It was December, 2010 – about 6 years before I would begin my self-mastery journey. The Kitko Family was in Cancun, Mexico again. Our daughters, Katie (then 8) and Meagan (then 6) had been in Mexico 6 times. International excursions were just a regular part of their lives. So was pain, anger, suffering, alcoholic rage, chaos, and mental, emotional, and physical abuse inflicted on them by my wife Angie and me.
From the outside, it looked like we had it all. That’s what we wanted everyone to see. It worked for a while. But inside, we were each dying a little more daily.
Luckily, in March of 2016, against my will, the charade collapsed. The only thing we had, strong income, dried up when I was fired from my second 6-figure salary in 20 months. Severe abuses finally caught up to us and we were forced to face up to the reality that it was all just a house of cards. Damaged on the inside, I poisoned and abused my body, and attacked my family physically, mentally, emotionally. In my marriage there was even sexual abuse.
Without the consent or support of my family, I embarked on a journey of self-mastery. I kicked my active alcoholism, and began a daily regimen of physical, mental, and emotional healing. Once I committed to a journey of self-mastery, the chaos slowly faded.
We still have our normal teenage and hormonal spats, but nothing like the past. And now we show up in the world truly happy – and our internal happiness actually matches the appearance of happiness.
How It Started
I decided for myself that I deserved better. Unfortunately I’ve learned that when there is a full family in chaos, it’s tough to break the cycle. If one person decides to break the pattern, the rest of the family will try to pull that person back into the fray. When I decided to break free I was attacked – even by my children – because even familiar chaos becomes comfortable. It takes extreme physical, mental, and emotional commitment to oneself to break free. From this commitment to daily improvement, the other members will eventually be forced to choose better, or to remain the same without the evolving member.
The person who decides to break out of the chaos is doing so to empower themselves and the rest of the family to do the same. It is not selfish – it is an act of selfless courage and leadership. It might bring about guilt, shame, and short-term pain, but time will reveal that the individual made the right decision.
Discovering true internal happiness for me required a few foundational commitments: feeling my self-worth, setting healthy boundaries, daily physical, mental, and emotional development, understanding the real role of money, determining and living my own purpose, and making the shift from serving myself to serving others daily. These fundamental elements have led to a beautiful reunification of a once bleeding family.
I didn’t think I deserved what I wanted or needed. I wanted to live a healthy lifestyle, to stop drinking so I would stop my drunken attacks on others, to stop working jobs I hated, to start a business, to stop the madness, to enjoy the prosperity we had built. But the sad fact was that I did not believe I deserved any of that. I had tried for years to break out of the madness, but I just didn’t feel I was worth it.
Looking back, I would have told you back then that I felt worthy and deserving, but I never truly assumed ownership and responsibility for my own life. I felt I owed others more than I deserved myself. I sacrificed myself for the good of others. Their happiness meant more to me than my own. This is not true leadership, its playing martyr, victim, and hero – it’s basically co-dependency and leads to pain, suffering, and resentment.
We each deserve the very best of everything, and never at the expense of ourselves or anyone else.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
The most painful step came with setting boundaries. When I finally decided for myself that I deserved more, I communicated this to my family. Angie, still in active addiction, attacked, ridiculed, and mocked me. In the past when I tried to make changes her attacks worked and I just shrank back into our old patterns. With healthy, unconditional boundaries I now set, I continued with my plan. My decisions were made for the benefit of myself, but I knew that I needed to lead my family to health – and that took setting the example, even while they attacked, ridiculed, and mocked me.
“Dad, you’re making too many changes” my daughter Katie said. Katie is my older daughter, and growing up I was her primary care giver while Angie was unavailable mentally or emotionally. I knew Katie loved me dearly. I knew my decisions caused everyone to be extremely off-balance. My changes caused those who loved me unconditionally to be uncomfortable and want me to stop. They all asked me to slow down so they could regain some balance. In reality we all needed to lose our balance for a while in order to rebuild our lives. I pushed forward.
I created a plan for myself, committed to myself and my family that I would not deter from my course, and waited as my new lifestyle became more comfortable for them. It took time. Over time not only did they become more comfortable, but they began to see the benefits of my new habits, and they learned a new approach – doing what made themselves happy first, so that we could each be independently happy together.
Physical, Mental, and Emotional Development
I realized that I abused myself physically because I truly lacked self-worth and self-love. I would poison myself with alcohol, harmful foods, and excessive sugar because I did not appreciate my body and wanted to escape my feelings and emotions.
I read a book titled The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, and that single book reframed the way I approached activities which would help me grow daily. I hired a coach/mentor who taught me mental and emotional exercises to begin to quiet my inner critic, and heal the painful trauma from my childhood. I found that everyone has trauma to deal with, without exception.
Daily, I carried out activities and exercises to honor my body, discipline my mind, and nurture my emotions. I stopped poisoning myself. Over time, the intense inner pain began to heal, and my confidence, courage, and clarity increased. People around me began to take notice of my shrinking body and my blossoming personal power and presence.
As I grew I stopped wanting to abuse myself. People who respect, appreciate, and truly love themselves never cause themselves harm.
Understanding The Role Of Money
Money cannot make a person happy. Money can only take away the need to worry about money. I have shifted from trying to find joy in the number in my bank account to finding joy in the process of making money. When you enjoy the process and the activities involved in making money, and those fun activities increase your net-worth, establishing wealth becomes a fun game.
A game. Making money is a game. Increasing my income has become more about being adaptable than being talented.
When I felt that I needed to sacrifice myself to make money – prostituting my time for a wage – it was painful. I often did what I didn’t want to do, going somewhere I didn’t want to go, for someone I didn’t want to work for. I didn’t truly believe I was talented or capable of doing what I wanted to do, so I just lived the lifestyle I was taught by my dad; to trade time for money. He taught me that what I did for that money didn’t matter.
I shifted from making money, to solving other people’s problems with my talents and gifts. Never again would I do what wasn’t fun for me. As I solved other people’s problems, they handed me certificates of appreciation, and my bank account grew.
Then I used that money to serve more people in solving their problems. And the cycle repeated.
Determine and Live Life Purpose
Before my collapse I had no purpose. I just got up each day to survive so that I could look forward to surviving the next day. Life for me was just a daily expression of hopelessness. My role was to just wake up, breathe, go to sleep, until one day I wouldn’t wake up.
As my confidence, courage, and clarity increased from my daily development activity, I realized that I could help other people. I had always enjoyed serving, inspiring, and motivating others to chase their dreams – to break free of the chains they had placed on themselves. I taught this to my employees in my corporate jobs, I just wasn’t practicing this myself. So when I finally built up inner strength, I began to live by my own teachings to never settle and to monetize your dreams. I vowed to help so many people achieve their dreams that my dreams would be realized.
My purpose is to teach others how to feel powerful and successful inside. First I needed to do this myself.
I remember when I stopped looking for a job and decided to go all-in on my current business. I’ll just say Angie was not a believer. She just wanted me to take the easy way out and find another job. But I would not allow anyone to make decisions for me ever again.
And let’s just say, she now believes in me more than ever before. It’s all working out just fine 😉
Shifting From Serving Self To Serving Others
Everything changed dramatically when I shifted from trying to make money to dedicating myself to helping others solve their problems. There are 7.6 billion people on the face of the planet, and each person has something they are challenged with, something they will be willing to pay someone to help them solve. Creating healthy boundaries, developing yourself, and never sacrificing your own well-being for money empowers and enables you to serve others powerfully. When you do, you will be handsomely rewarded.
I am in a spiritual mastermind with two millionaires who are extremely humble and wealthy. You would never know looking at them that they had money. They began their businesses to pay their bills. Once they made enough money to survive they began investing in people. That’s when they had their business breakthroughs.
Serving your own financial interests only creates pain and an endless desire for more money. Serving others’ interests leads to financial prosperity – and the need to never worry about money.
My Health, My Family, My Business
The past 2-1/2 years have been magical. I have lost 80 lbs of body fat, increased my muscle mass, kicked active alcoholism, built tremendous confidence, courage, and clarity, healed emotional trauma from my past, and continue to expand in all dimensions of my health daily.
My family has joined me on the journey. Angie has recovered from active drug addiction, regained her health, and has started two businesses. She cheerleads me and encourages me to live soul-out, never at my own expense, daily. We challenge each other to grow separately, and we grow together powerfully. My children have a coach themselves and are healing the trauma and abuse they experienced. Katie (16) now has a part-time job and is preparing for life after high school, and Meagan (14) is a straight-A student preparing herself for a life in medicine.
I am extremely proud of all three of the beautiful, powerful ladies in my life.
By serving others and helping them with problems in their lives, I have surpassed the income from my executive days in corporate America. My ability to reach more people and impact their lives more meaningfully increases daily. ‘The Imposter In Charge’, my first book will be published in June 2019, I speak in front of large audiences, and I inspire as many people as I can daily to move beyond hopelessness.
It all started with a commitment to myself to live the life that I desire.
My Invitation To You
I invite you on the self-mastery journey with me. I coach and mentor executive business leaders, doctors, lawyers, and even millionaires to feel as powerful and successful inside as they appear outside. We will walk together, create a plan, I will teach you the way, I will hold you accountable, and I will help you make the necessary mind-set, heart-set, and skill-set shifts to create internal and external prosperity. We will build the life you desire. If you are searching for true happiness I’d love to connect.
If you’d like to connect to get more information about me or coaching with me or to inquire about public speaking opportunities, or you are serious and want to schedule some time with me to dive in on your own journey of self-mastery, click here.
If you feel lost, desperate, or broken, that’s just your soul’s way of trying to get your attention. Pay closer attention. There is more to life than just outer pictures of happiness. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and its a lot more fun on the internally happy side.
See you next week!