“If we were REALLY being authentic, we’d admit it hurts like hell.”
In Naomi Dunford’s latest post, she talks about how we (try to) filter our authenticity through ‘only the feel good’ stuff (which isn’t real authenticity at all) and the high cost of being truly authentic when you’re ittybiz’in it.
That last line is what did it for me. I (have finally) found my permission. Not from Naomi but in her demonstration and willingness to take the risk of showing her pain.
And then buried down in the comments is another really profound comment from Mark Silver where he points out that being on the internet, doing the social media thing, there is a level of personal accountability that we are removed from. We cannot see the tears slowly build up in someone’s eyes. We cannot see their brow furrow in confusion. Or even the big huge smile that appears on their faces, let alone hear a beautiful giggling guffaw.
In some strange ways, social media is giving us a vehicle to be more authentic on some levels and then dangerously converse, to hide out, being completely detached, if we choose.
Not that detachment is bad. It can really serve us well when we’re having shoes thrown at us or on the receiving end of a nasty DM or passive-aggressive email.
But detachment when you’re hiding so you can show up in ways where you say stuff you wouldn’t normally say in person is not healthy detachment. It’s showing the world you have a real fear of retribution (maybe because you know exactly what you’re doing when you say it in the first place) and then hiding out behind your computer screen or email inbox. It’s turtling (my new favorite word I first heard used by Charlie Gilkey).
And then the pretending begins. Which makes me want to barf. Because pretending is not authentic at all.
So I’m going to stop pretending right here and now. I am going to get really authentic.
Surprisingly, just yesterday, a client said to and about me that she doesn’t think she’s met a more authentic person. Wow! How do I let that one in? How do I begin to contemplate the truth in that? My stuff. We all got some.
Yet mostly because of Naomi’s willingness to share her uncomfortable feelings in her latest post and partly because of my client’s comment, I’m willing to be a different kind of authentic today.
So here goes…
I’m grieving. And I have been for a while now.
I guess if there is such a thing as a beginning point, much of this began for me earlier this year, in March-ish. I had been working with my business partner Wendy Cholbi for just over a year. In the fall of 2007, I had approached her with this idea (post is no longer available in it’s original form but I’ve republished it on my blog) of teaching coaches how to build their own web presence using a blogging content management system.
I had already known Wendy for at least a year, maybe two. She had been attracted to the life coaching work I do, where I help people shift their awareness around fear so they can discover and accept more of themselves.
I trusted her and who she showed me she was. I trusted myself too, my evaluation of what she showed me, my intuition. Trust was and continues to be a big thing for me.
And oh it was so much fun! Working together and creating YourWebCoaches.com. The journey taught me so much. Lots of tears, lots of laughs, lots of hope. Even success as there were people saying yes to our workshop. Coming in, sitting down in front of their computers and allowing us to guide them on a technology journey that is really never about the technology, and all about the “I really can do this!”
Deep reward. Deep satisfaction. And especially hearing our participants express appreciation for what we were doing together, as a team.
And we were both always wanting more. To take it to the next level. At least, that’s what I thought because I didn’t hear anything otherwise.
And in December of 2008, Wendy got some really devastating news. A relationship very important to her was ending. One that, I imagine, defined her up until that time, in a lot of ways. Not totally. But significantly. And in the ending of any relationship is a death. A death of dreams. Of a future. Of a part of us and sometimes it feels like all of us, on some very deep levels.
It was painful to watch and yet I also knew complete liberation awaited on the other side of it. Because I had been there myself. Several times. Probably one of the reasons I sought out coaching and eventually became one. Learning how to deal with the difficult curve balls life throws us while not killing ourselves in the process.
And in the midst of the death and destruction Wendy was undergoing, she and I were also trying to create. Crazy, I know. But that’s just the timing of it all I guess. I mean, how much of it is really in our control?
We were working together with an incredible coach. Charlie Gilkey. I rant about him all the time so if you hang out with me here on my blog, seeing his name again won’t be a big surprise.
Charlie was giving us all sorts of system-y structure stuff to chew on in our business. Basecamp. Consolidating web presences into one so we could leverage our two-being presence. There’s a Wendy and a Mynde. “Leverage leverage leverage this!” he said.
So we did.
We incorporated in early February of 2009 and continued working on our plan to launch another workshop. This time it would be better. We’d have more participants. We had Charlie. We had Dave Navarro’s Launch The Shit ebook which was really about launching ebooks, but hey, I was determined to benefit by it to get asses into seats.
April 1 would be our first 2009 workshop launch date. We both agreed. We met bi-weekly with Charlie. And I Basecamped myself to near death. Wendy was…. well I really don’t know. I can guess, so I will. She was licking her wounds. She was reeling still, from her own dramatic news delivered to her just the day before Christmas. So terribly heartbreaking. But inside, a voice whispered to me and wanted to know, what don’t you see or are you not willing to see when news this terrible just “lands” in your lap?
And it’s difficult to watch someone you love be in pain. Wendy’s humor is incredibly sharp. When she shows it to you. SHE is incredibly sharp, when she decides to show up. I choose not blame her for any of the way she is because she showed this to me consistently, over and over. I knew. But I hoped. I hoped she’d find her self-approval and stand next to me and shine brightly. We’d rock it out and have a good time.
But that’s not how the story ends.
My game plan was to stay open. Keep my heart open. Always go bigger and stretch it… stay open. Be compassionate. You’ve been there yourself Mynde. And Wendy just kept disappearing. Until it was just me, in our treehouse. I was alone. And I was tired. Because I was holding up the treehouse fort. Setting up structures and affiliate programs and writing content and trying to be good biz partner and do my part.
Until that one day March I think it was. I had finally realized I wasn’t honoring myself by doing it all. And every time I thought about the fact that I was going to get 50% of the profits for 100% of the work, I got really angry inside. It was killing me. I had to say something. Maybe she would grab onto our business like a rope and use it re-center herself? I hoped.
I said, “This isn’t working for me. I need a partner. That’s why I asked you to come play with me to begin with, so I wouldn’t have to do it alone. But I’m alone. And I’m sorry you’re hurting and things can’t be timed better and everything else that is out of our control.”
“What do you think we can do here?”
The killing kind. The kind that leads to sickness when you don’t speak up.
And we never came back from there.
And both of us confessed in mediated coaching sessions our worst fear was that the treehouse would burn down. Neither of us wanting that to happen and feeling completely helpless. Because it was burning. Burning up. Smoldering inferno.
My coachy conscious said, “Wait. Stay in it. Don’t run. Stay open. Keep your heart open here Mynde. Keep asking questions, gently. Don’t run away.”
And by mid summer, the only communication I have with her now is via a Mastermind group. I’m finding out about her life, her business decisions, about OUR business, via a Mastermind group. I’m finding out she no longer wants to accept one-on-one clients. (Me: “Wow, what else will I have to learn this way?”)
Emails go unanswered. Scheduled calls drop out of reality.
But when she shows up for Mastermindy stuff. She’s chipper and fine and making decisions and learning to take care of herself. And everyone in our group, including us, know we’re struggling with our business.
And within a few weeks, I find out I’m replaced. And oh, she wants me to host our free monthly recurring business call on my BlogTalkRadio channel and give her “new” workshop with her “new” partner visibility, using our lists, our platform, our web presence.
Oh god. I need to puke.
Is this really happening?
And then Paypal. No email saying, “Hey I’d like to pay our LLC taxes.” Just a big fat huge fucking withdrawal. Nearly all of it. No reconciliation of anything.
And then, no more author rights to our web presence that I designed. I am no longer an author. I cannot access WordPress. I can’t even take my fucking picture down or get my content. And she claims she owns the domain, it was never purchased by the business. What?
Are you fucking kidding me?
Let me tell you about betrayal and grief. I’ve been betrayed. My first husband cheated while his daughter was growing in my belling. I know about betrayal.
And the betrayal in an intimate relationship, where sex is involved, is nothing like the betrayal of a business partner. It makes sex feel meaningless in the whole scheme of things.
In a business, your heart, your soul, your money, time, energy… everything is on the line. And I think that’s why it hurts so much more than the pain and loss from a broken relationship. Those come and go. How we earn our living… that is essential to who we are.
And I’m hurting. So very deeply. Broken in tiny pieces.
Really? There was no other way to do this? Seriously Universe?
More mediation. She doesn’t want any kind of relationship with me. Not friends, not anything. Oh, and there’s no animosity. Yeah, fucking right, there’s not!
If that were true, then wouldn’t we have been able to work things out? Renegotiate? Or end things together, the same way we we started it?
So this is my grief. This is the loss that I’m moving through. This is the letting go and excavating and the checking in with my own responsibility in the matter.
And deciding on what my intention is for writing this all out and sharing it.
The big one… to step out of the killer of silence and pretending and say out loud to the world, “I’ve been shit on and it totally sucks and hurts like hell!”
Pretending that “Oh yeah, things just are moving in a new direction… that’s all. We don’t owe our clients/participants or members of shared tribes any explanation. We don’t owe anyone anything!”
Bullshit. Not authentic. At all.
So today, I am scouring my life and asking myself, where am I pretending? Because I don’t want to pretend and coast along as if everything is hunky dory. I want to heal. I want closure. And I want to be and feel clean within myself.
And I’m also asking myself, where am I playing small? Where am I settling for less? Because time has run out on settling and playing small.
And, how do I heal and take care of myself and really let go of all of this?
By allowing myself to feel hurt and sad. Very powerful.
By choosing again. This time, I choose not to refuse myself the hurt and sadness because I want to feel better. I realize the more I refuse my grief and sadness, the more I stay stuck in it. And I acknowledge myself for staying in it. And giving it time. And waiting patiently. And since a healthy sense of closure is something she cannot give, I will get it the best way I know how. I will give it to myself.
So today, I grieve. And let go. And say goodbye.
Goodbye Treehouse. Goodbye Wendy. Be well. I am so so sorry for whatever misunderstanding came between us. And wish you more success, love and cooperative healing relationships than you could possibly contain.
And I am healed and healing, in this transformative alchemy of death and destruction.