I’m not on Your Level

I hate it when people hold me at arm’s length. I get it, I just hate it. If I’m trying to get close to you, it’s because I see you as someone I admire, respect, and want to know better. If you don’t like me, that’s ok. What drives me nuts is when you tell me that you’re, “not on my level.”

I learned a long time ago that I’m powerless over how people see me. I have Eminem’s words echoing in my mind, “I am whatever you say I am.” If you choose to put me on a pedestal there’s nothing I can do about that. I can build people up. I can’t take myself down.

Above most any other reading, I recommend Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s “The Invitation.” She got it right. There’s so many ways we compare and measure ourselves against others. I just don’t happen to care about any of them.

See, there’s a part of me that is always going to be blue collar, working class, trailer trash, poor. Please forgive me the use of that terrible phrase, “trailer trash.” I don’t see anyone else that way, but for a lot of years I saw myself this way. This, to me, is where I come from and I happen to be damned proud of it.

Working class poor, as a group are the very best people I’ve ever known. No one will give you more of themselves and of what they have. No one will be more real and open with you. Working class poor folks jump in the truck and pull you out of a ditch at 3am and they’re happy to do it. To quote Rodney Atkins, “These are my people. This is where I come from.”

I used to hate educated people because they all thought they’re better than me. This is self centeredness without selfishness. It’s what people in recovery mean when they say, “I was the most important piece of shit in the room.” It means I thought poorly of myself, I assumed you did too, and there didn’t exist in my mind the possibility that you wouldn’t judge me or just not give a damn one way or the other.

My Higher Power’s plans are always infinitely greater than mine and getting educated happened ten years ahead of my plans. Funny thing – getting a masters degree didn’t cause me to stop hating educated people. That’s the problem with chips on your shoulder, they don’t ever go away on their own. Only when I was willing to let go of them did they fall.

It was never about how I saw others. It was always just a projection of what I’d internalized. It was always just how the world taught me to see myself. The world was wrong. I am forever grateful to those who taught me the truth about me and to those who continue to – my wife and children most of all.

I seek a wider lens through which to view the world. I ask my HP to help me release my biases and prejudices. I seek to be tolerant even of the intolerant and to accept that wherever folks happen or choose to be, that they have no need of my judgment. I don’t want to care that you’re a right wing Republican who thinks Paul LePage is awesome…it doesn’t in any way need to interfere with us loving each other.

The thing is, we all judge. The distance between you and I is that you see me as someone greater than yourself. I can’t bridge that distance unless you meet me halfway. I can only tell you that my judgment of you is far greater than your judgment of you. So I leave you with these questions:

– Who taught you what you believe about you?
And
– What if it turns out they’re wrong?

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.