Luke: I left my career in intelligence to be present with my daughters
Luke Tiller is a husband and father to two young girls. He comes from a long line of sailors, pilots, explorers and World War 2 Vets and describes his early male role-models as hard-core men with no emotion. Raised in a hyper-masculine world of farming and business meant that high-stress environments were his normal.
Luke built a promising career in intelligence which he eventually traded in to become a stay-at home Dad. His career change became one of the most confronting times of his life. Luke realised that he was more comfortable understanding the dark side of ‘bad guys’ than the unhealed parts of himself. Becoming a stay-at-home Dad prompted his journey of change.
On-screen text reads "Change is possible".
Really hard to explain what it was that I was struggling with, so, I kind of landed on the idea of like, well, if I'm going on a hunting trip or have been on a hunting trip, I’ve been in the mountains, I’ve been trail running, I'll describe the gnarly terrain.
How I had to kind of persevere through getting up to a ridge line, down a spur and into a valley and then up the other side onto the ridge.
I'm anxious, but you're not going to get to the summit until you break out of the bush-line.
You know, life is hilltops and valleys.
I come from a family of World War Two veterans on both sides of my family.
Men that were just pretty hardcore, no emotion, do great stuff in the background.
Don't seek recognition.
Man box. It’s what we're raised to aspire to.
Yeah. So, hold it together.
Play rugby, do hard things.
Pursue women, pursue status, and don't let people down by freaking them out with your struggles.
I found myself working in intelligence because I was cool under pressure and I loved to understand
hard things and understand people.
I didn't know it at the time, but I ticked off a number of things in the man box because that's
what I was groomed to do.
Hypermasculine job, high risk, high reward, making a difference.
I got a phone call from an Army psychologist and he was like, “oh, this counterintelligence team
really want you”.
But he's like “I've just seen your your psych assessment scores”.
He's like, “what do you do for stress relief?”
And I was like, dammit, he’s probably figured out
I’m wired up pretty tight.
I became self aware that I had some work to do.
I want to be a stay at home dad to rebalance, to have a bit of a scene change.
And I was like, my wife does really important work as a nurse, and who am I to tell her
‘hey, my job is more important’.
I got to the top of the man box, clipped in my line, and just abseiled off the top.
Rejected that whole CV, and abseiled off straight into the pit of my own self-loathing, you know?
All those emotions that I had packed away and suppressed, they caught up with me.
In that first six months, the could have beens, the should have beens, the would have beens.
I’d get triggered a lot by news, like current affairs.
And I would go somewhere in my mind where I wasn't present with my kids.
There's an emotional outburst, maybe, along with breaking a coffee mug, or slamming a door.
And then there’s the remorse.
‘Okay, next time that happens, I’m going to try harder, push that lid down’
And so things are good for a while, inevitably emotional outbursts.
And it was freaking me out.
But seeing how the girls were scared, I don't like this. I need to, I need to get some help.
So after initially telling a counselor in the community working with men, he recommended I went along to a men’s group at a community counseling center called Change Ability, in Masterton.
You were given the tools, you learn so much about yourself.
And you connect with other guys on that journey, so that you're not traveling alone.
Peer support groups are really important, you know, dad’s coffee groups, dad’s bush walks, saved,
you know, my life and my relationship.
Self awareness is mindfulness, it’s being mindful of what how your environment is affecting you
emotionally, physically, your physical health your mental health, and also your you know, your spiritual health; your wairua.
The only way to fully know yourself unfortunately, is to suffer through a transformation of understanding your physical limits, your mental limits, your emotional limits.
Mindfulness itself is self self-awareness, and it's an essential practice.
Speaking the truth is liberating.
Being honest about your struggle is liberating.
I said to all the guys in my dad’s group, just come round.
Like, if you want to come round, and you're stuck with the kids, and you're, you know, at your wit's end, or you’re wanting a break.
I’ll admit it was a selfish ambition to form a support network for myself and for others.
The man box isn't helpful for me right now.
It's too heavy, it's too oppressive.
I'm not living up to all those things in the man box anymore as a stay at home dad.
Yeah. I need a new value system.
To liberate yourself from others expectations and your own expectations is a beautiful thing.
Yeah, it's amazing.
You’ll catch a glimpse of how things are going to get better, or you're going to get a view of the next ridge coming up.
And the whole terrain you've traveled through is going to make sense because that was the only way you could get to where you want to get to.
You know, when you're old, when your kids are grown up, what’s your legacy is as a father and as a man and a person in your community?
What stories will they tell of you?
Cut to a black screen. In the middle is the logo for Change is Possible. The logo is in orange and white text that reads "Change is Possible".
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