All I had to do was be honest with her.
All I had to do was be seen and heard.
But I chose fear. It was easier.
It was easier to maintain the illusion of success than, to be honest.
To admit that my paychecks were shrinking and that I couldn’t maintain our lavish lifestyle.
I wasn’t the man I had presented. Sure, I was successful. My high six-figure salary should have been enough.
But it wasn’t because I wasn’t.
She was so beautiful, so incredibly amazing – who was I to be married to her?
I never asked her what she wanted, and I regret that.
I created a story of what I thought she wanted and did whatever to provide it. I created a façade of overinflated success.
As my paychecks shrunk, my fear grew. Smaller paychecks meant she would see me.
I had to maintain the illusion. I had to maintain my identity at all costs.
The fear of being seen as “less than” led me to commit fraud against one of the largest technology companies in the world.
The FBI arrested me, and I was sentenced to 24 months in Federal Prison.
Fear cost me everything: my homes, my cars, my career, my identity, my will to live.
I lost what I was so desperately trying to hold onto by maintaining the illusion of success when she told me in the prison visiting room,
“I’m leaving you.”
The very thing I was paranoid about came true. As a result of me doing what I thought I had to do to stop that.
I have no way of knowing what she would have said if I asked what she really wanted. My heart tells me she would have said this,
“I want my husband to see and hear me.”
The very thing I was running from was most likely the very thing she wanted.
Ever since prison, I’ve changed my relationship with fear.
Fear is my guide. It’s a compass telling me where to go. Do I always follow it? No.
But even the “No’s” are an opportunity to learn.
What’s behind those “No’s?”
Often, it’s the fear of being seen and heard.
Perhaps one of the greatest freedoms available to us is the freedom to be ourselves, to be seen and heard for who we are.
Not what we think others think we need to be.
Fear cost me everything. It’s also given me everything.
It’s our choice.
I’m unbelievably grateful for all that I’ve experienced because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.
I’ve created a life I love, not in spite of everything, but thanks to everything.