As with so many children in the world today, Leonardo Lightbourne (L.T. Bourne) grew up with an absent father. Watching from the window as his father drove away left L.T. feeling confused and heartbroken. As he grew, he became a people-pleaser, trying to win the favor of others so that they wouldn’t abandon him. This led to a lack of boundaries and some bad decisions.
Thankfully, L.T.’s best friend’s father served as a mentor and a positive influence in his life. Without his encouragement and guidance, L.T. is doubtful that he would be where he is today.
Upon completing university, he struggled to find employment...for months. He felt like a failure. During this low point of his life, L.T. began journaling, realized that he was suffering from parental abandonment issues, and he determined to work through them.
From there, his book, It’s Not a Man’s World: How I conquered the Sins of My Father, was born.
L.T.’s journey is full of lessons about boundaries, surrender, forgiveness, and empowerment. His story is a message of hope, of embracing your life right where you are, and of taking responsibility for your own narrative, no matter how rocky your start may have been.
→ OUR STORY
Hey there, welcome to Season 3 of Belly of the Beast Life Stories. I’m David All.
It’s another season of life here at the podcast. This third season is a very rare collection of stories by men who share the golden thread of growing up with an absent biological father and broke the pattern to be a good man. I’ll be sharing my own Belly story later this season. And let me tell you that a year ago, when we launched this show, I didn’t realize this was my Belly story.
Wisdom for our Soul -- Courage for your Journey. Extraordinary life stories illustrate the nature of personal transformation. A change that forced us down into the dark, gooey stage of life where we found our purpose and climbed up a new person.
Our podcast has a purpose — a mission to heal, inspire and shape lives with extraordinary life stories. Stand with us — Visit BellyStory.com to share your story, listen and subscribe, sign-up for episode updates and chip-in, and enable our mission.
→ EPISODE SUMMARY
- L.T. remembers the day his father left. He was just a child. There was an argument with his grandmother; his mother was crying; and then his father drove away as L.T. watched from the window.
- He knew his father was only 10 minutes away, yet he never came to visit.
- L.T. felt like he must have done something wrong. This led to him developing a people-pleasing personality.
- Watching family sitcoms on TV showed L.T. that he was missing something in his life, that something was lacking in his family structure.
- Father’s Day was especially difficult. Having to go to church and witness the celebration of happy father-child relationships was like pouring salt in a wound.
- His own birthday was difficult to celebrate too. He felt like his birth must have been a mistake. Why should he celebrate his parents’ mistake?
- Thankfully, L.T.’s best friend had an intact family, and his friend’s father became a mentor and father-figure to L.T.. He nurtured and encouraged L.T.. He even let him sit in on some lectures he gave his own son.
- After university, it would be months before L.T. would land a job. He felt like a failure.
- During that time of unemployment, L.T. started journaling. Through his writings, he recognized he had parental rejection issues he needed to work through. The book idea was born.
- Writing his story helped L.T. drop the people-pleasing. Telling his story “gave me back my power as a man.”
- Wisdom comes through pain. And telling our stories liberates us from the pain.
- When L.T. was able to surrender to the present moment, he was able to let go of the past.
- L.T. realized that holding onto resentment was an act of insanity. - Forgiving his father allowed him to live a free, happier life.
- We don’t get a manual on how to do life, and we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to hurt people as we’re trying to figure things out. We need to forgive one another so that we can all keep moving forward in our development.
-When others hurt you, it’s not because of something you’ve done but because of something they’re going through.
- No matter what your background, whether you had an involved father or not, you can control the narrative of your life.
- L.T. now embraces his journey and recognizes that his rough start just makes victory that much sweeter.
“I had the fear of if I love somebody, then they're going to up and leave the minute I make a mistake or the minute I do something.”
“Mentorship is a phenomenal thing. It has reaped so many benefits in my life...If that figure wasn't there, I don't think I would be in this position I am today...I definitely would have fallen victim to the environment that I was in.”
“Because I didn't feel worthy of love, I always felt like I needed to win people's love in my life. So I would always be the person you call, and I'm always there. I'm always available. I always want to go above and beyond for you because I didn't feel worthy… People would interpret this as being someone who is dedicated, who is committed, who is hardworking, but deep down, that wasn't who I was. I was suppressing my insecurities of feeling not worthy.”
“The darkest period brought about my greatest blessing in that I was able to journal, and from my journal, I was able to develop the idea of writing a book about growing up without a father. So that period brought about one of my greatest blessings and gave me a story that is relatable to a lot of people globally. So even though it's one of my darkest periods, it brought about my greatest blessing.”
“Writing a book gave me a voice of speaking and not worrying about what other people thought of me. I was able to be vulnerable. I was able to express myself in a way that I've never expressed myself before. And that destroyed the whole people-pleasing mindset and attitude… I'm not doing things to be accepted anymore. I'm telling my story because I want to be liberated. I want to live a life of not holding on to pain and regret. That moment of telling my story gave me back my power as a man.”
“There is no greater power than being completely at one with who you are. There is no greater power than that. And I have that now.”
“It just seemed like an act of insanity to be angry at my father's decision. That has already been made. But what am I going to do now about it?”
“Forgiving my father and learning how to develop a strong perception of why he left allowed me to live a free, happier life. It allowed me to love him for him and not his actions because I was able to see his actions as a product of the way he was raised and his environment as opposed to the person that he was.”
“People never hurt you because of what you do. They hurt you because of what they are going through.”
“An individual who has fully accepted himself, who has fully loved himself will never hurt you. They will always love you because they have come to peace with who they are.”
“When they show you hurt, show them love. Show them what they're missing in their lives so that one day that would gain some insight or they will have a revelation, or they will gain some introspection.”
“Respond to hurt and hate with love, and you will always win in the end.”
“Are you going to rise up and be victorious? Or are you going to fall down and play the victim? It's your choice — victor or victim. It's entirely in your hand.”
“I know now that to whom much is given, much is required, and that the strongest soldiers usually get the hardest battles and the hardest fight. And so I embrace that knowing that God has given me a strength that is far beyond the average human being, to carry emotional trauma and overcome emotional trauma and now be a beacon of wisdom to others.”
→ LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST
- It’s Not a Man’s World: How I Conquered the Sins of My Father by L.T. Bourne (on Amazon)
- Website and blog: LTBourne.com
- Twitter: @iamltbourne
- Facebook: fb.com/iamltbourne
- Instagram: @iamltbourne
ENABLE OUR MISSION
Your podcast is a sacred space and judgment free zone. It's free of advertising and outside influence -- 100% listener supported.
A podcast where you can feel safe to listen and know that you're not alone. Transformation is scary, but not a single butterfly has ever attempted to climb back into the cocoon.
To keep us advertising free and support our mission to heal, inspire and shape lives with extraordinary personal life stories, chip-in $5 a month at BellyStory.com/support.
Thank you for listening.
Creator, Storyteller, Producer
CO-CREATE OUR PODCAST
To submit your story, sign-up for new episode emails, contact us or support our mission with a donation, visit:
David: LT Bourne, welcome to Belly of the Beast Life Stories.
LT: Thank you, [David]. It's a pleasure to be here, man.
David: LT, I want to start out with one of your earliest memories. You recall it very vividly, and you describe it very well in your book. You talk about an argument between your grandmother and your biological father. She was furious. Something he had done triggered this reaction. You saw your mom crying in the room, and you were looking out the window. You see your dad jump in the car and leave. You're filled with confusion.
You never asked your grandma or mom what happened because you didn't want to upset them. And looking back, you say your father, this whole time, is ten minutes away. And you never understood how you could miss someone who was never really there, but you did. Can you describe that for us?
LT: My father was in my life for a short period of time. I remember him just in one moment playing with me and just having that father-son moment of him showing me how to flex my muscles. I remember we were sitting on the bed. I was like "Dad, look at my muscle." I was pointing at my shoulder actually.
And he was like "No, son. Actually this is your muscle."
That moment was the moment I realized I have a father. And then probably months later he was gone out of the picture. And that left me with great confusion because I don't understand how we could have shared that moment and then you just up and leave like that and you never return to the house, you never tried to make contact with me. I don't understand that when you left you were still on the island for a few months, you never came to the school to say hi…
I felt like I did something in that moment. Even though I observed the turmoil between him and my grandmother and my mother, I also felt like I had something to do with him leaving because he never reached out to me after he left. I felt like I was the cause of him being out of my life.
For many years, I carried around that guilt of being the one to push my father out of my life. It kind of wore on my interactions with people because now I had the fear of if I love somebody, then they're going to up and leave the minute I make a mistake or the minute I do something.
That spilled over into me having a people-pleasing personality, and that was a very toxic personality to have because it made me reluctant to say no when I should have been saying no in a lot of situations, and that led to me making a lot of poor decisions later on in my life.
So I felt like if he were there and he didn't leave in a way that he left and he maintained some level of contact, I would have avoided a lot of the mistakes I made later on in my life.
My father, I blamed him a lot for the things that I went through because I felt like most of the things I went through was because of his absence. If he were there to guide me, if he were there to be that place of security and protection, then I wouldn't have developed this people-pleasing mentality that led to a lot of poor decisionmaking later on in my life.
That period, I would say, pretty much set up my whole life and my whole journey. I'm not necessarily blaming him because I've met so many great people because of the decision he made. However, I felt like the journey could have been a lot easier if he had stayed in my life.
David: Going back to those early days, that confusion, I'd like you to build on that for us and answer the question, when did you realize that something was different in your life than for other folks?
LT: I realized that watching TV. I grew up watching a lot of American TV and American TV shows — shows like the Family Matters and the Cosby Show, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Those shows gave me an idea of what a family structure should be like. And when I looked at mine, I was like, okay, something is a little off here. My mother and my grandmother are raising me. This isn't how a family structure is supposed to be.
That was the moment when I realized that something was definitely off with the way I was being raised.
I wouldn't say it confused me, but it made me feel insecure. It made me feel as though I was incomplete because I wasn't being raised in the same environment that I saw other people being raised on TV. And so I played this comparison game.
It made me, in some situations, feel sad too because here is Eddy from Family Matters being lectured, whenever he made a mistake, from his father. And I didn't have that. It was always my grandmother and my mother lecturing me, and I always felt like they didn't understand some of the decisions I was making as a male. They were just speaking from a perspective of a woman. But I also wanted to hear my mistakes from the perspective of a man.
I believe that also was an area of lack in my life.
I know that American TV made me compare my life and made me realize that something was completely off with my family structure.
David: And then that seemed to come to life on Father's Day when you were in church and you talked about seeing the other fathers and the step-fathers, and you hated to be there. And that was also your birthday month. Can you talk about that period of life?
LT: I hated it. I'm literally just starting to feel comfortable celebrating my birthday. I hated Father's Day, just being in that environment. I used to think my mom was punishing me for sending me to church on Father's Day because here I am, this fatherless kid, and I'm seeing all these fathers embracing their children, their step-fathers embracing them, and I'm just sitting in the back there feeling all empty.
And then the elders of the church would make us go and pin flowers on the pastor, I guess, to make us feel as though we were part of it. But it wasn't the same. You would see the love on other family's faces, and then it would be like this empty feeling, just sitting in the back just watching that. So I hated that for many years.
When I was old enough to make the decision to not go to church, I stopped going to church on Father's Day because I didn't want to encounter those emotions of emptiness anymore.
And my birthday, it was just a double hit in that month because my birthday was always a period of "Why would this man bring me into this world and leave me here? Why would he make that decision and not be with me through this process?" It made me feel as though my birth was a mistake. When I realized how babies were made, it made me think about my birth being a mistake. What if I was a mistake? What if he didn't intend on having me which is why he neglected me and rejected me?
So my birthday was always met with those types of questions, and I hated that. I hated battling that. I didn't want to celebrate it because I felt like I was celebrating a mistake in my parents' lives. Why should I celebrate their mistake? It just didn't make any sense to me.
Those are things that bothered me earlier in my journey, and those are things I am now learning how to heal from.
David: You grew up and you live now in the Turks and Caicos, which is a British territory. It's population around 43,000 folks. And for our listeners in the US, Turks and Caicos is about 670 miles southeast from Miami. It's north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and there is a lot of influence of... Well, you talk about in the south Caicos specifically where you grew up that the African adage "It takes a village to raise a child" is something that kind of flows through. Everyone kind of chips in to help raise the children. But I'd love for you to turn that around, your experience being a child in that environment, do you feel like there were father figures around you that stepped in to play that role that you were seeing in other families, at church, that you were seeing on TV?
LT: Most definitely. I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out at my best friend's house. His household was one of the households in the community that had both his mother and his father in the household, and I spent a lot of my childhood in that environment just observing and just seeing how he would lecture my best friend — and sometimes even me — while we sat at the dinner table and had sandwiches or had dinner. He would just give me some words of advice, of encouragement.
He saw me being friends with his son, and he just embraced me as well. He saw the potential I had. He saw my intellect, and he nurtured that. He always told me I'm one of the brightest young men he's ever seen. He would give me those types of words of encouragement to keep me on the path.
I would say he had a tremendous impact on my childhood and me developing the right perspectives as a male. He put me in a position to always have someone to talk to about certain things I encountered. He's been with me throughout this whole entire process as a mentor.
And people always ask me, "Leo, how do you overcome this fatherlessness in your life?"
I always tell them mentorship is a phenomenal thing. It has reaped so many benefits in my life. While I was at university in the United Kingdom, having someone I can send emails to and text messages to — and I'm talking about paragraphs and paragraphs about the things I was going through, and having him read that and send me back detailed information on how I can cope with it, how I can overcome this. As a male, that really gave me the fuel I needed to power through life and to accomplish the things that I have my eyes and my desires set it.
If that figure wasn't there, I'll be completely honest with you, I don't think I would be in this position I am today. I don't think I would be an author. I don't think I would have a book because I definitely would have fell victim to the environment that I was in. I could have been jail. I could have been on drugs. I could have been in a state of hopelessness but I'm not. I'm not because I had a mentor who happened to be my best friend's father.
So the adage of "It takes a village to raise a child" really kicked in because here is a member of the village now taking on the responsibility of mentoring a kid that's not his. He didn't have to do it, but he did it. So he stayed true to the African adage "It takes a village to raise a child."
David: You brought up your book and being the author of that book, which is It's Not a Man's World: How I Conquered the Sins of My Father. Listeners can find a link to that, pick it up from Amazon.com, and I highly recommend it to understand the role of an absent father, just the influence that that has on a young man's life.
And I would love for you to articulate for us just the depth of that impact. There are a few quotes that I pulled out.
"I thought my birth was an accident and that people were only tolerating me. I did not think I was worthy of love."
LT: It's true. I spoke about it a few minutes ago. It feels like your whole life is a mistake and that you are basically — how do I say it? You weren’t planned on being here. There wasn't any excitement in the air when Leonardo Lightbourne's birth was announced. It just felt like you just happened. “He's just here.”
I felt like that especially when my mother left to go live on another island, and I was being raised by my grandmother. When that happened, I felt another deep sense of my life was a mistake and I shouldn't be here. I felt like... It's a very, very dark and lonely feeling. It's like you're not worthy to exist. It's that feeling. I guess I overcame it through my friendships, with my friends and mentorship and having faith in God. But it's something that I struggle with throughout my entire life. And this is how my people-pleasing mindset became to development.
Because I didn't feel worthy of love, I always felt like I needed to win people's love in my life. So I would always be the person you call, and I'm always there. I'm always available. I always want to go above and beyond for you because I didn't feel worthy. I always felt like I had to buy your love, buy your approval. So this is what led to my people-pleasing mentality.
People would interpret this as being someone who is dedicated, who is committed, who is hardworking, but deep down, that wasn't who I was. I was suppressing my insecurities of feeling not worthy, so I needed to try and buy your worthiness of me. So that's why I was overly involved, and it's now that I'm learning how to say no, how I'm learning how to put up barriers. But earlier in my life, I always felt like I needed to buy people's love in my life.
David: You talked about the depth of this time in your life as just being very recent, when you returned home from university and you saw yourself as a failure. You didn't have a job. You said, "I felt like I let my family down." Can you tell us about that?
LT: Yeah. My family was a high-earning working-class family. They made a lot of sacrifices for me to be in a position to go off to school and to succeed. Many times they put themselves in financial debt so that I could have a meal on my plate while I was in England. And to return home, for a period of about eight months to a year and not have a job and not make any sort of contribution back to the sacrifice they made, it put me in a very dark, dark, place. I felt like I let them down. I had a feeling that I wasn't going to come out of that. It wasn't going to get a job. I was starting to feel a sense of hopelessness because nothing was working. I wasn't getting any calls for job interviews. Every day felt like three months.
I remember not even wanting to get up to face the day. I would lay in my bed until noon just hating the fact that I couldn't contribute to my household and be this person that everybody wanted me to be.
That period was the darkest period of my life.
The darkest period brought about my greatest blessing in that I was able to journal, and from my journal, I was able to develop the idea of writing a book about growing up without a father. So that period brought about one of my greatest blessings and gave me a story that is relatable to a lot of people globally.
So even though it's one of my darkest periods, it brought about my greatest blessing.
David: LT, let's take a break and come right back.
David: We're back to LT Bourne. Imagine watching your father as a young boy leave, get into his car and leave and knowing that he's just ten minutes away, but he never calls. He never picks up the phone on Father's Day to check in on his son. The confusion... And that confusion leads to a sense of abandonment. Abandonment turns into not wanting to be abandoned by anyone, and the way to do that, as LT Told us in his life, was by people-pleasing.
And that cycle can only last so long. It's a shell-game of sorts.
LT, you talked about journaling in the first part, and that's where I want to pick it up with you again.
You said, "The moment that changed everything was when I picked up my journal, and it was all self-negative talk." You said it made the decision that day to speak more positive in your journal, which led to an introspection about your father's rejection. Can you talk to us about that?
LT: Yeah. I was writing a lot in my journal because I knew that journaling is a way to get out of a dark place mentally.
I was writing for probably months. I'm unemployed. I'm feeling hopeless, and one day I picked up my journal, and I just started reading. I couldn't believe how negative I sounded. It just blew my mind away. I just asked, "Where is this coming from?"
And then I just started thinking and digging up, and I read some of the things that I was speaking out, and I'm like "Wow, Leo, you're so insecure. You're so concerned about what other people are thinking. Where is this coming from?"
And then I went to university and I studied psychology, and then it clicked for me in that moment that I was still in pain from my father's rejection. As much as I was suppressing that, as much as I was being naive to it, because I would sit in the lecture rooms, and I would hear about parental rejection, abandonment, and it leads to this, and I would be like "Yeah, okay, mm-hmm." I didn't think it applied to me. I was naive. I was in denial.
But when I read that journal in a moment and I thought about some of my lectures, I was like "Leo, you are suffering from abandonment issues. It's time for you to confront this. It's time for you to shift the narrative in your life. It's time for you to lead a different life."
In that moment, I started to journal with intentions of being positive. And from that process, it led me to writing my book.
I wanted to shift the narrative of my life. I wanted to live a more positive life, and the way I did that was by writing with intentions of being positive and also making that decision to tell my story.
And once I did that, within three months, I got a call for a job. When I got the call for my job, my book was 60% completed. I was like "I'm on to something." I started working, and after work, I would go straight home, and I'd start writing. It took me three months to complete my book after I was employed. And I was like "This is it. I'm on to something." I just felt like I had to do this.
And once that book was completed and I published it and I put it out there, my whole life did a whole 360. But I'll allow you to ask me questions about that. I won't go into full detail about that process. But, yeah, the adrenaline really opened a lot of gates for me and really shifted the narrative and gave me back my life.
David: Yeah, in fact, you call it the quest for purpose, and you describe it as a journey of self-discovery where you confronted a lot of misconceptions in your life. Can you tell us what were those misconceptions?
LT: That I wasn't worthy. That was a misconception about myself. I always had to do things that other people wanted me to do in order to be accepted.
Writing a book gave me a voice of speaking and not worrying about what other people thought of me. I was able to be vulnerable. I was able to express myself in a way that I've never expressed myself before. And that destroyed the whole people-pleasing mindset and attitude. Now I'm living life on my terms. I'm doing what I want to do. I'm not doing things for people anymore. I'm not doing things to be accepted anymore. I'm telling my story because I want to be liberated. I want to live a life of not holding on to pain and regret.
That moment of telling my story gave me back my power as a man.
And another misconception was the fact that if I express myself as a man, I’m weak. If I expose my emotional side as a man, I am week. And that drifts into the topic of toxic masculinity that we have to address moving forward in modern-day society because television has painted a picture of man being robots, being the Terminator, not having any emotions, just being locked in all the time. That's not true.
Men have emotional trauma, but we can't express it because we are not allowed to express it. The minute we express our emotional traumas, we are viewed as weak men.
So I was able to destroy that idea of me being weak if I expressed my emotions.
The strength I gain by telling my story is a strength I've never felt before. I don't feel what people think anymore. What is more powerful than that?
There is no greater power than being completely at one with who you are. There is no greater power than that. And I have that now.
David: I pulled out a few lines that spoke to my soul, and I know that the listeners of this podcast are going to appreciate them.
You say, "Wisdom often comes with a lot of pain."
"It is our story — not our pain — that liberates us."
And then one more — "We are either heading into a storm, in a storm already, or coming out of one. We all have a unique story of triumph inside of us."
Can you just dive into what you mean by that? How does wisdom come from a lot of pain?
LT: In order for you to understand wisdom, for you to have wisdom, for some people — not everybody... Some people are very intuitive, and they can pick up on things. But for a lot of us, we have to go through it, then grow through it. I'll say that again.
We have to go through it, then grow through it.
My wisdom didn't come through introspection and observation. My wisdom came from the many things I experienced throughout this lifetime and the setbacks and having to grow through those situations. I was the seed in the ground that was rustling and tousling with the dirt until I hit the surface. That's my way of achieving wisdom. For others it's different.
But for most of us who are growing up without a father, that's how we're going to achieve our wisdom, through growing through the dirt to hit the surface and going through those challenging situations and those negative narratives and those negative situations until you hit the surface and see the light and understand that you were planted in that ground to be fruitful to others once you hit the surface.
You went through your experiences so that you can be a blessing unto others. Wisdom often comes with a lot of pain because we don't have the guidance that other people have as fatherless males in order to succeed in this life. Our wisdom often comes with a lot of pain because we are trying to figure out everything about this life by ourselves, and that's often the painful experience.
However, once we get it, we are in a position to help a lot of people once we hit the surface.
David: You have an entire chapter around surrender. You talk about letting go, letting life happen. In your life, you mention reconnecting with God and an important spiritual leader who reconnected. And earlier in this story, you talked about at the moment when you can make the decision not to go to church, you stopped. Can you tell us about this connection and the surrender and how that contributed to this transformation?
LT: Yes. There is a period when writing the book where I was trying to understand how to let go of everything my father did to me and letting go of the societal expectations and truly accepting where I was and trying to understand my story in this lifetime. I was confused. I didn't know how I was going to surrender, what I was going to surrender to.
So I reached out to my classmate who was on a spiritual journey, Miss Penny Lamore — I believe that's her last name. I'd have to look at up. I do apologize if I got her last name wrong, but her name is Penny. I connected to her, and she gave me this deep insight on surrendering.
Once I grasped that, I was able to let go and be free. I looked at it, and I was like "Why am I holding on to my past when I have so much to gain in this present moment? There is so much in front of me, and yet I'm looking behind me."
It just seemed like an act of insanity to be angry at my father's decision. That has already been made. But what am I going to do now about it?
Prayer -- although I stopped going to church, I never stopped praying. Prayer and that relationship with God, I believe, led me through the introspections that I gained throughout the whole, entire process of being unemployed and writing my book. I believe He was always there with me. He was always there guiding me.
God doesn't have a turn-off and turn-on switch. He's always there. It's up to us to listen, but He's always there. He isn't a person who walks out when you've made your worst decision. That's your guilt. He's still there. You can still come to him when you've made the worst, most terrible decision in your life.
I've watched many movies of mass murderers praying before they're executed. He's always there.
So I never let go of Him throughout that process. My relationship with Him, to this day, remains the same. I know with a lot of people aren't spiritual, but spirituality helped me overcome my trauma because I was able to talk to him about it and ultimately surrender that trauma to him.
So that's my experience with surrendering and my relationship with God.
David: Forgiveness. You talk about forgiveness in a very generous way and also a way that talks about the benefits for the forgiver, which is something I've experienced in my own life. So as I was reading this, I was like "Uh-huh, yeah. I feel that."
But you talk about forgiving your father for abandoning you and how that led you on this process of self-discovery, of even understanding life in a different dimension, at a different level. Can you tell us about forgiveness and how other folks might be able to think about forgiveness in a different way?
LT: They say holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That's exactly what resentment does to us. It destroys our lives, and it allows the other person to live a full life.
Being unforgiving doesn't help you in any way in your life. It strokes your ego because you feel as though you're hurting that person by not forgiving them, but in actuality, you're only hurting yourself. You're carrying those emotions, not them. They might be out there living their best life while you're there sitting in your little corner — "I don't like what he did to me" — you're just repeating that narrative in your mind over and over again while they're living their best lives.
I realized that holding on to resentment was, again, an act of insanity.
Forgiving my father and learning how to develop a strong perception of why he left allowed me to live a free, happier life. It allowed me to love him for him and not his actions because I was able to see his actions as a product of the way he was raised and his environment as opposed to the person that he was.
I don't believe my father was a bad person. I believe that through his process, through his journey, through the way he was raised, through the experiences he went through, he encountered a problem that led to some sort of emotional trauma in his life that led to him resenting things that he loved or he was trying to put up walls to stop people from loving him wholely. That's the perception I developed.
And when I developed that, I was like "The only thing my father really wants is love. And I'm going to give him that. He's probably never had that before. So I'm going to say, 'i love him.'" and it made me feel so good saying that.
And I remember when I finally understood and I finally gained this perspective on forgiveness, I sent him this text message, and I was like "Dad, I love you. I forgive you, and I forgive everything that you've done leading up to now."
He replied back and he said, "Son, there is a lot of things that I need to talk to you about, and we're going to have to have a sit-down to really discuss those things."
And when he replied and said that, it put things into perspective for me because it was like a confirmation of what I was thinking about. There had to have been something in his life that caused him to act the way he acted.
Up to now, we haven't had that sit-down. We haven't met up. We were supposed to meet up earlier this year, but COVID-19 happened, and flights weren't flying in and out of other islands. But it's something we are still trying to do. We just had a talk a few weeks ago, so we are still trying to meet up and have a discussion, but I am there. I'm ready to sit down and look at my daddy as a human being and not as someone who hurt me.
As we grow, as we go through our journeys, we are going to hurt people too. And the question is, how do you want that person to react? Do you want them to be unforgiving towards you knowing that you made a mistake? No, you want them to forgive you and forgive the mistake you made in their lives. And so I think we have to do the same to other people. Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.
I realized that if I'm going to continue to grow and mature as a young man, learning how to forgive people was the way I was going to grow into the person that I can be. Nobody gives us a manual on how to live as human beings. We have to figure everything out. Part of figuring things out is hurting people, but then we can also learn and understand from our mistakes.
I forgave my father because I want to give him an opportunity to learn what I've been through because of the mistakes he made and understand what I've been through and help him to grow on his journey.
So the conversation that we are about to have in the near future is going to be geared towards his growth and also mine. We both are going to grow.
So that's why you forgive. You forgive so that our journeys continue on this life because we're all on our own journeys, and we all should be helping each other to get where we need to get or where we need to go. And I'm not going to be a bad person and not help you. I want to see you get to the destination of your desires, and if the only thing I need to do to do that is forgive you, then I will forgive you so that both of us can get to our destinations and become whole human begins at the end of our lives.
David: Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. LT, let's take a break and come back for some closing thoughts.
David: We're back with LT Bourne. He’s an author. You can find his book in the episode notes. I highly suggest that you read it. If you're curious, if you've been through this experience, if your husband or your brother or anyone in your life has grown up without a father, it's worth understanding the depth of what that means to a young man and an adult boy and to a good man, as LT has transformed into that, even so much so that he's said that he has a deep gratitude for his father's absence. And as we just heard, a genuine forgiveness and a growth, an opportunity for both folks to feel whole when that is the point of healing.
LT, I would love for you to switch roles a little bit, and let's go back to where we started. You're four years old, five years old and that vivid memory. And I'm sure we can all imagine that — looking out the window, seeing your dad hop in the car. That was 25 years ago at this point, but that's still just a visceral emotion for you, and you feel it now.
I'd like you to play the role of the father to your younger self and be the father and give that young boy some confidence, some encouragement for what lies ahead.
LT: That younger boy being myself, correct? Who was hurt by that situation?
David: Yeah, absolutely.
LT: I would tell them that people never hurt you because of what you do. They hurt you because of what they are going through, and that he should not take anything personally. Because my younger self took it personally. And he took it personally for many, many years. My advice to him is that he shouldn't take it personally, that he should learn to love people regardless of what they do to him, say about him, or speak about him. So always learn to love people. They always do negative things out of their own lack, out of their own insecurities, out of their own traumas.
People don't hurt you because of you. They hurt you because of themselves.
An individual who has fully accepted himself, who has fully loved themselves will never hurt you. They will always love you because they have come at peace with who they are. It's the individuals who are hurting that always try to hurt people because that's the only emotion that they know.
My advice to him would be don't take it personally with those types of people. When they show you hurt, show them love. Show them what they're missing in their lives so that one day that would gain some insight or they will have a revelation, or they will gain some introspection. The minute they gain that, your name will pop up in their subconscious of an individual who loved them while they were hurting.
Respond to hurt and hate with love, and you will always win in the end.
David: Powerful words. When they show you hurt, show them love.
LT, it's been an incredible conversation. I want to bring up one more point, and that's related to all of the other men out there who are in this same category of having the shared experience in life. You had some connection with your biological father. You told us the story about pointing to your muscles, and so there is that fleck of connection back in your childhood.
There are men that we're talking to who have never met their biological father in their life, ever. There are also folks that we're talking to that had a father who just worked all the time, and they were absent even though they were there. So I would love for you to close on a quote where you talk about the importance of narrative and storytelling. And you say, "A father's absence is no excuse for falling short of life's goals, and those who are coming from fatherless beginnings are still in control of their narrative."
LT: Yes. We have to recognize that we are on a hero's journey in this lifetime. When you're on a hero's journey, from the beginning stage to the middle stage, even to the end, you're always going to be met with obstacles and negative narratives and things that are going to destroy you. But every hero is given an opportunity to respond. How are you going to respond to that?
Are you going to rise up and be victorious? Or are you going to fall down and play the victim? It's your choice — victor or victim. It's entirely in your hand. It's like a Matrix — the blue pill, the red pill. Which one do you want? It's entirely your decision.
And if you choose to be the victor, you're choosing to fight through everything that's stopping you from achieving all your goals on this hero's journey, on this journey through life. You have made the decision that you're going to fight to the bitter end, that you're going to fight with everything in your lungs until you achieve wholeness in your life.
The victim, however, is going to blame, is going to complain, is going to make every excuse in the book. He will never achieve anything in his life because everything will be met with pessimism, negative energy, and saying that he cannot do it. Which one sounds more appealing? The victor or the victim?
My story is a story of someone who chose to be a victor. There is no victim mindset in that book that you are about to read. There is no victim mindset in my actions. I chose victory. I chose to end this life being on top, and I'm willing to fight for that.
Yes, there are children who are growing up with fathers in their homes. My value is just as equal to theirs and what I have to offer this world. They might have the support of two, but I have the support of a mother who carries the spirit of two, and that's powerful. That's something that should inspire me to see that my mother can carry two roles.
So who's the individual I'm going to cheer for — the one who has two or the one who has a mother who is carrying the spirit of two souls inside of her in everything she does?
I know my power in this world. I know that my life was not a mistake now, through my process of healing. I know now that to whom much is given, much is required, and that the strongest soldiers usually get the hardest battles and the hardest fight. And so I embrace that knowing that God has given me a strength that is far beyond the average human being, to carry emotional trauma and overcome emotional trauma and now be a beacon of wisdom to others.
I recognize my power.
My message to you is recognize your power, choose to be a victor, and life will unfold in wayS that you will never imagine it unfolding.
This is truly your journey. This is truly your story that you cannot imagine how it's going to end and the doors that are going to open for you once you choose to be a victor. I encourage you to choose to be victorious in all things that life throws at you. Always choose to be victorious. Thank you.
David: LT, thank you for making the choice to share your story with us. We're thousands of miles away, and we're all facing this pandemic moment, but I feel very connected to you through your story and through your inspiring... Just telling us authentically what you went through but also with so much introspection, and clearly writing your book has helped unearth a lot of that wisdom that may have been forgotten.
So I appreciate your story that you're sharing with us. Just as someone who has gone through this experience, you're kicking the season off for us. That's a huge deal in our book. This is our first episode in season three, stories of men, fatherlessness, and you're helping us see a huge part of that dimension. At least for me, I could see the entire narrative play out, the entire transformation. I really appreciate that.
I want to hear how things are going. You're 29 years old, and I know that your journey and even though dealing with this is lifelong, and we're going to be talking to men of all ages, and we're going to hear how fatherlessness continues to come out throughout folks' lives. So thank you for sharing your story with us and good luck to you.
LT: Thanks, Dave. Thanks for having me, man. This podcast is going to be powerful because we are facing a fatherless epidemic as we speak. When you look at the statistics compared to the '60s, '70s, compared to now, there has been an increase in fatherless households globally. So this podcast, I know, is going to touch a lot of lives in a lot of souls. I just want to thank you for having me on here and sharing my story. It's been a phenomenal experience. You have been a phenomenal host, and I just want commend you for spreading this narrative and starting this narrative amongst your inner circle as we try to tackle this global epidemic. Thank you, David.
David: Thank you.