Now let’s move on to the 3rd Key.
The 3rd Key is about communication and relationships.
I’m going to tell you a story that’s an example of the 3rd Key in action.
This story happened some 15 years ago when members of my family finally decided to let the cat out of the bag.
Soon after we’d gotten settled in Arizona, my sister Kathy paid us a visit. I have two stepsiblings, Kathy, who is 8 years older than me, and Mike, who is 16 years older. We’d grown apart through the years for a variety of reasons.
Over time, Kathy had seen me separating myself from the insidious, controlling influence of my mother, and she wanted to establish a new relationship. Kathy was more relaxed when my mother wasn’t around, free from her looming, overshadowing presence.
After a couple of days being together without my mother watching, listening, judging and correcting, Kathy and I were quite comfortable with each other, just as you’d expect any brother and sister to be.
As part of our freewheeling conversation, Tina, my wife at the time, just happened to ask Kathy what my mother was like before I was born. That’s all it took—that’s when my mother’s tangled web of deceit began to come undone.
Dates didn’t add up. First, according to my mom, I was born when she was 35. My mom had always told me that she and my dad had been married a while before I was born.
Then Kathy pointed out that my mother had said she’d been married 15 years when Dee Deloughery (Kathy’s dad, my stepdad) died, although Kathy knew that I was 16 years old when he passed away.
You see, Tina was an internal auditor for Mayo Clinic at the time, and one of her talents was zeroing in on factual discrepancies. She was like a hound on the scent of an escaped prisoner, determined to get to the bottom of this little mystery.
Tina asked Kathy if she knew when my parents were married. (It seemed strange to us that my parents were supposedly married three years before I was born.) Kathy said she would look up the exact date, but she was pretty sure it was in January 1968. She found out that I was born in September 1967.
Kathy was certain it would’ve been impossible for them to have been married when I was born because her dad (my stepdad) was not yet divorced from the mother of Kathy and Mike. Kathy said she had never thought about it before, but the more we talked, the stranger the story got, especially when Kathy added, “Then there was Grace’s first husband, Paul Weiss, or something.”
What?!! Neither Tina nor I had any idea about a previous marriage! Kathy had been aware of the marriage because my grandmother had mentioned it in passing.
Kathy had taken care of my grandmother, Alma, in the nursing home and had gotten to know her pretty well, and it was Alma who had talked to her about it.
My mom had kept her previous marriage a deep secret from me and didn’t speak about it to anyone.
I recalled seeing a different name on some of my mom’s professional papers and suddenly had a strong premonition that I was about to dive into the deep end of a big secret.
Kathy said, “I don’t want to say anything else.” She realized that she’d probably revealed much more than she’d meant to, caught up as she was in the flush of a casual conversation.
Somehow, having relaxed in our company—and being geographically distant from my mother—she found herself mentioning a part of my life that she had somehow known that my mother had hidden and that I, now more than a little intrigued, wanted to explore more deeply.
“I think,” Kathy added after a moment, “that if you want to get information, you’d better get it from some of your other relatives.” Kathy clearly didn’t want to be the one to tell this story—she feared my mother’s wrath.
So I started asking my other relatives about my biological father, whom I’d never known or known that he even existed.
I spoke to my Aunt Marge, my mother’s sister, who obviously knew something. She said, “Are you sure you really want to hear this right now?” This was within a week or so of my taking the bar exam, and she knew it, but I said I wanted to find out what was going on.
“Then if you really want to know, you should ask your mother. If she tells you the truth, fine. If she lies, I’ll tell you the real story.”
So I confronted my mother.
As expected—from what I knew of her already, and from what my Aunt Marge as well as my sister had told me—my mother wouldn’t admit to anything. Completely closed to an honest and open discussion, she said she didn’t know what I was talking about.
When I asked her whether I’d had another father, my mother was not open to talking about it. She denied it, and she asserted that I didn’t know what I was talking about (which was true, but which was also the point of my asking).
I relayed this to my Aunt Marge, who said, “I figured that was what she would say. But I wanted you to ask her. It’s important to let her know that you’re searching for something she’s tried to hide from you. She’ll probably never admit to it, but she should be made aware that you know something. Do you really want to know, at this point in your life, what happened?”
Of course I said, “Yes.”
My mother’s desperate and bizarre behavior over the years started to make a little sense.
A Pattern Develops When You Cover
Up The Truth, Live By Lies, And Begin
To Believe The Lies Until You Can’t
Tell Up From Down.
My mother, from what I could piece together based on her relations with others, her out-of-balance emotional relationship with me and her general air of alternating hostility and cajolement, was probably a borderline personality.
If you crossed her, she would demonstrate a stinging passive-aggressiveness that few people could stand up to, and fewer yet could live with. This explained how my mom had been able to get my entire family to go along with her pretend reality.
More digging into the tangled web of lies confirmed that the dad who raised me, Dee Deloughery, was not my biological father. I had another dad “out there” somewhere. For whatever reason, my mother had lied to me about my full parentage for my entire life.
My story may not sound like a happy-ever-after, but here are some lessons that you can learn from it…
Communication is Supposed to be Free Flowing.
Think of emotions as water and communication as the way it is released. What happens when water just sits with no place to go? It turns green and starts to stink. It’s similarly unnatural for emotions and stories (and the truth!) to get bottled up. Normal relationships can’t flourish in such a condition. And children (who are very sensitive to nuances of communication) can be emotionally scarred as a result.
Until You Learn The Lesson Life
Gives You, You Will Keep
Receiving Those Same Lessons.
Isn’t it funny we make the same mistakes over and over and over again, yet we (human beings) supposedly are the smartest creatures on earth?
In life, in business, you and I will continue to receive the same lessons until we learn from them. That’s the reality even if you wish it weren’t so.
The interesting thing about Life is that after we learn the lesson, we receive another lesson. That’s the gift of being alive isn’t it?
Where You Are Today Is Exactly
Where You Are Supposed To Be.
For some of you reading this, I probably just landed on your Hate list.
The fact is, that’s okay, because I’m not really here please everybody, I’m here share the truth (or at least the way I see it).
Here’s what we can probably agree on though.
I am without a doubt that some of you reading this have been through worse. I’m certain that the pain I went through is nothing compared to what you went through.
I don’t know exactly what you’ve been through and to say that you where you are today is exactly where you’re supposed to be might sound really inconsiderate.
I get it, but the truth is that, everything that’s happened to you…
All the struggles you’ve had in the last few years…
All the pain you went through…
All the challenges you had to overcome…
Every one of those situations was a stepping stone, a lesson that prepared you for where you are today…
Because of what you went through, you are stronger, and a more powerful version of YOU.
And here’s where the 3rd Key come in … if your personal story is causing you pain, you need to figure out how to release it. Tell your story. Get it out there until it no longer has a negative charge. We humans can easily get stuck in the 3rd Key if we aren’t able to move beyond our painful experiences.
What lessons are you not learning that keep showing up in your life?
Are you willing to do the (communication and relationship-building) work required to learn those lessons?
Think about your struggles, how has any or all of prepared you for where and what you doing today?
If you have any specific questions, please share them below.
If you’d like to be a guest and share your experience, just contact me here.