….But no longer can you be my wings.
Within the year of losing my father almost 20 years ago I designed and got this tattoo on my shoulder. It represents my last words to him, “I will carry your torch”, him holding onto that torch represents his will to live and beat cancer, and him being an angel on my shoulder.
4 years ago after my first son was born, I went back to the tattoo parlor and got the torch lit. Although you can’t really see it because I am brown skinned, I colored the flame in with red and yellow and went home and told my wife that I am now ready to carry his torch and be a great father.
It felt powerful at the time. It was emotional. And, it was a lie. I told myself that I was ready to fly. But I was still mentally using my father’s wings.
Three days ago I sat down and wrote the first page to my first book (long overdue). Within 48 hours the deepest of my insecurities had settled in and flattened me. While on the treadmill at the gym a song came on and exposed me…brought me to tears.
I realized in these days that I have relied too heavily on my father. He has not been with me for 20 years yet I am still here being a father, husband, friend, trusted advisor to many and a decent soul. But, anyone that knows me well, knows that I give him much of the credit.
The question I asked myself yesterday, was why am I still doing that? Am I that afraid? Am I simply pissed that he will never meet my family and therefore still try to “have him around”?
Why do I often have authentic thoughts but then when presented to a client I give my father the credit? Do I still feel not good enough?
The answer. I miss him. But, missing him has turned into cheapening myself. And, when I sat down to write the first page to my first book I crumbled. Some of you may be saying “Damn Ted, It’s been 20 years”. Indeed it has. I am not crazy. I do not sulk. As a matter of fact I live a deep and meaningful life and am a better person because I lost him. But, it’s been a journey.
The x-factor is I have not wanted to fly solo as a man. Too afraid. Too insecure. Feeling lost as a father without a father.
So I speak his name in sentences it doesn’t belong, reference a lesson that he supposedly taught me that I actually taught myself or learned along the way and hide behind his shadow so I don’t have to let my own light shine.
Who is going to write the book? Me or him? This morning I decided it is was me. It felt bitter sweet.
I share this with you because it is my truth. But I also share it with you because this blog was started to allow people to FEEL, to be vulnerable and real and to evolve. I can only imagine that many of you are in similar situations as I am. Feeling insecure, holding onto false securities, and playing small. I don’t want that for myself or for you.
I will never be a college president like my father nor get my PhD. But from this day forward I will not give him the credit for my authentic thoughts because his credentials are better than mine and therfore worthy to be listened to. We all are worthy to be listened to.
The last few days I have felt very heavy. Like I was saying good bye to my Dad or something. I then realized that I said “I will carry your torch” a long time ago…goodbye happened then. It was like I had to give myself credit or something for this amazing life in which I live…which is hard for me to do. Do you find that hard for yourself?
Well, that’s how “playing small” shows up and should not be confused with being egotistical…something I have confused it with.
I believe fully in what I am set out to do in this lifetime. Do you? Or do you even know what you are set out to do? And why? You see, believing in what it is we are set out to do is not the same as believing in ourselves and I am fully learning that lesson. Today, I decided to share it with you because I am learning that having a WHY and a mission is not enough to sustain yourself. You must believe in yourself. It’s hard to do.
Which is why today I say I welcome a gust of wind from my father, but recognize that I have been flying for 20 years without him and I am pretty damn high in the sky. I have my own wings. Because it feels heavy I must justify it by saying I am not cheapening losing him, the lessons he taught, or his memory. There I go again. It’s hard.
I have been doing sort of an audit on the last decade of my life. And today, I ask that you do the same. What I want you to pay attention to is all the good that you have done on your own. What have you accomplished? What obstacles have you overcome? Have you been a decent human being? Who have you helped? Who have you loved? Where have you created wins for your family? For your co-workers? And when you do this be selfish and OWN your part.
And lastly, I realized it is not as important if my father is proud of me as I wrote in my first post but if I am proud of myself? Are you?
I actually am.
PS…If you are wondering what song crumbled me it was Doubt by Mary J Blige. I had never heard before but after reading this you will understand.