Aug 02 2016

Victories 2016: Acknowledging the Positives

I have a lot of experience in what’s called the “men’s work” field in the Chicago area. Most of my experience is with the Victories of the Heart, formerly known as the Men’s Room.

While it’s somewhat known my 2006-2008 involvement and ending with Victories was problematic, it does not reflect on this organization’s efforts to offer quality programs.

The two founding leaders, Bob Mark and Buddy Portugal (deceased)and the second leadership team, Paul Kachoris and Kevin Fitzpatrick are/were creative and effective therapists and workshop leaders. They are/were charismatic men who changed many men’s lives and their loved ones’ lives for the better.

This does not mean  they were perfect and I discuss some of the difficulties I had with these men in other writing. It’s been many years since I was actively involved and the men who are in key leadership positions have made positive changes.

The woman on the Board is a well known and highly respected therapist, teacher and author. Her input and influence is certain to enhance the organization and programs.

Since 2008, there have been many positive changes in the organization which I am very happy to see and acknowledge. These changes include:

    • movement towards a team style of leadership
    • leadership training and development
    • sensitivity and reduction of the dual-relationship problem within the organization
    • improvement in the support group program
    • development of ethics policies and standards.
    • inclusion of women on the Board
    • more diverse programs, especially the Couples weekend and Shame workshops

It’s true I have been most critical of the transition from Victories as a private practice and Victories Shadow weekend. This is based on my personal experience, participation as a leader and Board member, and my knowledge about neuroscience, especially the way our brains store trauma memory.

The specific neuroscience concepts I refer to include priming, implicit vs. explicit memory, context and state dependent memory and the function of the amygdala. You can find some of these research based ideas on my website here.

A recent phone conversation has led me to believe the Shadow program has been redesigned and might be a good program to attend.

I loved the Breakthrough weekend, the Mankind Project’s Warrior weekend and also enjoyed the Victories Wisdom Years weekend. After I attended the Wisdom years weekend in Boston, I told some of the staff guys I was looking forward to volunteering to staff the Wisdom years.

My plans to volunteer on a Wisdom years weekend was dashed by my decision to resign from the organization after several years of watching the key, powerful original leader teams ignore and divert the 2004 Strategic plan.

I have never published anything negative about those programs. I experienced them and thought about them for many years.
I have encouraged many men to attend these programs, including my cousin’s participation in the Philadelphia Warrior weekend. It was life-changing for both of us and our families.

When I say I wish I had not participated in “men’s work”, I refer to my own unique brain and trauma related problems. Men’s work had a lot of moving parts, sharp elbows, and fragile egos. Men’s work can be enormously stressful and this was not healthy for my vulnerable brain. I know this from diagnostic Brain scans taken a few years ago.

It would have been better for me to practice more yoga.

I’m shortening this post to just say I see the volunteer Board moving the organization in a very positive direction. I listed the specific positive changes above, and I’m sure there are many others I am not aware of.

For some reason now, I’m remembering how I was asked to “roast” Kurt at his 60th birthday party. I teased him  by saying he would bring several bottles of shampoo to camp  and the squirrels would follow him around because he wore a cologne called “muskrat love!”

I remember Kurt laughing with his full-bodied, deep laugh when I was teasing him. I realized then it must have been so much fun for Kurt, one of the most powerful lawyers in the country, and certainly the most powerful Victories figure, to have his friends tease him in such a loving way.

We had some amazingly good times then. Kurt enabled me and many other guys to become leaders.  I was only one of the guys who Kurt was devoted to and did his best to love and support. This makes me a very fortunate person.

I have promised to write more and will do so. I hope this offers some balance to previous writing I have done on this topic.

One response so far

One Response to “Victories 2016: Acknowledging the Positives”

  1. […] Addendum: There is an almost completely new Victories Board which has corrected some of my concerns, so this should be read as an historical document from 2011. You can read my update on positive Victory changes here. Here are important ethical and program related questions for the VOH Board to explore: […]

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