Child Labor

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Hi, I’m Saoirse, and I’m a Workaholic.

At this time in my life, that’s totally on me. But I can’t help but feel it’s been programmed into me. Because, well, it has. The main part of who I am (I’m the result of some fusions) was created to work at our family business when we were in early grade school. All my life, I believed a lie because it was based on a stupid, unfair truth.

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides for certain exemptions. Youth younger than 16 years of age working in nonagricultural employment in a business solely owned by their parents or by persons standing in place of their parents, may work any time of day and for any number of hours.

U.S. Department of Labor

My Dad told me this little nugget of information several times, saying that, basically, child labor laws didn’t apply to me; he more or less owned me, and that was that.

But that, it seems, was not that.

I read the laws tonight, and wow. I should not have been doing the things I did as a child. It all gets down to what is considered “hazardous.” Some things you aren’t allowed to do until 18, some until 16, etc, and those rules apply EVEN IN THE CASE OF FAMILY BUSINESSES. I’m not a lawyer, but damn, some things I used to do as a kid was even given as examples on the blasted website. So, uh, yeah, Mom & Dad, all these years, I thought the laws just sucked, and there was a huge loophole because that’s what I’d been told. And it is a bullshit loophole, granted, but why the fuck was I operating machinery (with the safety guards off, natch), using industrial solvents, etc., in grade school?

I have two reminders that are always with me related to growing up in the family business. One is a constant ringing in my ears, which I’ve had since childhood thanks to being around loud machinery. And while I can’t prove it, I highly suspect some of my breathing issues are related to things I was exposed to as a child. Thanks to the stupid family business, I have been exposed to asbestos. I used industrial solvents in non-ventilated rooms because it cost too much money to open the windows when it was cold because of the heating bill, etc. And, of course, my Dad was a chain smoker. All great things when you already have chronic bronchitis as a child. BAH.

I’m so angry about this tonight, though, because my sweet, lovable Mom knew about the conditions at the family business. I’ve given her a pass on some things, like the sexual abuse, saying that she didn’t know. But she knew what a terror my Dad was at work. (Well, and away from work, too, but especially at work.) I remember my Dad screaming at me when I was 7-8, “At work, I’m not your Dad; I’m your Boss.” So, at work, I became, well, me. Not a child. Just someone who had to work or face the wrath of god.

Of course, now I have to say, “But it wasn’t always that bad,” because I’m sure it wasn’t. Thanks to the magic of DID, it was always that bad FOR ME, though, because I only fronted in those situations. Almost every memory I have of my father is of him in a blind rage. I suppose he could be loving, but I don’t remember it. Amnesia’s a bitch.

I worked and lived in fear of my father. And, even though he’s dead, and it was decades ago, I’m afraid, in some ways, I still do. I still get really anxious if I can’t work. It doesn’t have to be paid work – messing with this site apparently counts – but I can’t just take down time. I can’t tell you the last time I watched TV or a movie. I can either work, or I can sleep to save energy to work, but anything else is anxiety city. And I don’t know how to fix it.

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The_Star_Fissure_System
2 months ago

I didn’t have this specific type of experience, but I can relate to not knowing how to rest. It’s just that for my system it takes the form of digging up memories and trying and failing to calculate how every single action you take might effect every single person on the planet. Because, you know. That’s definitely a productive use of time and energy.

Unfortunately, digging up memories and overthinking tends to create stress and makes us do dumb things that other people then have to deal with. (Our sister has saved our butt so many times. And we have always had a tendency to say a bunch of triggering things, which is generally disharmonious.)

So I guess for us the thing that is helping us try to put effort towards resting is to think of how we will effect others if we don’t rest. It is literally the only mindset that has ever worked for this. But we still don’t always know what to do during rest. One problem at a time I guess.

Possum
2 months ago

Well, if I needed more proof that I’m not as well off as I believed myself to be this definitely provided it /neu /nm

Thx for sharing. (/g) I don’t have any solutions or advice for the “work or sleep and nothing else” bc that’s very much the same for me /neu
If and when my system comes across something we’ll try to pass it along tho /g /pos

-Ty

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