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Listen. If you think you’re never going to overcome the hurdles of addiction and negative thoughts you may be facing, I’ve got news for you brother…

Bob disagrees.

If you’re stuck battling addictive behaviors, then today’s guest is here to help you beat it FOR GOOD and help you can become the father, husband, and man you’ve always wanted to be.

On today’s show, I’m joined by Bob Gardner; a friend, mentor, and ski buddy. Bob talks about his personal journey of addiction recovery, how addiction almost cost him his family, his marriage…and even his life, and how he turned it all around for good.

Show Highlights Include:

  • What it’s like trying to raise a child as an addict (4:40)
  • How to support a spouse with an addiction problem (8:00)
  • How Bob escaped addiction and found real freedom (10:15)
  • Is life without faith impossible? (18:00)
  • The importance of our belief systems (19:30)
Read Full Transcript

No don't go in there, Daddy's working.

Jonathan: Welcome one. Welcome all to another edition of Daddy's Working podcast. Last episode or two, I was coming at you from the Expedition, The Podcast Factory Expedition, but today I'm back in the studio for one reason and one reason only. Got a very, very special guest with me today. This guy, I consider him a friend. I consider him a mentor. Most importantly, a ski buddy. What's up, Bob?

Bob: What's up? Love it. In that order - friend, mentor, ski buddy.

Jonathan: They're interchangeable, depending on what we're doing, but today, you're going to be a friend and mentor to Daddy's Working crew. [0:01:04.3]
To set the stage, because I know I didn't prepare you for this and I know that you didn't need any preparation because you've been preparing all your life for this moment - this show is going out to the daddies out there like you and me, who value family, faith, fitness and finances, who want to find harmony in all of those things so they can live their best life. I can't think of a better person to be here with me today than you, brother, so welcome.

Bob: Aww, thank you. That's quite a great intro there.

Jonathan: You think so?

Bob: Yeah, that was good. That might mean … now I've got something to live up to.

Jonathan: You feel special, huh? Oh, and by the way, I'm going to say boys and girls because I only have one review on the show, and it's from a woman so I know there's at least one female listening out there, but Bob is also a member of The Podcast Factory family. He has launched his show, Alive and Free, and so I know we'll be talking about that as well as many other things. But Bob, for the folks out there who want to know who you are, can you give a quick little intro? [0:02:09.8]

Bob: If you want to know me personally, I'm just a dude who loves words, loves martial arts and loves playing and having a good time. As far as what I do, I went through some dark times in my life, you know. I went through 18 years of addiction to pornography and sex, to video games. I was shoplifting as a kid. I mean, I was into all kinds of things because I was struggling on the inside and couldn’t find a way out. Nearly wrecked my entire life. Almost lost my wife and four of my kids to it. Had to find a way out where I could not find answers anywhere else because everybody just told me, "Once you're an addict, it's always going to be something you're always going to struggle with." I didn't want to look at the rest of my life that way. I felt like well fine, if nobody has an answer, I'll make one. So I sit there and I ask people, you know how addicts feel like, you know, everybody's telling them, look, you're going to be fighting this forever - it's always going to be a temptation - there's just going to be certain things you can't do. [0:03:00.5]

That makes a person feel super deflated and feel like they're broken and feel like certain possibilities are not available to them in life. That's how I felt. So what I did was discover a way to end that permanently so that I could have a reset button on my life and start fresh and build a marriage and a life that I didn't even dream or imagine was really possible for me. So now all we do is give other people that same reset button. It's pretty sweet.
Jonathan: This guy - he's so modest. He forgot to say he loves kids. What do you have - 80, 90, something like that?

Bob: 90, then you carry the one, you know - yeah, there's six of them. We have five boys, one girl. The oldest is 13. The youngest is 3. A few of them have been sick the last few weeks, so it's been quite a busy time at home, but …

Jonathan: Yeah. What's impressive to me is when you and I first met, I had one 5-year-old boy and this kid's bouncing off the walls, and you've got a team of five boys and they're all the most well behaved, quiet - we're taking a call in the car and they're all just like chill, putting each other in the car. I'm like, what - I gotta know more about this. I need to learn that. Forget everything else. I want that right there. [0:04:09.2]

Bob: You need to meet my wife. She's … and I'm just, I'm the screwball. So, between the two of us, something happens.

Jonathan: Yeah. Some magic happens, man. So it's interesting that you say you had all these struggles, but … and really, just to highlight what you said "Built a life. Built a marriage" after your addiction. But you were in the grips of addiction for most of your marriage and most of having all these kids. I mean, how long have you been free, and what was that struggle like while you were under it, trying to do the family thing, trying to do the dad thing, trying to do the husband thing?

Bob: Oh, that's a good question. I don’t keep track of exact dates because I don’t really care. I don’t feel like time is the best way to measure freedom. When you cut the chains, you're free, so whether it's been a day or 10 years, who cares. It's been a little over 7-1/2 years or something like that. [0:05:00.0]

We have been married, so that's half of our marriage now. We have been married a little over 15 years. So for the first eight years of it, I was in there. Now, somebody struggling with … and it's not just addiction, it's depression or just anxiety or anything like this. Somebody struggling with that has a lot of internal dialogue, a lot of internal stuff going on. So for me, I really felt… I don't know where I internalized it. I had a good upbringing. But I really felt like I was never going to measure up. I felt there was something broken in me because I had tried so many times to fix this and I couldn’t get out from under it. There was a religious upbringing involved, and so there was all this fear of hell and damnation and there was spiritual components to it that just added to guilt and shame. So I was on a rollercoaster of emotion and bless my amazing, beautiful wife - here I am, I'm the dad that everybody on the outside would be like, "Dude, you're playing with your kids. You're having a good time. You can talk to them really sensibly. You're really trying to give them good opportunities. You're taking them on adventures. You're doing all this stuff." But on the inside, I was going through rollercoasters of being really morose, really depressed, couldn’t function in my business. [0:06:05.6]

I was paying everyone I could for help and we ended up going through bankruptcy, so there's the financial struggle of it because I couldn’t see past my own nose well enough to make really solid decisions. I was running a martial arts school at the time and that was the only place that I found some level of stability was, "Okay, cool - I can at least work my body this way." My relationship with my wife was… look, I didn't know how to love another person because I couldn’t even love myself. So when you can't feel love, it's really difficult to feel it for another person. So our relationship was one of me wanting to be loved and constantly showing up needy. I wanted our relationship to show up a certain way and when you're informed by pornography particularly, then all I had in my head was well, that's going to show up in intimacy as opposed to other types of things. So I didn't know how to be a friend. I didn't know how to really love another person. I didn't know how to connect on a deep level. So there was always a disconnect. I would go through these moments of I'd achieve something and I'd be on a high and be super excited and inspired, and then I'd tank for a few months. [0:07:07.3]

My wife just had to sit there and corral the kids and micromanage stuff and things. It got to a point where she just finally was like look, I am done, like you're going to basically other women to like satisfy something because you can't figure it out on your own. The only reason she stayed really was she had an experience where after all this stuff, after she said she was going to leave, she had a split second where she experienced life in my skin somehow. Her heart was already broken, but then she felt all of my pain, all my misery, all of my stuff and in that moment, her heart kind of broke again, but this time for me and for what I was feeling. She just said, "Okay, well, I'll stick around for a little bit and see what happens." That window of mercy and grace was really the window that gave me the opportunity to go find an answer and create an answer because otherwise, you know, I don't know, I might have ended it… well, I was already suicidal at the time, so I don't know if I'd be here today. [0:08:03.7]

Jonathan: What do you think that was? Where do you think that came from, for her because when she is in that place where she's beaten down, abused, neglected, how do you think that she was able to get that what you called "window of opportunity? Where do you think that came from?

Bob: So, I mean we both grew up very… I don't know what the word is. I don't know if it's religious, faith based, spiritual - whatever people want to … you could take all those words in a weird direction. But ultimately, both of us, even at that time, were constantly striving to find inspiration, revelation, some kind of guidance from a higher source than ourselves. I was trying all the time. I had practices I put in place to try and get there, and I would get inspirations, even in the dark times. People who believe that, oh well, if you're in the dark times, there's no way you're going to hear God's voice or there's no way you're going to hear… be able to get in touch with your true self or with the source of all creation or whatever you believe.

Jonathan: That's what they say? Isn't that when he's supposed to pull you out?

Bob: Yeah. That's when you're supposed to… in fact, if you look at scripture, it's first darkness and then there's let there be light, the light appears in the darkness. [0:09:05.3]

But a lot of people have been told, well I'm a sinner, or they feel like "I'm a sinner, so I can't access that." They feel like "I'm not worthy to talk to God because of how I am," but I'll just tell you from experience, this is not true. Anytime you talk, there that is. Right? So, she's a prayer and I'm a …I don't know if you want to be called a prayer, a seeker, or whatever - so she was always in that space, always seeking higher guidance. I think because of her openness to that, even in those times, she didn't have an answer, so she was more open to it. I think the fact when you confront the unknown and you don’t have an answer, all of your faculties are now open to well, let's get some more data because I want to solve this. I think she was open to having that kind of experience. Some people would call it divine intervention. She would. I think…I don't know how I would describe it - yes, no, maybe so - some other kind of intervention, some other kind of gift. I think Tony Robbins would call it grace. She did all her work on her own, but then something else showed up. [0:10:04.6]

Jonathan: Well it's clear that she wanted it to work. I mean, that's why it worked and you were given that opportunity. So what changed in that moment because you say you were struggling, you were looking for answers. You kept just getting beat down. So you knew she was leaving. What changed in you? How did you find a way out of this?

Bob: So that scared me, to be able to put a straight jacket on the behavior for awhile. Anybody can do that. There's really four main levels of freedom, and that's level one - can you stop the behavior. You're not really free from the emotions that drive it or the urges for it. You're not necessarily free from the thought processes behind it or even everything else that's deeper than that. But at least you can stop the behavior. I put a straight jacket on it because I was terrified of losing my four beautiful children. Let me tell you this much - when you're in a place like that, it's not what you say that your children absorb. It's what you are that they absorb. That is what I saw in my kids. So my oldest son was 6 at the time and for the first six years of his life, he absorbed a dad that was depressed, suicidal, flip-floppy, all over the place. [0:11:12.4]

Even though I was trying to instill in him a desire for dreams and stuff, at that age even, within the next couple of years, he was saying things, "Well, nobody wants me around, maybe alive" because he absorbed it from me. Even though I didn't say those phrases. My second son was like super angry and was just all over the place. You couldn’t touch his body without him recoiling because he carried so much of it in his system. My third son would just clam up and couldn’t speak anymore. His throat would close off. All kinds of stuff. Just because of how I was and how unsafe they felt. All of this is going on and I was like, I got to find an answer. Nobody has one. From the psychological side, addiction literally is a disease that is incurable. You can either cope with it or manage it and sometimes you can do it super well to where you can eradicate the behavior, but your whole life, you're going to be on alert maintenance mode. [0:12:04.6]

From the spiritual side, it's a temptation that you'll never be free of. There will always be a little bit of a fight. You're always going to be suiting up to battle Satan or whatever it is. I just thought, how is it that we can believe in a God that is so uncreative that the only way he can teach somebody a lesson is through pain and misery? Maybe that's a human problem, but if the source of all creation can make flowers grow without pain, how can he not make humans grow without pain, when with the flowers, he said they were good and with humans he said they were very good. I mean, come on. So I was there has to be an answer. Since no one else has one, let me find one. So I started just following whatever idea came into my head. Some of them were not good ideas, and my wife was like, what are you doing… that's not… I was like, I just got to do this. I got to figure this out and I don’t recommend the do it your own self approach if you can avoid it.

Jonathan: Why not? [0:12:59.4]

Bob: Because there's all of the pain. There's tons of uncertainty. It's not a proven method, so you're always going to have the doubt in the background. Two - there's the amount of time that it takes to piece everything together without any understanding behind it. Someone has been there didn't understand it the first time, but when they're helping another person, they get to the point where they understand what's really happening and can guide you through it much, much faster. There's the time, the lack of understanding. There's all of the mistakes that you make along the way that can make things worse, rather than better. Financial situation deteriorated - all kinds of stuff happened. On the other side of it, then there's all the naysayers. There's not anybody to support you once you've gotten through it. You just get through it, and you're like, okay, cool. What do I do with this? There's no guidance on the other side of that. I mean, if you have to do it… I had to do it. I don’t recommend it, though. Just saying. Because it took me over five years to figure everything out and well over 50 grand, just to figure it out for myself. Then to figure it out for other people, it took me another 7-1/2 years now and I've spent a whole truck ton more money trying to understand this for myself and deepening my understanding of things. I don’t recommend it. [0:14:11.1]

But there I went. I went through that process and at a certain point, an idea came that had a different feel to it. I just ran with it and I was like, okay, well, I'll do this little thing. That unfolded into another idea, which unfolded into another idea, which unfolded into another one, and pretty soon, within 20 hours' time of work, everything that I had learned over the course of my life clicked into place like a giant puzzle that I just hadn’t seen before. So the 30 years of martial arts training and the physical work involved, the four years of mindfulness work and really trying to study how to be in control of my mental state, instead of having it control me, the four years plus the extra two or three years of working in healing fields and learning the human anatomy and the energy systems and how the body works, the psychological work that I did, you know, the spiritual work. All that stuff kind of clicked. [0:15:05.2]

On the other side of it, I walked out and before that experience, I could be in a room and my wife would leave the room and I could see her out the window heading to go pick up the kids from school. My brain already calculated, I've got 30-40 minutes right now. I've got a chance. The computer is in the corner. It doesn’t even matter if there's a filter on it. She's not going to hear anything. Let me go check. There would be a constant fight and a constant struggle or if I would see an advertisement that was pornographic in nature or if I just had some gnarly thing at work going on where I was super stressed, then I'd find myself having this tug - not always to look at pornography - sometimes it was to waste time on Facebook or YouTube. Sometimes it was to just go do something totally unproductive, not actually moving me toward my goals. Sometimes it would be to inhale like four bags of chips and check the fridge every five minutes just to see if new food magically appeared. Whatever it was. That disappeared. All that pull. [0:16:03.5]

Jonathan: Instantly? From one day to the next after that 20-hour period?

Bob: Yeah. It disappeared. Since that… that was like a baby lick and since then, at the time it felt like the whole thing disappeared. Now, when I look back, no - just the major part that I knew of disappeared. Now, it's like oh yeah, so much more is gone because when you start in on freedom, it just grows like nobody's business. So I was living in this place where I wasn’t tempted. I didn't have images coming to my mind. People could show me pornography. I learned how to delete it from my head so it didn't affect me. Old traumatic memories, I could just process and let go. Old beliefs about myself. Stuff like that. Two weeks later, I'm driving down the road, coming home from Arizona State University where I was teaching at the time. I get off on the freeway. I go to stop at the stop light and I literally feel a voice rattle through every cell in my body. It wasn’t an audible voice. It's what maybe… oh, what's his name - Neale Donald Walsch, the guy who wrote Conversations With God. It's what he would call a voiceless voice. [0:17:05.8]

It literally resonated through every, every cell in my body. It said, "Bob, you're not an addict anymore. Never introduce yourself as one again." I associated that voice with my own faith background and the name Jesus popped up and the feeling that I had done a tremendous amount of work to open me up to something much bigger where the healing really came from. Other people may not associate that with Jesus. It's not like you have to. You know, wherever your faith background comes from. Or if you have no faith background, then whatever you want to make sense of it. It confirmed to me one, yeah, I really was done with this and two, sweet, there's a bigger healing available and that the work we do is more like tilling the soil. I don't know how to make a flower grow, but I do know that if there's the right sunlight, soil and water, it'll grow - as long as the seed is good and wants to grow, which is pretty much every seed.

Jonathan: Think that it's possible because you said if you don’t have faith, and that happens to be part of our belief system .. do you think it's possible to have a life without faith, some sort of faith? [0:18:08.2]

Bob: That's a good question. Is it possible to have a life without …. It depends on how you define faith. If you define faith as a set of religious tenets, I think yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah, agreed. But I mean, faith in general, faith in yourself or just faith in what you're learning - I mean, you have to have a level of that, don’t you?

Bob: Yeah. If you're talking about a general …. What do you mean by that? You mean like a belief to move forward or?

Jonathan: Right. Because how do you live life without faith that things are going to work out or that you're supposed to be here or any of that? Because I don’t know that it's possible to live without some sort of faith, not necessarily the religious kind, but just faith in general.

Bob: Yeah. I don’t really think that a person needs a belief system at all, that everything has to happen for a reason or everything will work out. I don’t actually think that that's necessary, but a connection with the reality that there is a larger intelligence in play, much bigger than my own brain and that's what's beating my heart and that's what's moving these lungs, that's what's creating the sunlight and all the other stuff that's going on. [0:19:10.9]

For me, a connection with that, a perception of that, to stay in touch with that - without that, then life becomes really miserable really quickly. Belief systems can help you circumvent that a little bit because they can help you create stories in your head that make you feel good. They're a step stool, a step ladder on the way. The whole point of a belief system is to get you finally in touch with the thing that you're believing. Once you're in touch with that, you don’t need the belief system anymore because you already know that it is there.

Jonathan: You said it much better than me. Right. We're part of something bigger.

Well, guess what? Time is up for this week. I know you were just getting into that, and I don’t blame you because it was just getting good. We're trying to keep these episodes under a half hour, so we split it up into two. We'll be back next week with part two of this interview. Make sure you tune in then. If you love what you are hearing, why not share this episode with someone who will also love it? Thank you. Daddy's out.

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