Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spring 2009, Thankfully Ancient History now!

I hate my job but every night on my way home I listen to NPR’s unemployment news and remind myself to be grateful.

When I was a young person I got a lot of negative attention for challenging my father’s authority (imagine) and for generally thinking I knew it all. My dad was an alcoholic. He was in treatment when I was a young married woman and I heard the dysfunctional family info for the first time. The family structure of the alcoholic tends to be co-dependent. The alcoholic (or the angry person, or the sickly person) is the only one whose needs matter to the group. Among the children of such a family, the oldest tends to be the hero. The second oldest, if the same sex as the oldest, will choose a different coping strategy, at the same time comparing himself to his sibling. A second boy or a second girl will often be a “scapegoat or acting out child”. In my family my oldest brother often played the hero. From my point of view my mother’s need for my brother and her general unhappiness caused him to seek outside the home to get his needs met. He was seldom home. My older sister was also a hero at times, occasionally a scapegoat, but mostly a caretaker. She put a lot of energy into teaching my brother and me our catechism and when my youngest brother was still small and my mother went back to work, Paula was surrogate mother, housekeeper and sitter. Surprise, surprise she’s had a highly successful social work career.

But I became the acting out child.

As a grade school student I was happy. There wasn’t much evidence then that I would become a rebel. I was very social and spent hours with my friends in the neighborhood. My mother was so busy trying to ignore her situation that I was allowed to spend most of my time at the park, at the neighbors, the library or in front of the tv. We did play cards quite often as a family. Those are some of my fondest memories. And there wasn’t a lot of arguing. It was a very loosely run household. There were few expectations of me, I seldom bathed, I came and went as I pleased from a young age, and I was pretty darn happy. Though the problems were fomenting, I ignored them. My sister suffered because of my parent’s neglect of many of their responsibilities, but I capitalized on them.

Then we moved to the country.

It became much harder to socialize. I made friends with everyone in my class but it was too far to walk to school. And I had to catch the bus both morning and night. I don’t remember my fathers’ drinking impacting me directly until we moved out of town. It was then that I became aware that his day was structured around alcohol. I was 12 years old. As I entered puberty I realized my family wasn’t like other families. My undiagnosed ADHD helped me be an irritable, mouthy and rebellious teen. My relationship with my father was non-existent, even though he had once been my greatest advocate, and my relationship with my mother deteriorated to mutual criticism. Because I needed my parent’s attention and neither of them were available, I set out to get it and to set them both straight.

Fast forward.
I’m tired of that subject, because the real subject I want to write about is how I feel about working for the attorneys. There is so much I appreciate about these two bosses. They are constantly trying to make my job fit me. But because I am also constantly failing to meet their expectations I feel picked on and scapegoated. They make mistakes too but no one scolds them. And if they do “get in trouble” they can console themselves with their income. I on the other hand get to feel like the lackey. My ingratitude is awe-inspiring isn’t it?

I have a job!! Thank you Lord. But no I’m sabotaging my own success with my terrible attitude. I’m not sure how to get myself off this track towards disaster.

"Acting out child" - "Scapegoat"
“This is the child that the family feels ashamed of - and the most emotionally honest child in the family. He/she acts out the tension and anger the family ignores. This child provides distraction from the real issues in the family. The scapegoat usually has trouble in school because they get attention the only way they know how - which is negatively. They often become pregnant or addicted as teenagers.
These children are usually the most sensitive and caring which is why they feel such tremendous hurt. They are romantics who become very cynical and distrustful. They have a lot of self-hatred and can be very self-destructive. This often results in this child becoming the first person in the family to get into some kind of recovery.”

I am responsible to lead a weekly meeting at the Firm. Mondays are “Office Meeting day” I usually type thoughts through out the week to discuss on Mondays. I printed out my list today and forgot to delete the word “Scapegoat”. I didn’t mention my feelings of being scapegoated during the meeting. It wasn’t appropriate, but later in the day when I needed the notes to make a call I dug them out of the garbage and inadvertently left the paper behind where I made the call. One of the attorneys found it and gave it to me. He asked if I felt scapegoated. How do you backpedal out of that? I told him I realized it was my childhood affecting my current feelings. Am I displaying self-hatred and self-destruction? I’m pretty sure I am. And the deeper I dig the harder it’s going to be to turn this stupid course I’m on. I’m dismayed with my mismanagement of my relationship with these very kind people. Why can’t I just be grateful and shut the f#*k up?

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