My parents divorced when I was two-years-old. My mother made the courageous decision to prioritize our safety and health, thus escaping the abusive relationship she had with my father. She packed us up, sought safety and protection, and pioneered a new life for us. Escaping my father’s violence was a wise decision, he was a volcanic and toxic person. I’m grateful for the peace, stability, and love her decision afforded me. Yet, the compartmentalization of an absent father was and is hard.
I clearly remember the formative day I realized I was ‘different’. Our classroom mom asked me where my father was, up until that point I hadn’t given his absence much consideration. As I scanned the room, nervously looking for the best way to answer her intrusive and inappropriate question, I remember immediately feeling self-conscious. In that moment I realized that I was different from my peers, my absent father made me different. I lied and told the nosey classroom mom that my father was dead, this quickly stalled her interrogation. But in the realization that I had no connection to my father, a subordinate subpersonality was born. I empowered this subpersonality to creep into my subconscious, creating self-doubt, and questions about my self worth.
Often I internalize my father’s absence as a reflection of my worth. I’ve had many good cry’s wondering why I was never good enough for him to cherish. Subsequently I’ve governed my existence with the goal of becoming someone that is worth cherishing. I’ve always been baffled by the ease at which my father was able to throw me away. I would often think, “If a parent can void their child from their existence, perhaps the existence of that child is worthless.” Although logically I know my father’s negligence isn’t a reflection of me; thoughts and doubts about my personal worth don’t cease.
Conversely I was blessed with a grandfather who adored me, and thought of me as his third daughter. I remember as his soul drifted from his earthly body, he told me that he got it right in raising me. He was an exemplary human being, a man’s man who was revered by all. My grandfather was larger than life, with an intense and gentle sincerity that affirmed that not only was I worthy of being cherished, but that the entirety of my soul was something unique. His uncompromising decision to love me with pure generosity made my existence in this world beautiful.
My grandfather possessed the unique gift of making everyone in his path feel special and seen, his way of displaying unbridled love for humanity was widespread. There were few places we could go without someone rushing to him to say “hello,” followed by a story about a moment he impacted or even saved their life. We would run into his former students, who always had a story about my grandfather straightening out their lives and keeping them out of trouble. Former coworkers would run into his arms for a hug, and would share their gratitude for the collegial ways in which he navigated the educational system to advocate for what was right. Church members would greet him and show appreciation for his work on a project, or compliment his violin solo during service. Fraternity brothers would share stories from ‘back in the day,’ followed by jovial laughter and appreciation of brotherhood.
My grandfather wasn’t just a man, he was a king. What I found most staggering is that God chose to intimately nestle me in the presence of this king. Surely my position in my grandfather’s life wasn’t happenstance, and perhaps the absence of my father was necessary to ensure that I break unknown generational curses. Afterall, if I can be adored by a king, why are the actions of a court jester important? I often revisit this question.
A jester is a minstrel hired to entertain, earning the title of “fool” in the 12th century, they were called upon by royalty to leap, whistle, and fart. Throughout the middle ages three types of fools evolved, metaphorically these three types of fools are often given too much space in our lives in present days:
- The professional fool: was employed by a nobleman, they were astute, and wore normal clothes like their masters.
- The innocent fool: they were kept for the amusement of their masters, typically unpaid. When these fools no longer amused the noble family, they were cast aside.
- The ‘fool society’ fool: a group of amateurs who performed at fairs and festivals.
In my corporate career I empowered the “professional fool.” This jester was consumed with their own feelings of inadequacy and insecurities, making it their mission to break my confidence with abusive microaggressions, disenfranchisement, and taking credit for my work. In legitimizing this jester I found myself questioning my worth. Once I adjusted my crown, I was able to reclaim my power, and focus on the discovery of my superpowers, letting them shine through the noise this jester created, subsequently this jester quieted and vanished.
I’ve encountered the “innocent fool” jester, some of my relationships with poorly chosen friends can be classified as such. These engagements were with people who were drawn to me because I provided them a benefit or means of accomplishing something. This duplicitous jester exploited me for what they needed me for, while working behind the scenes to defame my character, lie, and misrepresent well intentioned acts of friendship. This jester clearly saw my value, because of this they sowed seeds of doubt and negativity that caused my confidence to waiver. I’ve given this jester far more consideration than they deserved. But once I chose those who unconditionally chose me, I was able to walk in light, authenticity, and abundance. Recognizing who played this role, and pruning them from my universe created space for me to enjoy and sow into my tribe.
Many times we lose our beautiful individuality in an attempt to conform to the “fool societies” status quo. This manifests itself in how we engage with peer groups, formal organizations, social media, or adhere to distracting images the media presents. Increasingly we find ourselves unable to authentically exist in reality because the distraction of the fool society is so loud in leading us to believe their facade. Yet to find and achieve our purpose it’s necessary that we silence the fool society, as it’s the greatest intrusion in our journey to authentic and true self love.
I once defined my worth based on the actions of the jester. I was lost in overcompensation, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy because I didn’t grow up with a father. As I sought to understand my internalization of my absentee father more deeply, I had to take accountability for how I define myself. We are not defined by one portion of our lives, and their co-dependencies do not define our worth. So many of us empower the influence of the jester, which comes at a cost that’s too high to pay. Focusing on the opinions and actions of the jester is a distraction from the king. Just as I was gifted with the adoration of a king, my grandfather, who cherished and loved me; we’re all gifted with a king. Don’t lose sight of the King because you’re focused on the idiocracy of the jester.