Back To Work — Chapter 4

IMG_3467Now the pressure was on. I had no income, but I had a job. I could go back to the job whenever I “wanted,” so Bob was constantly explaining how much money we were wasting with me not back at work. He saw no value in me staying home with the girls. He knew that we could pay someone a fraction of what I made in order for me to go back to work.

I was not going back while I was still wholly breastfeeding. I completely ignored the baby books on this one. There is a lot of pressure to start feeding cereals and formula to babies. It comes at you from all directions. One of the ways that mothers are persuaded to feed cereal is with the promise of the baby sleeping through the night. Formula is marketed as a way that dad can help out. Even he can sit and hold a bottle to a baby’s mouth!! If someone was going to actually help, wouldn’t it be nicer to have them do some of the more unpleasant jobs like changing diapers or doing laundry?

I decided that the information from our society had been so wrong about birth that it was probably wrong about how to feed a baby as well. When I look around now and see how many children and adults are afflicted with food allergies, I have to wonder how much of this is created by the way we are taught to take care of our babies. So I decided that we were probably designed perfectly. I would breast feed completely, until the baby was able to pick up food and put it into her mouth herself.

This worked quite well for me. Not only did I never sit and spoon goop into a child’s mouth, but I was putting her in complete control of what she ate, what went into her mouth and when it went in. I had been given a baby grinder from some friends so I would mush up whatever we were eating into particles that were not smooth but were too small to choke the baby.

These are the sort of details that you cannot control if you go back to work. I can feel the anger as I write this because this was very important to me and I had to fight with Bob about it. None of my children have any chronic diseases or allergies at all. This may have just been luck, but I did my best to ensure that they received the best care that was available.

By nine months, he had me worn down. They placed me in a slaughter plant that was in another city 60 miles or 100 kilometers from where I lived, driving into a large city. Every time it snowed, the highway would slow to a crawl or a complete stop. It was relentless. We had more single snow falls that winter than I ever remember. One day it took me over three hours to get into work.

I was beside myself. I almost ditched the car on the way to work one morning because I had to leave before the plows were on the highway. I was miserable. My entire life seemed to be fighting traffic to get to a job in a slaughter plant. I started to apply to other jobs within the government that were closer to where I lived.

I got screened into a job that was in a town 18 miles (30 km) from where I lived. I had an interview set up. It was a job interview that required a lot of studying. It was a program that I did not know and the way that the interview was conducted was more like an oral exam. I sat on my breaks at work and studied for this exam. The person organizing the interviews explained that I would receive a document before the exam and I was to read it and to be able to comment on it for the interview.

It was arranged that the document would be faxed to the house. We did not have a fax machine, but Bob’s computer could receive faxes electronically and then they could be printed out or read on the computer screen. The fax never came.

I went into the interview knowing that if they had not sent the fax, it was their oversight and that once I explained that then something would be worked out. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the fourth time that Bob had actively interfered with my career. He had “lost” the fax and was amazed that he had actually received it. He apologized. Everyone can make a mistake right? As I said, individually these all seemed like unfortunate accidents. It was not until hindsight that I realized that they were part of a larger pattern of sabotage.

The universe was still protecting me though. I made a decision one morning while fighting traffic that I would rather be unemployed. I would face Bob and just tell him that there was more to life than driving all day to a job that I didn’t like. I knew that I would be the target of his anger and his need to control me. I knew that it would make things tense at home. I knew that he would be verbally abusive and would let me know how useless I was, but it was my life and I wasn’t going to spend it this way.

I had three children under six at home and I intended to be there. I made the decision to quit. Before I had the opportunity to discuss this with Bob, something strange happened. The slaughter plant that I was hired to work in decided to close permanently. This interesting fact meant that I was “surplussed”. Surplussed is one of my favourite words.

As a government employee there are all kinds of regulations about job loss. If there is a job available, it has to go to someone that is already employed. So, by being surplussed, it meant that if any job became available it was mine. It also meant that I was eligible for a cash-out. How convenient. They would pay me the equivalent of sixty percent of a single year’s income to just walk away from my job. Done.

Keep Reading:  My Sister Vicki

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The Chemistry of Connection

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00679/duckrescue404_679621c.jpg
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00679

We have all laughed at videos of little ducklings following inappropriate things around. Ducks and geese both imprint on the first moving object, that is larger than they are, that they see upon hatching. Imprinting is designed to ensure survival since the hatchling must rely on its mother for both food and protection.

Oxytocin is responsible for this behaviour. It might be alarming for you to know that oxytocin plays a similar role in bonding in humans. While siginificantly fewer people follow someone around all of the time, bonding is just as important in human social interactions and survival of the species as it is to the duckling.

Oxytocin, which is released in response to many social activities, is one of a cocktail of chemicals that are released when people interact with one another. Opioids, norepinephrine, vasopression and likely more, all seem to play a role.

Opioids that are released during relationships may be responsible for how awful we feel during a break up. We become addicted to them, in the same way that we become addicted to taking drugs, and consequently feel the same withdrawal and the associated pain when the relationship ends.

Oxytocin, on the other hand, is instrumental in the formation of social attachments and the reduction of fear, especially fear resulting from social interactions. Simply being with other people can create a certain amount of bonding, even if it is just a gathering. This mild effect may be totally offset by how much you dislike the people, however.

The more intimate the interaction, the more oxytocin is produced and it is produced in large quantities during childbirth, breastfeeding and coitus. It is not difficult to see how bonding can be very valuable during these activities ensuring a pair is created. This is in the best interest of the survival of our species since babies with loving parents are the most likely to thrive.

There are however, people that are not as affected by oxytocin and their personalities are associated with callous-unemotional traits. So, in a relationship with say, a narcissist, you get a hit of oxytocin and further bond and they do not have the same hormonal response. This immediately tips the power into their favour. They are not as bonded as you are.

Ironically, even in a bad relationship, the oxytocin that is produced, makes you feel “safer” even if you are not actually safer. In addition to that, oxytocin is responsible for the feeling that “our group is better than their group” and supports the practise of excluding others. This double wammy makes it very difficult for a person to be rational when they have pair bonded with an unfavourable person. Simply put, they feel safer with this person and they feel separate from other groups of people.

Threatening situations, even those created by your partner, may encourage the return to a secure base and the strengthening of social bonds, which are, provided by your partner. So, a vicious cycle ensues. You feel threatened and then you form a tighter bond with the person threatening you. We have all seen someone that chooses to stay with someone that is not good to them. It is nice to know that it is not just a lack of judgement.

There are two take away messages here. First, you should make sure that you really like someone before you become intimate with them because the hormones that you produce during intimate contact can make sober thought difficult. The second is that if we find ourselves in these terrible relationships, perhaps with a narcissist for instance, we should be gentle with ourselves. Our biology, in these cases, is working against our greater good, not unlike the duckling imprinting on a predator.

My Newest Book, The Narcissist Survival Guide is now available

The Chemistry of Connection

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00679/duckrescue404_679621c.jpg
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00679

We have all laughed at videos of little ducklings following inappropriate things around. Ducks and geese both imprint on the first moving object, that is larger than they are, that they see upon hatching. Imprinting is designed to ensure survival since the hatchling must rely on its mother for both food and protection.

Oxytocin is responsible for this behaviour. It might be alarming for you to know that oxytocin plays a similar role in bonding in humans. While siginificantly fewer people follow someone around all of the time, bonding is just as important in human social interactions and survival of the species as it is to the duckling.

Oxytocin, which is released in response to many social activities, is one of a cocktail of chemicals that are released when people interact with one another. Opioids, norepinephrine, vasopression and likely more, all seem to play a role.

Opioids that are released during relationships may be responsible for how awful we feel during a break up. We become addicted to them, in the same way that we become addicted to taking drugs, and consequently feel the same withdrawal and the associated pain when the relationship ends.

Oxytocin, on the other hand, is instrumental in the formation of social attachments and the reduction of fear, especially fear resulting from social interactions. Simply being with other people can create a certain amount of bonding, even if it is just a gathering. This mild effect may be totally offset by how much you dislike the people, however.

The more intimate the interaction, the more oxytocin is produced and it is produced in large quantities during childbirth, breastfeeding and coitus. It is not difficult to see how bonding can be very valuable during these activities ensuring a pair is created. This is in the best interest of the survival of our species since babies with loving parents are the most likely to thrive.

There are however, people that are not as affected by oxytocin and their personalities are associated with callous-unemotional traits. So, in a relationship with say, a narcissist, you get a hit of oxytocin and further bond and they do not have the same hormonal response. This immediately tips the power into their favour. They are not as bonded as you are.

Ironically, even in a bad relationship, the oxytocin that is produced, makes you feel “safer” even if you are not actually safer. In addition to that, oxytocin is responsible for the feeling that “our group is better than their group” and supports the practise of excluding others. This double wammy makes it very difficult for a person to be rational when they have pair bonded with an unfavourable person. Simply put, they feel safer with this person and they feel separate from other groups of people.

Threatening situations, even those created by your partner, may encourage the return to a secure base and the strengthening of social bonds, which are, provided by your partner. So, a vicious cycle ensues. You feel threatened and then you form a tighter bond with the person threatening you. We have all seen someone that chooses to stay with someone that is not good to them. It is nice to know that it is not just a lack of judgement.

There are two take away messages here. First, you should make sure that you really like someone before you become intimate with them because the hormones that you produce during intimate contact can make sober thought difficult. The second is that if we find ourselves in these terrible relationships, perhaps with a narcissist for instance, we should be gentle with ourselves. Our biology, in these cases, is working against our greater good, not unlike the duckling imprinting on a predator.

The Narcissist Survival Guide is now available