A call to all those who grew up spoiled.
And who have never had the chance to unravel it.
First, unpacking spoiled or “spoil.”
The dictionary gives 2 definitions:
1. Diminish or destroy the value or quality of.
2. Harm the character of (a child) by being too lenient or indulgent.
I find it truly fascinating that within the definitions of spoil we see the phrases, “to harm the character of” & “diminish or destroy the value or quality of.”
The experience of being spoiled takes on many flavors & forms. It feels daunting & diminishing to try & simplify this experience.
Some distinctions I can make are that when you are spoiled, you usually are not taught the value in things. Everything is dispensable. “There’s always more where that came from.”
You also don’t encounter many experiences of wanting without getting. From this, you miss out on the plethora of beneficial nuances that come from not always experiencing immediate gratification. Experiencing life without what you want & needing to become okay without it, getting to decide how much you actually want something & what value it holds for you, the realization that simply wanting something is one small piece of the puzzle, the irreplaceable satisfaction of getting something that you waited for or worked for.
However, something I feel to be ever-present at the core of every spoiled story is this:
Nobody who was or is spoiled gets out clean. And that’s because the act of spoiling in & of itself doesn’t come from a clean place.
Maybe your parents were spoiled & it’s all they’ve ever known. Maybe someone generations ago, made a name for themselves & did well enough to create a stream of wealth that has been & continues to course through your lineage. Maybe everyone in your immediate family had everything handed to them & because of that, you’ve spent your lives living in a tall glass castle of privilege, protected from the harsh cruelties of poverty. Encased in luxury, trust funds, mansions, private universities, high-paying jobs -- you’ve known nothing else.
Or perhaps your family is more open to a variety of paths & whatever you’re interest or excitement, it is handed to you in full. Maybe being spoiled has allowed you to travel the world, to take every course or program that excites you, to fulfill every external desire you have. Maybe you don’t even realize you’re spoiled because you’re doing things you find so worthy, that to pull back the curtain of spoiled & privilege, would be too confronting. Maybe it’s triggering to even here the words privileged & spoiled because the more comfortable story is unconditional love & deservingness.
Maybe your entire life was handed to you on a gold platter. The idea of financial or material lack consciousness, a wispy & silly idea. But that’s the funny thing about lack -- it hides in the strangest of places. It lives in mansions. It grows in trust funds. It sneaks around the halls of multinational corporations. And maybe, it moonlights as spoiled consciousness.
Maybe one or both of your parents grew up in poverty & from that came the desire to give to you everything they never had. Their subconscious battle to suppress their inherited lack gifted you with more than you needed but it deprived you of essential life lessons and experiences; they deprived you of experiencing abundance without engorging oneself on money and possessions.
Maybe your parents divorced & they were left filled with guilt & shame. Maybe they didn’t have the emotional awareness or tools to process the shame & assist you in processing the emotions & trauma that comes from a divorce. So, one or both of them resorted to spoiling you. Making it all better with things. This was the most accessible & quickest way to distract you from the pain.
Maybe you had a parent or sibling who died. And whoever was left was filled with so much confusion & grief that all they could do to make it better, was spoil you. Maybe the death left them emotionally unavailable & from that, grew shame. Money & material possessions became the love language. The “I’m so scared, I’m so sorry, I’m filled with so much grief, I’m so confused, I wish this never happened, you mean the world to me, I feel so connected to you, I’m so proud of you, It’s hard to look at you sometimes because you remind me so much of him or her,” turns into “I’ll give you whatever you want, keeping you happy keeps me happy, it keeps me away from the grief.” This is part of my spoiled story.
Though we were rich in the material world, we were emotionally & intimately impoverished. There is so much irony here, for me, as I now see how easy this made it to overlook how spoiled I was materially. It also poses the idea that perhaps there is something to unravel for every type of “spoiled.”
The only reason I can talk & write about this idea is due to the harsh popping of my privileged spoiled bubble. Years ago, I went from a life filled with everything I ever needed or wanted to a life with no one or nothing to rescue me. (I use the word privileged generously here, as I’ve become gravely aware that as a white woman, my version of poverty is still deeply entrenched with privilege). Yes, I have been working since I was 15. Yes, I went to school. Yes, I got a big girl job. Yes, I worked really hard & provided for myself in a lot of ways. Even though I felt independent and autonomous when I decided to veer from the path my parents wanted for me & was cut off financially, the belief that “there’s always something or someone to rescue me,” even when there wasn’t, lingered around.
Over the last 3 years, a hard truth to swallow has been slowly & repeatedly revealed to me.
Growing up spoiled has gifted me a plethora of wounds & patterns that insidiously seep into many different aspects of my experience. The material world, money, power, sex, relationships, career, purpose, worthiness. You know, all the good stuff.
It has made me act selfish, self-absorbed & entitled. It has made me a hoarder, in a constant threesome with lack & scarcity & it has created another space in my life for one of my favorite & most seductive lovers to come through - the victim.
Over the last 3 years my process has looked something like this:
Year 1: Relentlessly deny the idea that I’m selfish due to how spoiled I was, as it’s repeatedly pointed out to me by my partner (who was not spoiled & uncoincidentally, is massively triggered by spoiledness & selfishness).
Continue to hoard money & material items whilst cleverly spiritually by-passing by insisting that I deserve whatever I desire, while synonymously refusing to look at the reality of my financial situation. Aka, desperately holding onto a reality that had already shattered long ago. The one in which I got whatever I wanted simply because I wanted it.
Year 2: Starts to acknowledge how selfish I can be & see the reality of the situation. Starts to play with the idea of selfishness. Investigates where it’s coming from. Starts to see dimensions of my being that were previously unconscious. Realizes there’s a lot to unpack here. Also realizes how intimately tied all of this is to my relationship to money. Realizes how intertwined money has been to pain, torment & grief throughout my life. Desires to see money differently.
Year 3: A year of admittance, a year of acceptance, a year of working to investigate & expunge the splinters & residue around money & entitlement. A year where spoiled consciousness unveils itself to me. A year where I start to become both the observer & the observed in the story. A year where I become humbled. A year where the medicine starts to distill, integrating into my being, drop by drop. A year where I realize I can’t keep these findings to myself. A year where when the spoiled little girl inside of me appears, I see her clearly - desperately begging for attention, begging for love, begging for, ironically - anything but money & material possessions.
I have identified two poignant ways of being that seem to be fermenting within the vast landscape of spoiled consciousness.
Entitlement. I have always gotten whatever I wanted without question, therefore, throughout the rest of my life, I expect the same. To unpack this a bit deeper, I’ve noticed within the spiritual & personal development realms - there is a very thin, obscure line between entitlement & empowerment. Many times I have been swimming on one side, conceptualizing it as the other.
I’ve also felt the way entitlement lives in the bones of women. Fed by the princess, the damsel in distress or the helpless deer archetypes. Inside every woman, there is the harsh reality that whether inherited, or from this life - she was made to feel helpless & small. That she needs - no, deserves - to be rescued (usually by a man). That she’s entitled to what she wants because somewhere, she feels she can’t get it herself.
Empowerment being, I am cultivating awareness of my worth & value. In that cultivation, I know that I can create & have whatever I desire. I know that nobody is going to hand the life I desire to me. I investigate my experience; I take responsibility for my experience.
Entitlement, coming from fear - my worth is dependent on having whatever I want. Don’t tell me I can’t have what I want. Don’t force me to acknowledge the reality of my responsibility in this situation. Entitlement, just like lack, is a clever bitch. She slips into the most micro of interactions. She hides inside of new-age money teachings. She slithers into your shopping cart. “Go on, buy the $300 yoga pants, we DESERVE it. we got whatever we wanted we were little, why shouldn’t we get it now?”
THE VICTIM //
The victim is probably my most favorite mistress. She & I, we go way back. I remember being 3 years old & already getting inundated with her through modeling within the home. I imagine her in a red silk dress, long thin cigarette in her mouth, hanging over the edge of a black piano. Begging me to come home with her for the night, again & again. And I do, not just when I’m feeling spoiled consciousness rise up, but all the time. Carolyn Elliott has taught & is teaching me to see the deliciousness in her. And to see all the ways in which I’m turned on by keeping her around.
Throughout my journey with spoiled consciousness, I’ve noticed she loves to come out whenever I don’t get what I feel entitled to. She hides in entitlement, ready to pounce at the moment the realization is made that I can’t have what I want. The realization that the Universe isn’t conspiring in favor of me being a spoiled brat.
I call it spoiled consciousness, not to be dramatic, but because it feels that immense. It truly feels like a way of thinking & being that plagues your reality. Infects your ability to see clearly. Pillages your autonomy & your power.
Diminishes or destroys your value.
Harms your character.
Just like the dictionary says.
To everyone who has been spoiled;
There’s value here for you.
There’s power here for you.
Waiting to be called back.