What is showing up in my life regarding integrity, being a person of integrity, and being whole and complete, is that I have compartmentalized my integrity, in different ways at different times, in order to look good, avoid conflict, or otherwise not come clean about being out of integrity. This has affected workability in key—in some ways the most important—aspects of my life.

If I look at integrity as an accurately completed jigsaw puzzle picture of my life, there are pieces missing, rendering the picture incomplete, not whole. Some areas are beautifully finished, the picture is stunning; other areas look like Swiss Cheese.

For example, there’s integrity in my work, with my sons, with friends, with my commitment to AA, with the general world around me. Then there’s integrity with my former wife, and with myself.

In the UCLA Being a Leader course, and in much of the follow-up work, as well as in my own intensive, often obsessive, writing, I have dwelled much on the 2019 end of my second marriage. This was not a mutual decision; my wife chose to dissolve our marriage after four and a half years. While it’s been convenient for me to take my wife’s lack of integrity measure, that’s neither my purpose here nor helpful.  My own lack of integrity is what’s at issue.  Had my integrity been whole and complete throughout our time together, would it have made a difference?  I can’t rewrite the past. There were painful consequences.

There were many veils of invisibility, I can see now, at play during those years together: fear of acknowledging, and accepting, that our marriage wasn’t working; fear of not expressing my own unhappiness in a constructive manner that could have led to an honest conversation rather than unspoken resentments; not taking responsibility for not honoring my word about certain financial commitments (no cost/benefit analysis of the consequences); for remaining silent as an alternative to voicing my word, and honoring it.

Had my integrity been whole and complete perhaps my wife might not have fallen out of love, might not have come to not trust me, might not have been clear in her vision of needing to be on her own, not with me. At base, my side of the street would have been clean. I will never know.

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