The Laundry List: Lesson 1

Editor's Note: This post was submitted to Ms. JD anonymously. For more information about ACOA, AA or NA, or if you or someone you know needs help, visit the links. The Laundry List refers to principles of the ACOA fellowship.

Lesson 1: We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.

The statistics on alcoholism and lawyers are staggering. No one has collected data on ACOAs, but the numbers must be substantial  just based on the sheer number of lawyers whose parents were attorneys.

But it is not as if we have a network or a special support system in the profession. We are silent and invisible and that's how we like it (said the anonymous writer). We are isolated often from potential friends and mentors because we are afraid to get too close. We can never quite explain our compulsive behaviors and the rough corners of our personalities so we hold people at arm's length. This reduces our network and keeps us from ever developing the security blanket that makes many people able to cope with life's difficulties. So we continue to suffer alone, and the cycle repeats as we continue to miss out on potential friends and contacts.

Networking and finding mentors are issues that every lawyer and law student struggles with at some point in their career. However, for ACOAs, it is a lifelong struggle, a perpetual tension between a drive to succeed and perform and an almost irresistible urge to avoid binding contacts.

Compounding the problem, ACOAs are afraid of authority figures. We fear those who take matters out of our immediate control, those with the ability to inexorably alter our work patterns and change the way we do things.  This is in large part due to our inability to defy authority and set boundaries. We know we will let the authority figure tread on us eventually, so instead of cultivating mentors and role models, we harbor fear, anxiety, and ultimately resentment.

We need to open ourselves to authority figures in order to have productive and meaningful relationships. We need to start with the leap of faith to believe that we can trust others and that they value us. Otherwise, we set ourselves up to be limited, and most importantly, without the support we need to thrive



Thanks for this honest look at something in our profession that needs a lot more attention. 

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