Behind the Broom: What the Books Don't Tell You
Witchcraft Philosophies, Action, Leadership, Humor, Outrage, Awkward Mishaps, Lovable Lessons, and a search for Grace with a clumsy Witch.
The Bad Nasty Entitlement Fairy
First of all, I am never going to meditate on compassion again.
Well, that's not true. I totally will. I just need to keep in mind that I'm a Witch and the moment I decide I want to know more about something, I need to plan that it's not going to show up in a pretty new book put out by my favorite authors. It will come in the package of angry persons, moments ripe for impatience, hurtful words, and seemingly futile attempts to heal through listening and sharing. IT WILL MANIFEST, PEOPLE. AND IT WILL USUALLY MANIFEST VIA PEOPLE.
People are the ultimate compassion-testers and the closer you are to them, the more they will test and tempt you to throw away all compassion. Along with several handfuls of your hair. I don't know why that is and I'm not asking why right now (TAKE NOTE, UNIVERSE! I AM OFFICIALLY NOT ASKING "WHY?"!) Basically, it's easier to have compassion for the homeless person sleeping on the subway than the co-worker making snarky remarks about company policies. It's much easier to have compassion for people making mistakes a world away than people making mistakes right next to you. If it were, Boyfriend would have compassion for me when I overload the dishwasher. ("And leave food out on the counter. And leave the lights on when you leave for work. And...." he compassionately added.)
Anyway...the Lesson in Compassion Fairy arrived at my apartment door recently, along with Lessons From Bad Nasty Entitlement Fairy. Both of those Fairies make tough guests. I love them for existing. I hate them when I'm dealing with them--much like Bikram Yoga and roach traps.
A few weeks ago, I sat down and had a conversation with a young person in my community who was using some pretty abusive language online. They were angry that no one had reached out to them to check on them and they'd been going through a rough time--yet no one knew the extent of it. I pointed out that many had been very kind and supportive of them in the instances of when they'd reached out via email or social media. Yet, this person felt that they shouldn't have to reach out and let us know they were suffering--it should simply be something that the community did on its own accord: seek, discover, absolve the nasty business going on. More importantly, it was something that I as High Priestess of the community, should have had on my radar to do: a.) Notice that t person hadn't been on social media for a few days and check up on them. b.) Reach out when seeing that the person was having a bad time--by phone, or in person. A comment on Facebook, no matter how supportive, did not cut it. They were not in my Coven. I wasn't aware that they expected this of me. Even if I were aware, I'm not sure I would do it--with 250 people in my general community, I'm not in a position to notice if one disappears from the internet for a few days. I am also not a therapist or a social worker. I work two jobs and might like to work on my own projects once in awhile. I simply can't do it all, but I do the best that I can.
With that, we talked about Entitlement.
"How dare you call me entitled???" They fired back. "After all I've been through!"
And I realized I'd triggered one of the nastiest insults one can to a Millennial--a mistake from which there is no return, only blog posts to hopefully better explain it to other people.
Entitlement: the word people in the generation above mine throw at the generation after mine, calling them entitled for "thinking things should be handed to them," whereas Millennials respond, "We're more thinking we shouldn't have this much debt at this age." I'm stuck in a weird place between Gen X and the Millennials, so I don't feel like anyone was talking to me.
And, in this young person, I was faced with a manifestation of myself from just a year ago--during Superstorm Sandy.
When the storm hit and things got nasty, the Oracles of Social Media expressed "OMG...SO SCARED!" levels of concern. I got tagged by people I barely knew saying they were thinking of their friend Courtney as she braves the storm. Long-lost friends texted at all hours of the night to get updates as the storm passed over. In the aftermath, my favorite podcasts held space for those dealing with Sandy. People were soooo worried and soooo ready to talk about it in public, public spheres--more so to those who weren't directly dealing with it over those who were. I assumed it was because the phones weren't working. (Maybe that really was the reason.)
But a week later, the election began and it was like it never existed.
I was a poster-child for Tracy Bonham's Mother Mother.
For you whippersnappers...
A summary of messages/calls from people in the aftermath:
"Just take it easy. Go for a walk or something." "We once lost power for three days...so, I know EXACTLY what you're going through." "What in the world could still be the matter? I thought you had power, now."
Me: Well...there was this hurricane.
I walked five miles to work this morning because the subway is still out.
I have Coveners without power, heat, or gasoline--and those guys have been stranded far away from home for days and there's not a friggin' thing I can do about any of it.
I have community members who can't pay their rent because their jobs got washed away.
I have friends fighting because occupying space during natural disaster is a great time for Shadows to start bumping and grinding.
The places Boyfriend and I lounged around lovingly and lazily just last summer are under water forever.
I'm not totally sure all of my co-workers are alive.
It's week three of me having no voice because of Sandy-mold funk.
Lots of people died and lots of people are mourning.
Climate change is all up in my face and guess what? It's coming for you, next.
Last night at Samhain, I screamed in the middle of the Circle that the Goddess should go f*ck Herself for what She did to our city.
I'm not trained to cope with this sh*t and here I am coping with this sh*t...
EVERYTHING'S NOT FINE.
I got mad. How dare the world move on and think about things like elections, their own jobs, their own problems, or anything other than what I and others in my city were going through? How dare people minimize what I was dealing with? How dare writers, bloggers, podcasters talk about the social and spiritual implications of Sandy without having lived through it or even talk to someone who lived through it? Mainly me or my community? We had a lot to say. Why didn't anyone ask us? Had those people who checked in on me obsessively or posted about their "New Yorker Friend" only been in it for some kind of sensational drama in the moment? Strange how "into my well-being" they were when the storm was happening, the news was on it, and people actually cared....odd how they seemed to have forgotten it was something they cared about, only a few days later.
I got madder, and then I got bitter, and then resentful.
Maybe because I just got tired of being angry. Maybe because when trying to counsel others through the same thing, one has to take a step ahead and fix thyself first before going around and helping others fix thy own selves. But the final nail came when I was told I'd done wrong by another person by not fulfilling the role they thought I should. I finally accepted that I really wasn't owed the attention I thought I deserved back then, either.
Had the multitudes of casual online acquaintances ever promised they would come running to check on me if I'd been through a (literal) storm? Did articles and blogs promise to focus solely on NYC and other areas until we told them we were ready to stop? How many times had I given a public, fleeting glance at serious things that were happening in other places--maybe even tossed a few Sabbat collections one way or another--but then went on about my business again? Lots and lots.
I counted my blessings. I had my Coven. I had my partner. I had my family. I deepened friendships with ministers of other faiths, doing the same work as I. I organized supplies drives and toy drives (Okay...NO better use of time than a toy drive...right? Best thing for Yule!!!). I caught up with an old friend who reached out from Texas and said, "I don't feel like NYC is back to normal. Can we help?" I had gems of Spirit. I had a Samhain composed of five different NYC groups--we all came together because so many had been canceled and so few spaces had power to have Samhain at all.
We tend to treat the word "entitled" like an insult or a character flaw. It shouldn't be the former and it isn't the latter. It's an ailment on the soul. When we think we are owed something that we are actually not, we suffer and we cause others to suffer. When we assume others will act in accordance to how we think they should act, we are often let down and we suffer. Groups, Covens, friends, partners--there is an agreement, generally spoken but sometimes not--that support will be shared when it is required. That one's needs will be met without there being an ask. Yet, we can't apply this to everyone we meet and we certainly can't apply it to "the general population." Once we can get out from under the vise-grip of baseless "I deserved...it should be...they should have...it should be..." and focus on what we truly received, we can soar just a little higher on our spiritual broomsticks.
In the mirror of me embodied in this angry, hurt person then sitting before me, I found a glimpse of my own Entitlement leech. I also found compassion because we both knew what that leech's bite felt like. I found compassion for the people I thought ignored me. They hadn't--they were just living their lives and they didn't owe me anything. I dug just a little deeper into my own Well of Compassion again and this time, found even a little more freedom from spiritual slavery, just like the Goddess promised.
I am thankful for this lesson.
But I think my next meditation will be on the Mysteries of chocolate chip cookies.
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