I grew up with five siblings and my parents. Today’s guest, Calvin Wayman grew up with 44 siblings, one father and four mothers. He was raised as a Fundamentalist
Mormon in Salt Lake City, Utah. Today he is no longer practicing and has become a public speaker, an author of Fish Out of Water, and heads a podcast, Curious, and leads a Mastermind.
Calvin grew up with very little exposure to the outside world. The family grew up with the ethics of self reliance and hard work. They grew up on a farm growing their own vegetables, corn, tomatoes, milking a cow for their milk and they raised their own livestock. From the age of 6,7, and 8 hey would be helping out with weeding the gardens or feeding the animals so that by the time he was a teenager it was natural for him to be working. They helped their Dad in the construction company, but always handed over any money they made to their Dad. Calvin feels he did not learn the healthy feeling that when you provide value something comes back in return.
Through farming Calvin did learn patience. You water, weed, everyday trying to make it better and only later does one reap the harvest. The work ethic was solidly entrenched in his upbringing. They were homeschooled and he applied his work ethic to his education and was able to graduate at the age of 16.
“Growing up we were taught that we were different. That we were G-d’s Chosen People. Later on I learned that all people are connected. We were taught to be private – not revealing how many people lived in our house, or how many Moms we had. If a car drove down the street, we were taught to scatter, not to be seen. Only as an adult, I understood that it came from the fact that my ancestors had been persecuted. The Mormons wanted to live their religious practices and not be jailed for them. They went from back East to Utah for religious freedom. Later the Church itself did away with polygamy and it caused a faction to break off that wanted to continue the practice of polygamy. As a result they went underground so they wouldn’t be put into jail.
“In my Dad’s generation, this put an enormous pressure on Mormons to be very private. In my generation it’s just the opposite. No matter what we choose, we’re not going to hide anymore. Acceptance, transparency are what we live by.”
I consider myself the black sheep of the family. I’m not as orthodox as I was brought up. A lot of times I’m mocked about it. I’ve had my journey with G-d. I found G-d again after my depression. Before I thought it was fiction and then I thought it was just something we were born into. I thought, “ Does G-d really care _____________ – you fill in the blank. Does it really matter? At times it gets very blurry. It’s hard to disconnect from what we were trained to do and what we ourselves believe. I know that a lot of my mental health struggles were feeling a sense of non-belonging. I traveled the world trying to escape my pain. I didn’t know that I was suppressing pain until I crashed. I thank G-d for sending me the depression. Now I’m tapping into a much greater joy that came from my struggle. I was determined to heal and that’s when I found G-d. When nothing else was helping. I tried all the books, all types of exercise. I remember that I was standing at my window looking at a building and I said, ‘G-d, if you exist, take this pain away and I will forever help others that are struggling.’ I wanted it so badly. This was a turning point. When I got to the wellness, I connected with G-d. We can only heal ourselves with G-d, but we need to do the work.
I remember sitting in bed one day and crying and saying, “I’m going online just one more time to understand the cause of depression – where it comes from.” My energy healer, Brian, told me, “Matana, you will never be able to heal until you get rid of everything that you suppressed through your life. You have so much hurt, anger, shame and betrayal. You need to bring them up to the surface and deal with it . That was a very difficult journey. Sometimes the work of facing the hurt was worse than the depression itself. But I was determined to heal.
We all want to get rid of depression. To pop the pill that will make it vanish. But no one wants to do the work because it is so hard and painful to face the demons. Eventually, I got to a place where I knew how to protect myself from letting it happen again. There were triggers that I would say, “Oh, oh, this is something I’m scared of and I would just shut down. It was my depression saying, “I can’t deal with this anymore.”
I didn’t deal with all the traumas the same way. Sometimes it was bringing it up, looking at my younger self and talking to her, in a healing compassionate way and saying, “ You’re not there anymore. You’re older, wiser, you have tools to deal with this. It’s okay.” Sometimes it was forgiveness to myself and the other person. To know that I no longer would allow that person to take charge of my emotions – literally disconnect. They were there to teach me something. Suddenly, they become irrelevant, even though they had caused so much emotional pain and turmoil. I chose whether to allow them to come back into my life. I learned boundaries; not to allow it to happen with other people who mimic these traumas. Knowing my triggers and saying, “this is where you fall, Matana, don’t go there!”
To forgive someone else, first, one must forgive themselves. Self love. No one will love you until you love yourself. Start with self love, compassion and kindness.
“I was the first of my family to go to college,” Calvin explained. “It made me start questioning everything. I took a philosophy class that particularly made a crack in my reality. It made me realize that everything I saw as real, was only one version of reality and there are so many other versions. I saw that there wasn’t anything unique in me or the group that wasn’t in somebody else.
“It gave me the courage to admit that there were things in my core that were different than my religion. There are really good people in my religion that want the best; they’re just 100 years behind the rest of the world. The way women and race are viewed – it doesn’t resonate with me. Another area which I couldn’t accept was that everything should be checked with your life leader, your priested head. If there was a conflict between the two of you, and you accepted the leader’s way, you betrayed your gut. Being truthful to myself, I couldn’t buy it, so I made the decision to leave. If I was going to go to hell, I prefered it to the hell I was in. Even though I’m proud that I did it, there is most probably some forgiveness that needs to happen there for staying as long as I did or that I left.
“The overwhelming majority of my family is in the Salt Lake City area or Southern Utah or Arizona area. I’m the only one that left the bubble. There are many non-practicing Mormons who stayed in the area. It’s a big no-no to leave. I felt there was an invisible chain. When I quit my day job I had found some confidence ,and I decided to move to Southern California. When you’re in it you don’t see that you’re a fish out of water.
“Throughout this time I tried to do all the practices. I’d meditate, and eat healthy and exercise and still I was spiraling down. I kept on procrastinating. One night I went out and started screaming at myself. I reached a pole in the park and I bashed my head on it. Almost like I wanted to punish myself. I was feeling intense numbness and I wanted to wake up from it. It’s even worse than pain in a sense. You don’t feel anything. After I did that, I said, ‘That’s kind of crazy and scary. What if I would have just kept going and made my face a hamburger?’ I had thought about sharing my feelings, but I was in the personal growth and development area for the past 5-10 years. I felt that I knew what they would say. I did end up reaching out to the suicide prevention hotline. They pulled me out of the darkness and connected me to the organization Holding Out Help, an organization that helps people leaving a polygamist community. They connected me with a therapist. I began opening and telling people. Sharing and talking about it really helped.
“My wife is Mormon and religious. She may not stay around the branch we both grew up in, but she’ll most probably stay in Mormonism. The last couple of years we have been discussing what both of us want in terms of our connection to religion.
“You gave me a little nugget of how I want to live my life. I’ll begin by writing out all the things I wish in to be in me or my life. They will lead me to the areas that need forgiveness.”
The more you share the more permission you give to others to share and break the stigma. People die because of stigma. Calvin was at the peak of his success when he posted his experience. It is so admirable. He is a best selling author, a sought after speaker, mixes with all the big names – that’s bravery!
Calvin just wrapped up a big deal with Dean Graziosi and Tony Robbins. People asked him to build a Mastermind with Sagi Shreiber. Calvin’s book, A Fish Out of Water, is a quick read and can be divided into three main principles.
- Join the CIA – Consistent Imperfect Action – get off the sidelines and get on the court. Stop trying to be perfect
- Getting Schooled – Find others that are Fish out of Water. It will inspire you.
- Swim like a Shark – Success Words In proven Measure. You want to be successful like a shark – not like a guppy.
To Calvin hope means it can always be better. If we hold on to that, the next day or the next moment will get us through.
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