My Charter of Rights and Freedoms Includes YOU… ah, and me.
Parker. I can’t say enough how deeply grateful I am for your post.
I am ridiculously privileged. I have stated that publicly upon many occasions in my history, and every single time it has been mocked, or scoffed, eyes rolling, ya, you’re an asshole and you’ll never know how it is. It’s generally a money thing, my perceived wealth is always bigger than my actual wealth. I sort of laugh at that part. My parents were not always wealthy, and to spite the family “privacy” culture we have about finances, we were definitely and consciously trained that so often the wealth we saw around us was not actual wealth – specifically the family with the BMW may or may not be real – and that the real wealth came from being a good person. And being real.
We were also clearly told that those values would be difficult to maintain growing up, because the world around us would want us to keep up with the Joneses. My Mum helped me a lot with this. I have always had a struggle with fitting in and sticking out. I do both; I desire both. Honestly. The balance comes from the lessons Mum gave me about me being me, not someone else, and being conscious about how I want to be perceived. (Wearing a double breasted white lace suit for my grade 8 grad notwithstanding. I’m still pissed about that. My best friend wore a yellow off the shoulder number.)
To be short and clear, we were well-raised to see people for who they are, and to be the good people that we are. We were raised by the phrase “that’s not necessary” and with regard to the subject of privilege and WHERE I was raised, that sculpted me an integrity made of iron.
But then, add to that my Dad’s definition of wealth – freedom and self-actualisation. Because of this, he gave me my first car, and suddenly I had wings. Real wings. That exact freedom is what has led me to becoming (almost?) self-actualised. For me, now, I understand self-actualisation as both a privilege and an achievement. I’ve worked really hard for this luxury, that is also (in my opinion) a divine right.
Ha – yes, REALLY hard. Currently my fingernails are a bloody pulp. And I LOVE it. It’s a small price to pay for the luxury of success on MY terms. Hell. That’s everyone’s desire and I gots it. I just kept doubling down.
Enter, at 16, external judgement, the jury of my peers. Suddenly I was no longer that funky-dressed, beautiful, intelligent, hardworking, responsible, positive, happy, great hugger, zebra lighter-wielder, good friend that my friends loved. I was the dreaded “daddy’s little girl”. I suddenly hadn’t earned any of it. My head at this point always screams “Yes! He gave me the car, but I paid for the gas! No one ever gave me gas money and I never needed to ask because I had a JOB!” Gawd.
No, I’m not over it, and the only thing that saves my heart from shattering (I fucking earned it and more, I shared it – fuck) is this incredibly free (and toll free) High Road. Truthfully, that road in my family was blazed by my grandparents, and paved for me by my parents. When it became obvious at 16 that my life was about to move past my own privilege because of my hard work and my integrity, dare I say that my potential moved off the charts. That is well-utilised privilege, and I am pretty sure the meaning of life, if it is flat. Evolution. Hybridization and cumulative effort. I’m sure it’s an equation that has measurable and relative parts.
I am going to have to short cut past some details. I am still pretty wobbly. Truthfully, I haven’t had a call topic kick me in the ass quite like this one has. I feel reverence for the exact details on my path, and I feel irreverent to the obstacles. Like on fire. In fact, I am even doing those unconscious things that dredge up the icky from the bottom of the lake and transcend them into the lotus, right in front of my own eyes. It’s like having tea with Mother Theresa in the Twilight Zone, and she is asking me for a light.
Practically, this means, when the anger finally broke, and I felt like a piece of shit – the feeling that is beyond guilt, the crushing, the nothing, the worthless, the loathing – I called an old and really close friend Sunday night, just to feel that I am in fact special. AND half way through the conversation, I realised he was one of those friends that criticised me all those years ago, and not for the car, for the ability to be myself, that wealth. This friend reminded me that his exact projections, all those years ago, were HIS projections, not a comment on how he felt about me. He’s still doing it, and in this moment of near-shatter, my heart suddenly grew instead.
Again, for the woo woo crew: my heart broke open. I realised I could have more, and I could be more, if I was willing to see that his judgement of the world and his projections of worthlessness (my judgement of him, see how this works) were not about me. I mean, there I was, 25 years later, using my very expensive and cultivated professional coaching tools to step back in the conversation and watch him have a conversation with himself, into the air, so to speak. It didn’t matter if it was me or someone else in that moment, or any other, looking back at those “damaging” historical interactions, my “trauma”. I took it on. I let it limit me. The truth is I inspire him, and he has always inspired and pushed me to be better, not because of his criticism, but because of his love and friendship. He turned and looked directly at ME in that part of the conversation, not the holograph of his own image. I was suddenly so wrong.
That he judges my privilege is a delusion, MY delusion.
And worse, I took on this societal thing that is happening all around us in bright lights, and that is the same societal thing that is I am not allowed to have what you have because you are better than me.
And despicable… that is me totally out of integrity with me. Remember that iron-clad integrity I was talking about? Perhaps that is why this privilege thing has been so hard for me, not just this week, but since I was 16. When there is something that is out of “truth” it gets harder and harder, clunkier and noisier, until you pull it back into truth again.
What am I having at all? What do I have? How can I have more? And how can I use what I have, all of it, on all levels and layers, to allow others to have more too? I’d like to add, also, to that successive privilege train, that those who I lift up higher than me, take full advantage to that part of the privilege that is me – that is the privilege to have what you want, as defined by you.
I’m definitely not done with this in my mind. It’s a sudden awareness of how I can be in charge of a 25 year old delusion that has seriously damaged me and frankly hiders this project. I want to create privilege for others, so sure as shit (balls) I better be willing to accept mine. In my mind, I certainly understand that it is an asset to myself and others. I can take this (and these) projects to a far more purposeful and useful level when I own my advantages – again, all of them.
Big thanks Parker for leading me on this discussion, and in this exact location in my life. Huge.
And thank you especially for using your privilege of eloquence to do it – your natural born talent. I am thrashing around in this topic, and in your words, I understood the real definition of grace. It is an offering of human being. I could not have settled still enough to have that conversation with myself with out that feature energy in your post.