Hurt people hurt people.

Calm vs Panic signs with blurred beach background

When you realize that you’ve been a complete jackass, the next step is to go back and clean up the past. Right the wrongs, apologize to those you’ve hurt and ask for forgiveness. So that’s where I’m starting this post; with an apology. I’m sorry.

I’ve recently had a bit of an awakening and as I look back at all the people I’ve hurt, I toggle between disbelief and regret. If you’re one of them, you can expect a phone call or an email over the next several months, (yes the list is that long). And if you think maybe I didn’t even know that I hurt you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am in a mental space where I can be with whatever you want to share with me. You can count on me to be open and hear you.

What I knew for sure was that I wasn’t always aggressive and abrasive. Since it had continued to impact important relationships in my life, it was time for me discover what the heck it was all about. Where was it coming from? I had spent the last several years of my life in a whirling relationship mashup of one foot on the gas and one on the brake. Go, stop, repeat. Go, stop, repeat. And it was never subtle. More like 60 mph, halt! 80 mph, halt! 100 mph, halt! But why? What was it that was rising up inside me when things got really great with people that had me sure we were about to crash? What was spooking me and triggering a sloppy mess of emotions that made me feel like I had to brace for impact and start controlling everything? What the hell was it that forced me to sabotage again and again? The answer is fear. It’s more than a little surreal to learn that my favorite quote to offer people who are feeling extreme emotions, “the world is your mirror” is what I should have been using to reflect on my own emotions. I’d always say to people “what are you feeling and why are you feeling it?”.

In addition to refusing to take my own advice, I am a bit of a quagmire of another sort, it’s seems. While I simultaneously had the dire need to control everything, causing damage along the way, I was also a huge bleeding heart sort of gal. I genuinely love people, like REALLY love them. I have always been a champion for the underdog. No one was going to cry on my watch without my shoulder being offered. Not even strangers. Other people’s pain is something I can’t stomach. I am always compelled to help and offer solutions, or at the very least, a big hug. When someone in our community is charged with a crime and much of the city is focused on condemnation, I think “wait, no one behaves like that without their own pain” and I become incredibly curious about what led them to the space where they felt driven to commit the crime. When someone says “oh she’s awful, stay away from her”, I immediately wonder why she’s the way she is and want to help her in whatever way she’ll let me. No one is born rotten.

I have always been very present to the notion that hurt people, hurt people. But it didn’t occur to me that the same perspective could apply to me. For years, my coach has tried repeatedly to get me to take a break from saving the world, and look at my own pain, instead. I haven’t been a very willing participant. Talk about my past? My own “stuff”? Um, no thanks, coach. I would dodge, weave and deflect. Whatever it took to get me out of looking the issue in the eye.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended Landmark’s Advanced Course at Coach Carlos’ request. The course leader swiftly echoed Carlos’ sentiments. “Billie you’re playing small. Your life could be so much more.” I argued that he didn’t know what he was talking about. I shared that in the past two years, I’ve lost over 100 lbs, reinvented my marriage, found Christ, launched a second business, had the first million dollar year for our existing business, fell in major love with my children, and purchased two lake homes! That can’t be playing small! Something in my spoutings made him realize that he was familiar with my previous post about the Forum and he said “Ah, Billie. Our 85% gal” (in the post, I referenced that I thought Landmark was 85% awesome). I shuddered a bit knowing that he was about to sink his all-knowing Landmartian teeth into me. He went on to ask me to take a look at other places in my life where I am only 85% committed. Areas where I maintain a margin of safety, instead of giving my entire self to something or someone. We ran through a few instances where I could see the pattern:

  • The Republican who loves love, and wants all people in love to be free to marry.
  • The person who is big on integrity, but exaggerates when she recants a story.
  • The girl who loves people, but who fails to be concerned with how she impacts them.

I listened intently, but I wasn’t sure that what I was coming up with was bad or worthy of a change in my way of being. While I was up at the microphone, I couldn’t grasp what Roger was trying to get me to see. It just wasn’t resonating, so I sat down and chewed on it for a few hours.

During a break, he approached me and we talked about how my holding back in life is not easily detectable because my 85% outperforms the norm. So, I’m able to fly under the radar without friends or family ever saying “Billie, you can do better”. But Carlos had been saying it for years. And he was right. I absolutely hated hearing it, but I knew that Roger was onto something. I also knew God placed me in this space for a reason. I thought about it some more. What the hell was it? Why do I hold back? Why do I always make sure I have enough slack to change my mind and run? 

As the course was wrapping up at 10:30 pm, on Sunday night, one of the members of my parsed-out group of five was stuck in a bad mood because the sales and marketing approach of excessive prompts to sign up for the next course that Landmark uses had started to grind on his nerves. He truly wanted to sign up for this project based course because it’s a full curriculum for executing whatever your plan for bettering the world was and he had a brilliant idea that he was ready to launch. He was just too annoyed to shake off the silly sales dust and sign up. This struck me as a little off, especially because we’d just spent the entire weekend learning how to hold onto our power, and he was giving his to Landmark. Needless to say, I put on my convince-asaurus hat and did my thing. He bought in. And just as he said “you’re right, B. I’m being stubborn and I totally need to do this”, I said “hey, I don’t mean to pressure you. I mean really think it through first. It’s up to you”. He turned to me and said “THERE’S YOUR 85%! What are you trying to protect me from? I can protect myself, and a second ago you had me ready to go big! Why do you do that?!”

BAM!!!!!!! It all crashed in on me at. Fourteen years worth of a mess I had created came over me like a tsunami. Tears came flooding in while I curled up in a ball. I have been trying to protect people, lies and secrets and for fourteen years! FOURTEEN EFFING YEARS! A decade and a half with clenched fists, and a tight jaw. A decade and a half playing whack-a-mole with my whole world. It’s been exhausting and unrewarding. Yuck. I am ALWAYS waiting for someone to betray me, or hurt someone else on my watch or because of my encouragement to be in a certain situation. Always waiting for it. Always sure that pain was right around the corner. Dammit! 

I’m not sure yet if I will publicly share the full story, I am praying about it. For now, I’ll just offer that there were four impactful events in a span of fourteen years, all involving the same person in my life. Events that rocked me to the core and that I minimized and swept under the rug. They weren’t little though, and they hurt like hell. The good news is that the lightbulb is on, shining bright. I will no longer pretend that I wasn’t impacted, along with several others by this persons powerful ripples. What’s important is that I find the compassion to extend the same latitude to him that I am now giving myself. I’m left wondering what his past was like and where his pain comes from, and I’m realizing in the 41 years that I’ve known him, he’s he never shared much about his childhood with me. The bits that I do know aren’t very pretty, nodding once again to the cycle that hurt people hurt people

Ultimately, what I am eager to share is this…If you were caught in my ludicrous cycle of thrashing between extreme love and extreme control, I am so sorry. I’m sorry that I was such a pain in the ass. I’m sorry that I was so sticky and confusing to be friends with. I’m sorry that you never knew which of my two personalities was going to show up. 

The ones who took the brunt of my insanity? The employees. Ugh, my poor employees! I was always waiting for them to prove to me that they were untrustworthy. Always waiting for the unsavory events to repeat themselves. Can you imagine working for someone with that view? Rainmaker is a little under ten years old, has consistently been a team of between 8-10 and has had more than 50 employees come and go in that time. There’s a small handful of resilient individuals who stuck it out, but multiples more were fired by the lunatic fear-monster or chose to bail. My first round of apologies is to the people I have employed over the past fourteen years. I’m. So. Sorry. Sorry for being controlling. Sorry for being faux-curious about your personal lives when truth is that I was looking for ways that your poor judgement in your life would affect the business. I’m sorry that I was always looking for you to be wrong in some way that would hurt the means that I use to provide for my family. I am sorry that I was looking for you to repeat a pattern that had nothing to do with you. I’m sorry for behaving as if it was necessary to protect the world from you. I’m sorry for the eye rolls, the glares, and for all the times I made you wrong instead of being interested and open. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. 

Friends, family, co-workers, Coach Carlos, the sweetest, most amazing man in the whole world, and most of all, God, who stuck through the crazy with me, the ones who kept your seat belt fastened and stayed on the bumpy-ass roller coaster, THANK YOU.  Thank you for being patient, for loving me, and for seeing the good in me through the cloud of confusion. I love you more than you know and I am finally free to give myself to you and begin loving you the way that you’ve loved me.


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