Working on the most challenging mask thus far

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Captain’s log, earth date 2024.01.04.

It’s been three years since I sat down with my therapist in 2020 in downtown Seattle.

I sat on the couch, hugging the left armrest, barely taking up any space. We did the customary chit-chat; then, he asked me what I was here to work on.

Well, for the past ten years, I’ve been working on my sleep problems. I’d get my 8 hours of sleep and wake up feeling like I didn’t sleep. I had seen sleep doctors, tried sleep medication, and everything under the sun.

I was physically okay.

I also told him I’ve been through about six or so therapists. We’d start, then end pretty quickly. I would leave feeling better, then a few months would go by, and I’d be back to square one.

In hindsight, I really didn’t learn from my lessons. Now knowing what I know now, it was all meant to be. My past self needed to go through all that start and stop to finally get the courage to push through.

My therapist said that he’ll work at my pace; he’ll challenge me but not push me beyond my comfort zone. I added that I have this fear that I’d open up the can of worms and not be able to put it back. Well, this time, I’m committed to seeing this through. Push me. Challenge me. Knock me out of my comfort zone.

Little did we know that we’d do the rest of our sessions virtually. The pandemic started just a few weeks later.

The time that Data held my emotions

One of the first masks I created was Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s an android that does not have emotions. He held the hard feelings, by shutting them down when it gets hard.

I’ve had a strange relationship with Data over the years. At first, I saw him as a friendly savior, someone who held the emotions for me. I lived most of my life believing that emotions are bad and that being emotionless is superior.

Later, as I did more work, particularly with EMDR, there was this moment when little Daniel turned over the keys to Data. In the session, that moment was not a friendly handover, as I remembered, but instead a moment of fear. It was almost like a veil covered my little self, and a new persona emerged.

I’m working on my relationship with Data as I continue my journey. He’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, he makes really uncomfortable situations completely tolerable. I’ve been through really tough events and activities, and at times, he’s held that fear in check.

On the flip side, Data shuts everything down. When I need to feel something, when it would be helpful to feel something, he shuts it down.

Time is a friend

Our society is led to believe that time is our enemy, that our mortality is something to prevent, be fearful of, and to avoid.

We have no control over time.

As I work on this mask of mine, in this moment of my healing, my son is approaching the same age as when I put on mine.

There’s a once-in-a-lifetime convergence.

Is it random? Or was it always planned?

In the coming months, I’ll be participating in a couple of psychodramas to work on this mask, to find and heal what Data is holding for me.

As I committed three years ago, I intend on seeing this through. There’s no end, but there is an obvious hump to get over.

The journey is the destination, but I also want to know what’s on the other side.

I left my mask unchecked

Originally published on LinkedIn

I lived all my life, oblivious to the wounds I carried. The calluses formed, and armor layered on, the clinking of the chainmail no longer felt heavy, until it was, too much to carry.

In my 30’s, my body started to fall apart, cracks in the armor that was never meant to be carried that long.

It took time for the cracks in the armor to reveal what was underneath for me. The little space that opened up allowed the rumblings to emerge.

I tried to seal it shut. I tried hard.

It wasn’t until the headline news of George Floyd’s murder, on national TV that the bits inside started to emerge from the crack. It wasn’t the cop who pressed his knees on George. It wasn’t the seeping voice saying I can’t breathe. It was the cop in the back, standing silent, witnessing it all in front of him, oblivious to it all.

Voices are silent to the atrocities of the world.

Zooming down to a single person, the voice still silent.

The pandemic created space and time. It forced me to slow down for just a moment. The constant activity of life was just trying to keep that armor functioning, and the sudden slowdown revealed the weakness.

That’s why it’s so hard for me to meditate. Mindfulness was impossible because it was my form of protection, to keep going, never to stop, to work so that I wouldn’t have to feel.

Why was I so resistant to doing the work?

The armor I carried, the masks I wore, were designed for the purpose of keeping me shielded from what lies underneath.

It took the innocence away, and replaced it with thick skin, immune to the strong emotions triggered by the world.

I walked the world oblivious to it all.

The mask functioned well, it kept me from the hard feelings underneath, it shielded me from the systems of the world.

My first mask, Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek, held all the emotions.

So when my therapist asked me if I was feeling anxious, my response was a big f’ you, I’m not anxious.

It was an outsized reaction to a very legitimate question.

Why was it so strong?

Because the mask wanted to shut down that line of questioning, don’t poke. Don’t expose the weakness in the armor. Back off.

Spending time with my mask

I never realized how powerful my masks were. The minute I was aware of their existence, they shut it down.

It took quite some time to learn about Internal Family Systems, understand the theory behind it all, and then form the relationship with my first mask, and ultimately with all the masks I wear.

The masks are designed to keep people at a distance, to keep me safe. And I, too, am people, to be kept at a distance.

But over time, I started to form a softness with my masks, to invite them in, to thank them for the work they did, that they got me here, that I am now strong enough to care for myself, that they can rest.

My masks don’t like space.

They don’t like silence.

They don’t like rest.

When I slow down, it all starts to reveal itself.

So the pandemic, in hindsight, was the greatest gift I could receive. It was the gift of time. The gift of space. To sit in the discomfort that was and is to reveal what lies beneath.

I’m here for you

Along this journey, at each discovery, I’d run out to the world and say I found it. You all need to take this pill I took, and it will fix it all.

I would quickly realize how resistant people are to healing, and to acceptance.

Instead, today I simply extend an invitation. Listen to what emerges for you. Create space in your life by blocking out time to be still, to quiet the day, and to let time slow down for just a bit. Is there a knocking, a rumbling, or even a voice?

For just this moment, just be with it, rather than trying to fix it, understand it, or shut it down. Just be.

The light is on.

I’m here.

What lies beneath the masks I wear

Originally published on Linkedin.


Why do I wear a mask?

To fit within the social constructs of the society we created, one made with a set of rules, written and unspoken.

On a day-to-day basis, these masks help me fit in, navigate the system, and for the most part succeed and thrive.

Some masks are simple. I need to check out at the grocery store. I put on a smile, I say hi, swipe my credit card, and move on with my day.

Other masks weave many purposes: to take critical feedback, defend against conflict, and show up in systems that demand business acumen.

When we just go about our days, these masks do their jobs.

Then, suddenly, we slow down for a moment, and the cracks appear. The little sliver of light leaks through, and we see a tiny glimpse into what lies beneath.

Maybe it’s a little break in the day.

Maybe it’s someone that holds space for us for a moment.

Maybe it’s a global pandemic that shuts down the whole world.

Regardless, it’s always there, a little knock in our soul.

Most of the time, my masks keep that knock muffled.

Other times, the knock gets louder, the cracks get bigger, and the system of armour, walls, shields, and masks we build reveal weaknesses. The call becomes too great, and we get the support to walk up closer, to veer into the crack, and see again, what we’ve always known.

Psychodramas as a way to see what lies beneath

Recently I hosted 10 brave souls at my home to continue the work I started in February of 2023 in Santa Cruz. Three of the original workshop participants came for this one, along with new faces. This work is known as Chapter 18 in the Body Keeps the Score. This is a great read if you want to learn more about the technique itself, and how it magically works.

For now, I’ll give you a peek into the veil, and what 10 people did.

The magic of this work is to get a group of strangers, and some that have worked together to form a “container,” or a space where we remove the societal constructs. We’re not here to network, or to boost our egos. We’re here to heal, to bring our full selves, and to have others witness, for a brief moment, the darkest, deepest parts of ourselves that we hide from the world.

That means the group must form an energy field. They must put behind their masks, and support the person doing their own fully.

At times, our own traumas get triggered. That vulnerability can be a distraction, or it can be a source of strength, that our collective traumas is held deep in the collective consciousness.

The wounds run deep, usually at childhood, when our parents weren’t what we needed, absent, destructive. We miss the village that was suppose to be to support our families. They weren’t meant to be alone when they raised us, but they were, and that missing lingers in our being, only for it to manifest in ways unconscious to us in adulthood.

The work is to support it.

To bring people to play the ideal parent, to be the ideal village, to be the ideal society.

And often, our masks attempt to reject the idea.

I understand that I need an ideal father, but I don’t see a scenario where this would exist. Logically it’s true, we can’t change the past. But as a practice, as a healing modality, we can create the feeling that would have existed, and we let that feeling land in our nervous system, and we carry it into our lives when we leave.

What lies beneath Daniel’s mask?

My “structure,” started with the support of my soul brother. I asked one man to sit next to me, and represent my soul brother, someone that would walk with me on this journey.

My voice shook saying it out loud. I’ve never let anyone know this, that I walk the world alone. As I cried saying it to him, he held my hand tight, sat closer to me, and I knew I would be supported.

I asked a woman to play the role of my mother. She’s pregnant with me, and she’s on that boat. I’ve worked with this story before. I’m her unborn child as she’s escaping the aftermath of the war.

As an adult, I hear her scream, the gunfire in the background. And every time we create this moment, it becomes real.

I ask another woman to play Lt. Commander Data, from Star Trek the Next Generation. I created him around 5th grade. Data took all the feelings I felt, and he turned it off. He held all the powerful emotions I felt, and he kept it from me. As I looked at the person playing Data, I cried again. I said I’m sorry you had to hold these emotions. You were just a little boy, and you bravely held it for decades.

We sat in this moment, just to witness it.

I saw it.

Nine other people saw it.

Something that was kept silent.

I asked Data to come back and sit next to be, to be a part of me, not a separate part anymore. I am no longer that boy, and Data no longer needs to hold the emotions for me.

I asked my mom to sit behind me, to support my shoulder so that I can face what’s next.

Then I asked another man to play the role of my father, in re-education camp. He’s curled up in a ball. He’s being tortured. He’s hurt. He’s hungry.

I was in college, in a Vietnamese student group, and one man told me that a man that doesn’t know his culture is no man at all. I was 20. I had spent my entire childhood life assimulated, blending in, to survive the world we were thrust into. Shame overtook me. So I doubled down, and became the Dan, modeled after the Don, or Donald Trump. Dan did whatever the fuck he wanted, and he was here to win.

I asked this gentle man to play Dan. He had a great time. He was angry. He did everything he could to win, at all cost.

In looking at the juxtaposition of my father curled up, and what I was forced to create to compensate brought tears again. The wounds wouldn’t end, not even when I won. The path of destruction caused by Dan was to compensate for the weakness I saw. He was left unchecked. There was no end game, but to conquer all, as my dad was conquered by his oppressor.

Again, I asked Dan to sit behind me, and become a part of my team. He’s no longer driving, but he’s there to give advice, to guide, and to support.

I asked my father to also join me, to reunite the brokenness, the ancestial line that was cut.

I was supported by my two masks, the two layers that kept me from feeling what I felt. Something deeper. Something more insidious. Something I’ve always known, but wanted to avoid.

Trigger warning – a bit on colonization.

I asked my friend, the person I worked with in February, to yet again, play the role of the colonizer that came to Vietnam, the French that colonized my country in 1877.

They came to Vietnam, and they brought the evil that was within them, and they didn’t know what to do with it, so they passed it on to the Vietnamese people, and now I carry that evil within me.

I said I felt rage, and that something was emerging within me.

As I sat there, facing him, I felt it bubbling to the surface, something held deep for generations. It lingered, and part of me was afraid I was going to lose the feeling.

And all the sudden…

I bent down and pushed myself onto the ground and screamed in agony. I cried, and I screamed, and frothed at the mouth.



Agony and pain.

A cry of my ancestors, who never could cry. They held this all in to survive, and passed it from generation to generation.

For 15 solid minutes, I cried.

The group behind me supported me. They channeled their own agony through me, and I cried the cries of generations.

When I finally came to, the facilitator saw on my face that there was something inside.

What else could there be I said. I just cried for 15 minutes.

So I looked at my colonizer again, searching deep in my soul.

And in that moment, it came to me.

When I cried, my grandfather cried. He too was in re-education camp for 8 years.

And that he would’ve been my elder, someone who could guide me through all these years.

And in the process of assimilating, I pushed him away.

I asked the person playing the role of my colonizer to enroll as my grandfather.

I looked at him and I cried.

I hugged him, and I cried.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I let you go.

I’m sorry I didn’t learn from you when you were here with me.

And I also know that you’ve always been with me, through all these years, and I chose to muffle you out.

I’m sorry.

And in that moment, the ancestral lines were re-formed. What was taken away from me, I had restored, 43 years later.

I found this letter he had wrote to me, I kept it. I didn’t know why back then, but I put it into a box, and forgot about it. He always was there for me, even when he wasn’t.

And here he was, in those moments when I formed my masks. Those masks got me far in life, and yet the cost was too great. And yet now, I know he was always there for me, within me, and I was honored to cry his cries he never could.

I’m not happy. It’s not about being happy. That’s the lie you’re told, and an endless chase ensues.

Instead, I’m sad.

I’m grieving the loss.

In that grief work, the work to connect to the soul begins, and the collective healing spreads.

If you’re down this far, and you’ve read this much, thank you. This is the work of three years of deep therapy consistently every week, and intensively in workshops.

You don’t need to do this work. It’s hard.

For most of us, a little therapy is nice.

The darkness beneath the mask

Originally published on Linkedin.

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

The consultant asked us to answer this question regarding choices to make in the system implementation.

So, is the effort put into something justified by the outcome?

I’m educated in economics and public policy, trained in program management, and we make decisions based on Return on Investment (ROI).

I’m about to complete my third year of doing therapy, healing the wounds, and developing myself. Here’s some of the maths:

  1. Weekly therapy sessions at $150 per session
  2. Group work weekends, including travel
  3. Opportunity cost in time spent doing this work
  4. Countless books bought
  5. Neurofeedback equipment

I won’t add up the numbers here, but it’s a lot. It takes a certain privilege in this world to even be able to do this at all. That’s not lost on me.

But tradeoffs.

So give me the TLDR;

My overall stress and anxiety level has dropped from a constant 8/10 to 2/10. My HRV and heart rate measurements, sleep quality all have gone 180 since doing this work. My quality of life is worth 10X the dollar amounts I invested.

Behind the darkness and bad stuff, is all the good stuff I left behind.

So yeah, it was worth it.

Can you close up the can of worms?

I asked every one of my therapists this.

What if we do this work, and I find out something I don’t like?

Will I cause irreparable harm to myself?

Can I put the worms back into the can and bury it again?

Early on in this journey, the issues I dug up were reasonable. It all made sense. They’re surface-level things. No judgment, those things are worth addressing, and even working on the surface-level stuff is life-changing.

I was always worried about finding something that was hidden, buried away, so deep that it was never meant to be uncovered.

It took more than two years to keep digging. I was curious. I tinker. I wanna keep poking at it.

What I found along the way was that my masks were powerful.

They want me to focus on the surface-level things.

That’s why my first 10-year attempt failed. Each time, my mask would tell my therapist that I was healed, great job, you did it. Let’s take the W and go home.

As I dug deeper, and as I gained more self-awareness, I was able to zoom out and see the big picture. My mask wanted me to stay at the surface, what was beneath was too painful, too shameful to find. Keep it buried.

Further down the rabbit hole

Wanna know the insidiousness of it all?

The darkness, the title of my post too is the mask.

Society has put value judgment on everything.

That darkness is bad, and light is good.

The force in Star Wars, dark side vs light.

Good vs bad.

What is good, what is bad?

The mask I wear blends into a world where value judgments are made.

After peeling off the layers of trauma, I was left with the icky stuff (this is what I tell my kid). But I’m looking at it with my judgy mask.

This is the stuff that should be locked away.

It’s the parts of society we sweep up and hide.

It’s the clutter that gets thrown into the closet before guests come.

From the words of one of my mentors, it’s the ugly underbelly.

I got stuck in the mud here. After a couple of years of breakthroughs, I found myself stuck here. This was the stuff I wanted to put back into the can and keep it buried. These are all the things that society deems unworthy, unclean, dirty, dark, and shameful.

These are my shadows.

What lies beneath

Doing work here is dangerous because you can get lost. You can let these parts control you. Only stay here when you have mastered self-awareness, and know yourself more than you thought possible.

It was a tough day for me.

Some bad news came in.

I was struggling with it.

The usual get yourself together and man up voice came up, and I said thank you for helping, but I got this. Why don’t you sit here with me, and we’ll see where this goes.

Beneath that discomfort was sadness.



I sat there. I felt it. Wave after wave crashing into me.

In that ocean of discomfort, I found my soul. The sadness was joy. I didn’t turn my sadness into happiness. My sadness IS my happiness. It is the soup of all emotions, and you can’t pick and choose which ingredients you want in there.

For that moment, I sat there and experienced the waves. It fluttered between phases of different feelings. Tears started to come.

I never lost my soul.

I didn’t send it away.

It was always there, beneath all the layers I built up.

My shield, my armor.

I let go.

The weight off feels relieving.

I don’t need this armor anymore.

Because you are not a threat.

I am home.

Next steps

I wouldn’t be a program manager if I didn’t touch on next steps. Putting myself out there on a professional platform is my armor removed. Thank you for all the support, the DMs that come in, the reach outs IRL.

First off, I am okay. I’ve always been, and I’m better now.

Secondly, I don’t have a plan for this other than to keep putting this out into the world, and trusting the universe will show me the way.

The past, the present, and the future

Originally published on Linkedin

In my last letter, I wrote about peeling off the first mask.

Throughout this journey, the one thing I learned is that there is no end. Challenging for someone whose profession is about starting and finishing projects.

For a while, the EMDR treatment was life-changing. I went from having screaming voices at volume 11 all day long, to the blissful silence of a light hum. I was walking on water, king of the world, conquered the impossible.

But later, I would realize that each of these treatments turns down the intensity of one thing, only for other things to emerge that were previously drowned out.

Behold the magical ????

With the volume turned down, I was on a high, ready to go to the next level. A friend of mine had an opportunity for me to do a mushroom ceremony.

I showed up at the house. I sat down at the counter, and tea was prepared. A little green tea, a little honey, and some of the plant medicine ground up into a powder. He asked if I want to drink it or eat all the chunks.

YOLO, let’s do it.

I’ll come back to this experience in a future letter, but for now, it hit me like a wall. Pretty colors, the feeling sounds, tasting shapes, the whole 9 yards. A few moments in, part of me wanted to get off the ride. In my head, if it’s going to be like this, it will be a long day.

Then everything blanked out.

I came to and I was back home in my bed. I woke up, I came to consciousness, I wasn’t sure where I was. I walked down the stairs. And all was blank.

Blank is a strange feeling. It’s nothingness. I have no consciousness of it. Almost like sleep, without knowing you’re sleeping. Maybe it was what not existing feels like.

I lost count, but I repeated this pattern 30-40 times, waking up in different moments, coming to consciousness, experiencing life, and then losing consciousness. In a way, almost like the cycle of birthing and dying.

It all made no sense until it made all sense nearly a year later.

I see a yellow building

A few months passed, and eventually, my therapist referred me back to more EDMR. As always, giant leaps open the door for something else to emerge.

This time, I knew what I was doing, and even then, I resisted making the call, I resisted scheduling the session, and the day of, I thought about turning around.

In the session, I came in with an image of a yellow building. I had an uneasy feeling about it. I’ve never seen this building, yet the imagery was so vivid.

So that’s where you start. With whatever you have, and you sit in that feeling, sit with the imagery.

This therapist used a set of buzzing devices. You hold one in each hand. With each round, you describe what you see and feel, then buzz buzz buzz. It goes back and forth between your two hands.

Buzz, buzz, buzz. Weird but okay.

Describe what you see.

The yellow building has a straw roof, this vibrant yellow, paint or clay. There’s a window. I see a figure in the corner, and he’s curled up. There’s another larger shadow of a man. He’s close to the window. I see just the backlight silhouette of him.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

The intensity of the feelings doubles.

The man in the corner is my dad. He’s in a re-education camp (after the Vietnam War ended, soldiers that supported the Americans were rounded up to be “re-educated,” a nice way of saying tortured. The figure is a man above him. He’s scared of this man.

I’m shaking at this point. I’m crying uncontrollably. I’m okay, I tell my therapist.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

And over a few moments, the carpet of the office slowly because dry, cold dirt. I’m in the corner, I am my dad. The room is dark, and the walls are dark. I look up and I see a small window. The figure is prominent, the light makes him backlit.

I look out the window. The warmth of the rays of sunlight emerges. When I focus on the window, it takes away from the fear, disgust, and anger.

There’s a faint figure beyond the window. A man waves at me. I feel comfort, that I’m going to make it through this.

The shadow comes back. He’s walking away. I cry at him, come back. Don’t leave me alone. He’s my oppressor, he’s hurting me, yet I have this deep icky feeling wanting him to come back.

I’d rather be hurt than to be alone here.

I curl up.

I’m crying.

Come back, don’t leave me.

Daniel. Daniel. Daniel.

I come back to reality. I’m back in the office.

Where were you?

I described where I was, and what I saw. The cathartic feeling of my profound abandonment wound.

Buzz buzz buzz, we let the feelings set in. I feel at peace.

Back to the future

What do you do with all this? I have bits of the puzzle, but it makes no sense.

The screams of the boat turned down.

Living in the multiverse

The yellow prison

In 2023, I participated in my second psychodrama group. I used this opportunity to re-enact the experience. I sit in the corner of the room, literally. I have a big man standing at the window. The sun perfectly casts that shadow.

Within seconds, I’m crying uncontrollably, to the point where it was awkward to move forward.

We take me out of that role and had someone else be my dad, in the corner. I’m able to observe it from the third-person point of view.

Then as an observer, I feel a sense of shame. This man is weak. Look at him, he’s in the corner crying.

We have another person assume the role of Dan.

Dan is my protector. He’s tough, he’s strong.

I look at Dan (really for the first time), and I’m scared of him. He’s so angry. He’s been beaten up over the years.

Then I look at the facilitator and I tell her I think I’m good.

She looked me in the eye and then asked if I’d be okay if I had a support person next to me.

Umm, sure.

So I’m sitting face to face with my protector. I have two people sitting on either side of me. They give me physical boundaries. When I push left, I feel someone. When I move right, I feel someone. Then a person is behind me, with her hand on my head.

What do you want to say to Dan?

I whimper.

I can’t look at him.

I push hard to get a slight look up.

I look at him in the eye and whimper out, “We made it.”


We made it.

The group in chorus repeats with me, “We made it.”

At that moment, I let out a cry. Not just any cry. It was a cosmic cry. Generations before me that never had the opportunity to cry out their pain, all contained for generations.

It was deep. It came from deep inside, beyond my physical body.

We made it.

The man in the distance

This therapy happened in Santa Cruz, CA. After my session ended, and we were on a break, I walked out and looked out into the ocean. I held up my hand, and I waved out. We made it.

And at that moment, the timeline was complete.

The figure my dad saw in the window was his son, 42 years later, after doing his work, sending out a message that we made it. It was the glimmer of hope decades earlier that rippled in the timeline and gave me, a grown man, the completion of the cycle.

So finally, the ???? trip made sense, that the past, the present, and the future all exist together.

We made it

The high of this session, the completion of the cycle, and the sweetness of the connection would eventually come down. As always, these big break though only allows the next thing to emerge, but for now, we live in the moment, knowing that the moment is fleeting.

The first mask removed – sounds from the past

Originally posted on Linkedin

Look at Daniel, you should be more like Daniel.

That is the model minority myth.

Asians work hard, they make lots of money, they’re good at maths, they stay quiet.

I am only “successful” because, in hindsight, I spent the majority of my adult working life grinding under the gun.

Pause for a moment and think about that image. You’re rushing to get a spreadsheet done for a deadline, someone literally has a gun pointed at your head. You’ll get it done because it’s life or death. Are you going to complain about working conditions or worry about life’s purpose? No, you will die if you don’t get this done.

While I have never had a real gun pointed at me, I spent most of my life with the nervous system of someone who did, and I worked like it was life or death.

My fate was sealed before I was even born

It’s 1979, my mother and father traveled separately under the cover of night to sneak on a small river boat to escape the communist regime of Vietnam. In the years prior, my father served in the South Vietnamese Army alongside American soldiers.

In 1975, the US forces pulled out, and anyone left was rounded up and sent to re-education camp, including my father. After he finished his time there, the newly “educated” people were sent to the New Economic Zone, a worthless piece of land where nothing grew.

Life had become impossible, and the alternative of sailing out to the open sea, where more than 50% now reside at the bottom of the ocean, was a better prospect for life.

My mom was 3 months pregnant with me when she and my dad made the attempt. They sailed for seven days and made it to Indonesia. There are hundreds and thousands of these stories. You can listen to the Vietnamese Boat People Podcast to hear these stories.

No alt text provided for this image

What happened to the children of these refugees? We hear in the headlines the humanitarian stories of rescuing the refugees, but we rarely see what happens a generation later after the original trauma occurs.

On the surface, because I wear a mask, Daniel Hoang turned out to be a typical minority immigrant. He gets good grades, he graduates, first of his family. He receives another degree, he gets a good job, he buys a house—end of story.

What if you peel back the mask?

Why lies underneath?

I sent my soul away to survive in this new world

Through the magic of modern therapy, I did a few sessions of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It was 2020, and the pandemic and everything else in the world brought me to a brick wall.

I had an outsized reaction to a life event, and my therapist suggested I try this form of trauma therapy.

I don’t have trauma, WTF do you mean?

That was my initial reaction. I would later come to understand this voice as my protector. He keeps me from feeling the feels.

During the treatment, what initially sounded like gunfire became louder and more apparent. I could make out the individual guns, some bomb exploding, and eventually, a group of screaming voices.

All of this lived rent-free in my head for three-plus decades

When I said earlier that I performed like a gun was pointed at my head, in some way, there literally was a gun at my head. Genetic coding was passed down from my 22-year-old mother. Nature performed her duty, preparing the child for the world at war.

The treatment continued. It was very uncomfortable to hear these sounds.

In the final round, I made out a voice, one voice. It was muffled, but I knew it well. It was familiar, a voice I’d known my entire life. I had time traveled back in time to hear the voice of my 22-year-old mom.

She was scared.

She was carrying her unborn child.

And in that moment, I felt the direct love of a mother. Nothing words could ever convey but the pure love coded into our DNA.

I sat at the office in shock.

Underneath all that horror was unconditional love.

Meet Dan, my protector

You don’t go through a war and come out at peace.

I don’t understand the science behind intergenerational trauma, but I am living proof that the coding passed on is more than chemicals. There was a deep and spiritual passing of information between the generations.

I came to this world prepared to survive war.

Except the guns and bombs were replaced with bureaucracy and spreadsheets.

Enter Dan.

He breaks down organizations. He fires people. He puts up with the corporate BS.

For those of you who have directly worked with me, you met Dan at some point. He wins. He’s successful at all costs. He will work 24/7 to win. Second place is for losers. USA. USA. USA.

Dan wants me to stay here, don’t dig any deeper.

The rabbit hole goes deeper

This discovery was life-changing for me until I realized that it was just a superficial layer for something much, much more profound.

This deep inner work takes you down a path.

It’s hard. It’s not for the faint of heart, but you’ll emerge for the better.

Until next time…