From the outside looking in, you might assume that the traveling and speaking I do is always easy and enjoyable for me. It might seem from my posts that the best part of my life is when I’m on stage delivering a speech.
It’s true. I love traveling to states, cities, and communities both new and familiar. I love sharing my story and inspiring audiences both large and small. And having survived so much in my life, it fills me with a great sense of satisfaction to stand on that stage as a happy, healthy man commanding the room with a message only I can deliver.
But none of this is without sacrifice. Nothing worthwhile ever is.
When I speak at events near and far, I am taken away from the company I run, a company that depends on my leadership and presence for its success. More importantly, I am taken away from my daughters, those wonderful creatures I love more than life itself, who despite their basic understanding of my mission, still prefer having their daddy at home. And when I speak, the broken little boy I once was is called to mind and heart. I may be healthy today, but his pain and suffering are never forgotten.
April is both National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it is always one of the busiest times of year for me. So far in April this year, I’ll be speaking at events in four states. My company and my daughters will feel the effects of my absence, and the victimized little boy within me will be reminded of his pain repeatedly.
It’s worth it. All of it. Every single minute.
There will be survivors who will find their voice for the first time. There will be advocates who will be reminded that what they do doesn’t just matter, it saves lives. There will be agencies, groups, and citizens who will decide to make the prevention of child sexual abuse a priority. There will be parents, teachers, and other responsible adults who will decide to finally talk to their kids and empower them to recognize sexual abuse. And there will be at least one child victim whose suffering will stop because they found the courage to tell someone. Maybe that someone will be you.
The time away from my girls is worth it if it means other children will be spared the horrors of sexual abuse. The time away from my company is worth it if it means that organizations have the funding and attention they need to keep saving survivors. And the rekindled suffering of the little boy within is worth it if it means his suffering was not in vain.
Yes, I enjoy traveling and speaking. It’s fun, energizing, and fulfilling. But don’t allow my joyfulness and my delight in this endeavor to cloud one indisputable truth: I take this very personally.