Have you ever met someone who you believed tried to help you but you later realized that their act of giving was actually an act of taking?
I recently observed the most self-deceived situation where a person in a position of Caregiving was insidiously using the situation to meet their own needs at the expense of the care recipients. It immediately came to mind that I have seen this more frequently than I recognized.
The scary thing is that this dynamic can exist frequently in recovery, mental health, educational, and medical communities.
The leader of my step-child’s Special Needs School has made sacrifices to get this school off the ground. This has been a legitimately admirable and noble effort. Currently, things are going a little off track. The educational component has been neglected and it turns out that the children mainly do recreational activities much of the day. This is not what the mandate of the school was nor the representation given to my wife and her child’s father at enrollment.
Now any of us can get off track. Any of us can make mistakes. So I am not criticizing the fact that the educational component drifted. It is a complex task that I could probably not pull off myself. Where it is getting unhealthy and dangerous in fact is how the leader is responding to questions and offers of help by parents and others.
The leader is resisting help and making excuses. The leader has actually re-written the mandate to downplay the educational component. Basically re-writing the goals to match the results. The big question is “Why”?
It appears to me that the leader is looking to fulfill their need to be needed by heading up this effort and then allowing it to become and remain on the verge of chaos. Again why? To which I would reply… So that they can be in demand as the go-to person to solve the problems and put out the little fires.
One of the indicators I am going by is the extreme defensiveness of any questions about what is going on with the school. Another indicator is a lack of openness to accepting any help. They also dodge accountability with a lot of double talk where the leader tends to recite their resume yet again and state how many hours they work. Neither of these are anything to do with the childrens’ needs. Essentially… it feels like they are wrapped up in fulfilling their need for self-importance that they cannot even recognize they are hurting others. Sounds a lot like addiction to me.
Personally, it looks to me like the leader is attempting to build and defend an empire that is a monument to themselves. Could it be because they lack self-worth that they need to be recognized in this way? It reminds me of the line in Braveheart where Mel Gibson’s character says to the ruling Nobleman,
“You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom”.
In other words, are leaders not there to serve the needs of the people they serve, rather than the people they serve being there to provide the leader with what they need.
Sadly, in areas such as recovery, health care, and education, there are people of profound needs. Some self-deceived “Leaders” may find it a natural place to go to find fulfillment for their need to be important, wanted, needed, etc.
I had a similar experience with a leader of a recovery house. He was a taker, not a giver. I truly believe that the only reason he wanted anyone to recover is so he could look good… and profit by it. Even in a house full of addicts, he was the sickest one there.
I do not mean to take away from those who do legitimately give of themselves and serving others. My point is that there are many instances where people who appear to be givers are really takers. And sadly, they take from some of the most needy people in our communities.
I hope this pisses some people off.