Thursday, April 19, 2012

Attitude disability - ponderings.

I came across the term attitude disability recently and I like it. We all know people with an attitude disability! Sometimes these can be toxic!

Having three beautiful small children and an ultra busy life working at the University and for the consultancy firm, I barely have time to remember to do my hair or match my shoes before I dive out the door every morning. I love that I met up with one of my close friends recently and she had mismatching black boots on and they were different heel levels. This is what I relate to! I love it. Her attitude was gold and her life is obviously just as chaotic as mine.

Conversations when at home or with the kids these days consist of answering questions about what animals lay eggs, and whether eggs come from cows, and then answering how yoghurt, milk and butter can all come from cows. Having these conversations are important and I simply have to prioritise my energy into these over people with an attitude disability.

Last night I had to cut another family link when people started attacking each other with stuff like “x said y was z”! I simply have no capacity for people like this who obviously have an attitude disability.

It’s sad but I’ve become quite good at creating new boundaries and cutting these people out completely. Every now again one raises it’s ugly head and I have to slash and burn. It’s quite cathartic really and means I have more time to spend on those that genuinely support those around them. It’s just sad to see how toxic one side of my family can be to each other. They thrive on other’s misfortunes and love nothing more than gossiping about each other. It’s almost like they transfer negativity onto someone else and then they feel unburdened and free.

The poor person they transfer the bad attitude crap stuff onto are usually skipping through their day, happy as can be and then BAM – they get blindsided by the attitudinally disabled. Or like me, they are groaning under the weight of trying to find accommodation for another ailing relative, juggling two jobs, organizing class rep functions, dealing with a child’s bullying issue at school, and a sick husband amongst the minutiae of daily life and then BAM – someone very close to me gets blindsided and needs support.

I don’t believe there is really an in between. People either have an attitude disability (usually toxic) or they don’t. I simply do not have time to waiver in the middle and give them the chance to prove otherwise! The complicating factor is when these people are extended family members as sometimes you just have to encounter them at mutual family members events.

They are usually the types of adults who make school yard crazy accusations. I know that this is just how some people deal with life. They can’t verbalise in any other way except to show their attitude disability has sharp teeth when things get tough for them.

Fortunately for me I’m now comfortable enough with me and I know how precious my time is so I can much more easily cut these people out of my life and call them on the behaviour as I see it. I don’t see that you can change their behaviour – but you can change your response to it and cut yourself free from having to be around them. I can also bring my children up to recognize such behaviour and be savvy enough and comfortable enough not to let these people get their claws into them.

For the last few years I’ve been avoiding most extended family functions and consolidating strong circles of support and new traditions with people of my choosing - limiting my interaction with toxic family members. I’ve had fun with this. It’s been a great strategy and I can look at the extended family shenanigans from the periphery and muse that one day – just one day they might all take a breather and actually try to build each other up and play nice – but nah I can’t see it in my lifetime!

There are a few golden shiny bright beautiful people in my extended family but the problem is the only time they can usually get together without the others it’s to discuss their last blindsiding! I’m guilty of it myself. That’s not healthy either and then it has the danger of descending into a parody.

I’ll keep plodding along with my strong support circles of my choosing including some really lovely women I went to Uni with almost 20 year’s ago, my international ‘sisters’, some golden family members and my more recent positive friendships of the last few years who always build me up, build each other up and seek to get through this crazy life keeping each other in one piece – with as much laughter and positivity as we can inject into each other (of course not literally)!

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