In my family of origin, people seemed to get ranked by intellect and like mindedness (or different mindedness). There were decent people(worthy of kindness and respect) — highly credentialed and like minded. And then everyone else: “morons and sons of bitches”—that is how people were frequently categorized. Morons were people of non-superior intellect as well as anyone foolish enough to inconvenience us by being themselves rather than who we needed for them to be. Sons of bitches were those who did and believed all of the wrong things. Persecution of morons and sons of bitches was considered appropriate behavior. The consequence for being stupid or frustrating was imposed hardship and shame. This is how to handle ’em, to teach them their lesson. We are, after all, only giving them what they deserve. Serves ’em right.
My mother was exceptionally bright and liberal but showed intolerance for those whose thoughts, preferences, and beliefs strayed too far from her own. …like a weird illusion of open mindedness. She was definitely an outside the box thinker, but closed to and quickly agitated by those whose thinking opposed hers. I see now, that outside the box and liberal does not necessarily equal open minded.
Ah, the recurring message: “You are either with me or against me.” Similar is acceptable and different/difficult is shameful and punishable. The thing is, I was not similar to anyone, in or outside of our house. It was painful to be always wondering: Where do I belong? To whom do I belong? Who am I like?
My mother was unable to relate to me. At all. Because I was a challenge for her, she needed for me to be wrong. If only I would have just chosen to be different, easy, similar. She needed for people (particularly my sister, her brother, and mother) to side with her – affirm that her struggle with me was proof of my willful defectiveness. Her family was happy to do this for her. That was their loyalty. This is the love on which I was raised. I am unlearning as quickly as I can. Glimpsing in myself traces of this brand of living and loving, remind me of all of the work I still get to do. Differentiating myself in these ways is the work of a lifetime. I believe, if she had the courage, my female sibling would have said directly to me “Fuck you for going off script. Who do you think you are? You will pay.”
In my spiritual striving, I continue to seek living in such a way that I and those around me are free to expand— never called to contract. Expansion is the most wholesome badassery— calling on strength, gentleness, courage, humility. All of which are relatively new to me.Much Love,
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