Major trigger warning for this post. In many ways.
This post hurts to write. But it hurts more NOT to write it and share what’s going on.
This is an open letter that is for every leader, follower, or any person who has gone through tough stuff. I haven’t run this by my team or PR – or anyone else.
I’ll try to organize this by chapters so you can get what you need from this post….
Chapter 1: The preframe and explanation I can give at this time.
Chapter 2: The backstory of why I am the way I am
Chapter 3: The dilemma leaders face every day.
Chapter 4: Scars vs. scabs vs. wounds
Chapter 5A: What happens when we hide our struggles
Chapter 5B: My twin cousin/best friend cousin
Chapter 6: Why leaders have to keep going
Chapter 7: The pandemic traumatized leaders
Chapter 8: The cost of honesty and transparency
Chapter 9: The songs that have been helping me hold it together
Chapter 10: Poetry I’ve been writing for leaders (and just for me, too)
Chapter 1: the preframe and explanation I can give at this time.
Over the last few months, a domino of events occurred that hurt my family deeply.
A family situation (not in our control) happened that changed the dynamics of our family forever.
It isn’t me, Poul, Dakota, Delilah, or Dominic…. But it DOES affect our entire family.
It has to do with domestic violence and prison. I can’t keep talking around it – because it has wiped us all out emotionally – and it’s just beginning. It will affect us indirectly and directly.
It is going to impact us financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Children that I love deeply have not been safe and have been put in danger.
And I personally have to appear in court as an objective key witness with testimony and proof.
I want to protect my family, but it’s deeply disturbing and paining me and everyone involved. Children are my soft spot – because of my backstory. This was extra triggering for me…. And I try to protect people because my platform is bigger than it used to be.
Chapter 2: The backstory of why I am the way I am
I love my parents and family. I don’t ever want to hurt someone on purpose… Even those who have abused me.
This chapter hurts to write (but not writing it hurts even more – holding this in is destroying me).
As a child I was abused physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I was neglected – sometimes we didn’t have enough food. Neglect is sneaky because it’s hard to prove. How empty does a fridge need to be in order to say “We don’t have food….”????
By both of my parents.
My upbringing was filled with addiction, abuse, neglect, and gaslighting.
It was worse than I even share, because I always wanted to protect my parents (I believe they did they best they could with the tools/resources they had…. The church sure didn’t help. Many of the churches we went to gaslit all of us spiritually).
One parent takes full accountability, ownership, and apologized.
The other takes partial accountability, minimal ownership, and still slightly distorts stories to protect themself.
I journaled EVERYTHING from the age of 13 (with some journal entries starting at 11 years old).
My dad was a youth pastor at our church. My mom was the worship leader.
I told people at church and was gaslit or told I was mistaken. And then was destroyed in private.
I called the cops several times growing up… One of the cops in our neighborhood was an elder at our church. So I was convinced to not tell the truth.
My sisters didn’t see most of it – because I protected them (I’m 5 & 8 years older than them).
Took them to the park when the fights started.
Distracted my parents by causing fights to get my sisters out of harm’s way.
Brought them food from Taco Bell where I worked, bought them food with my babysitting money.
My sisters still don’t get it. That’s okay. I did my job by protecting them. I’m sorry if this hurts you, sissies. Love you still.
Chapter 3: The dilemma leaders face every day.
The leaders with good intentions and extraordinary motivation are usually the ones who went through the worst upbringings.
Leaders – I know it hurts every time you pour your heart out and get posts like:
“Fuck you, you fucking scammer”
“You only care about money”
“Your a worthless piece of shit”
“Stop fucking posting me”
I know your hearts. I know the people who want to tear you down don’t get it.
Please don’t stop being you. Please keep showing up. I’ll stand side by side with you and hold your hand. I’ll put my arm around you while your voice is shaking.
Leaders – I’m so sorry for the attacks you face when trying to help people. It DOES wear on us all. You’re not alone.
Some leaders give up because it’s too much to handle.
Some tap out of business.
Some tap out of life.
Some tap out of feeling (by numbing with substances).
Please don’t tap out. Just take a break.
Chapter 4: scars vs. scabs vs. wounds
“We’ve all fallen, and we have the skinned knees and bruised hearts to prove it. But scars are easier to talk about than they are to show, with all the remembered feelings laid bare. And rarely do we see wounds that are in the process of healing. I’m not sure if it’s because we feel too much shame to let anyone see a process as intimate as overcoming hurt, or if it’s because even when we muster the courage to share our still-incomplete healing, people reflexively look away.” – Brené Brown
Brené, PLEASE share more about sharing wounds.
Oprah, PLEASE share more about the most painful wounds.
Reese, PLEASE share more about the lowest points and mistakes.
Shonda, PLEASE share more stories of leaders who are broken.
Viola, Terry, Laura, Celine, Jason, Dwayne, Meryl, Denzel, Sandra, Octavia, Tony, Russell, Dean, Perry, Marie, Jay, Jenna, Harry…. PLEASE share more about the DEEPEST lows you have never shared about.
Actually, Viola, Shonda, and Celine – you’re good. Viola – your book hit hard. Shonda, your speech hit hard. Celine, watching your active grief after your loss hit hard.
We need to share our scabs and open wounds sometimes – or else we CAN’T heal.
There are leaders who NEED to hear it from people further along the journey than us. I need it. We need it.
Chapter 5A: what happens when we hide our struggles
I will not elaborate on this one. This is for my friend who hid her struggle – and it forever affected her life, her kids’ lives, and the lives of the people who were collateral damage, whose lives were ended and ruined.
Ugh, I can’t stop crying about it….. I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner.
Chapter 5B: my twin cousin/best friend cousin
7 years ago I stopped drinking.
You kept drinking.
We both died.
But you were buried and I was celebrated for my sobriety.
I’m so sorry I didn’t reach out and cry with you.
Chapter 6: why leaders have to keep going
When we have teams, followers, families, charities… We have to keep going.
Our payroll is more monthly than Poul and I used to make combined PER YEAR.
My personal goal is that everyone on my core team makes a minimum of $100,000 per year. We’re not there yet – but getting closer.
My 10 year goal is to write each member on my team a check for $1,000,000. And I will do it. Probably before I even write myself a check for that amount.
They deserve it more than I do.
I CELEBRATE my team getting homes, upgrades, cabins – even as every house I’ve tried to buy has fallen through (I’m losing count, have we lost 4 houses in the final hours? Or 5? It doesn’t matter anymore – my team is getting their dream houses).
Chapter 7: the pandemic traumatized leaders
I don’t have more to say on this.
Every leader with a team was traumatized during the pandemic.
Who holds the heavy head of the leader when everyone is pulling on them for help and guidance for two years?
We all were drowning with hundreds-thousands-millions holding on to us for hope.
Chapter 8: the cost of honesty and transparency
I have multiple speaking gigs coming up.
I have a book launch scheduled for September 20th.
I have small launches and intensives all lined up.
Being honest and transparent puts all of this at risk.
That puts my team, reputation and family at risk.
I don’t even blame anyone who pulls me from their lineups because of my transparency.
But I can’t keep pretending everything is okay.
I’m a good actress, but not Oscar worthy. I can’t keep pretending everything is fine all the time.
None of us leaders can do this forever. Can we please start telling the truth? Can we please rely on one another more to duck and provide cover for each other?
Chapter 9: the songs that have been helping me hold it together
Rescue by Lauren Daigle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYR0xP1j4PY
Sign of the Times by Harry Styles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN4ooNx77u0
Fix You cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsBNDryJYSs
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP-00EwLdiU
Yellow by Coldplay): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKNxeF4KMsY
Dusk Till Dawn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2k8PGm-TI
As it Was by Harry Styles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5v3kku4y6Q
Unstoppable by Sia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaEG2aWJnZ8
Chandelier by Sia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vjPBrBU-™
The Greatest by Sia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKSRyLdjsPA
Elastic Heart by Sia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWZGAExj-es
Courage to Change by Sia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWQACEqf4QY
Never Give Up by Sia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Ol3eprKiw
And here’s my playlist on Pandora that keeps me going: https://pandora.app.link/zlU6XzNRusb
Chapter 10: poetry I’ve been writing for leaders (and just for me, too)
“Why didn’t you ask for help?”
When I did, you didn’t believe me.
“Why do leaders never share their mess?”
When they did, it was used against them.
“Why do you hide your struggles?”
When I shared, you criticized how I shared.
“Why are you sharing this?”
Because I needed to know if anyone cared.
“Why can’t you be more emotional?” “What can’t you be more logical?”
Which is it? I’ve tried both. I’m tired.
If only someone read between the lines like I do for everyone else.
Everyone thinks leaders can’t/don’t cry. Nah, we just hide it better.
Wait, when you said you wanted “relatable”, what did you mean? Because I got real and you turned on me… You must have changed your mind….
Can you see how I’d be confused? You told me to take care of myself and then got mad when I did (you taught me that I cannot ever rest).
I was happiest at my heaviest and you asked “What’s wrong??? Why aren’t you taking care of yourself?!”. I then lost weight because CHEWING was suddenly exhausting. And then you praised me for being thin and having it all together.
(I was dying to LOOK alive)
My back is hurting and I need some REST.
(How are you supposed to ask anyone else to carry the weight of the world for a month?)
I know you asked how you can help… But my head was underwater (I couldn’t hear you). I just needed someone to pull me out of the water.
I know I pushed you away.. TBH, it was easier than explaining my mess.
(plus leaders can’t cry, right?)
Everyone asks for the lowlight reel…. Just so they can tell you “you’re a mess.”
When a leader opens up, they risk their team’s security. Who will hire someone that is FLAWED?
Believing the best in people is tough…. You don’t know how hard I fought to not hate the world.
In my car.
Alone in my room.
In the shower.
On the floor of my closet.
(When you ask if I ever cry, these places are where the evidence is)
Everyone wants your vulnerability. But only if it comes in their flavor/package of choice.
I don’t even know who is safe to open up to (why I don’t open up).
Did I imagine it when you said “I’ve got your back!!!”???? Or was it wishful thinking?
(hello? Where is everyone????)
I cannot sleep because I’m so stressed about not being able to sleep.
(rest and sleep are different)
When I’m anything less than perfect, you only see my failures.
(But no one sees how far I’ve come).
I’ve made a mistake and now I’m terrified someone will expose me.
(Can you buy GRACE on Amazon???)
Applause means nothing when you’re empty.
(Driving home alone again)
What if they all find out that I am a messy human, too?
(how incredibly disappointing)
I don’t even have the energy to defend myself… So just use my as a shield for the people I serve.
(But I’m nervous, I’m bleeding out faster than I expected)
What will it take to finally get a break? A grippy sock vacation sounds like heaven right about now.
(side note: I got that grippy sock vacation… And I left with handprint shaped bruises all over my body and witnesses of the abuse from nurses and doctors)
He thinks I’m addicted to work (how do I tell him I have no value without my work?)
I have so much more, but no more for today.
Now I’m going to go be with my family for a day or so.
See you soon,