Possibility the most dangerous thing that humans do – assume.
Not just because of the ass of you and me thing – but because assumptions mean that we are no in touch with reality.
I have realized what bad assumptions that I have been operating with all these years.
I have always thought that most people’s family experiences are like mine.
I mean I stayed over at friends homes growing up and I knew that other people’s families were different, that not everyone had a nice childhood, but I never bought into the idea that everyone had a bad childhood and were just acting as if it was good.
When I was friends with mostly lesbians, I wasn’t able to talk about my childhood anymore. Because most of the lesbians that I know didn’t have good childhoods.
Many of them were abused and molested, many of them tried to kill themselves, usually more than once. Most lesbians that I knew were let down by their parents and society.
It was a shock to me to listen to two lesbian friends exchange their litany of abuses and suicide attempts, to see the scars from burns and razors written deep in their flesh and their experience of the world.
I remember them looking at me and I wasn’t sure what to do. I had nothing comparable to begin to understand and the desire to raise one of their arms and declare her the winner of Most Abused Lesbian to diffuse the tension would have been so disrespectful and mean that I just sat there.
Finally I said, I don’t know what to say. I can’t relate to your experiences.
Then, they turned on me as if that if they could beleive what I was saying, that I had not been abused, never driven to the despair of death being a preferable option to life – that somehow, life was unfair and they got a raw deal.
Then what happened to them was the norm and they would not be bothered by my outlier status of a lesbian who hadn’t been abused or driven to suidical thoughts, outside of the normal teenaged angst – as my No One is as smart or deep feeling as I am teenaged poetry reveals.
So, you understand then that in that conversation – with their poorly constructed self worth and their negative experience of the world – that I didn’t relate to them or understand their experience.
Because my self worth was intact and my experience of the world was that the world is an amazing and fun place if you let it be.
I couldn’t tell them, who had been molested and abused by authority figures – adult relatives, friends of the family, teachers, priests, all the adults who have authority over children and who impose that authority in an authoritarian rather than an authoritative manner.
I was raised by authoritative parents who balanced their authority with my autonomy – my experience of the world was never unpleasant – because any time bad people came into my life – I resisted them.
It’s why that at the age of 5, when a man dating my aunt tried to get me and my sister to take our clothes off – I knew that there were adults who couldn’t be trusted because there were certain men in my family – in the generations older than my parents – whom we were never to be left alone with.
I didn’t understand why, I just knew that those adult men made me feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I learned it was because of mufti-generational incest.
So, when the boyfriend blocked my sister and me from returning to the farm house from the next field over side of the barn and said that he had a game we could play and it started with taking off our clothes.
I knew that this was not okay. I just didn’t know why. But I was older, I was the responsible one – my Dad had taught me that a cowboy always takes care of his horse before himself – I wanted to be a cowboy and my Dad wanted to teach me to take care of our cat. To this day, I can’t eat dinner until after I fed my cat and dogs.
So I stood in front of my sister and told the boyfriend that we were not playing we were returning to the house and if he didn’t get out of the way, that I would start screaming.
He moved. We went back to the farm, where I was unusually quiet and it wasn’t until we were in the car on the way home that I told the story that I couldn’t make sense of.
My Dad turned the car around and we went back to the Grandparent’s house and I don’t remember the rest of the story, but that aunt moved to Calgary with the boyfriend – who died a short while later in a motor vehicle accident – and to this day, she doesn’t beleive my story. I think because she can’t admit what a bad judge of character she was.
But I could not look at my two lesbian friends and tell them that at the age of 5, I faced down a child molestor because my parents did their job and gave me the tools I needed in age appropriate lessons and I had the sense of person, of being valuable enough, of being fully engaged in whatever was going on around me – to protect myself and my younger sister.
I couldn’t tell them that the world is unfair and that their parents failed to prepare and provide for them and my parents did. Because that’s where the unfairness starts – with the parents.
Because parents who don’t prepare their children for the diversity in the world, are the problem.
This need to make everyone married and have kids when they don’t want them or shouldn’t have them is a problem that is wholly voluntary.
Children are not clones of us, but separate people who must be socially capable of navigating from the childhood family to other family situations, from childhood to teens to adult, from school to work, from private to public.
A prepared child is an alive child – and it’s that preparation for life that makes all the difference.
So, the assumption that I made that’s been holding me back as an adult – is that I never learned to navigate one world at a time. I have always managed multiple worlds or multiple levels and never operated in the here and now.
But I experience life in the here and now – so to my college Geology Teacher who once asked me, how I can be an optimistic cynic – because his wife was and he couldn’t reconsile the two views.
It’s because I can compartmentalize – I can imagine the best but recognize the failings of people and so expect the worst.
But what I couldn’t do is engage with a person within the limits of the setting without consideration of other levels – I was missing the obvious and over thinking and as a result, not connecting to people because I wasn’t bothering to understand them.
Much like the scenario that erupted post-Elevatorgate – I have rarely ever stayed in a conversation with a person to understand the situation as they do – because I could never think down that small – I always think in the big picture of connected dots of information and context – and other people just don’t think that way.
Which is why so many of my conversations with people have gone pear shaped on me or I walk away with the perception that other people aren’t as smart or deep feeling as me – when in fact, they are – they just haven’t stretched and exercised their minds as much as I do.
Because they are enrolled and engaged in what life is like for them now and maintaining that – and I have always been a dreamer who paid scant attention to the situation or facts on the ground – in fact, didn’t understand why you would start from there.
Because, as a workflow analyst – you start at the output and work back to where you are to sort out how to get there – I am a renaissance thinker in a digital age, but I am adaptable and scaleable.
I was too smart for my own good, but now that I have connected the dots – I see the constellations in the sky – and I know how to get us there.
I want to take all my readers along for the ride, if you are coach able and will let me.