I recently went to a brilliant incredible unforgettable retreat in the mountains of Georgia. It was with a company called MBM (Meeting of the Big Minds). I can describe the weekend as camp meets business meets college meets TED talks. There were 15 of us, ages 25-60 from all across the country. CEOS, authors, lawyers, high powered executives, all who mix their for profit lives with wanting to do better in the world. On the first day we did something called "The Spotlight." This was where we had to address the group, tell everyone who we are, what we do, how we can be an asset to the group, and something we need help with. And the group then collectively tries to help each other.
I was obviously super nervous about having to do this, but excited at the same time. I thought that I was going to mostly talk about my PR firm, but when it came time for my turn, I started talking about The Farley Project. I told everyone about my dream to have love, kindess and compassion literally taught in schools along with math, science and social Studies. I shared about how I dream of a day where there is NO more bullying, NONE, in the schools. I dream of a day where if ever and whenever a child is sitting alone in the school cafeteria there is a Farley Project Friend to be by their side. I shared how we are starting slow, with one middle school in Inglewood, CA and working with 300 children, to try and make them realize that their actions now can have long term effect on each other.
I was asked by someone in the group why I started the charity. At this point I got choked up and slowly started talking about how I was bullied horribly when I was younger. Then I started to cry. I think actually I started to bawl. It was a cry that comes out only when I really get vulnerable and talk about what happened to me. It was a cry that doesn't often come out, but it's there buried deep inside.
The next day when I was doing a "one on one" with one of the leaders of MBM, she looked me in the eye and simply said "ARE YOU OKAY?" To this I replied "yes!" So she asked me again. We talked about the bullying, and she was sharing how it's so wonderful that I am on this anti-bullying crusade and it's amazing how I want to help lots of people, but I need to make sure that I am healed too.
This was a little seed planted in my mind and I've been thinking about it for the past few weeks. Am I okay? Do I need to go back to therapy? Am I still holding on to stuff from 22 freaking years ago?
As you all know when I have questions like this, I start to meditate, do lots of yoga and ask questions. And I realized the truth is I'm not fully healed. I shy away from confrontation at any cost. I've been needing to have a conversation with someone at work for months that I've been putting off. Why? Because my younger recollection of confrontation is that I'm going to lose all of my friends. Confrontation to me is a very unsafe and scary and hellish place. But I can't live my life like this now.
I own a PR firm and we do large scale events year round. I've been doing events, uber successful ones, for years. Yet without fail before every single event I go into complete panic mode. I fear that no one will show up. I literally bring myself into a complete and utter anxious mess right up until the event is over. My sister/business partner doesn't do this. She is confident that each one will be over the top successful and she is right EVERY time. Yet I'm paralyzed with insecurities. Twenty two years ago, the night before my Bat Mitzvah, I got a call from one of the bullies saying that "no one was going to show up to temple," that I was going to have no one at my party. And I believe that 22 years later I'm still paralyzed by this fear.
At 35-years-old when I call a friend and don't hear back for a few days I'm convinced that they are mad at me.
NO MORE. NO MORE. NO MORE.
Today I have decided that I will not live another day having my past control my present. I will not live another day feeling like I am not good enough. I've been digging deep about why I feel the need to save every child that is going through bullying, and the truth is, I need to give a big hug to the 13-year-old little girl living in me. I wish I could go back and talk to her and tell her that everything is going to be okay. I wish I could talk to her when she got letters telling her to DIE and to kill herself and that she sucked, was a slut, a bitch, stupid, ugly, a loser -- I wish she would just hold her head high and know that she was NONE of those things. I've been carrying this crap around with me for 22 years and I wont do it anymore.
I'm too special of a person and have too much to do in life to let this cripple my present. I have work to do! I have a company to run. I have lives to touch and have my life to live and I want to live it with my head held high and my heart open. I want my heart open without fear that it's going to get hurt again.
And that's what I plan on doing from here on in.
World watch out!