Entries by Ryan Berg

Psychotherapy Has Profoundly Deepened My Sleep

As the whole world knows by now, I am a patient and advocate of psychotherapy. And ever since about nine months into treatment, there was a major shift. There have been several major, profound life-changing positive shifts in my outlook, behavior, and feelings so far — but there’s one I’m particularly grateful for…

I Understand Your Deep Sadness

A few days ago I was having a really rough time emotionally, feeling heartbroken.  To be up front, today isn’t all that glorious either.  Things periodically get difficult since I’m currently in psychotherapy talking about very painful things – not to mention the fact that I’m human and inherently vulnerable to a universal spectrum of suffering.

The Heartbreak of Leaving the Marine Corps

Just a few hours prior, I sat in the confines of a fluorescent lit conference room with 3 field grade officers, all built like brick shithouses, chizzled, professional, determined, yet compassionate, staring back at me.  They had just stated their verdict that I would be discharged from the Marine Corps.  Honorably, but discharged nonetheless.  “Do you have anything you want to say, Sergeant?”

The Damaging Affects of Patriarchy

When I was in Iraq, I saw men holding hands all the time. As you might imagine, most of us Marines assumed there was something homosexual about doing this, and all sorts of jokes sprung up as a result. After more than ten years, and a lot of personal reflection, I’m not so sure that I believe this anymore. I’m more inclined to think that Iraqi men were simply comfortable with openly loving one another. Damn, that must feel good…

Pain Is Never Weakness Leaving the Body

…You walk into your bedroom and clang your pinky toe on the sturdy, round wooden leg of the bed frame. A mind-numbing ache ascends instantly from your foot to your skull. You lie down on your mattress and clinch hard your eyelids as you whisper hateful obscenities. The pangs climax into one loud verbal curse. The pain pulses, but the worst is over, and a little laugh slips out for there is mercy after all…

As a U.S. Marine Infantryman, Psychotherapy Has Made Me Even Stronger

The experience of therapy was new to me.  I wasn’t used to someone listening.  To caring.  To someone asking questions about my feelings, and affirming the validity of them.  To someone simply being present as I cried about hurtful events in my life.  We talked a lot about my early years (still do) as a child and adolescent. We painstakingly went back to moments when I was physically abused as a child. The horror. The shame. The embarrassment. The intense physical pain I endured as a little boy. The abandonment I felt by my mother. All of that, and more. My early experiences and relationships have had a profound impact on my life, and becoming aware of those influences – and talking about them – has helped me to understand and see myself more clearly, and dynamically, and take steps in directions that make me happier. Even without specifically memorable trauma, I have learned that our parents, family members, and others we had contact with, can have lasting effects on how we relate to ourselves and the world.

Thank God for Emotional Pain

“Thank God for emotional pain”… was a thought that I had as I entered the park on an afternoon walk a few weeks ago. “Wait, what?”, I said to myself internally. “Did I really just utter that?” Something within me stood resolute and firm. Was their truth to this utterance? I sat down on the bench in the park as a deeply intense sadness pulsed through my body, and a warmth took over my skull. Do you know the kind?

I Stopped Smoking Weed and I’ve Never Felt Happier

So I smoked in college, after I graduated, and off an on when I entered professional life.  I would quit because I felt ashamed, and then fire back up again.  It became a vicious cycle.  I realize now that this viciousness was a result of my unconscious desire to avoid difficult emotions – not to mention the fact that the habit was engineered into my brain as an acceptable response to life-difficulties by my mother who provided it to me at an impressionable young age.

I was addicted to numbing, yet I didn’t realize it.  I loved marijuana.  Literally, it was how I felt better about myself, life, my feelings, and everything in between.  Even as I entered psychotherapy a few years ago, I would show up stoned, pretend I wasn’t, and act like I was doing the work I needed to be doing.  Perhaps I was in some way – you know manifesting my issues in front of a therapist – as a way to resolved them. 

Veterans’ Next Mission: Topple Patriarchy, Reduce Suicides

As Veterans, we know all to well what it means to suck it up.  “Embrace the suck” has become so common place that we often live our lives from this place, and even tell our friends in one way or another, to do just that.  But what actually are we embracing here?  Are we embracing ourselves in a manner that leads to our own happiness, or are we simply trying to love what our lives have become, without calling any of it into question?