Tag Archives: Mowing the Lawn

How My Shame Journey Opened the Door to Trolling

One day the partner in charge of the document archive called a meeting of the entire staff in the conference room.  This included the Staff Attorneys, the paralegals and the secretaries.  He announced that the document archive would be closing by the end of the year.  I remember he had a smile on his face perhaps expressing that this burden he had been assigned was finally over.  For the Staff Attorneys this was a chilling message.  We all knew these jobs were not career path jobs and the tobacco litigation would end at some point.  On the other hand we had settled in to our well paid, low stress positions.  Because we had been only performing document review we had no real attorney skills.  So, any attempt to transition into another “real attorney” job at a different firm would be difficult.  The prospect of unemployment scared me.

Fortunately the partner who ran the document archive advocated for the Staff Attorneys to other partners at the firm.  One partner for the New York office needed a staff to draft answers for litigation involving a well known pharmaceutical company that had made a drug that allegedly caused heart attacks and strokes.  The New York partner was a bit of a marshmallow in stature from too many years sitting behind a desk and eating at high end restaurants.  His personality, however, was direct and to the point.  There were thousands of plaintiffs filing suit against this pharmaceutical company all across the country and each of these suits required a document called an “Answer” responding to all the points in the “Complaint”.  What this meant for me was not that I would be using my legal skills to draft these answers.  It meant I would be looking at the form answer drafted by one of the associates.  The form answer contained different ways of denying every point on the complaint.  Even simple factual points such as the pharmaceutical company was located in a particular state.  I would be cutting and pasting answers from the form into the new answer I was drafting.

The work was mindless and at a certain point there was not enough work to go around.  I remember billing an entire day to draft an answer that probably took me fifteen minutes to complete.  I did not like being in this situation.  The law firm required me to bill a certain number of hours per year but then did not provide me with enough work to meet that billable requirement.  Nor would they allow me to perform real attorney work because I was a Staff Attorney.  As such, I could be honest, bill a few hours and be fired or I could be dishonest and pad my hours, keep my job but feel guilty about it.  I wanted to work but I wasn’t allowed to.  It was the lawn mower issue all over again.

I became anxious and depressed.  My marriage suffered.  I spent my days arguing with a co-worker through long email chains about whether God was real or not.  I surfed the web.  It was there and then that I discovered a certain website called StarTrek.com.  I start posting on the message board and became a member of the community.  When the members migrated over to another website called SisterTrek.net, I did too.  And so began my foray into the world of internet trolling.  I had a shame-based personality.  I was anxious and depressed because of my job.  I felt overpaid, useless and stuck.  Finally, I had unlimited access to the internet.  That combination of situations made it impossible for me not to troll.

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Mowing the Lawn

I remember as a young kid feeling humiliated that I did not mow the lawn.  My parents hired a landscaper to do that.  I remember feeling like I should hide in the house on summer days when the landscapers were in the yard because if they saw me while they mowed our lawn they would wonder why I was not doing it.  They would think I was lazy or incompetent.

A family friend once ridiculed me because he mowed the lawn and I did not.  One time I asked my mother if I could mow the lawn but she told me no, the landscaper did that.  I remember feeling very unimportant and useless after hearing this.  I got the impression that she and everyone else looked at me and thought I was some pampered rich kid who did not know how to do anything.  I felt misunderstood. I wanted them to know that I actually did want to mow the lawn but was never given the opportunity to do it.  This is even more ridiculous given the fact that this family friend who ridiculed me came from a much more wealthy family than mine.  But some how he was allowed to become competent and I was not.  He could feel good about what he had and I had to feel like I had something I did not deserve.  I felt everyone assumed that I was and always would be incompetent from the very beginning.

I always wanted a mentor to take me under their wing and teach me.  But at the same time I felt humiliated for not knowing the things a mentor I never had would have taught me.  I remember wishing that I had an older brother to show me the ropes.  I now recognize that all these feelings resulted from not being mentored by my father.  If I asked him why he never mentored me I imagine he would say that he paid for my education and gave me a loan for my house and fed and clothed me all my life.  I would then feel very ashamed of myself for being ungrateful and wanting something that did not belong to me.  I would feel that I was somehow being irresponsible or selfish and trying to blame other people for my problems when in fact I was the one to blame.

But I must remember that I did not deserve the type of shame I have consistently experienced my entire life.  True, my father was successful and wealthy and was able to give me all I needed materially.  He may not have been properly mentored by his father (I do not know if this is true) and felt if he had not been mentored and succeeded then I should experience the same thing.  But for whatever reason this treatment infused me with the feeling that I never deserved anything I had and should feel ashamed for getting it.  I have to remember that I did not deserve this treatment because if I do not fully recognize that I was treated badly I will always be controlled by shame and will never fully live my life freely and authentically.

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