A place to Connect, Grow, and Serve
As I respond to the depth of human grief and strength in this song, I think about my own longing to express myself. Is it my New England/white/puritan culture that puts expressiveness in a straight jacket?
Too much "expression" of anything could cause shame. Especially anything sexual. With so much judging I never felt entirely safe or good in my own skin.
I did experience love in my family, and a deep interest in language, practicality, the natural world and the moral universe. There was also an implied superiority over (in this order): Catholics; blacks; Jews and other non-Christians; and less educated (improper) white people.
Power was expressed differently WITHIN my family: my father's power in public leadership, while my mother's was exercised behind the scenes through silence, hard work and the strength of her ambition.
The tough white girls in town scared me, but also made me jealous. They could curse authentically, and would have been able to beat me up. I wanted them to like me, but being nice couldn't overcome different backgrounds. I was a "goody-goody" no matter how much I swore.
The contradictions between universal "brotherhood" and being an "American" of a my class and race caused guilt about my "good fortune", as well as fear of losing it.
Over time I keep trying to unpack my history and identities, still afraid (despite my privileges) of not belonging.
I empathize with your writing here. But I find myself asking you (in my head) several questions:
What quality did the tough white girls have that you most wanted in yourself?
To what/whom do you most want to "belong" nowadays?
Have you now, as an adult, developed and expressed that quality you envied in the tough white girls?
Notes -- with lyrics.
Thanks Jill, It's lovely to have that.
Barbara, thank you for this sincere, authentic post. It ain't easy to be so honest about these things. I see myself in aspects of what you recall. Taking risks and doing what you think is right is part of a journey. I've learned not to be insecure about how others might react to me. But I've also learned to listen carefully for context and meaning to feedback as a way to grow and to keep an open mind to resistance, the meaning of which is often several layers deeper than how the giver groped to find words. Our emotions often keep us for turning confrontation and disagreement into opportunities for growth that can be put into deeds sooner rather than later.
I'm holding you in my heart.
I certainly identify with your words here. My growing up was somewhat different in that my family was dysfunctional and that, more than anything, was what I identified with. My understanding that I could be privileged even as I was hurting came much later.