Tuesday, March 08, 2005

You Have Everything Going For You!

Bikipatra put her finger on an issue that has dogged me all my life. In her blog she wrote:
"As far as I am concerned the attendance at Yale of a Mexican waiter's daughter is a symptom of grandiosity and pomposity. I wanted to go there because I was mentally ill. That I was gifted enough to go is an inconsequential detail."
Substitute "Yale" with another snotty eastern college plus an Ivy League b-school, and substitute "Mexican waiter's daughter" with "depressed, isolated, fearful, lost boy" and it becomes the story of my education and career.

I picked out a college based on "I'll show them all" and "Once this and that and the other thing happens, then I'll be happy." A few years later, since that hadn't worked, I added "I'll be financially set for life" to the motivations and went to business school.

Like any good alcoholic (pre-beginner though I was), I really expected a credential from an impressive, prestigious, superior, self-satisfied, rich, powerful school would magically transform me into a person with all those same desirable qualities.

The education was fine, I imagine about the same as any other college or business school. The problems are the gilt-edged, high-profile diplomas.

There was no magical transformation, needless to say, but a whole value system and self-identity seemed to come wrapped in the diplomas, like dead fish in yesterday's newspaper. I've struggled to knuckle under to the demands of the values and images, even while I've simultaneously rebelled.

The images, values, and assumptions are very powerful, reinforced by powerful institutions, and part of me is always sure something is wrong with me if I don't measure up to my diplomas. As Bikipatra points out, a lot of people around us, even some of those trying to treat our diseases, are drawn, unconsciously, into the assumptions and images, and have trouble seeing our credentials as symptoms rather than easy solutions.
"You can just walk into a 100K job any time you want. Take a high-pressure, rat-race job and you'll succeed at it without breaking a sweat. You're smart. You're talented. You're experienced.

Obviously, since you went to business school, your career is your top priority, you crave working 80 hours a week, you're confident, strong, a leader, you're inspired by corporate mission statements and you believe in the strategic-plan-of-the-month. You have all this education to "fall back on," so once you "pull it together" you can get right back in the rat race!

You have everything going for you!

Accomplish! Achieve! Earn!

All you need are self-confidence, self-assurance, self-reliance, independence..."
I haven't shown anyone anything, my education and my job have never given me happiness or satisfaction, and I have no financial security. In AA they always say "insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results." So why on earth would I want to "pull it together," embrace this persona of a corporate drone, and make myself miserable??

These diplomas and credentials I have "going for me" are nothing more than another symptom and expression of my disease, and "pulling it together" means nothing less than walking away from recovery.


At 3/08/2005 08:04:00 PM, Blogger doughgirl said...

Wow...this is something I have been thinking about a lot lately and you hit it on the head.
So often I hear from my family you were so successful at that, why do you go back to that.
I too remember the 90 hour work weeks and the hoards of money that I had in my life...yet I still carried tht emptiness within me..it wasnt enough for I hadn't found me.
I was still striving to be the best at everything I laid my hands on and most of the time I was, yet being the best too was never good enough...it was still me I was looking for.
Today I dont have everything, but I have what I need and I am happy. I dont long for money beyond my dreams today, for I had it once and in the process of getting it, I buried myself deeper into the pit making myself harder to find.
I am beginning to find her, that little girl I once knew...shes covered with a lot of pain, but slowly yet surely I can hear her breathing and feel her moving...shes alive, she just needs to be dusted off a bit..


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