Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recoveringenabler, Jun 19, 2016.
I have a tee shirt that says this. When others ask what it means, I just say, "other people are none of my business."
You know I finished my second week of work and I really, really find it hard to be back in prison. I am very scared of being in that environment--I fear the staff. Let me tell you an example.
The bathrooms are locked, you can understand why. But I do not have a key. I have to ask somebody to let me in. The first day, I asked the wrong person, who happened to be in dental. Actually, I am filled with shame--because nobody was there that I recognized or in the hall, so I quietly tapped on an office door that I thought was in my department, the door right across from the bathroom.
Before I knocked I could see through the glass door that there were two women, one was standing talking to the other. I said something like I am sorry to bother you but can you unlock the bathroom door for me (which was 3 steps away).
She looks at me. With disbelief that immediately turned to scorn. Then she looks me up and down from my feet to my head. And just to make sure I felt sufficiently like a slimy worm she did it again.
Now, mind you she could have said NO. But she needed to make this a big big deal. So she says: wait until I am finished. I said thank you and closed the door to wait outside. And she proceeded with her conversation as I waited outside the door. She could see me waiting through the window.
I had waited about 5 minutes when eventually somebody came by who let me in the bathroom. It was not an emergency but I was completely humiliated and furious. You see there was a question of age involved. I was maybe 20 years older than this woman. (I do not know or care her status. She did not know mine.) I do not expect respect but I expect not to be degraded. I was.
So the next day one of my supervisors came to tell me that I was not allowed to ask anybody to let me into the bathroom except one of the supervisors or one of the clerks who worked down the hall. I listened quietly.
M said not to let anybody to belittle me, but I do not know how to respond to this kind of thing. I was made wrong both by the woman, and by my supervisor as well. While he did not make it a big deal through his tone that he spoke of this at all, made the issue a big deal.(I learned through somebody else that there is some kind of political situation going on between my department and dental. I had stepped into it unknowingly.)
The thing is I am a human being who seems to be allowing herself to go into a situation (work) which is hostile territory, by definition and by design. I know I am going there to work to earn money to replenish that which I used the past few years without working.
But I still do not know why I am doing this, what could be worth it. I can tell myself--OK COPA, define it the way you want. Tell yourself this is a training ground to be tougher or a way to beef yourself up after a hard, hard time. But in my heart I know it is abuse.
Clearly, this was not my monkey....
I have a sister that does what that lady did. Is it that? Is it a deep-seated (no pun intended) shame? The fact that it was about going to the bathroom, would anybody have reacted that way?
I cannot say anything to my supervisor because I will appear thin-skinned and as if I am making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, this is prison, and certain types of people work here. I should know by know. I do.
Any sense of a remedy for me? How to think about myself and what happened?
That's a crummy situation Copa, no matter where you are, but feels worse reading it knowing it took place in a prison, which is a different animal completely. It can be toxic and there are a number of folks who are attracted to that toxicity, certainly not you or Jabber, but you know what I mean.
Interesting about shame in this situation. I read a great book by Brene Brown, about shame and one thing that struck me was that folks have their own shame and a way to unload it is to "throw" it at another. Like a shame ball. So, I feel shame within and rather than feel it, I find someone willing to allow me to throw my shame at them, so then they have it, not me. (for a moment, until it builds again and you need someone else to throw it at.)
That's what your incident reminded me of. That woman shamed you. You caught her shame ball. She felt some momentary superiority and it felt good and you felt shame and collapsed in it.
When I saw that clearly, I saw that erupt in a couple of relationships I was in. One was a friend for 40 years. I observed for about a year and then I ended the relationship once it was clear to me that I was receiving "shame balls." I got out.
I am aware of that shame in myself and as I have slowly emerged from it, I'm able to see it in others and keep away from those people. I don't engage in their toxicity and as a result, I am not impacted the way that I used to be.
For me, it's another boundary issue. I was told that when one has strong healthy boundaries, it's like an unbroken fence around you, keeping you safe. If we've allowed others to break some slats in that fence, then we are vulnerable to others sneaking in those broken slats. Sometimes as kids, our boundaries are compromised, the slats broken. I believe once we repair those "slats" any toxicity can't get in. Boundaries repair those slats, at least for me.
If you're going to stay working in this environment, then you need to address these incidents from a different perspective, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." If you're going to stay, then in my belief system, there is a lesson in it for you, perhaps to recognize that woman's reaction to you was her problem and your response to her, is yours.
Or you can leave this job. Either way, make it a win for you. In your heart of hearts Copa, you know what the right thing is to do for your well being.......give yourself permission to do it.
Sending you warm wishes for peace and acceptance.
Wow so sorry you had to endure this ignorant woman. Remember it is HER problem and not you!
It reminds me of being a freshman in high school when you fear everyone that is a class above you because you are the newbie and have no idea of how things work!
I am sure once you are there for some time you will earn your place and the respect you deserve. You should get it automatically of course but sometimes it doesn't work that way.
Of course if you do find that after some time it is too toxic of a situation for you then you probably should move on to keep your sanity!
This was an enormously useful response, Recovering. But difficult, because I realize that M has his way of triggering the same thing. So all of a sudden I began to wonder if I need to leave him.
My way of thinking is like your own, except because I have collapsed from the shame ball, my thinking has been temporarily disabled. I will buy that book by Brene Brown and while I am there at the prison I will use that time to repair my boundaries.
I have a huge problem with shame, largely unacknowledged and unaddressed by me. My SO, M, is very direct. Very honest. Detail oriented and a perfectionist. In this sense hard to live with. I feel anger at his comments lots of times, and I believe I am defending against shame (and also angry.)
I am not a quitter. I never have been. I would like to work close to 6 months in order to meet some financial objectives (actually recoup a lot of the money that I have spent these last 3 plus years without working.) If I could really use this environment to address this weakness, it would be a good thing. But I cannot deceive myself. Sometimes nothing is worth the money *or the relationship. This is not one of those really toxic prisons. There are a lot of nice staff, although for some reason I am not that interested in making friendships except with one lady. Well, one lady is a lot.
I agree. It will only be too toxic to me if I do nothing about changing myself. In my house as a child, there was a lot of shaming going on. By both parents, and later my step-father.
I like the concept of not accepting the shame ball. Letting it go past me. Watching her direct it, and then seeing it go right past my left ear and dissolve on a wall. My demeanor did not let her see any response. But inside me, it stuck.
Why should you feel ashamed/embarrassed about this incident?
Apparently, no one explained the exact protocol about the bathroom. That is not your fault, or your problem.
Stop taking the blame for other people. You did nothing wrong.
Let it go.
I will address this, but should preface my remarks:
I am possibly one of the thickest skinned people on earth...or maybe I'm just oblivious and bull my way thru life. I don't generally notice someone treating me...well badly isn't correct. I notice someone doing something overtly "bad" to me, but looks or small slights go right over my head.
For instance, I'm a BIG woman. I've been in WW and on-line groups and have had other woman (smaller than me) talk about how people look at them with disgust or make them feel like dirt. MANY have talked about people making remarks or oinking at them or whatever. I have never noticed anyone putting me down by words or looks or actions, not even in clothing stores which, I understand, are major offenders. I take that back...ONE time in my 52 years of life, have I felt that someone was treating me oddly and that was a young man who got stuck on a carnival ride with me...you could tell he hated being next to me. But you know, that was HIS problem.
By the same token, I tend to be very awkward and unsure of myself in new situations. I'm uncomfortable doing new things as a general rule and HATE not knowing all the ins and outs of a situation. It would bug me to not be told things as basic as "where's the bathroom key".
All this is to say, maybe you're taking things much more personally than they really are?
So you didn't know who to ask about the bathroom? So what? Now you do. You didn't get written up. You didn't get yelled at. You think your supervisor had a "tone" about it? Why? Did anyone tell you specifically who to ask in advance? No? Then not your fault.
So this woman was weird toward you? Apparently there's some weird politics between the units you didn't know about? Now you do. Maybe she was having a bad day? Maybe she didn't know you and didn't want to get in trouble? Maybe she's just a ?
I don't really see why you'd feel like a "slimy worm" for asking someone to unlock a bathroom. As the children's book says, Everyone Poops. There's not a person there who doesn't need the bathroom and apparently keys are in short supply. So lots of people need the door unlocked. Seems like no big deal.
You don't need these people to be your friends. You need them to be your coworkers and the work environment to be pleasant enough to get thru the day without trauma.
Keep telling yourself that you didn't do anything wrong and whatever happened there is NOT personal. I once told a friend who thought everyone was talking about her, "You aren't important enough for them to spend time talking about you." This is the same sort of thing, they don't know you well enough to care one way or the other about you yet. When they do, they'll see a coworker that's a pleasure to work with.
LIl. I loved this post. Loved it.
It is HER PROBLEM.
Exactly. There's nothing about a polite request to use the bathroom to cause anyone to be rude or to tell your sup. She could just as easily have politely said, "We're not allowed to unlock outside our own unit. I'm sorry, you'll have to go get someone from yours."
Which leads me back to, maybe she's just a beeotch. Be glad you all aren't supposed to mix and go on about your job.
So, I am really learning something here.
The only difference between a prison and a family is that it is bigger (and they can kick you out--if you work there--which is really not that big a deal unless you take it personally, as I am.) Except families can kick you out, too, or threaten it. There was a time when that mattered, the fear of being kicked out of my family. Now. Not so much.
Is it habitual, taking the blame for other people? I guess it is. I guess it is like something happens--and then the knee jerk response is, "what did I do wrong?" It is not just catching the shame ball it is a whole new level in my case. It is as if I take responsibility for somebody even having thrown it (at me).
I think there is the issue, too, of pay back. I think that I let the incident ruminate in me because I nurse the anger. It is like, there always has to be somebody left holding the bag. And it seems to be me. The idea that I can just let it go, means there does not need to be any feelings at all either way. No need to cast blame, no need to respond, in order to establish the real bad guy.
It is like just not catching the ball. Letting it stay in the air until some unlucky unfortunate volunteers to take it personally and catch it.
I operate in life sometimes like every single thing is my fault and my responsibility.
Thank you ladies. Now I have a context in which to view what happens to me. The course to take now is to use it.
Why can't you have a key to have access to a restroom? I guess I would not like announcing to another adult that I need to relieve myself... KSM
Because this place has a policy that I cannot be issued either an ID or keys until I have attended a 2 day prison. Because they are short on staff, and needed my help right away, they accelerated my start date to 3 weeks before the training. In these 3 weeks I have to endure being escorted everywhere and asking to go to the bathroom. It is not something specific to me. It is the way they do it.
I do feel uncomfortable, because 2 of the supervisors of 3 are men. The women, give me their keys when I ask. The men, escort me to the toilet and use their keys to unlock the door while very obviously averting their gaze from looking inside the bathroom where other women may be. In do not think there is insensitivity to my situation, it is just that this is the way things are done here, and everybody has to go through it. That is the attitude. To balk, would be like throwing a fit, acting entitled, even though what I would be asking for is human dignity. This is one of the costs of working in a prison, an environment that takes away human dignity.
I have been having a conversation with myself just what it is about me that has made me endure this. But of course, that is one more instance of taking responsibility, taking personally something that has nothing at all to do with me. Except the choice to be there. I have chosen to go back again.
Our policy is that until you've gone through the Academy, or in my case, completed Core Training again, we have to go through similar procedures. We do get issued ID cards and can check out keys if we are authorized to have them but must be escorted everywhere. Went through that when I came back from Probation and Parole to work as a Corrections Officer at my current institution. It was rather amusing to me considering the age and experience of the staff members "escorting" me! I basically ignored them and when they tried to give me advice, I gave them the standard "I have more time on the crapper in D.O.C. than you have IN D.O.C.!!". Yeah, they tended to leave me alone after that. I stayed close enough so they didn't get into trouble but that was about it.
Something other people need to understand about corrections, it can be VERY cliquey! When two groups are in a pissing contest, even unintentionally stepping on toes can bring about some extreme reactions. I've just been around long enough that I don't give a crap. Sarcasm, just another free service I offer!!! And that's pretty much what they get when I accidentally cross one of those idiotic "turf wars".
You know, my significant other M, shames me. I am struggling with understanding if it is intentional.
Last night we had an interaction. A few years into the relationship M decided, no more pets in our bedroom. He was especially through with having Stella sleep in the bed, who would walk around by our faces and attempt to sleep on top his neck and face (unsuccessful with him; successful with me.)
About 9 months ago, the dogs got back in our room, this time in their crates. Since my son has been here, he has been asking that Stella be allowed to sleep with him. Even M comments how lonely she is at night crying.
Last night I asked him this: (like a child asking a parent)If I take out my mother's desk from the room SON is sleeping in, can Stella sleep with Son? He wants her in there with him.
M replied: Well, if you let me lock the closet door there were my clothes are. Son never shuts any door and when you ask him to, he leaves even more doors open. The windows throughout that wing of the house are open, with the air conditioning on.
I did not know that.
Why, he said? How come I know it and you didn't?
I guess because I am a bad person, I answered.
I went to my son's room, tapped on the door and blasted him with the shame ball. Because this issue of leaving windows open is years and years old.
The windows are open in this bedroom, the other one and the bathroom. And I continued on and on.
My son said to be: You are terrorizing me. It won't happen again.
You say that all of the time and it keeps happening. I don't believe you. These last 3 days you knew the air conditioner was on and you were indifferent. You knew the windows were open. You said or did nothing.
I responded: M is terrorizing me for something I did not do. You set me up. You set me up to catch flack.
So, here we are. I threw the shame balls back at my beloved son.
M could have said: I have no problem with Stella sleeping with son. Except we have to make sure we have a system in place to lock the doors, and make sure the windows stay closed. Son has had them open the past few days and I seem to have no success on impressing on him the necessity to keep doors and windows closed.
Except he did not say it that way. I set myself up as the small child who has to ask permission.
I could have said: I want to move my mother's desk out of son's room. He wants Stella to sleep with him and I would like that too.
I wonder if that would have had a different result. The thing is, he would have experienced this as an insult. And it would have been worse.
There are worse examples of this type of interaction. Like his throwing a fit when he came home and his sister and I had tried to organize the house by moving all of the offending junk into the entry hall and living room. She (his sister) just hates it when he does this. He is older and I am sure he used to do it at home when they are kids. He took responsibility in the household for working and feeding and raising the younger kids (with his Mom) as the father kept deserting them and leaving them penniless.
M is direct and assertive with me. In his life, though, he has had to eat . I do not want to have to catch his shame balls. I do not want to leave him, either. I will if I have to. The house is mine.
I would much rather learn how to interact in a more healthy manner. M will not work with me on this. If I bring it up he will get mad, and deflect all responsibility back to me.
This is horrible. By going back to work I do not want to lose my relationship.
Thank you Jabber. You described it exactly. Exactly what my situation is and exactly what I stepped into.
There is no way to see prison life through a everyday lens.
I do not care that I do not get respect. That I am used to. I just do not want to suffer. And more and more I am seeing that the suffering has to do with me, and nobody else.
I am afraid now, because I am being forced to confront problematic interactions with M my SO.
He is like you in terms of how he deals with transgressions. He sets firm and immediate boundaries, upfront, direct and clear.
The issue I am having is that I sometimes experience this as "abusive" but at the same time I love that he is not passive aggressive or petty or weak. I like the clarity which I sometimes experience as harsh and domineering. I like the strength but sometimes feel overpowered.
I do not like it when he rubs it in.
I am confused.
M is the kindest person and best person I have ever known well. I do not think he is either sadistic or cruel. I do not believe he wants to hurt me, although he can say things that do hurt. Does that make sense?
Thank you Jabber and everybody.
Cop a, if it were me, I know I would have said, "the cat is sleeping with Son from now on. It will be good for both. As for the Windows, I didn't even notice. Since it bothers you, just close the Windows." I am direct and say what I mean. It works with my husband. I have been thrown around enough in my life. Not happening in my personal life. I don't YELL things at hubby, but I don't ask permission about little things like that. I just say it. And if hub complains about something around the house and it bothers him but now t me, I may decide to do it myself or, if I think it's so something ill forget about, I will say,"if you don't do it, I will probably forget so...it's up to you."
I used to freak out at every criticism, but I learned that half of what I thought was criticism really was not. I'm happier since those bad mood days!
M just sounds fussy and sounds like you overreacted and took on unnecessary shame. It is not your role to please him in every way nor take it out on your son. I don't think M is abusive, just a bit bossy. Common in men. But women have more power now and we can state our wants and needs right back. You can disagree in some things, stick up for yourself, and stay together and still have a good relationship.
Same at work. Blow off the mean people if you can. In the end, they are strangers to you. Thankfully!!!
SWOT. That was a brilliant post.
If I may ask, how did you learn this kind of simple assertiveness? What it seems like is that you quietly take the space you deserve, of a mature, strong, deserving person, with rights and a voice. You do not assume otherwise, or expect (or brook) a negative response.
I love this.
M has resentments because he does way more of the stuff around the house although I do all of the cooking and shopping and bill-paying. And now he is driving me back and forth to work, on the best of days this is 3 hours of extra work.
It is not so simple if you are geared to take things personally, judge yourself as responsible and blame yourself if anything happens which you cannot control!
But knowing and accepting is the first step to change. Thank you SWOT.
I absolutely feel you on this. My SO is much more detail oriented than I am. He notices everything that has been moved or out of place, and then wants to know why...or worse, conjures an explanation that is rarely benign. I absolutely play a placating, somewhat infantalized role of apologies and promises to take care of things or do better. It is my house. I do the shopping cooking and bill paying. He does all the maintenance and all the fixing of all the broken things (and there are lot). My sons live there as well, and are more like me than like he is. WE are, in fact, kind of messy. I had a lot of shame about that. I am slowly, slowly feeling that it is not for him to dictate the level of organization or cleanliness of the house, not for us to hop to his standards. And yet...implementing that realization is challenging pretty much every day. Following the comments with interest!
and SWOT,this is so clear and simply fabulous. It is testimony to the degree of my subjegation that I could not POSSIBLY have conceived of such a simple and true response myself. But I do think I am capable of using yours.
Copa, let us work on this together.
Honestly? I got more assertive by getting fed up with being a door mat PLUS practicing in therapy. I was always one to say what I thought but I sounded aggressive and not nice. Had to work on that.
Now I sound gentle...I am aware to do this...but I am also firm.
Having said that, I am still sensitive and cry easily
I'm just more aware that sometimes I am being reactive over small things.
Separate names with a comma.