The most important thing to know and understand about the marginalized in this culture is that we have much narrower margins than normative people who live in the lap of comfort.
The fact of our narrower margins is simple: we have to be much more circumspect, play our lives much more close to the vest, take smaller risks and always make sure we have what is vital to us protected.
People who live in the middle, deep in the heart of average, have plenty of room on each side to miss the mark, to take the blows. They can get hit, swerve a little and have lots of space to recover stability, to get back to baseline.
Those of us who have been pushed to the margins, though, know that one or two swift hits and we are in the ditch, beyond recovery. We used up our margin of safety just to get where we need to be, so from here on out, it is a delicate and tender operation.
Trust is the first thing to go. We can’t just let people in, make ourselves vulnerable to other people and then be sideswiped by them. We have had that happen before and know how it almost pushed us over the edge.
It’s very hard to explain to mainstream people why we protect ourselves from taking what they see as just a mild and ordinary tap. Why do we avoid the everyday thumps of life, the ones they take so easily and without any loss of footing?
We don’t do that because we are marginalized. Society has told us that we have already given up seven lives just to be who we are, and the next one that we lose feels like it will be our last. We feel, well, extraordinarily marginalized.
Even the most robust and celebrated among us understand the price of their marginalization. The fact that they have fans and followers does not change the reality of marginalization. Rather it just reminds us that it only takes one or two angry people to push us over a final edge.
The explicit training that tells you you are beyond the bounds, that you are overwhelming to most people, tends to stick with you for your entire lifetime. You always have it in mind that you are just one step from disaster and destruction.
The sensation of swirling around the rim, just an instant from being flushed away, is one that very much sticks with you. Trying to explain it to someone who has never experienced it, well, that just seems to be impossible, which just intensifies the awareness that trying to find allies is far from possible.
We know what it is like to be so overwhelming, so intense, and so outside expectations that we are shut down before we even start. It shouldn’t be surprising that knowledge affects our choices. Being marginalized by those around us has an affect, a long term and profound affect.
The marginalized have the experience of being on the margins, away from the safety of the centre. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but for people in the mainstream, this truth is well outside their stream of consciousness. The truth of our experience is well and truly on the margins of their awareness, you might say.
The marginalized feel pushed to the margins, without any space for grace or safety. We learn to stay circumspect and protected, even the most beautiful and capable of us.
Is that any surprise?