It has come to my attention that a group from my former non-profit has been circulating a letter with their concerns about my failures and the hurt I caused. The pain I inflicted while leading that organization hasn’t lessened over the last 8 years, and time has driven that pain deeper for some. I grieve because of that.
My closest friends won’t be surprised by this news. And if you’ve heard me speak or have read my books, you’re aware that I made some inexcusable mistakes. Because those mistakes have been transformative in my life and my work, these mistakes have not been a secret.
Over the years, I failed to maintain suitable boundaries in some of my friendships with women. Some of those became inappropriate in nature and this pattern caused great harm to my marriage.
While none of these relationships crossed physical boundaries, with the exception of one extended embrace, they were still inappropriate. I didn’t realize then how the dynamics of power surrounding these friendships could be so damaging. It’s one of the deepest regrets of my life.
After a decade of processing and countless steps of awakening, healing and growth, I realize my lack of my of self-awareness sometimes prevented me from even absorbing how much hurt I inflicted on others. Especially those closest to me.
But in moments when I can let down my defenses and open myself up to vulnerability, I feel overcome with sorrow for having been the source of that hurt—to anyone, but especially to my wife Phileena. When I learn of the impact of the hurt I’ve caused people and can begin to grasp the damage I’ve inflicted, it’s paralyzing and leads me to some difficult places of shame.
As I’ve owned my mistakes over the years, I realized I needed some specific tools for honoring boundaries within my personal life and my work:
- Accountability: It’s been essential to submit to relationships that support accountability in my personal and professional life. Mentors, teachers, guides, and leaders who mirror back to me my behavior and speak the truth in love, have helped me take responsibility for my life and actions. I am submitted to accountability and welcome it.
- Psychotherapy: Working with a therapist over the years has helped me do the heavy lifting of inner excavation, discovering more of my unconscious motivations. Additionally, marriage counseling has helped me become more vulnerable with Phileena and helped heal the hurt I’ve caused her.
- Spiritual Direction: Regular meetings with my spiritual director/confessor is a non-negotiable. This person in my life has helped me bring my hurtful patterns into my mindfulness practices so I can bring them into awareness. If we can’t self-observe then we can’t self-correct.
- Transparency: I now strive for my life to be an open book. It brings down my defense mechanisms and helps me open to vulnerability. Transparency means I don’t have anything to hide from my wife, my co-workers, my friends, my family, and you.
- Confession: I have and am committed to living confessionally. Over the years I have owned my mistakes. I have confessed them. I will continue to live into this value in all of my relationships.
It is important to me that there is no doubt of my sincere commitment to transparency, vulnerability, and accountability.
It grieves me to no end to learn that I was—and am still—the source of anyone’s pain. Although I have taken steps over the years to make amends, I have been unable to sufficiently express my sorrow. I want you to know that I have learned from these experiences.
To anyone I’ve hurt, the failure was mine. Know that I am so sorry for betraying your trust. I am forever open to making amends, and I welcome the opportunity.