Robert Raphael Schwenkler

How I Discovered My Purpose

Written by on August 2, 2016

Posted in: Death, Emotional Fluency


Advisory: This article gets real in its description of my experience of death and suicide. If you’d rather not go there today you might be better off with something different.


This might surprise a lot of people to hear, but for most of my current career I’ve been totally confused about why I became a coach.

3 years ago when I began I only knew that I must begin, but not why.

Unlike many other coaches I’m not the person who’s been “coaching” others by nature for years and years until they realized they could do it professionally.

It confused me, honestly. I haven’t had a single moment of doubt that the path I’ve been on as a coach is the one I’m supposed to be on. Not one.

So why am I on it then?

A few months ago it hit me in a flash.

Because 15 years ago I was a living dead man.

My heart, soul, and body were so numbed out that I literally could not remember what it felt like to smile or be happy.

The gaping hole I felt in my chest never went away.

All the world looked grey through my eyes.

Emptiness was all I knew.

My mind was constantly filled with thoughts and visions of suicide… Of how I would do it… Of how it would be when my roommate discovered my dead body upon the bed, blood soaking the sheets, both wrists cut wide open.

The only place I could find any remorse for the impact my death would have on others was when I thought of my mother and how she’d feel.

It would hurt her a lot I knew. I could feel that through my own pain. Barely.

I hurt far too much to care about the impact my suicide would have on anyone else. Father, sisters, friends, co workers…

Sleep was the only time I knew blessed respite from the living, waking hell I existed within.

15 years ago I was a living dead person.

For much of my life I was the least resourceful, connected, and empathic person you could have met, and you certainly wouldn’t have found people coming to me for advice or support.

I HAVEN’T been the person that others naturally came to for advice or support.

But I HAVE spent the last 15 years of my life trying to make sense of how a privileged young man with all the seeming resource, love, and support in the world could have ended up so deeply in pain.

I began my work as a coach 15 years ago, back when I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even see myself living through the upcoming winter.

Some tiny, infinitesimal part of me knew that there was a different way of living available to me, so I started digging. I began, strand by strand, unwinding the knots that were bound around my heart.

I did this by relentlessly examining my past for the clues that would make it all make sense.

I did this by relentlessly committing to feeling my emotions.

I did this by relentlessly seeking support from those around me so that through their seeing of me I could begin to experience MYSELF differently than the impenetrable mass of pain I had known myself to be.

I have spent the last 15 years feeling, and feeling, and feeling. Each time learning to go that much deeper. Each time feeling that much freer.

Because for me, to disconnect, numb out, and shut down is, in the most literal sense, to die.

I know what hell feels like and it is not an imaginary place under the surface of the earth. It’s alive and real in the waking world, existing in myriad unique forms within our minds.

My work, my business, is sacred.

When it comes down to it the word “coach” is totally wrong for me. As I type this I wonder why I even hold onto it.

I am a healer. Deeper than that even… I am presence. I am space. I am permission to feel – and heal – that which has not yet been allowed to feel or to heal.

I am trauma undone. Unlocked, channeled, felt, and resolved into stillness and peace for the first time in a lifetime.

I am emotion felt. Energy moving. Pain released and love reclaiming its rightful place in our hearts, bodies, and minds.

I bring men together across boundaries of masculinity and sexuality so that they can reconnect with the truth of who they and their fellow men are. So they can grow into the powerful and loving sons, fathers, partners, business owners, team members, and/or friends that they truly are.

I stand with women so that they can feel and experience what it is like to be in the presence of a man who will NOT leave them – physically OR emotionally. So they can grow into the powerful and loving daughters, mothers, partners, business owners, team members, and/or friends that they truly are.

I am Honesty. On the deepest level. Complete physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and energetic integrity.

It’s a sobering awareness for me even in this moment as I write.

All the places in my life and business where I am so hard on myself and judge myself for not being farther along… For not having more clients or making more money… For not being more in touch with my grandest purpose and vision for my work in the world… For not being more freed up around my sexuality… For not feeling happier and more satisfied with my life…

But 15 years ago I was a living dead person.

Today I am not.

In progress? Yes. But beautifully so.

I have moments of joy, and more all the time!

I experience connection with myself AND others on a level I could never have even conceived of back then.

More and more I am in partnership with my fear.

I have an intimate trust in my process, whether I feel like it in a given moment or not.

Most of all I feel loved. I feel love.

I feel.

Which for me maybe is the point of being alive. It IS being alive.

Life IS my capacity to be with the range of experiences and emotions that my human condition has to offer.

To NOT shut them down, but to welcome them.

And though in some ways I feel like I am excellent at this, in other ways I feel like a novice.

There are still places I resist. Some I am aware of and some I know I’m not.

But beneath it all I know – whether I realize it or not – my purpose, or rather, who I am.

Truth, honesty, and love.

Open Your Heart. Ignite Your Leadership.

The Brotherhood Community Men’s Leadership Intensive is a 3 day training that propels men into the next level of leadership in every area of their lives.

Mind blown, heart open, turned on, feeling POWERFUL, feeling LOVED, and overwhelmed with gratitude.

Learn more about the Men’s Leadership Intensive here.