C was over for a bit today, doing laundry and chatting with me while we baked some cookies. Things are going pretty well in her relationship, but she’s been down a lot lately because of her job and the politics therein and it affects her overall relationship with A. We do not spend a lot of time talking about it, but she knows I’m here if she needs a mostly objective ear.
A few months ago she called me upset because A was over an hour late getting home, had not called to tell her he would be late, and was now not answering his telephone. Since C is more prone to anxiety with such unexpected events and the fact that she was calling me for advice spoke volumes about her level of upset. She had gotten in her car and was driving around, trying to think clearly, and my advice was to go straight home and then contact A’s mother to ask if she had seen or heard from A. I felt strongly that A had likely left his phone somewhere – maybe the grocery or at work – and was frantically searching for it, hence his not answering and not calling her. He did get home safely about 40 minutes after her call to me, and with the excuse that he had gone for a drive after a particularly trying day.
Now, I’m her mother. I am 110% on his side as a matter of gene pooling, but I am also not so biased that I cannot point out her own shortcomings in individual situations. I believe this is part of the reason why both my kids will share problems and issues with me, because I am going to try to be objective. I might not always succeed, and there is a 50/50 chance I am going to tell them something they absolutely do not want to hear, but I am straightforward and honest. In this particular case, though, I was absolutely furious with A for being an insensitive jerk, and C told flat out told him that I felt he was an insensitive jerk and that people who love each other do not treat their partners this way.
A lived in fear of crossing paths with me for weeks after that. And while I tried not to be puffed up with my own omnipotence in potentially of making my future son-in-law’s life a living hell, it was deliciously satisfying to know he was scared and extra remorseful about not calling to tell C he was going to be late and then ignoring his phone when she called.
Today we were talking about that event and how he has gotten into the habit of calling or texting to let her know he’s leaving the office and heading home or where he plans to stop, if there are any stops planned. This is a good habit to have, she thinks, and she reciprocates. However, now the one or two times he has failed to do so, she finds herself getting anxious and wondering what to do until he walks through the door. Considering they now live 5 to 7 minutes from his office, the anxious reaction is minimal. Is this normal, she asks?
The simple answer … I think so. For them, they are building habits and any deviation from habit would seem a little unusual and abnormal. On the other hand, if she’s worried about it, getting concerned, call him. If he does not answer and does not walk through the door within 5 to 7 minutes, then yes, then she has reason to be concerned. To be clear she is no envisioning a world where he’s messing around with another woman, it’s more like car crashes in the parking lot or car jackings at the gas station. I also said she should tell A how his breaking an established pattern makes her feel, so either stick with the program or negotiate a new pattern of behavior.
Our overall theme of conversation revolved around trust issues – with our partners, with our friends, even with our coworkers. C tells me she has felt herself getting more and more closed off at work after observing some of the backstabbing behaviors that go on around her. It’s hard for her, because she tends to be very outgoing once she gets to know people. But now it sounds like she works with women who gossip and tattle and are not very professional or nice, and it’s hard. They are also very cliquey, and where she always imagined leaving high school behaviors behind once she left high school, that sense of divide-and-conquer is alive and well in the large vet hospital where she works.
I feel again that helpless parent feeling overwhelming me. “ignore them” does not really work that well when you have to work as part of a team in a professional environment. Bring a book, take a walk around the block, entertain yourself on your phone during lunches and breaks is also of limited help when you’re feeling a bit like an outsider at work. She says she’s feeling more and more isolated, like she has no real friends and that it could count against her come time for reviews, etc. My best advice was to keep her head down and focus on being present, alert, and attentive to the doctors and patients while on the job and go outside to her car during lunches and breaks so as to not feel excluded.
My daughter is truly bothered by this ongoing behavior at her job, to the point of looking for other jobs in other hospitals or clinics. She is managing, she says, but it’s make it difficult to face the work days. The mild forms of depression and anxiety she has to manage are exacerbated by this additional stressor, and she struggles with whether to request an increase in her medications or ask for something else to help her cope.
She hurts, and I have no practical advice to offer, This is one of those times I feel like the lamest parent on the face of the earth.