Growing Up, Vulnerability, and How Our Parents Creep Into Our Relationships with Ron Cecil

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Ron Cecil joins me for a conversation about creating intentional relationships—the kind that add more vibrancy to our lives.

I met Ron 2 minutes before hitting record, but by the end we feel like great friends.

We ask and answer:

  • If a marriage doesn’t work, is it a failure?
  • When is vulnerability helpful?
  • Is the patriarchy hurting men, too?
  • What are our partners actually responsible for in a relationship?

And because surface-level convos are not my jam, we also cover:

  • How the patterns of our parents have a way of trying to creep into our own relationships and how to catch them
  • What it means to craft an intentional relationship/marriage
  • What happens when our wounds trigger our partner

This is a conversation about the often vulnerable process of waking up to ourselves, and what it means to embrace that vulnerability in a relationship with another human trying to do the same thing in their own way.Ron also shares what happened when he asked his wife’s dad if he could marry her (it’s not what you might think). And we both share the moments we recognized that our parents are humans, too. 


Ron Cecil was born in rural New Mexico, where he fell in love with the Divine, rock climbing, and smoking cigarettes in secret.

In 2016, he committed to his calling as a Masculine Wholeness coach and now guides men through the journey of resetting their nervous systems and disrupting patterns that have kept them from creating mental, physical and emotional health.

Lasting romantic love has also been a vital aspect of Ron’s story. His parents were married 13 times, and this has created in him a devotion to understanding what makes a healthy marriage. He has been vibrantly partnered since 2009 and is now father to a daughter and adopted son.

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Welcome back to Make it Mentionable. I am here today with Ron Cecil, who is the husband of one of my favorite people on the planet. So I’m so excited to chat with you, Ron. Real quick for those of you listening or watching it, I want to let you know that you can join our podcast community by going to to continue the conversation after any episode. And I would love to see you there. So Hi, Ron, thank you so much for being here.

Ron Cecil 1:22
Yeah, thanks a lot for having me, I appreciate it.

Alyssa Patmos 1:27
For those of you who aren’t watching the show, and are just tuning in, Ron is in front of an amazing color-coded bookshelf, which I am a fan of.

Ron Cecil 1:37
It’s beautiful to look at. And it’s not as fun to try to actually find a book once it’s up there. But actually, maybe I’m gonna stop saying that I’m gonna stop saying that because it actually is kind of fun, because I forget the color. And then it’s I just have to stand there if people don’t know, like, my books are in a spectrum. So it’s like this weird spectrum of color. And, and so I regularly forget the color of the book that I’m looking for. I’m trying to remember desperately what it is. But often, it’s just kind of like going back to the grocery store or maybe opening your refrigerator like even though you know what’s in there and just kind of like opening it and looking. That’s a bit what it’s like it’s really nice. I actually changed my my opinion on that used to be a pain in the ass and I love it.

Alyssa Patmos 2:25
Yeah, our one of our bookshelves here is color-coded, but it’s color-coded on each individual shelf, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So nerdy! But my bookshelf has, like, the business books are at the bottom. The health books are at the top. So it moves from like physical health and safety through relationships and spirituality. And then it ends. Yeah, it ends with like all of my spiritual books. And then and then like business books are somewhere in the second or third, third or fourth shelf there. So yeah, book organization. I’m a total nerd about.

Ron Cecil 3:07
I saw somebody who has a really great aesthetic. They have like this awesome, like space, living room space. And we walk by when we go to a certain coffee shop in town. And they went totally opposite. And they turned all their books around so that it’s only the white pages facing out. So their whole bookshelf was just the white paper and I was like that’s kind of psychotic, and I love it.

Alyssa Patmos 3:34
That’s so contrarian, I want to talk to that person. I’m like, what, what go How do you live your life? Because if you’re doing that, I want to know the rest of how you live your life.

Ron Cecil 3:43
I wonder if they’re doing it because it it like stops the it stops the like, curiosity or maybe even obligation like, Oh, I gotta go read that book later. And they’re just like, No, I’m gonna turn it around. And when I really need to do it, then I’ll go get it.

Alyssa Patmos 3:57
I mean, interesting theory. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like you got to stop in. Is it their living room? Or is it like a retail shop?

Ron Cecil 4:05
No, this was like, their, their office. They’re like living room office. It’s like, it looks like a it looks like a model, living room office that you would see like in kinfolk or something. You know, it’s like, almost too cool to even look at, like, you know, they have like a really cute dog bed in the window with a giant golden doodle laying there. I mean, it’s just too cool. Across the board. And maybe that’s just their thing. Maybe they just need that to be in and that makes them feel good, which is great. It’s probably a lot of self love over there.

Alyssa Patmos 4:42
[inaudible] Love of books, which seems to be apparent from behind you. Can you tell people tuning in just a little bit about you?

Ron Cecil 4:50
Yeah, my name is Ron and I, I’m a coach. I coach men through the journey of masculinity. I call it masculine wholeness. It’s not a term I came up with I borrowed that from Richard Rohr, who is a, a kind of a monk in your part of the world. He’s based out of Albuquerque, leading a group called the Center for Action Contemplation. And it’s a response to the way I grew up, I grew up in a culture where the, the person that had the most value in our culture was the pastor of our church, or a pastor or some kind of church leader. And I was groomed to step into that world. And in a lot of ways, I wanted that because I love the attention I got from it, I loved the feeling of having it figured out, I love the feeling of being seen, and being the person that had that had the answers and all that kind of things. And but I also am driven by the knowing that life is not easy, it’s really fucking hard. And we’re all trying to figure it out. And I care for people a lot. And I think I care for people because I know what it’s like to hurt, I know what it’s like to not know what to do, I know what it’s like to like, hit the bottom, over and over, and be stuck. And after I went to school to be a pastor and got the education and was then a pastor for a bunch of years, it continued to kind of pop up where, without a lot of trying, I found myself leading groups of people. And about six years ago, coming up on six years, Morgan and I really decided to like go for it and allow ourselves to be leaders again. And, and it’s been this evolution since then. For fun, I write, I have been writing a book for the last two years, and probably have a couple more years left in it to get it to where I want it. But it’s been a real act of love, of self love to do that. And it started as a started as a exercise of writing one true sentence a day, as like, turned into something much more and I’m and I’m almost done my first draft of this. And I am a dad who loves his kids and I you know, like to have some excitement in my life. So I, you know, I’ve had a career in rock climbing and in archery has been my latest passion, and, you know, just all kinds of shit like that. Always going on.

Alyssa Patmos 7:42
I love it, we always have to have more than one thing. I think that is life. or interesting. Yeah. So one thing we were talking about before we hopped on here, because this is make it measurable. So we just we just dive in saying. So you talked a little bit about what it’s like to to hurt. And you’ve mentioned self love, so I can tell that weaves through as a as a theme in your life. And so one thing you mentioned was that your parents were married 13 times between the two of them. Yeah. And which is so much I’m having a hard time kompromat comprehending that so. So I want to know more about that, especially and especially how that’s influenced you because knowing you and Morgan, you know, you guys try to craft such an intentional marriage. And so I want to know a little bit about how your parents being married that many times has in has influenced you.

Ron Cecil 8:42
Gosh, it’s it’s probably the primary influence, right? Yeah. So like I said, we were talking my parents. My dad was married eight times my mother has been married five times. And to their credit, twice, two of those marriages for them are to each other. So they married and divorced then married and divorced again to each other you know. Both my parents came from pretty rough childhoods my mother was raised by a single mom who was raised by single mom my dad was raised by World War Two that who saw a lot of trauma in the war and was also the you know, also received a lot of trauma. And in my dad was harmed as a child by a stranger and instead of being being safe and comforted and healed by his parents, he was told he was a faggot and probably liked it and, and he was seven years old. And and his mom simultaneous He had a had an injury that led to a lifelong addiction to pain pills and some other things that his mom, you know, disappeared essentially because of that. And they were a fluent West Texas, you know, connected to the oil industry. Not they weren’t rich, but they were not poor. They didn’t have you know, they didn’t like anything. So my mom and my dad at a bar in West Texas. My dad asked two other women to dance with her do to dance with him before he asked her, they all said knows it was her sister and her and her best friend. And they were married three days later in Mexico. And three days later, yeah. And I think this was already like my mom’s third kind of major romance and my Dad Hey, at least his third at least. And and they had a really, really like, hot burning love affair for the next several years. They’re married seven years. They were divorced, first time about Tom was three and then married again, by the time I was five, and it was, you know, my memories of that. And my parents in the 30s. Like, it was just really tumultuous a lot of fiery stuff. And then then my dad would just disappear for years at a time. And my dad, unfortunately, you know, he died when I was 23. And he died in a very shitty state. I mean, I don’t mean where he lived. I mean, he was so unhealthy it was a second heart as his third heart attack actually. You know, the woman that he was last married to had no idea that he’d been married so many times completely lied to her. He was on bankable couldn’t have a bank account because of how, you know what ruin he brought upon himself. And, and he suffered, he just suffered like crazy, like crazy. And to give you like an like an idea of like, what that look like, with his siblings. He had another sibling had a sister, a little sister who lost her job as a nurse because she was an addict and stealing drugs from the thing and ended up studying. And then he had a brother who is alive still, but is such a bad alcoholic, that he’s had to have his esophagus removed, because it’s rotted from all the alcohol. And he continues to drink through a feeding tube through his nose or an enema. And he’s in his 70s. Right? So there’s like this crazy pain in their life that they were never able to learn how to heal from. And so I know, your question was like, how has that informed my life? It in the early stages that I thought, I thought if I can get married and stay married, I’m gonna beat it. I’m gonna, like, be a success. Right?

And, and I grew up in a really religious home where marriage was kind of quantified as, like, the, the, the, the pinnacle of, of like existence. Like, if you can have a good marriage, then you are, you’re it and so I’ve married the Lord’s work. Yeah, I married my Christian brain washing, bring washing camp sweetheart and bettered Manitou Springs, Colorado, when we were 17. And we were, you know, married at 21 and divorced at 25. And, and I thought I had it was a complete, I thought I was doomed to repeat the patterns over and over. And, and I think that those patterns are real. Right? Like those are those are true things. Morgan and I had already known each other. Before I was divorced, we had run into the same circle of friends. And there’s a very sweet friendship. We were really you know, we there’s a group of us. And in that process, she so I experienced my worst fear, which was getting a divorce and she experienced her worst fear, which was having a baby while she was not married. And that was with a, you know, on again, off again, boyfriend that she had. And I don’t know if she’s told you this. Did she tell you about me? Me and my ex wife being the first people that knew she was pregnant?

Alyssa Patmos 14:26
I knew that. I knew that you were the first person but I didn’t know that you were married before?

Ron Cecil 14:34
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So she so when working got pregnant. What she didn’t know was that my ex wife and I were like roommates at that point. And, but we were the good Christian couple in that community that people thought, oh, they must have something kind of figured out because they’re married. So Young, and we were really good at being fake and telling everyone everyone everything was okay. But it wasn’t And we also really loved Morgan like we, you know, we’re always rooting for bowling for and, and, and she came to our place when she was pregnant and and we just got to hang out with her while she was there and it was sweet. But then I lost contact with her for a bit for almost three years. And it was through LinkedIn that we connected again of all things. LinkedIn-

Alyssa Patmos 15:24
That’s like unromantic media platform. And Morgan – that’s amazing.

Ron Cecil 15:31
But the interesting thing was, is like, she had just said, like that she had said a prayer the day before, I was like, I really want to talk to my ex wife, like, they were friends. They were close. And she had said a prayer that she wanted to get a hold of her. And suddenly, I got, she has an invite for me. So she emails me and she was like, Oh, my gosh, where’s, you know, so and so. And I and I, I’m like, I don’t know, we’re divorced. I think she loved me for her parents. And, and, and Morgan, I connected and it was really sweet to see that we had gone through the worst thing that we could have, that we thought, you know, was the worst thing I know that there kazillion worse things than that. But at that age, and time of our life, that’s what it felt like. And we, I think we’re enthralled with each other’s resilience, and, and cheered genuinely cheer each other on and have continued to cheer each other on, along this thing. And, and when we knew that we were we were more than friends. And when we knew that we wanted to be to really like become partners and engage with I went master data, you know, can I marry your daughter. And he was like, one is really nice about it. He was super nice. But he was also really pragmatic. And he’s like, Ronnie, you’re divorced. You come from a family of divorce people. My daughter is a single mom. He’s like, statistically speaking, you guys have a very low chance of making it. Wow. So what are you going to do? To like, you know, get get through this. And he wasn’t offering me advice. And he wasn’t and I didn’t feel any sense of judgment around it. I think he was trying to be as realistic as possible. And and with that realism, Morgan and I have regularly had to check in with with actual reality, like, what is our life really like? And what are the things happening inside us, primarily, that are stopping us from being the people that we really want to be. And, and along the way in partnership, realizing, Oh, her wounds trigger Mine, mine trigger hers. We’re swimming in the same water, we’re simultaneously trying to save each other and dunking each other’s head below the water and then holding it underwater, you know. So I could probably spend the next the rest of the hour talking about that dynamic, or talking about how all of our, the way that our parents were has been completely informed the way we’re trying to do life, which is evolving, right? It’s like, like, day by day, sometimes inch by inch, we’re in lis attempt to wake up to our potential and wake up to loving ourself so well that we are brave enough to say and do and be the things that we really are capable of doing.

Alyssa Patmos 18:33
Right and becoming, becoming the, becoming the parents that we didn’t have, because and that’s not to say that our parents did anything terrible. Some some do. But but they weren’t equipped with those tools. And so it’s it’s waking up and then also like being able to truly grow up. I feel like yeah, and show ourselves the love in the gaps that that we needed and that our parents might not have even realized was missing because because they’re doing their best they weren’t. Yeah, yes, yes. So there were two things that came up for me when you were sharing these pieces of your story. And and the first is that I think there comes this point in time where every kid has to realize that their parents are human. And I think a lot of times our parents try and protect us like from realizing that which is why we end up with so much control placed over us especially as teenagers. But then inevitably there comes a time when we’re gonna realize our parents are human and and sometimes that leads to a better relationship. And sometimes that leads to setting boundaries where we have to exit a relationship. And so for you for me, I remember like I I was awakened to the fact that my parents were human when I was a sophomore in high school, I think is really where that sunk in for me, and so I’m curious-

Ron Cecil 20:09
I wish it had been that early for my life.

Alyssa Patmos 20:13
So I’m curious when when was it for you? Do you have it a sense of when you recognize that?

Ron Cecil 20:19
Yeah, definitely. So as I was gone through my divorce, going through a divorce, in my mid 20s, I realized that the path that I had been set out in front of me by my family, my mom in particular, and I don’t say that with any judgment anymore, right, it was, to your point the best she could with what she had. And and the place we were like, are the options in the small town in New Mexico I grew up with is like, generally speaking, the church is where you find like people who are trying to do life together and, and be good, right? So I wrote this letter to my mom, my dad had already passed away. And the letter said, Hey, I did everything you told me to do. I went to church a lot. I got this certificate, it says I can lead a church, I have led a lot of people. And here I am repeating exactly the same thing that I was told that if I do, I’m not I’m going to avoid and and not only that, I think it’s you know, I just kind of unloaded all my judgment around it and also the kind of closed system of our family which was again built built out of safety need for safety within that family. And that was like, No one gets in the family, nobody gets in, you either are born in but if you cannot marry and so if, you know husbands or wives that tried to get in are never allowed in. Because we all know that eventually they’re gonna fuck up and eventually we’re gonna cast our judgment against them as a as a family and prove that we know we knew that we you know, that they were gonna fuck up. And so like that that was you know, born from all the abandonment they they experienced. So I had to kind of do this like hard cleaver cut off with my mom, the whole family and church and all that stuff. It helped that I had gone through divorce and then moved overseas and moved to England. Ironically, with my ex ex, his dad, who was a venture capitalist and got me a job was complete nepotism, and I’m so grateful for it. And it ended up opening another door with a different company there I was able to, you know, provide for myself and be safe and have a good job for a couple years there. But it was then it was then Alyssa that I was who is I’ll never forget this. It was Super Bowl Sunday, it was late at night because we were staying up to watch the game. And what stayed up, watched it. And I was riding my bicycle in this very cute little village in England called Stratford upon Avon, just where Bill Shakespeare’s from. And I’m riding my bike, my bike through in the dark. And it was one of those moments where it’s just so I can see it perfectly. Like I can see the headlight of my bike, eliminating the path, I can see my breath, because it’s cold outside. And I and I just so clearly heard my voice out loud. I might even said it out loud. I can’t remember but it was like you need to forgive your mom. And your mom was doing the best she could with what she had. And I and then and then it flooded back to me that my mom had been raped as a child by an uncle that she had been abandoned by her her father in a really dramatic ways.

Like over and over that she had had multiple husbands abuse her one of them tried to murder her. It was it was you know, it just it all kind of came on me and I was like, oh my god, I can’t believe I’m judging her for this, like, my life is fine. I’m fine. So Well, I went through a divorce. And I called her up when I got home and I I apologized to her for for blaming her and not taking responsibility for myself. And, and then she told me, you know, even worse stuff that I’ve even you know, it’s just like, oh my god, I had no idea you, you know, you’ve gone through all that stuff. So yeah, I wish I had when you when I was like that age that you were like, Oh, my parents are human. We were at a church conference that was about like dealing with family drama or family like issues. And my mom and my stepdad and myself were so completely detached from reality that when the speaker was trying to get us to think about the ways that were dysfunctional we looked at each other and couldn’t come up with one and looking back on that now I’m I think it’s hilarious because my dad my stepdad was a closeted homosexual who was living a double life at the time. Like my goodness Yeah, like we were all like we were all in these like little cloister double lives. And and I was living Double Life of like a church kid, but also very normal church teenager, right? Like, like it was it was, you know, the girls and and drugs and alcohol and all the all just normal teenage shit, but it was like, hidden because of the fear, guilt and shame that’s associated with that in church cultures.

Alyssa Patmos 25:21
Yeah, Christian guilt is real.

Ron Cecil 25:23
It’s so real, it is so real. Forty-fucking-two years old. And it’s still like trying to clean that stuff out of me.

Alyssa Patmos 25:33
Should add that just, the point when I recognized my parents were human was not the same point that I forgave them. So like yours, it sounds like it came simultaneously, my my journey through the forgiveness aspect of some things unfolded for years and years after. And I think we’re always trying to work through and redefine our relationships with our parents as as we as we get older. The other thing that has come up for me as you’ve been talking, so you talked about how we put all this pressure on marriage where like, if a marriage doesn’t work out, like it’s failed, and we’re failed, and that means that like, it didn’t have anything good in it, and I haven’t been married, but I’ve been in a seven year relationship and a five year relationship before Jeff and both of those operated like marriage in a lot of ways. And, and, and I don’t I took me a long time. But I because I felt the same sort of like, Christian pinnacle of like, yes, if you stay married, like you are doing what you’re supposed to do. And but I don’t I don’t think that’s healthy. I don’t think that’s healthy at all. I think like relationships sometimes aren’t meant to last forever. And when we choose someone, I think we if we put that expectation there. Yeah, sometimes can add a crap ton of pressure. Like, obviously, when we choose someone and if we get married I, we want it to last. Yeah. But I think going into it, there’s a way to have a view of it. Where it’s not doomed from the start. If it doesn’t, so I’m curious if you had any evolution of thought around that?

Ron Cecil 27:21
Yeah, a lot. I think that I don’t know. I mean, I’m trying to like not qual have not needing to qualify what I’m about to say, some wrestling a little bit with articulating what I’m about to say. We give meaning to things that we think should have meaning. And and sometimes that meaning can be too much for us to bear. And one of those meanings is if my marriage fails, then I’m not good, or my life isn’t good. And and are you familiar with Dr. David snarks? He’s a he’s a marriage psychiatrist, wrote, I haven’t heard his name. He’s got a great series of books. And one of the things that Dr. snarks talks about is differentiation, like our ability to be hole on our own. Right. And that is difficult to do in a marriage, where we think that we’re only a hole in connection with someone else. And, and I spent years saying that, and probably in some ways, I still believe that I’m gonna be like, I’m gonna be honest, like, I think, I don’t think that will ever leave me because it’s, it’s like, it’s almost like an accent, right? Like, I grew up speaking, whatever English I’ve got, and let’s say I go move it move overseas and can speak their language. I’m going to stop this accent. And I think it’s a little bit probably like that, where it still kind of remains. What I what I learned going through divorce and what I’ve learned going through the ups and downs of of a marriage, that’s now 13 years in is I’m not promised tomorrow with my wife. Like, and I like that might be because of disaster. It might be because one of us wakes up tomorrow and goes, this isn’t serving me in some way. And and I can’t have judgment for either of those. Right? I have to go oh, this has been a really great fucking 13 years and, and she has been a wonderful addition to my life. But I don’t need her in order to get what I want. In fact, the more I think I need her, the further I get away from what I really want. And that’s the fun thing is like we’re differentiated enough at this point and this is not always been the case. Like, as we’re moving towards the things that we want, like it actually, I think creates a lot of mutual respect for one another. Yes, see each other going for it. And, and, and we’ve had to learn how to feel safe again, and learn how to be strong around and differentiate and passionate marriage is the name of one of snark, Davis nurtures books, passionate marriage, it’s really great. So yeah, it has evolved, it totally is evolved. And I and I. And I have, I think one of the things that Morgan has taught me is Steph curiosity around judgments I have, or what I think thoughts or what I think should you know what I think things should be. But we went through a really rough patch in 2019, that I, that was the moment I realized that I had to really be okay, no matter what the outcome was. And the only thing that was going to make me Okay, was me. Does it? Yeah. And, and it’s been, I think that was probably the moment where I thought, Oh, we, we can do this because we’re choosing to do this now because it’s got to work. Does that? Does that make sense?

Alyssa Patmos 31:28
It totally makes sense. I love the choice piece for me is is the most magical part of a relationship. And I don’t think we talked about it enough. When I was when I was in college, and a of my boyfriend at the time, his his dad passed away. And it was very close to their family and his mom got remarried. After and, and it was interesting, because she, I think she knew at the time, like, me and her son weren’t going to be together forever, even though at that point, like we’ve been together probably for six years, I think. And so she saw she saw something in me that would end up more like her her second husband. And she just talked to me about about not knowing if you’re you’re always going to have the next day of hurt her first husband had passed away and then and then in the second one she she talked about about choice a lot. And I can’t remember the exact word she said, but it’s something has always stuck with me through that. And so now like getting to wake up every morning and having the freedom of knowing like I am choosing you. You know, I think a lot of times people bring in like the government legal contract of marriage for some false sense of security. They think a lot of times it’s gonna solve that problem. But I think underlying that, like redefining it for ourselves, there’s, there’s an element of the magic of choice. And like, what, of what, I don’t know if it’s a privilege, I don’t know if that’s the right word, but like, there’s something there’s something amazing about waking up and knowing that you’re just choosing each other for that day, like and for that moment in time. I think it’s really powerful and special. And I don’t think we talk about it enough.

Ron Cecil 33:29
I, in February, it’s gonna be eight years since my last drink of alcohol. And I don’t identify with the phrase alcoholic I never have to be honest. I, I’ve been able to, in large part, because I know that the choice of not drinking today is going to help me have a better day. And, and, and there’s not many things I’m like, I’m not allowing that in my life. Like there’s very little that I think about that with right. Most of its allowed in some level. And the other side of that is like I am choosing me today number one and then I’m choosing to be the kind of person that as it turns out is attractive to Morgan and and I’m going to choose today to be a better dad as like, as good of a dad as I can have my kids more so be a dad to myself. Like you were mentioning earlier that I can remember if we were recording when you’re talking about that or not but and then and then it’s not to say I choose Morgan because she’s an easy choice. Like I still look at her and I’m like delighted to look at her I like I’m wildly attracted to her. I just like her her shit. I just like her the way she is, you know, like, just her thing. And and so often we I’m like oh my god like this, this doesn’t feel fair that I get her half her because I know that a lot of people would kill to have a quality relationship at this quality. And, um, it’s not a given.

Alyssa Patmos 35:13
But I think that’s I think that happens too, because of what you’re saying where it’s not about. It’s not just about celebrating the unit, the unit of, yeah, we’ve been married for this long, it’s about being able to celebrate each other, and to celebrate her like as her whole person. And so it’s not just like choosing the pieces that are convenient for you. It’s like, accepting her and all that she is and, and getting to do life with that person. And and there’s, I think there’s so much freedom in allowing someone you’re with to get to explore who they are, because we run into problems when our souls feel constricted, or when we feel like we can’t expand into who we want to be. I don’t think anybody is necessarily searching for the perfect relationship. But we fall into traps when when we put too much pressure on our partner to be who we need them to be because we’re not willing to be it for ourselves.

Ron Cecil 36:22
Yeah. Well said, that’s really, really well said. Yeah, yeah. It’s an insane amount of pressure to put on each other that like, will collapse. It’s only a matter of time before it collapses.

Alyssa Patmos 36:34
Right. So there’s a question I wanted to ask you, because I know you work with men and and Morgan works with women, I have historically worked mostly with women, but I adore working with men and have started working with men more and more. And I. So I have, we live in a society where, where obviously, there’s male privilege, but at the same time, I think, man, men are hurt by our patriarchal systems as well. And I think in part, we don’t always allow men to feel their feelings. And I think that is some of the wounding that ends up hurting women even more, and it ends up in this weird cycle that like we have to be able to break out of together, somehow. Yeah. And so. So I know that you have a group of girlfriends, and I know that you work with men. And so my question is around. Do you feel like, do you feel like we’re actually teaching women to be able to hold space for men? And I asked this, I have struggling asking this because, because I don’t want to make it seem like it’s yet another women’s burden to take care of everything. But I do think we have a responsibility to our male masculine counterparts to allow them to express feelings. So so the question again, then is, do you feel like we’re teaching our women how to adequately hold space for men to express their feelings?

Ron Cecil 38:21
Hmm, that is a great question. I’m going to say no, and, and at the same time, I’m going to say, but that’s also not their burden. And in that, A, if there is a burden to be had, it is to have as fresh of eyes as they can possibly have for the men in their life, to change. where change is possible, a person can be different, and to release the judgment and, and resentment and obligation that we feel towards the other, like they there, they will be changed when they look like whatever I think they need to look like in my mind. And and I think that’s really hard to do when you’ve been wounded by real things, right? Like if a if a woman has been wounded and they are off you know, often we can think that the person is incapable of doing that. You hit the nail on the head about men being unable to feel their feelings and I think that is the the primary reason we number one are afraid to be who we truly want to be. Right. And number two leads to all of the ways that we numb out on on, you know, pick your poison. Like that. Yeah, because we because we know it’s effective and effectively removes us from having to face the real pain of our life. And until you are to until you allow yourself to experience The real pain of your life. And I, I tend to believe that doing that in front of a woman is is necessary sometimes, but the real healing happens being seen in front of other men. And the reason why is because it’s so vulnerable, it’s so easy to be to expect a lover to be a mother like to switch over into that thing. And those two, they can, like, you know, I’ve participated in it fucking loved it, my, you know, my dad’s like, was an addict for that situation. And it’s good in the moment, it’s so good in the moment, right. And then it, there is not the necessary elements to grow into heal, it’s never, it’s good that it happens. And I think it’s completely right for a guy to be vulnerable in front of, of a woman and I, there’s all kinds of versions of this, like friendship and lasting marriages and, and partnerships, and all, you know, so, I know, it could sound a little blanketly, you know, stated, and I’m not trying to do that. I think that the power of being seen, is so necessary, and the power of of saying and stating that your pain and what has happened to you and what and, and to state, the kind of person that you really want to be is so necessary to feel your feelings, to move through healing. And, and, and one of the wonderful things with that, that Morgan and I have, like, consciously and and unconsciously done for one another is is stuck to a belief that things can begin again, like life can begin again. And is shitty as she and I have been to each other. And we’ve been plenty shitty together, because we’ve just have lived together for long enough. We’re always rooting for one another. And I think we’re always rooting for the best of one another. I don’t know if that answered your question or not. But But

Alyssa Patmos 42:08
It does! And it leads to lead me to another thought? Because I agree that I agree that I liked what you said about it not being their burden? Because ultimately I think it is it is we each each of us, like women have to break free of it from the systems that are placed on us men have to break free of it from the systems placed on them and be able to find ourselves into and to I mean, I mean, the the the call, in that sense is to is to allow yourself to to experience who you really are. And sometimes that’s freaking uncomfortable. I think sometimes what I have noticed is that women at first, I’m going to rewind, the thing that you said about women switching to the mother role is really interesting, too, because, you know, that’s the role where women can play the natural people pleaser and like can be very nurturing. I think there’s a way to hold space for a man without taking on the mother role as well. But it requires some boundaries. Yeah, but well said, yeah, one. One thing that I have noticed is that I think sometimes like women carry around a lot of resentment around not being able to feel their feelings, we can be really harsh in shutting down when a man is trying to be vulnerable.

Ron Cecil 43:25
And do you think that’s because they don’t feel permission to also be vulnerable?

Alyssa Patmos 43:30
Yes, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s where we get into some seriously shitty conflict in relationships. Because one of my favorite definitions of conflict and like, I can’t remember, I can’t remember which book this is from or who said it, but it’s that conflict as an unmet need poorly expressed. And when Jeff and I read that, I think he’s actually the one who told me about it. And when we adopted that into our relationship, it became so much easier to loosen up tension when it arises, because it’s like, what’s the need? What’s the underlying need here? Yeah, it changed how we can communicate. And I think sometimes when we get so tightly wound in our own wounds, and we’re avoiding the work of unwinding them, then we we put that hurt on other people and we’re like, Who are you to get to express any of your pain when I’m sitting over here in pain and I don’t know how to get it out of me.

Unknown Speaker 44:36
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I, I’m hesitant to say anything because it’s a sometimes we carry a story about ourself that we project onto others There’s and, and we think I love what you just said, like, I don’t even know how to get it out of me. And I’m resentful that you can. And, and I’m pissed off that you have access to like some part of you that I clearly don’t have in myself. Yeah, honestly, Alyssa, I mean, if there’s if there’s like, I have been really good at being a the kind of person that can pull that out of other people really well and ignore in myself. Right, which I’m sure a lot of folks in the health industries do. Yes. Yeah. And, and it’s, and I think if we could all come to a place where we all realize that everyone it’s like a birthright a human right to feel our feelings, and to be safe and feeling our feelings. And if you don’t feel safe in the relationship, then that’s probably a good signal to find safety somewhere else, right?

Alyssa Patmos 46:10
Agreed. And I would add that I’m not sure that we’re ever going to feel totally safe until we can do it for ourselves. Yeah. Yeah. Which is, but but there are people there, like, you know, the guide, can’t hike, Mount Everest for me. But I would definitely need a guide. Yeah. By myself, and so there are people who can help pull it out. But ultimately, like, have to be willing to do it for ourselves. But I loved what you said about people in the helping professions, because I think it’s so true. Like we can so often deflect feeling, what were what we’re wanting to feel and go in and just help other people. And I think that can cultivate resentment. I think people can feel it when we do that. And so I know that I’ve had to make a commitment. I’m like, I want to be a clear mirror all the time for my clients. And, and it doesn’t always happen. There’s things that catch me off guard, but then when it does, I have a commitment to go working on it to go to go work on it, because because otherwise, we do get stuck in that trap where it is easy to use, even helping other people as a deflection or a distraction. thing, just like alcohol is for some other people.

Ron Cecil 47:35
Yeah, yeah. 110%.

Alyssa Patmos 47:40
So for what you’re saying around men being witnessed by other men, women, women tend to do that a lot. There, there are different dynamics that happen in women’s groups, but I have a I have a friend who runs a men’s group here in in Denver. And I think there is something really powerful about men being witnessed by each other. I think the whole the the interesting piece is that I’ve noticed, sometimes when men get in that setting, though, it’s so achievement focused, rather than that, and then and then they, they want to give advice, rather than sitting in it together. And so, so I know you have experience, you know, guiding men through pieces of this. So if a man was interested in tapping into this a little bit more, which there I’ve met, I can just imagine a man driving right now listening to this and slightly rolling his eyes as I say that, but I have faith, I have faith that that, that there are spaces where this can start to open up for more and more men because how I’ve experienced the benefits I’ve experienced in a man being willing to that in my own relationship are magnificent. And so so being able to open it up from more men, I think only leads to more intimacy, which is what so many of us are seeking. So how, what what’s a good way to start? I’m trying to think of a basic question here. But what’s what’s a good way to start so that it’s not just this? Here, let me give you advice. I have to know the answer. I have to fix it. And hey, actually, like I can, I can sit in these feelings with you and like what’s going on for you as a human and like, how does one start to be vulnerable around their male friends?

Ron Cecil 49:40
That’s a great question. The it’s scary as hell guys it’s really scary to tell people what you’re really feeling and really experiencing and your shortcomings. It’s so scary. And and your nervous system is telling you you’re gonna die if you do it and Your nervous system has no differentiation between an actual threat like an actual person or thing in front of you. You know, example in my life I 2019 I speed climbed halftone, which is a big wall, take note takes more, it takes people around three days to climb it and I did it 19 hours. And in the in the reason I in part of the reason I did that was I like I was less safe than the people who do it in three days, I used less gear and things like that. And there was moments where I was like, this is this could be disastrous, and, and yet it paid off, right, there was risk. And, and the it’s the same thing and friendship is like this, I think the first moment you really tell someone what you’re going through is that is the first big step into authenticity. And, and that might be like, admitting you’re really struggling in your marriage or, or with substance addiction or with or even just not knowing what you’re doing in your job. Like, like I’ve run into people where they just I’m like, I don’t know why I’m here, I don’t know why they hired me at any moment, they’re gonna figure this out, and they’re gonna eject me and I’m gonna get fired. And, and the more we can like, find whatever is the thing that feels like the scariest, most tender thing and allow someone to see us that way. It’s the first step. And then there’s many, many, many more steps after that, but the first is deciding that vulnerability is actually going to help you where we live in a society that the the unspoken. Contracts are, do not be weak, do not show your weakness, show your strength and power at all times. And I think that patriarchal idea is poisonous, in all regards top to bottom left to right adjacent in it inside out everywhere, that that are impenetrable fortresses of solitude are actually going to be the things they’re gonna do us in. And in for most men, unfortunately. And maybe most people, I don’t coach women, so I don’t know, you know, and I have limited experience. This is a few women in my life, but most men are gonna fucking burn it to the ground before they decide to change. And because they can get away with it, right they can, they can get away with driving around on the ball tires, they can get away with putting the gas in their car that’s not good enough, they can get away with eating really shitty for a long time, they can get away with putting in a lot of hours for a long time, they can get away with their secret stuff for a long time, because it’s not there’s not an immediate what’s the word I’m looking for? There’s not an immediate consequence, right. But over time, I’ll use my dad as a great example, over time, two packs a day from the time he was 14 to 40. And not eating healthy and not exercising and all that other stuff led to a massive heart attack that required open heart surgery in 1990, that back then it was not a nice procedure, where they would take the arteries out of your legs and, you know, kind of poke you back together. And instead of that being a wake up call for him where he thought, Okay, I’m going to stop smoking, but I get healthy and all that stuff. He continued to do it, and it eventually killed him. And he told he told somebody I know I’m dying, I know that I’m having a heart attack. This is when he was in his 50s and I’m going to let it happen. And, and that is where most men will have some kind of experience in there where they know it’s going down and they know the car sideways. They know it’s happening. Not dumb. We’re not dumb. We’re just scared shitless, we don’t know what to do.

And, and I think the first step is like the is the is the pushing through that fear of vulnerability and saying it out loud. Like, Hey, man, I’m not doing good. I’m really hurting. I’m really in a lot of pain, or I’m really afraid. And generally speaking, I think if a person can dedicate themselves to doing that in a day, and then maybe again, like within the same week, and expecting good things to begin to appear it will. It will you know, I have a podcast called cutting for sine. And that phrase means looking for the clues that you’re after. You know, it’s an old Hunter phrase when you’re when they’re tracking the deer or the elk or whatever or the footprint. You know, it’s the broken twig like, look, we need those clues in our life. Poliquin calls them omens in the alchemist, you know, that are telling us hey, I’m on the right path. I need to do this.

Alyssa Patmos 54:54

Ron Cecil 54:55
Yes, yeah.

Alyssa Patmos 54:56
Right because the cost that the cost may not be as apparent for men in the way that society is currently structured, because we’re so achievement based. So as long as you keep achieving as long as you can have the masking, you’re just like performing you can achieve like, the cost isn’t as apparent. But there is a deep, deep, deep cost to your soul. And to who, who you feel like you, you could actually actually be. And I see, the reason why I started working with men is because I started to see so many parallels between the women I was working with and hearing things about men, we use different language around them. But the thing for me is that this is just so deeply human. There are differences in the house. For me, there’s differences in how I would approach something with a man versus how I would approach something with with a woman or someone who identifies as a man or a woman. Yeah, there are differences in the how, for me, but the what is so similar, you know, women try to get rid of, of good girl conditioning, we feel like we’ve, we owe it to the world to be good. But then there are men who feel like they owe it to the world to be the nice guy. And those are very similar rooted things, but different language based on based on how they’ve grown up. And so for me, there’s this bridge that I think is really important for us to learn how to be human in front of each other. Yeah, which may sound completely idealistic, but I don’t care. I think it’s so important. I think it’s so important for us to learn how to be human in front of each other, so that we stop turning each other into freaking robots.

Ron Cecil 56:58
Mm hmm. Yeah, perceiving the judgment as a roadblock, when it could be like the expressway, right? Like, where I if I, if I say this thing that I think you’re going to judge me for, and it stops everything, instead, I’m going to say it and and believe that you’re going to not only hear it, you’re going to accept it and like, provide safety, in that, in that living out loud, what I am suddenly becomes a superpower suddenly becomes an accelerator.

Alyssa Patmos 57:32
Right, and then on the freeway, and we all get to be free ourselves. I love that metaphor. That’s so spot on. And I think that the, the, the hardest part of that is, is you know, like oftentimes, business and, and our relationships are our greatest mirrors. And so you know, a lot of times women and men now are turning towards business. And that’s where that’s where we see so much of our shit come up. But there’s also our relationships and and sometimes we segmented off as like, Oh, this is just how it’s supposed to be. But it doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t have to be like that. And I think people having the courage to embrace vulnerability, and to own the truth of who they are. And let that be okay. First, like, that’s the important piece of, of individuation. Because if we don’t have that piece where we feel whole on our own, then it is less safe to be vulnerable. But if we can know that we’re okay on our own, then we can be vulnerable in that knowing that we can hold our own safety, then that’s where the intimacy comes in. Because we’re no longer just having this unconscious goal of protection. We can move towards shared connection and and I know that that’s what Jeff and I strive for, and I see it in, in your and Morgan’s relationship as well. And it just sucks that as a society we don’t share what’s behind closed doors so often and so we don’t know the similarities going on.

Ron Cecil 59:14
Yeah, to your point, I think we’re probably a hell of a lot similar in every regard with everybody than we are dissimilar. And at the core is like the the fear of being seen right? Like it’s really telling the world like who we are. And and so we we become nice guys or good girls, or we become like over producers or some version of you know, are we hide completely and just disappear and want to be annihilated by whatever we’re giving ourselves over to? And and at its core is this fear of being seen and being like who we really are? And, and then there’s this also like, cult of like self personality, where, where it’s easy to be cynical about that idea like, like, Oh, if you just become who you are, then you’re gonna get everything in your life. And, and we see people who say that and they’re kind and they might be really easy to judge and really easy to poke holes in if they’re especially if like a celebrity status in that world. And, and, and then and then we just are stuck with like, Well fuck it, nothing’s gonna work because you know, I don’t want to be like that person I don’t be like that guy or girl who’s who’s obviously selling snake oil or whatever, whatever our cynicism or our judgment might have. And I think the tough thing is, is that vulnerability part when you’re asking, like, what’s the first step? Gosh, I think our nervous systems, it takes so long to unwind that we often have to act as if it’s true, even though our bodies and minds don’t believe it’s true. And that is, that is a decision that has to be made before we even say the vulnerable thing. And, and it might blow up on our faces a few times. Right? There’s a verse in it, there’s, it’s said several times in the New Testament by Jesus, and he says, Don’t throw your pearls before swine, and Woody, and there’s a lot of speculation what that might mean. But essentially, is don’t put your valuable stuff in front of somebody who’s not going to value it. And and that’s a tough thing, because we might want to go talk to a parent and say, Mom, Dad, you didn’t give me the things I needed. You know, fuck off, kid grow up. You know, they’re not a safe place all the time. Sometimes they are. Yeah, yeah. So that’s, that’s, it’s a it’s a, it’s not easy, it’s fraught with danger. If there will be blood. There will definitely be blood. And yet, it’s like you have to go through the dark forest, you have to go through the brambles and all of those things in order to get through this stuff. And, and, and I think the other way is the Alissa’s and Ron’s, and Morgan’s and all of the millions of other people that that are like us and go, Hey, guys, we have tasted the success of vulnerability. And it’s good. And there’s healing and wholeness on the other side of it, and it doesn’t have to look like what you think it looks like. And it doesn’t have to be what you think it’s going to be. In fact, I’m a strong believer that like the universe, is going to give you exactly what is right for you, if you’re willing to see it and willing to receive it, and it’s going to delight your heart, and it’s going to feel good, even when it feels bad. And it’s gonna have it’s gonna it’s gonna feel fun. And, and once my brain realized it could be fun. It did become fun. It took a long fucking time to realize that though.

Alyssa Patmos 1:02:57
Yeah, I had the same thing. There was a switch at one point where it was like, oh, like, Okay, this is a lifestyle now. And it can be joyful. And the amount of joy I experience when I choose this as a lifestyle is so much more than when I wasn’t that now, even when it’s deeply freaking painful, which it is at times. Yeah, there’s still there’s, there’s more safety and resilience, knowing that that’s transitory. And that’s not going to last forever. And that’s the gift that comes when you decide to do it over and over again, even if you’ve been burned sometimes, because we start to collect that new evidence. And eventually that builds up into new into new levels. And it takes courage. And it sucks at times. But you can start to laugh about it. So-

Ron Cecil 1:03:51
I mean, I’m laughing now because it Yeah, it’s all those things. Like it’s scary as fuck, and it’s like, painful as fuck sometimes, right? Like, it is so painful and scary. And yet we can look at one another and laugh and have this like shared experience. It’s like, in a way Alyssa, like, you and I have shared intimacy that only comes from the the journey that we’ve been on. And and it’s like, Oh, you were in a car wreck. I was in a car wreck. Like, right? Like, you know what it’s like, you know what it’s like, like you were bullied, I was bullied you or whatever it is, and and when we’re able to not have any judgment of ourselves or experiencing it. And we’re not holding anyone else’s. You know, I’m not holding judgment onto you for whatever, like, all the sudden we can laugh about it and suddenly, you and I are I’m using you and I as examples for other people to go to realize like there are friendships available to you. And there are relationships available to you that are going to build you up. You and I have known each other for one hour for have 10 minutes and 53 seconds. And, and we have like a shared common like, affection for one another and belief that life can be better for the rest of the listeners, right, because we’ve been through it. And we’re going through it and we know that it’s not over. And we know that it’s going to continue to take more work and continue to take more vulnerability. And, and that’s why we can smile.

Alyssa Patmos 1:05:27
It is, and, and I love that I don’t I don’t think I have – I think that’s a good way to to wrap this up. Because I don’t I don’t know that I have anything to add to I think that was beautifully said. And I think that when we commit, I think it’s a commitment to ourselves when we truly commit to ourselves, different pathways open up that allow us to see who are who are the other people who might be committing to themselves. Yeah, and and I think that’s a beautiful thing. So for anyone listening, if you want to continue the conversation come join us there’s a whole community of people inside the convey collective you can come over to Alyssa forward slash community. And then if you want to get more of run around the web, he mentioned he has a podcast so can you say the name of that one more time and where people can find you, Ron

Ron Cecil 1:06:26
Yeah, Cutting for Sign, any, any podcast platform. We’ll have it to Spotify, or Apple Podcasts will have it.

Alyssa Patmos 1:06:34
Awesome, all the places.

Ron Cecil 1:06:35
Soon we’ll have a YouTube channel.

Alyssa Patmos 1:06:37

Ron Cecil 1:06:38
Or just search my name Ron Cecil, yeah.

Alyssa Patmos 1:06:41
Great. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for this this conversation.

Ron Cecil 1:06:45
Thank you. It’s my pleasure. Really, really appreciate it.

Alyssa Patmos 1:06:50
You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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