Director’s Cut: Freedom, Freedom, Where Are You?

When we’re defensive, we’re isolating ourselves instead of working together.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Meghan, really? You never Googled The Palace? You’re telling me you looked at the story of Diana, the last “new hire” to join the firm, and couldn’t see that the job you wanted was a train wreck in the making? Like willingly boarding a freight train emblazoned with the royal crest to ruin your life? Hey, if it didn’t work, that’s on you. And then you turn to a gal pal to give you a softball interview? C’mon. You knew or should have known what you were getting into. (And the Palace surely has its own POV that is equally worthy). 

Dear You-Should-Have-Known

I am writing from my family room couch, still in my PJs, despite it being 11:25 am. Huddled under a blanket with my laptop on my legs. Not because I am especially cold right now, but just because it was chilly when I first started this morning’s quest to inbox zero. 

What used to take one hour now takes three. So I am now more than a little sweaty. I’m annoyed. 

Right above me, you see, on the 2nd floor of our home, my 17-year-old son is in his room creating a tap-tap-tap sound as he does his remote schooling. I can’t figure out the sound source, for he won’t tell me. It could be a keyboard, or foot-tapping, or some elaborate finger drumbeat. All I know is it’s the relentless drumbeat of Covid-shelter-in-place life.

I have asked for it to stop. Explained how distracting it is. How difficult it makes my work.

Right after the request is made, I get maybe an hour reprieve. And then he forgets or reverts or whatever. Then it’s back to 8 to 14 hours a day of tap-tap-tap. Heard from nearly every room. But especially in the spaces I use.

Now, I should have known that having a teenager would be disruptive. 

And, I should have known that having a boy is all about the loud. 

Maybe, I should have known better than to become a parent in the first place, if I wasn’t willing to be accommodating to his needs first and foremost. 

Right? If it’s not working and I’m the one in pain, then… well, c’mon, as you say. 


But, then I remember, I’m not in this alone.

Taking on all the burden discounts the role my co-parenting husband could do. After all, he knows that the constant noise-making makes my work as a writer much harder than it needs to be. He knows (because we’ve discussed it) that my time is not fungible. He sees how the noise costs me evenings, weekends, and sleep. Which means I can’t work on the next big thing.

Also, by not asking more of my son, I’m denying him something, too. 

Kiddo (as I still call him on digital life) doesn’t get to become a part of the solution. He doesn’t learn how to mutually care for someone he loves. If I don’t involve him, he doesn’t get to belong fully to the crew that is our family.  And so he misses the opportunity to co-create the crews’ solutions. 

So, not good.

If I act as if I’m somehow independent, it denies our interdependencies. Our love, yes. But more broadly, our mutuality, our relationship to and with one another. 

This happens ALL the time @work, though, doesn’t it?  

You-should-know-better if you accept a job, and the boss turns out to be an asshat. You-should-have-known-better taking the job, even though it’s the company that decides who is on the interview committee, and often the people who can reveal what’s not working are kept far away from candidates. You should have known better believing the leader who talks about having open, even “meritocratic” culture when he’s the one hiding his sex scandal

You should have known better =  “the one with the pain is the one with the problem.”

Which is the default story, on repeat. The story of rugged individualism, a story that isolates and denies how truly interdependent we are. It says you’re on your own. Which is not actually true. None of us are on our own, some of us are just made to feel that way

What’s more true? 

The situation is not your problem or mine, but ours

The problem is not the person who names the problem. Or even limited to the one harmed. The problem is the problem. Plain and simple. And the only relevant question is… who is interested in solving that problem? Just some of us or each of us


This is why the response from the Palace is so interesting. 

Look at how defensive the Palace got. Like saying, they quit on us, we didn’t fire them. Or how Prince William made his incredulous statement “We’re very much not a racist family” (Dude, didn’t your fam bankroll and profit of the original slave trade?) Oh, and how they are hiring a legal firm to look into Meghan. Doing what they are accusing Meghan of being, a bully.

If I was their advisor, you know what I’d ask? 

How do you want this to end? 

As in …Do you want to be “right” more than you want to heal? Do you want to deny there are issues or admit to what you’re afraid of? Do you want to defend more, to build a higher wall, or do you want to learn what to fix? 

Is it “their” problem or “ours”?

These are not easy questions to ask oneself.  I imagine myself storming upstairs and demanding an end to the tap-tap-tapping, with an outsized consequence to enforce it. Maybe taking away his computer for a day. But if I were to do that, I’d be saying I’m the only one who matters; the annoyed person on the couch who yearns for some quiet to do their own work. But that denies the needs of the student who taps as an anxiety-reducing coping mechanism. And ignores the many teachers working to enabling learning through that screen of his. And also the husband in the guest room trying desperately to block out everything, so he can just keep up at his job. I like the fantasy of declaring an answer because it can feel like someone did something (anything!). 

But solving it all by myself wouldn’t really solve anything, because any real lasting solution involves other people, so it is our work to do. 

More than anything, a defensive posture keeps one from learning. Because you’re spending all your time saying, I’m right, absolutely right, like the divine right of kings, right.

If you’re defending, you’re not working on solving the problem. Which, by the by, is the only way we go forward. 


Did Meghan know what she was signing up for? Maybe, maybe not. 

I mean, she took a job to modernize the Monarchy, the very definition of a racist system. It’s as if she joined Facebook to improve the business model of journalism. Or Google for AI and ethical advancement. This is noble because maybe one can change things from the inside. But also naive, because dear god the place has a proven history. 

So, was there any amount of Googling that could have helped? Likely not. And, really, do any of us really know what we’re getting into when we first agree to take a job? Not really, right? Does any amount of research really tell us what Day 30 will bring, let alone day 300? All we can do is ask good questions, and background checks our business partners, but in the end, we take a leap to say yes I’ll join up with you.  

We do it in the hope, the belief that we can add our value? And, together, do good things.

And it’s only when we’re in the relationship, do we learn more, enough. 

When a situation turns out to be less than great, the question isn’t who’s wrong, but whose problem is it? Ours, I hope. 

We’ve all be in these tough spots. Remembering back, you’d probably agree that we’d all rather make things work where they are. We picked that relationship in the first place, after all.  But if the choice is whether we have to give up ourselves to belong here, or lose our very sanity as was the situation with Meghan,… well, then, we have to leave.

Because, as Beyonce said, we can’t quit on ourselves. 

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