Friday, September 21, 2012

Angry + Awkward

I have never been particularly good at confrontation. Especially not when I'm angry or upset. I tend to get overwhelmed by emotion and either cry, yell, or do both. If I don't give myself a good chunk of time to settle down, things can get ugly. This is why I have instated a minimum 10-minute rule to reply to emails or texts that get under my skin. I have also perfected the art of looking completely neutral so even if things get under my skin, the other person wouldn't know it. This small measure of power and self-control has gotten me through many a difficult situation. Currently, however, I am in a situation with my work neighbor and I really don't know where to take things.

Several months ago, I had a mother in my waiting room with her 18-month old and 3-year old children while I was in my office with her 6-year old. It was not a good day to begin with as the mother knew I would probably be giving her bad news, but to make matters worse, the 18-month old was miserable that day. The mom was doing her absolute best to contain it but let's face it, a tantrum isn't stopping until that kid is good and ready. Parents aren't actually magicians. As much as they would like to be able to just tell their kid to chill out, that rarely works. So yes, it was loud. And it was loud for like, 20 minutes but eventually it got quiet.

What I didn't know, was that my downstairs neighbor had come up and asked the mom if everything was okay and could she please control her child or take her outside because he had work to do.
Can I just mention, he's a voice teacher and I have lived with piano and voice lessons under my feet for two years without a single complaint on my part no matter how annoying repetitively hearing the music to Willy Wonka may be?

That time, I took the high road. I went and apologized to him. Because it really was very loud. But my client was very upset. I smoothed things over with the neighbor and the mom and went on with my business.

Imagine my shock, anger, and desire to punch a dude in the face to find out that last week while I was meeting with the 6-year old again, Mr. Neighbor came upstairs and entered my waiting room. Apparently the sound of the toddler running down the hallway for about 10 minutes was too much to handle. Also apparently, knocking on my office door was too much to handle as well. He bitched the mom out. AGAIN. I didn't actually see it, but when I came out at the end of session it was to a mother in angry tears. Add to that the immense stress I had been under last week and how I genuinely was feeling at my breaking point. I had literally collapsed into tears earlier in the day, blaming myself for a court related issue I had misunderstood and I thought I had completely failed that client. (I was wrong, things turned out okay. But it sucked anyway.)

So instead of directly confronting the neighbor, I called the landlord. Because seriously, I felt my blood pressure rise. People do not seem to understand that a therapy office is supposed to be a safe place. This is where trauma is treated. I don't use surgical tools but I am working with people's brains and it's kind of important that the space I occupy be warm and comforting. Not to mention, I am very protective of my clients. Nobody messes with them. Not on my watch.

Mr. Neighbor killed the warm fuzzy feeling and I wanted to completely go off on him.

I know that involving a landlord can potentially make things worse, but we have the sweetest, calmest lady landlord ever. I knew she would talk to him professionally and respectfully. Two things I could not guarantee. She called me when she'd spoken to him and said he had told her it was going on for a half hour and was soooo loud and insisted he was sweet as pie to the mother. Whatever. The landlord asked me what I wanted to do and I told her I didn't want to do anything. That I had needed to address a situation and it was so I was over it.

Until last week when I actually saw the dude and he gave me the nastiest dirty look I have ever seen.

And I immediately wanted to slap him across the face. Because I got a weird vibe from him when we met, and now I want nothing to do with him.

I have, in fact, written a nice apology note that I'd intended to put in his mailbox. In the note I explained my stress level and my choice to involve the landlord and that I was sorry if that had freaked him out but I didn't know what else to do.

I still have that letter. It's on my desk at work. But every time I look at it now, I don't want to give it to him. I am sorely tempted to say screw it and screw him but...I work above him. I've been there for over two years and have no plans of moving.

What's an Angry Shrink to do?
So...yeah. Awkward.

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