Dirty Little Secrets

I got a promotion at work yesterday. That’s right. Work. A promotion. My dirty little secret is that I recently took a part-time job. Then I accepted another, and another.

I went from carefree author, coach, and network leader to Jill-of-All-Trades overnight.

Why, you ask? I did it for the money. Actually, I did it for the freedom that money is about to buy for me.

What precipitated this sudden need for freedom? Issues in my relationship. We’re falling apart. It recently got so uncomfortable that I told him, “I’m getting a job and moving out.” The Divine backed me up 100%. I found the perfect job for me within an hour of beginning my search and was hired the same day. Little more than a month after being hired, I got promoted to the premiere property that company services.

Why would that be a dirty little secret? Because LIFE COACHES aren’t supposed to have problems! We’re not supposed to have side jobs and relationship issues. We’re supposed to have perfect little lives, outrageous incomes, and all the answers. At least, those are the misperceptions I run into most often.

My reality is, none of us come with a pedestal and no one really belongs on one. We are ALL human, including Life Coaches. I experience all the feelings, and while I may have more tools in my toolbox than others, sometimes I can’t find my damn keys to get that toolbox open fast enough. I lose my temper. I make ‘bad’ choices in the moment (I actually believe everything works out for the good, so the choices aren’t really ‘bad.’)  Hell, I make downright mistakes! All of that is ok. It is part and parcel of the spiritual experience of being human.

I have had the pleasure of giving very little focus to my business for the last eight years. Other priorities were a lot more important to me, and I was supported to fully engage in them. I’ve travelled to see my son 4 or 5 times in the past year. I’ve been writing, taking classes, and training coaches (teaching IS learning!) I dedicated myself to my relationship with The Sweetheart. Most of all, for the past eight years I have dedicated myself to my relationship with myself. That is the greatest investment I could ever make, especially if I’m going to coach others on their relationship with themselves. It is incredibly important to me to continue to invest in my relationship with myself.

And, yet, I still feel a little guilty. I mean, I’m a Coach! I should have, could have, would have… I shouldn’t… Oh, the stories!

There’s a list as long as my arm. In hindsight, I see the warning signs where I might have chosen differently. Nonetheless, as I overheard a gentleman repeatedly admonish his son the other night, “You cannot drive a car down the highway while staring at the rearview mirror!” There will always be red flags in life. I’d have to live in one of those plastic bubbles to avoid all of them, and I’m not even sure that would work. Some red flags are dire, and others are merely commentary; we rarely find out which category until long after the fact.

So, what is the point of all this confession?

Dirty little secrets keep us stuck and contribute to keeping other people stuck. If I pretend to my life is anything other than it is, I expend a lot of energy in holding up a facade and create false expectations for others. Let me give you a few examples.

I was severely abused as a child. My family kept up the facade that our life was perfectly harmonious. When I told my junior high guidance counsellor that the golf ball size clot of blood on the back of my head was caused by one of the beatings, I was admonished not to tell lies about a “pillar of the community.” The man called my step-father and told him what I said. I’ll spare you the details of what happened when I got home that day. I never told again. Dirty little secret.

Child abuse is coming out in the open, but is still a dirty little secret in a lot of lives. According to an old article in the New York Times, thirty percent of people who were abused as children will repeat that pattern of abuse. There would be so many fewer cases of abuse if those people had never been abused. Abuse stops when it is no longer kept a dirty little secret.

The same is true of self-abuse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered that there are things my clients have been too ashamed to tell me. Whether it was something that was done to them, or something they had done to others, the self-abuse they heaped on themselves about their own dirty little secrets kept them stuck. When they finally realize that they can tell me and I won’t echo the self-deprecating judgments that run around inside their own minds, they become free. Free to examine how the secrets served them and what good has happened as a result of the incidents (If I can find the good in my past, I can easily find the good in yours.) Suddenly, dirty little secrets become sources of strength!

Finally, when I keep dirty little secrets about my own life and fail to be transparent about my reality, I create false expectations for others. My ethics simply won’t allow me to do that. New entrepreneurs (and experienced ones) need to know that there is nothing wrong with them if they are struggling. I believe that people need to know that it’s normal to have issues in relationships, work, and life, and that the only way to work them out is to admit that they exist.

Life is not black and white, cut and dried, or simple. Life is often messy, ambiguous, and uncharted. The more we are really participating in living life, the more this is true. And, that’s no secret.

What dirty little secret is it time for you to examine? It’s okay. We all have them. You don’t have to tell anyone except yourself, though it’s amazingly liberating to say it to a safe someone. I promise you’ll feel better when you say it out loud, even if it’s only to a mirror behind a closed door. If it’s really tough, call me. I’ll love you through it.

Dirty little secrets lose their power when they are brought out into the light.
They transform into strengths when they are exposed to love.
Love someone today, would you? Extra points if it’s you!

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