AN OPEN LETTER TO MY SON, MAX.
Source (n): anything or place from which something comes, arises, or is obtained; origin:
I am Source.
I’ve spent most of the last year trying to understand this concept while going through the Zarvos leadership development coaching I’ve been involved in since January. Some days I get it, other days I struggle mightily with the whole idea of Source. It’s not a verb… it’s a noun.
For most of my life I’ve been running away from this basic truth. Max, I’ve made a career of blaming others for my actions or inactions. I’ve made excuses about things happening “to me”, instead of realizing that I am Source. I’ve complained about decisions I was “forced to make”, not accepting that every decision I ever made was a choice, MY CHOICE. I’ve allowed myself to be a victim of my own story, implicating others for my own shortcomings. Even your silence of the last six months I tried to turn around to make me seem like the injured party.
And all you ever wanted was for me to take responsibility. For me to admit that…
I am Source.
Max, twenty five years ago, I did not understand the importance of the marriage vows I was about to take. They were words on a piece of paper, “guidelines” that could be followed or forgotten as needed. Heck, I even decided to delete the word “obey” from our vows… nobody was going to give me boundaries. I was young. I was foolish. At 23, I was still just a child. Not an excuse Max, just a feeble explanation. I am Source.
For the last twenty five years (and perhaps over my entire life), I wasn’t secure enough to love unconditionally. My love had strings attached. Unfortunately, one of those strings with your mom was the inclusion of other people in our marriage. As head of the household, I should have been strong enough in my values, grounded enough in my beliefs, and honest enough with your mom to talk openly and honestly about the affairs that were a constant part of our quarter-century together… since the beginning. I am Source.
Max, I should have cared more about the impact my decisions were having on you, Josh, and your mom, but I was so caught up in my own crap, dealing with my own issues of self-worth and self-doubt that even though I could see the pain I was causing our family, I often felt powerless to stop or even change my own abhorrent behavior. I said and did things that I have since forgiven myself for, but will never ever forget. Although there is plenty of blame to share, the fact remains. I am Source.
Max, perhaps worst of all, during the worst of times, I purposefully shut you out of my life. Shame, guilt, anger, hurt, stupidity, intolerance, fear… pick one, pick them all. The more out of control I was, the less worthy I felt of your attention. The more hurt I felt inside, the more I hurt you. HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. I couldn’t show you love and affection, but was able to show it to strangers and acquaintances. I couldn’t give you a hug when you needed it most, but was able to lead a Free Hug Day with people I didn’t know. It’s taken me a few years to understand that I push people away I love the most because I have more to lose if I “screw up”… one hug is never enough… or so I grew up to believe. I freely give away my love to strangers, because if it is rejected, I’m really no worse for the wear.
Because I am Source, the accountability for the results lie at my feet.
Am I solely to blame? When you are Source, there is no “blame”. This is my responsibility. I am responsible for my actions. No excuses.
Max, I can’t change the past; all I can do is choose for things to be different from this point forward. And I have made that choice. Moving out of our house this year was part of that choice. Divorcing your mom after 25 years was part of that choice. Developing a relationship with God is part of that choice, as was my recent baptism. Working on myself, with the help of a wonderful therapist, an incredible group of 25 people in my VIA family, and my amazing partner Carla has been part of that choice.
And embracing my authenticity, leading with my heart and not with my head is part of that choice too.
For the first time in decades, I am not running from my “real” self. I care, I love, I laugh, I cry, and I accept responsibility… freely.
Max, please forgive me for running away from you, for not being the father you deserved and needed, for giving my love so freely to others but withholding it from you and your brother, for not respecting and honoring your mother as I should have, for not being the strong moral man I knew I could have been.
Maxi-bear, I love you with all my heart.