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Aug. 31, 2022

Episode 42: Pursuing Wholeness Beyond an Alcoholic/Rageaholic Father with Connard Hogan

Episode 42: Pursuing Wholeness Beyond an Alcoholic/Rageaholic Father with Connard Hogan

🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶

🎶 Episode Intro: It's a pleasure today to welcome Connard Hogan to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast.  I am your host, Melissa. Ebken. Today, we hear a story about what it was like growing up in a home with  a raging alcoholic or rageaholic, as Conard says, father. What it was like as a child, the isolation he felt and what we can do to be people who provide safe spaces for others growing up in this situation. And if you are growing up in this situation, how you can reach out and find some resources to support you as you move forward. As always, if you'd like to leave a question, a comment, or keep the conversation going head over to melissaebken.com/blog. Let's welcome Connard Hogan. 🎶

Melissa Ebken  0:01  
Connard Hogan welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you doing today, friend? 


Connard Hogan  0:07  
I'm doing well, Melissa, thank you call me Connard.

Melissa Ebken  0:11  
Connard let's start that again. I've said that to myself about 50 times before we started. Alright, right. Connard, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. I'm so excited. You're here today. How are you doing? 

Connard Hogan  0:27  
Thank you. I'm doing good, Melissa. It's nice to be with you. And it's morning my time, but probably afternoon, yours. So good day.

Melissa Ebken  0:35  
It's noon, actually. All right. Yeah, we're recording this at the end of July. And it's nice and balmy outside today. But it's perfectly comfortable here in our studio, and I'm using air quotes as I identify my space as the studio. Someday I'll show a behind the scenes picture on the blog. But Connard I know you're not here to hear about my filming setup. Let's talk about what you are doing and what you're up to. You're an author, you got a lot going on. What are you working on right now? 

Connard Hogan  1:13  
That. I was just going to start with that comment. I've got a lot going on. At times I feel overwhelmed, even though I've been retired for 15 years, let's see Wait, maybe? Yeah, about 17 years now, I think. Most recently, I've been focusing on my writing. I started writing probably 30 years ago, but never really got anywhere with it and had hoped for getting published. But when. But over the time, I did put effort into working on my writing skills and wrote a couple of manuscripts, and during COVID lock down decided that it was time for me to get off, get off it and do something with that. As I get older, I have less time of course. And then I didn't. I decided I had been procrastinating because of my fear and feeling overwhelmed with all the complications of things like social media. So I hired a social media consultant and started working on that. Developed a website and got it up and running about a year and a half ago now. And then once I got that going and felt more comfortable with my social media profiles, and et cetera, decided it was time for me to publish. So I went for self publishing through a publishing authority, a hybrid publishe,r to get something done. Because frankly, I got tired of feeling rejected by agents and whatnot. And I felt the work was good enough to be published and that people would be interested in reading it. And it's a memoir about my childhood with an alcoholic binging alcoholic-rageaholic father who beat my mother, and that was a tough time. But anyway, we'll get into that more later. Um, ah,

Melissa Ebken  3:13  
Yeah. And before we jump into the book, but I can't wait to talk about your book. Let's talk about that story behind the book. What was it like growing up in that environment?

Connard Hogan  3:28  
Well, it was. I was terrified a lot of time. I think for young children. Well, any child or anyone who doesn't have the resources to feel like they have any, any choices to advocate for themselves or set boundaries for themselves, they're going to feel overwhelmed, and they're going to have a lot of fear. But it was also sad for me to see that happening. I didn't like it. I think all I think humans basically want a peaceful environment. Even once their newborn, they want a peaceful environment. They know when they're uncomfortable about something that obviously they can't put it in words, and they may not even have a conceptualization in their mind, because of their lack of growth at that point. But I think we all intuit what what's comfortable, so I knew something was wrong. From day one. I didn't know what to do about it. I felt helpless. That was another piece of this. I felt helpless. I grew up in the 50s at a time and it's probably not that much different now. Although there's a lot more resources. At then it was about within the family with our nuclear family and the scuttlebutt, or or generally speaking, it was don't air your dirty laundry in public. So we didn't talk about it to other family members. We didn't talk about it in open with anybody. Didn't even talk about it with my grandparents. Once I was in school, I didn't know didn't have the I didn't conceptualize the opportunity to talk about it in school. So that wasn't even an option for me to ventilate or seek support or outreach there. So there was quite an isolation feeling with it. And I wouldn't call it a loneliness. But when you harbor a secret, it does put up a boundary for you that I think it does create a loneliness or an aloneness, a lack of connection with people. I was connected to my mother emotionally and my brother who's four and a half years younger than me, because we were experiencing a similar, we were sharing an experience. And my dad was too, but he was quite different from him, kind of on the other side of that coin. But other than that, I didn't know that anybody could really that I could reach out to talk to anybody, that they would really understand it, that there was anything I could do. Other than I spent a lot of time observing, I became an observer. And this happens a lot for trauma individuals, I think, to become hyper vigilant of the environment, quite sensitive to the cues, and and began asking myself, What could I do? What part could I play in this to stop it or prevent it? Change it? So for years, I was looking at, well, what can I do? What can I do? What can I do? And then the book I have talked about several times, as I'm growing, maturing, not only physically but emotionally and mentally. My brain maturing. I mean, by that. I began to take more steps in the intervention process, it was kind of a natural progression for me to do that, although I don't know that any one person in a similar situation would do the same things. There was some choices that I had I had made. But I was growing in my confidence, I was growing in my willingness to confront my fear of what might happen when I took certain actions of the consequences of that. And over time, I think you see that in the book that I that I did become more confrontive and worked with my brother, and in some cases, my mother to begin to intervene in that, and it did change over time. But whether or not what I did, personally had that much effect on it, I don't know. And yet, on the other hand, it doesn't matter. I did what I could, I felt some power in that. But I still had some helpless helplessness about it. And then as I didn't handle it all that well, frankly, there were times I had difficulty with the anger that I was incorporating, partly from the role modeling I saw from my father, but I couldn't I didn't have a way to express it. So I did express it in some very inappropriate ways I'm not proud of and and several of those instances are in the book too. Then, once I got to the age of just beyond college, when I dropped out, after a year and a half was drafted in the army. I think that's really when my physical emancipation began, although I was kind of working toward that prior. And then after I was discharged from the army, went back to college, finished my bachelor's degree in Kentucky, which is where this all takes place. And I grew up, I moved to California. So I think I further distanced myself physically from that, but over time, and then I became a marriage and family therapist, and then over time, after a lot of self searching, and analysis and talking and so on, began to understand more about this process and came to accept that not only was I and my brother and my mother are victims, we were perpetrators in a sense, and my father was a victim as well, because he was abused or not abused, but he was traumatized. Probably as a child in the family he grew up in but he also ended up in World War II in the Navy in the Pacific, and he told me a few snippets. He wasn't a very open guy. He was pretty secretive about his, his person and feelings, but he had some traumatic experiences with some of the some of the marine landings on the islands in the Pacific. So he was traumatized. And I think that his drinking and rage-aholism was his way of trying to deal with that self medicate and deal with that. And obviously, he didn't do a very good job of it, but I accept he did the best he could.

Melissa Ebken  10:24  
Okay, I hear people that grow up in abusive situations often echo that they just assume that everyone is. That when we're children, we often assume our normal is everyone's normal. Was there an age when you realized that your household was different from others?

Connard Hogan  10:45  
Well, I wondered about that for the longest time, because I couldn't look into other people's minds. I couldn't, I couldn't be the fly on the wall in their home. As I got a little older in school, I, you know, swap staying over with other guys in my classes. It became more obvious thean. I thought, from pretty early on, something is off here, something's amiss. I wasn't getting the cues or clues from other people when we would go visit family members or friends. Or they wouldn't, they wouldn't say to me, Oh, my dad's this or blah, blah, blah going on there a problem in our family. And so it, I just had that sense early on. This wasn't normal, but I couldn't prove it. And I questioned it a lot. It was one little scene in the book, where I'm talking about that when I'm looking at a Norman Rockwell drawing of a country boy on a calendar. So I didn't think it was normal. But I couldn't prove it to myself. I knew it was odd or off the wall. But I just didn't know how much.

Melissa Ebken  11:59  
You mentioned once that he didn't have the option really, that it never manifest for you the ability to verbalize what was happening at school. If you had been able to do that, in your context. And in your day, do you think there would have been resources there for you,

Connard Hogan  12:15  
There may have been someone personally who took an interest in it that I could talk to. But beyond that, I don't think there would be any outreach from that reaching into my home to deal with it. There was an episode as probably pretty much true today. Unfortunately, that there was a domestic call, or a call about a domestic dispute, which is in the book. And the police came and talked with us for, I don't know, five minutes and left. And that was the end of that. So its like what good is that gonna do? I there was nothing specifically ever said, advertised on TV or in the paper that I saw, or mentioned in any circles that I ran in about. Yeah, if you have a problem, come and talk with us. And we'll get your support. And you can do counseling, you have something you know, none of that. None of that that did if it didn't, if it did exist, I certainly never heard about it or found out about it. Of course, now we're talking between the years of early 50s up to about mid 60s.

Melissa Ebken  13:20  
If someone is living that reality right now, if they're a young person, still in school, how would you advise them to speak out to someone?

Connard Hogan  13:31  
It may vary from person to person. But I think starting the process is important, and it can kind of snowball, but maybe a trusted family member, perhaps a teacher at school or a counselor at school, or if they're involved in a church setting or religion, talking with someone they can trust there in authority. Talking to other children probably isn't going to do much. Even if they're in their teen years, those aren't the best resources to go to, it's probably going to have to be an adult. So I'd say it's someone that that they could trust, that would keep their confidence and not immediately go back to the parent or parents or whoever is the perpetrator or instigating the problem. That would just that would just wreck things. You know, that would not only ruin their trust, but that would probably escalate the problem. So I'd say someone that they can trust who's an adult. A grandparents are probably good unless that's coming from the grandparent. Hard to say for sure. But again, to give a one and a one answer fits all is a little riskier, so I'd have to qualify it with that.

Melissa Ebken  15:00  
What would you want that young person to know?

Connard Hogan  15:04  
They can overcome it. It doesn't have to last forever, it won't last forever. There are people out there that will listen to them that will understand them, that will care about them that will give them not only acceptance, but acknowledgement, or reassurance that, you know, they're entitled to what they feel, what they're, and their interpretation of what they're experiencing. And that over time, if they stay connected and work with other people and communicating those things, then it can get better. They can relieve their fear, their sadness, their anger, their loneliness. And so they can make a difference, they can begin to change it. But they have to start within themselves, they can't just immediately go to the source of the problem and intervene and stop it from there. It's an inside job. In other words.

Melissa Ebken  16:09  
Something you said really piqued my attention earlier, when you were telling about your story, you mentioned that there was a point where you were still in that situation, still a minor living in your parents home. But you started to gain confidence. And often I hear the opposite, that people just keep losing confidence in that situation. What do you think made the difference for you to gain confidence in yourself?

Connard Hogan  16:37  
Well, I think part of it was my mother. She kept fighting the problem. Now, with alcoholism, you call that codependency, and it doesn't help a lot. But she kept fighting. That was the one thing she never gave up and gave in. She kept fighting for what she thought was right, then I had the support of her and my mother and talking I mean, my brother and talking about it. But I think beyond that, the role modeling and unconditional love from both sets of my grandparents, particularly my mother's parents, and the visits, we went to the farm where I could see the role modeling and the interactions that my youngest uncle, my mother's youngest brother, and his parents, my grandparents, and their interactions with my mother and back and forth there and my interactions with them and their treatment of me that there is something better there is. You know, things things get better. And it's not. It's not always that one way that you're having that problem. I mean, in other circumstances, think with other people or situations things are different. It's not, it's not always it's not everyone is not like it's it's things are different. And it can be better. I hope I answered that question.

Melissa Ebken  17:59  
Yeah, hope played a big part for you.

Connard Hogan  18:02  
Well, you also I would add it was it was incremental. And it wasn't always a steady progress. Sometimes I'd take a step back or two, I would suppose I can't recall anything offhand. But there was a lot of little instances that you could see in the book, that I kind of gained confidence here and a little bit more there. And so it was a gradual process. It wasn't like a sudden realization or a sudden awakening. It was like coming out of a it was like dawn and sunrise. It was a gradual process. And at some point, you realize, oh, it's daylight, or dawn is here, or the sun is up. Yeah.

Melissa Ebken  18:51  
You spoke of being on the farm with other family members and mentors. Were there other experiences that gave you a foothold in surviving that experience?

Connard Hogan  19:02  
Oh, I think I think the biggest majority of it gave me hope. I mean, my interaction with my uncle, Uncle James, he never treated me. He never disrespect in my interpretation. He never disrespected me, never talked down to me. He, he treated me more as an equal. Now, having said that, he was not that much older than me maybe a decade or so. He was he was fairly young. But I was when I was born, my mother was 24. I think my uncle was maybe 10 or 15 years younger than her. So anyway, we were closer in age, but nevertheless, I still thought I kind of reacted to him as a brother, but I knew he was my uncle. So it wasn't quite the same. And I wasn't around him that often. But that relationship was very important. And my grandmother, typically as she called other cousins and even her son in laws, she called him son that, you know that to me, made it made me feel closer to her and all the times that she interacted with me, she always had a gentle voice, she never raised her voice at me. She hardly ever raised her voice with anybody, including my grandpa, although occasionally she say hush up Frank. But she was a calm, caring individual that, you know, kind of steady as you go, very devout. And so I think just being around her and interacting with her and seeing her interact with other people, excuse me, was part of that process from the farm. But then again, there was other uncles, aunts and cousins I was interacting with too and getting some things from them. I had one uncle that showed me how to throw a knuckleball. Now, I never learned how to do it. But my point here is that I learned other skills, other tools, other techniques from everybody. If you think of Hillary Clinton's book, It Takes a Village. That's kind of the experience, you've gained something from this person, at this point, something else from them later, some something different from another person. All of that allows you to build more confidence. I think. So. Yeah, again, I can't. It's all like a process rather than any event.

Melissa Ebken  21:36  
Sure. What are some key takeaways from your experience

Connard Hogan  21:42  
As a child? or

Melissa Ebken  21:45  
As a child; as a practicing marriage therapist; as a retired person looking back 

Connard Hogan  21:51  
Oh dear. Well, the more general life philosophy, I think, than anything. Humans are flexible and malleable, malleable. We're capable of a wide range of things. I think all of us inculcate that range potentially, you know, we can be evil, we can be kind and wonderful and grace in grace. It's a matter of choice. Our day to day choices. I like a quote I got from Winston from Winston Churchill. Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision. So I think our we can make minor or smaller in a sense, smaller decisions, or more major decisions, but all of our decisions add up. Karma is not a foregone conclusion. We need to we having said all that, we kind of need to trust our gut. But we need to understand that our perceptions and our memories are fallible. None of us are perfect. But we have a chance to grow. Then the most important thing, I think, for people, particularly from a spiritual standpoint, and I don't want to get too much into that right now, but is a connection with other people. And in the bigger part of it beyond connections with people is the connection to the universe. So I think connections are connections, if we're not lonely, if we don't have the sense of loneliness, or isolation, then I think that's a critical piece in our mental health. I don't know if I've covered everything, there's probably more I could go on and on.

Melissa Ebken  23:39  
You know, I heard my colleague reminded me of a general truth recently, she said that we all have the same toolbox. But for some of us, when we pick the hammer out of the box, we're going to destroy something. Another person will pick the hammer out of the box, and build something.

Connard Hogan  23:55  
Well, for those that carry a hammer, sometimes everything looks like looks like a nail. So we got to be careful.

Melissa Ebken  24:08  
But it goes back to what you were saying it's there is a lot of choice in what we do with the tools that we have. That makes a difference in our lives. A lot of times people aren't in a situation where they have a choice or where they realize that they have a choice. By far, many of us. Yeah, and I'm sorry, go ahead. Well, I was done.

Connard Hogan  24:36  
Not having a choice is probably truer of the younger individuals, children and young adults, perhaps more it but it's less so for adults. Nevertheless, at the point where we start to see where we have a choice in it, that's that's critical and important. Whether it's at a younger age or an older age, we do what we can when we have an opportunity to begin to do it.

Melissa Ebken  24:57  
And if anybody is listening to this, and is an adult, and is an adult with some influence, if someone comes to you, and is looking to be looking for you to be that trusted person in their lives Connard, what do we need to be? How do we need to be present to that person?

Connard Hogan  25:25  
Well, I think we want to, we want to try to focus on them. 100% and not be distracted, we want to honor them. By, by, I think Carl Rogers, who's a therapist used his technique, which is just reflecting back what he was hearing. This is what I'm hearing you say, this is how you feel. I understand that. I can relate to that. What would you? And then maybe also offer, some options. What would you like me to do? Or how can I support you with this? Now some of what the individual might ask them to do is not appropriate to follow up on so there has to be some discretion in that. However, I think just being able to be there and say, I understand what you you know, and give them an opportunity to emote, if they cry, that's fine, if they're angry, let them talk about the anger if they're afraid, you know, give them time to, to work through that as they talk with you to take their time in explaining it. So I think it's just acknowledging and having the empathy to be there with their experience without, with a minimum, if any, hopefully, none. But I think, as I said, none of us are perfect, with a minimum of judgment about it.

Melissa Ebken  26:51  
I love that you said, to not assume, you know, it's real instinct, that if someone comes to us and says they're in an abusive situation, that would be an instinctual response to run out and stop it. To call the authorities to bring in all power that we can muster and call upon to change and fix that situation. But one that may not be within our power and ability. And two, it may not be what the person is asking from us. And I love that you said, asking, you know, what do you, how can I support you in this? What are you wanting from me?

Connard Hogan  27:28  
And that's an assumption that I think a lot of people have, they want to fix. Now I still fall into that myself, particularly with my wife is like, you know, tell me what you want and get it over with and I'll do it or not do it. But you know, that does not validate the person's experience. So maybe that's a better word to use the validation, you want to validate their experience, and having been heard, that will begin to make a significant difference for that person. Again, it goes back to connection communication. And that sense of isolation and aloneness, or loneliness. If people are not feeling alone with with things, with the problem, it begins to help alleviate their struggle internally about it. And then as that gets alleviated, perhaps they start to see options of things that they may be able to do to change it. It doesn't mean they change that it may be they pull back from it, it may be they talk more with other people or more with that same person, but whatever. It gives them more freedom to look at what they can do.

Melissa Ebken  28:45  
I had a metaphor pop into my mind, if I'm walking through a marsh, I'm gonna struggle getting any kind of traction whatsoever. But if I find one solid stone in there that I can step on, then that gives me some potential moving past that point. And that might be what that person is and what the other person needs. They might just need that one solid place to help them gain traction

Connard Hogan  29:11  
thinking as you said that I was thinking about the the Quinton cinch Quint quintessential scene or image of somebody stuck in quicksand and somebody else comes along and says help me and they find a stick and and hand them a stick and they hold on to the stick and they start pulling them out with a stick that similar. Yeah.

Melissa Ebken  29:37  
So tell us about your book. For those who are watching this on YouTube. We'd love to see a picture of the cover. Do you have it handy?

Connard Hogan  29:45  
Well, there's one right back there. Oops. Where am I right there. This is hard to do when you're looking at a mirror image.

Melissa Ebken  29:52  
It sure is but Once Upon a Kentucky Farm; Hope and Healing From Family Abuse, Alcoholism and Dysfunction by Connard, Hogan. The link for that, by the way is in the show notes. So make sure that you click on that, check out the book. And there will be plenty of opportunities to buy that. And Connard. you've alluded to many stories in there that we haven't been able to have on the podcast. But I look forward to, to reading about those stories. Thank you for sharing that.

Connard Hogan  30:26  
I also have some YouTube presentations that I've done that people can go to. So if you go to my YouTube channel, hopefully it'll be functional when you look, it was functional when I saw it yesterday. Go to YouTube, and Google my name and or search for my name, and you should find it. There'll be some presentations in there some book readings or topics or discussions about the book. But I also have a business card I want to show to and a call to action or a challenge to people. Here's my business card. You can reach me, you can reach me at my email address.

Melissa Ebken  31:08  

Connard Hogan  31:10  
There's a picture of my book cover, and then a scan QR code. The challenge is to see if this will work. If you can pause your stream of this video and and what what's the word scan the QR code you see, it may take you to my website. I hope it will. But anyway, that's my challenge to you.

Melissa Ebken  31:37  
Okay, we mean, somebody watching this, please somebody jump over to YouTube, pull this up and see if you can scan that QR code and go to his website. And if you can, please comment so that Connard knows. Comment below that you've done it give a thumbs up. Because tech, even though it's set up correctly, sometimes it can just be weird. So it's good to have conformation that things work.

Connard Hogan  32:01  
I had my camera go off yesterday during the Zoom meeting. So hopefully it won't be a problem today. But things happen, as they say.

Melissa Ebken  32:09  
So my takeaway from that comment is, you looked in your camera and it broke? 

Connard Hogan  32:14  
Probably. It said enough of this. I'm out of here. So anyway, yeah. And you can also leave me a message, an email message on my website or going to this this directly this email address directly until let me know if that works. So

Melissa Ebken  32:34  
Yeah, and all of that is easily found in the show notes. And then if you have questions for Connard, please reach out. Let him know he's been there, he's experienced this. His experience isn't your experience. But I bet you he will be a great support. And one who would find resources.

Connard Hogan  32:53  
If I could do a marketing segue for a moment, I would add that on my website. I have a blog feed. And in the blog feed, I've written some posts regarding what I typed entitled Wisdom of the 12 Steps. I don't have that many yet. I also post about my hiking adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail, I have a goal of complete that ,2600 miles, but I'm doing it in segments. I also post kind of a thread about my travels. I did one about circumnavigation of Iceland a year ago or so. I just got back from a travel I'm hoping to get that written and posted sometime soon. So I've got other things on there you can read. I have one chapter from another memoir. Yes, a second. You can have more than one.

Melissa Ebken  33:48  
But wait, there's more. 

Connard Hogan  33:50  
From from my experience of being in Vietnam and the US Army. So anyway, there's there's more there. And I also have a quarterly newsletter that I do that's every three months, that kind of highlights and gives some updates on various things that I'm doing and writing. Cleaning these things we're mentioning here. So please consider signing up for my newsletter, go to my website and you can sign up there. So

Melissa Ebken  34:17  
Lots of ways to connect lots of ways and I feel like that for the sake of my family relationships that I have to say you graduated from Western Kentucky University, go Hilltoppers so Connard, are there any last words or sentiments you'd like to leave us with today?

Connard Hogan  34:36  
Is there anything about the book that you want me to continue on? I know we're kind of running out of time

Melissa Ebken  34:42  
here. Well, I tell you what, yes. I want you to send me one. I'm going to jump on the website. As soon as we're finished here. I'm gonna click on that link. I'm gonna buy a copy and I cannot wait to read the rest of the story.

Connard Hogan  34:57  
You can get it on Amazon and you if which I hope you do, go to Amazon. And if you purchase the book, which I hope you do, and if you read the book, which I hope you do, and which if you enjoy it, which I hope you do, I hope that you go back to Amazon and give me a book review or the good rating. And if you get it other places like Barnes and Nobles, and there's a ton of booksellers out there that have it available, please go to the website if they make it available and give me a book review. And then if you can't do that, send it to me through my email and I'll use it on my Facebook posts or whatever. I don't need to identify you by name. Just give me a handle that you want to use and I can use snippets excerpts of it. But all of that would be helpful for me.

Melissa Ebken  35:47  
Yep, every bit matters. All right. Thank you so much for joining us today. 

Connard Hogan  35:51  
Pleasure to be with you.

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