This last week has been a cluster fuck of an emotional roller coaster we all got strapped into and can’t get off. We can scream and burry our faces in our hands but there’s still no getting off the ride now. It’s already begun, it’s in motion and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. (Note: If you are reading this at some later date and time: George Floyd was murdered by police officers on camera which prompted protests around the world to fight for Anti-Racism and Anti-police brutality. There are shocking and downright horrific displays of police brutality and violence everywhere and I’m not going to post it here but a google search will show you the worst of it).
This week what I’ve noticed is a struggle for almost everyone out there is ego. “All lives matter” has brought out a lot of the ego in people. Why can’t we just say All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter. Don’t we all matter? The questions keep coming because somehow saying that Black Lives Matter negates that fact that all lives matter (namely, their life as a non-black person). Instead of listening, they double down on the “All Lives Matter” rhetoric.
It’s all comes down to ego. This thing called ego I know very well. I’ve spent the last 472 days of sobriety dismantling my own ego and I still don’t have it right. I still think “but what about me” in situations that are not even about me. I’m doing it again with anti-racism and now trying to improve that part of myself.
I know there are things that I’ve done or said that were wrong. I’ve probably even used the “All Lives Matter” argument a time or two to show that I was including everyone but was actually being insensitive to the group needing the help. Or getting upset being called privileged as a white person and getting all offended by that because I’ve lived a tough life and don’t feel privileged (the fact of the matter is I AM privileged as a white woman in California by color, sex and even geography).
I’ve lived my life many days not really thinking about other people and only about myself. Perhaps that is my biggest flaw of all – thinking only about myself. Sure, there are times in life where you’ve got to clean up the mess in your own life before trying to help someone else. I’ve proved that with getting sober. I was in no condition to help anyone before Feb 19, 2019. However, now that I’m growing stronger, it’s time to branch out and see the bigger picture. The days of only looking at what’s in front of me are behind me.
My eyes have been opened and there is no turning back. Maybe you feel that way too. Maybe you even feel a little guilty that you haven’t been as proactive as you should have been or beating yourself up for not doing more.
It’s all ego baby. It’s a really hard thing to admit to others and even yourself that you are not perfect, that you have fucked up or been complacent. Trust, it was not an easy thing to look myself in the mirror and finally label myself an alcoholic. I resisted it for nearly 10 years just like my sober brothers and sisters. I understand that internal struggle and the countless justifications for bad behavior – “it was your birthday”, “you have a stressful week”, “you were abused”, “it was a holiday”, “it was a celebration”, “I was raised this way or that way”. But these are all just excuses and they’ll get you nowhere.
In this very moment, you might consider yourself to be non-racist or even anti-racist. Great, but your work is not done. There are always ways in which we can improve and do better. Instead of taking people’s criticisms personally, perhaps we can grow from them.
It won’t happen all at once – it won’t even happen tomorrow or even next week. It takes practice and continual effort. Set aside the ego when those thoughts of “but not me because I’m sooooo totally not racist” or “I marched in the protest so I’m not racist” or “I have friends of all colors so I’m not racist” come into your mind. We can always always always do better and we should look for and welcome opportunities to do so.
Sit with these questions and dig deeper – why am I having to prove to myself and others that I am NOT racist? Why do I get upset when someone thinks I’m racist? Why does that bother me so much? Why is talking about racism uncomfortable? Why do I feel offended being called privileged? Why do I feel like I’m not doing enough? Am I racist? Have I been racist in the past? Are there things I can do to change? Can I change? Am I willing to put in the work to change?
After you’ve dug deeper, the work can truly begin. Start really diving deep into the reasons behind your feelings. This isn’t going to happen all in one session and you’re likely going to need to venture out and start to read, converse and explore this new territory. You’ll need input and feedback. I’ll give you a huge hint – it’s all going to be very uncomfortable at first but you’ll grow from the discomfort.
It’s up to you whether you want to let you ego stop you. I encourage you to look at your own ego today. Nobody is perfect, but we can strive to be better in this current state of the world and beyond.