[01:08:27] Male 2: You don't want to die.
[01:08:28] Male 1: I want to die.
[01:08:29] Paula Barros: Her cause of death was strangulation.
[01:08:32] Male 3: Lying, face down on the bed.
[01:08:33] Male 4: She was in a pretty advanced state of decomposition.
[01:08:36] Male 5: A little bit of bloody froth had come from Deborah's mouth.
[01:08:38] Male 6: He panicked and decided he was getting rid of the body.
[01:08:41] Female: I saw danger in everything.
[01:08:43] Paula Barros: So get ready. You don't want to miss what this season has in store. New episodes of Cold Case Files drop every Tuesday. Subscribe to Cold Case Files wherever you listen to podcasts.
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