My Mom is one of my Facebook friends and can therefore easily lurk into all the details of my life. She recently read a post where I admitted to some of my not-so-attractive past behaviors and called me the next day to express her hurt feelings.
We have an overt agreement for us to be honest with each other and not sweep issues under the rug. While it was initially a difficult call, it ended well with resolution between us. However, her final statement continued to ring my ears:
I guess you’ll be airing the family’s dirty laundry. We’ll have to see how the chips will fall.
My wife, Morgan, is another diligent observer of my work and my trusted counsel. She recently commented on some of my revelations on my podcast around my sexual orientation. While none of it was a surprise to her, she expressed concern that some men in our society would be repelled by what they heard and therefore would shun me just because my viewpoint offended them. I heard her wise words.
I know the impact of being transparent is very real. We live in a polarized world full of bullies and haters. The anonymous nature of the Internet allows trolls to speak their mind freely using damaging words without repercussions. False rumors and unsubstantiated allegations are common, and reputations can easily be tarnished. I am not naive to see this in our cyber-based society.
However, when I think about living inside a filter, my chest begins to ache. I feel the straightjacket of their rules. Our society sets specific rules for men on what is acceptable to reveal and what isn’t.
Whether we accept it or not, we avoid these electric fences that keep us inside the pack, heading numbly down the cattle shoot, spending our lives coloring inside their lines. Most are completely unconscious of these guidelines and “go along to get along.” We don’t appreciate that there is even an answer to go against the societal norm.
Others just pretend to play along.
Recently, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of long-standing Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington, after decades-old allegations of sexual abuse of a teenage altar-boy (source: CNN). How many times do we see people with public faces who hide their dangerous private side? Even with expose after expose, we still have leaders who use their power for their personal gain.
Our president, the leader of our country, sets an even worse example speaking over 3,000 lies or misleading statements since taking office in January 2017 (source: Washington Post). What is the impact of seeing a man with no integrity inside our oval office?
People lie for two reasons: (a) to look good for (b) to avoid punishment. We believe that we must create false facades in order to keep ourselves safe and climb up the societal ladder. Underneath it, we continue to reinforce our belief system that says that we’re not good enough just as we are.
We would not be wanted if we revealed ourselves and certainly, those secrets must remain in our mental lockbox away from the world’s prying eyes. We need to fit in.
I say ENOUGH is ENOUGH. I believe that we’re only as sick as our secrets.
It is the immense amount of energy that we expend that is robbing us of our life-force. We keep our desires away from our intimate friends and when they leak out, marriages end, friendships are torn apart, and we are tortured by our betrayal. We fear living authentically but then create prisons that we suffocate in. We dream of feeling free but avoid the work to do so. We are the creators of our self-limitations.
I am a man who is diligently working on his platform to become a public thought-leader. For the last three years, I’ve vulnerably shared all aspects of my life on my podcast. With my book coming in November, I will take this to the next level with personal stories and beliefs with my own life revealed as an example of the power of living unHIDDEN.
I have taken the impact of my exposing my own frailties, my mistakes, and where I have harmed others. I believe in the power of truth and the need to live authentically in the world. I will accept those chips as they fall and continue to expose myself.
I am not prescribing that you live as exposed as I do. For some, speaking the truth may lead to physical danger or even death. Be conscious of the risks that exist in your schools and on the internet.
I respect the need to keep elements of your life hidden. However, for some, I suspect you’re holding back due to an irrational fear of rejection or abandonment. My belief is your withholding these aspects of yourself might be robbing your intimate friends of the most interesting and powerful parts of yourself. Your facade enables them to keep their walls up as well.
We can start the road of deep intimacy with a single truth.
We live in a world where isolation is the norm. We are more intimate with our screens than with our loved ones. If your secrecy is suffocating you, I recommend the following steps to start the dialogue of truth.
- Find the truth inside of you that you want to reveal.
- Do your inner work to getting right with speaking it to another.
- Ask an intimate friend to hold space for you while you speak it.
- Receive feedback from them on its impact.
- Pick another friend to speak this truth. Repeat cycle.
These steps might seems like an impossible Herculean task to complete. However, it’s possible it’s going to be a lot easier than you expect. I highly recommend you go on this journey because the deep intimacy that you crave is one truth away.