‘Tis the Season to be Authentic

By Dr. Mark McCullough

Going into the last quarter of yet another year brings back a whole set of emotions in many of our lives; school starting, seasons changing, Thanksgiving, Christmas and another new year quickly approaching. The list goes on and on. With all of this, we need to think about having as few shoulda-coulda-woulda’s as possible as we age gracefully through this thing we call LIFE.

Throughout my life many incidents, accidents, and other particulars have shaped a lot of the directions and decisions in my life. They have brought me to believe they were not mistakes. Life is a series of these situations and relationships that put us in a position where we have to make choices in order for us to move forward. Like I’ve told my kids (as well as many patients) we are often presented choices; a right one and a wrong one. However, with the right heart, even making a poor decision can lead to a valuable learning experience – given that we have the right attitude, a little humility and healthy level of maturity.

I came to this realization a year and a half ago when my mother passed away. Sadly over the past 20 years we had not seen eye-to-eye. Instead of putting my family and myself through the anguish of visiting her, I sent sporadic cards and made occasional phone calls in hopes that it would be enough.

After about a month of her passing, I felt the need to ask my dad some questions that pertained to my mom because I needed to have some resolution on how she really felt about me. My dad sat me down and explained that my mom had been sick for over thirty years and she didn’t want anyone to know about it – including us kids.

I paused with my mind reeling as that weight of that sank in. He went on to say that she was psychologically and emotionally affected by this sickness and he knew she was not in her rational-mind – especially the last 20 years.

I did the math and realized that it dated all the way back to when I was in high school. Dad also acknowledged that instead of confronting her issues and staying transparent with all of us, she chose to withdraw from almost every relationship that she ever had. He said she withdrew instead of facing the issue because of the stress it caused her. All of those years I wrongfully thought that I may have done something wrong that she could not forgive me for.

Understand that I am not trying to figure this all out; but it really hit home with me that being transparent in relationships with the ones you love is an absolute. Being unconditional is also an absolute.

Live your whole life with passion and hold nothing back. Play hard, work hard, love hard and strive to have authentic relationships with people. Don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel and how they make you feel. Authenticity and transparency are ways to never build up a case in your mind that creates resentment which then breeds bitterness that ultimately takes years off your life as well as the lives of others – So DON’T DO IT! You and the ones you love are way too valuable to hold back. This Christmas choose to become more transparent and authentic with the ones you love.

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