Expensive Keys

Today, during group supervision, one of my colleagues asked us to construct a “life story” given some prompts. Essentially, we were told to pretend that we were writing a book about our lives and to name each chapter, providing a brief summary of each one. When I saw today’s prompt, I was excited because I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about my experience in supervision, the perfect metaphor to describe my life and the people I have allowed to open this symbolic “door.”

These were the chapters that I came up with and their corresponding ages:

  1. The Apple of Their Eye (0-7)
  2. The Angry Overachiever (8-13)
  3. “So, You’re a PK?!” (14-17)
  4. The Dark Years (18-21)
  5. The Grass on the Other Side (22-25)
  6. Prosperity (26+)

Chapter 7 was supposed to be our goals for the future and how we saw ourselves attaining them. In writing out my goals, I realized I am hella ambitious…I don’t know if all of those goals will come to fruition, but I’d rather make big reaches and learn some lessons along the way, than have regrets for “thinking small” later in life.

He also asked us to reflect on our chapters and consider what our “Life Theme” was. I realized that mine was “pushing boundaries.” In every single area of my life, I have pushed boundaries, even during my childhood. I did so with my brother by testing the limits of “sibling rivalry” and basically being a bully (we’re on great terms now, no worries). I pushed boundaries with my mom by being very disrespectful because I was such an angry child. I pushed in school by overachieving and surpassing the limits of what was expected of me as a biracial Black/Spanish kid. I pushed boundaries by rebelling during “Chapter 3” to the point that my parents sent me off to a Christian camp for reformation. My college relationships during The Dark Years were always testing boundaries, especially during abusive relationships when I knew I should leave, but found it so difficult to do so. Coming out was a boundary-push…especially as a Black PK (preacher’s kid) who, at the age of 8, had an aunt tell her, “If you ever decide to be gay, don’t even bother coming home.” I’ve pushed boundaries in my graduate career by speaking out against injustice, privilege, institutionalized racism and systemic barriers, by advocating for my clients, and also for myself.

In my self-reflection for all of this boundary-pushing, I realized that my dad is the one who taught me to do that. He taught me to question authority when things didn’t make sense, but to do so in a respectful manner. He taught me to think critically and not to just accept things at face value. He supported me in every decision I made that I felt was for my benefit…and he gently pushed back when my decisions were not in my best interests.

It seems essentialist to say that I am the person I am simply because of my dad…but I think he’s a huge driving force in my life. I am confident in voicing my (often) dissenting opinions primarily because of the support I had in doing so during my childhood. I’ve made plenty of “enemies,” (more like non-friends) in the process, but it didn’t hurt as much once I realized that people who were “neutral in situations of injustice [had] chosen the side of the oppressor” (Desmond Tutu), and that I was much better off with them out of my life.

Not many people have been ‘allowed’ into this door. I have often heard people say things like, “You know so much about me, and I barely know anything about you!” That’s partly because I’m a good listener, partly because people don’t ask the right questions, but also because people love talking about themselves…and that’s okay. However, it’s just made me even more cautious about who is given a ‘key,’ because I’ve gone through 5 chapters of really rough journeys of self-identification…and the keys to my door are hella expensive.

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