Posted by fxckfeelings on May 14, 2015Share This Post
The best way to test someone’s ability may be to put them in a high pressure situation—a mock trial, dinner with a spouse’s divorced parents, Kobayashi Maru, etc.—but the best way to test their character is to see how much responsibility they’re willing to take for things if they go horribly wrong. The ability to read and take criticism depends far more on personality traits and reflex than reason and judgment; that’s why Assholes are amazingly good at pinning responsibility on other people (which is why therapy usually has so little to offer) and nice people are good at figuring out how they caused it to rain. In any case, if you judge yourself as you would anyone else, you’re more likely to use logic rather than instinct. Then you can figure out whether you owe an apology or not, and to whom, and others can figure out whether you’re solid enough to grant a second chance.
I’m usually OK with being single and childless—I’ve had some bad relationships that were far worse than being single, so being independent seems like a fine alternative, and kids will come when I’m ready. When I look at Facebook on Mother’s Day, however, and see pictures of my friends looking all happy with their kids and happy little families, I start to get depressed and hate myself. I’m sure that part of the problem is that my own mother died a couple years ago. My goal is to figure out why the happiness of others makes me feel like such a loser.
Mother’s Day, like weddings, birthdays (including that of Jesus Christ), and all other days that celebrate someone with gift giving, are usually doomed to cause as much pain as pleasure, and sometimes more.
The intention is to make someone feel appreciated and loved by giving them time, love, and shit they don’t need, but it often winds up making more people, including the honoree, feel worse by forcing them to consider all the time, love, and shit they don’t have.
As such, Mother’s Day is a trigger for self-doubt and frustration that’s camouflaged in bouquets and trinkets. It celebrates a dream—grateful children honoring a giving, self-sacrificing, beloved mother—that many families can never achieve, and that many people don’t actively yearn for until their faces are rubbed in it. It’s almost as if it was created by a mental health professional who needed to drum up business in order to upgrade his SUV.
So don’t make yourself feel bad for feeling bad. In your situation, there’s probably no way that Mother’s Day can make you feel good, so you deserve as much protection as possible. It’s surprisingly relaxing to create your own retreat by avoiding TV and anything but business email; take the day off of social media, stay away from restaurants during brunch, and maybe watch the old Danzig video for “Mother” for a bit of levity. Establish your determination to participate in American culture only when you choose.
Then assure yourself that motherhood is not under your control but that you’re determined to be a mother only if you’re confident you can be a good one. And that your own mother would love you whether or not you bought her something useless and posted a picture of her on Facebook.
Thinking sentimentally about the family you’ve lost or are made to feel like you’re missing out on is an unnecessary bummer. Instead, remind yourself that you’re doing your best, and that you have a right to think about other things and enjoy life in whatever way it presents itself to you, on whatever day you damn please.
“I may yearn to be a mother or spend time with the one I lost, but I’m proud of my independence and determined to build a family if I can, when I can. Meanwhile, I am prepared to screen out painful distractions as I try to enjoy life.”
I’m amazed that the way this guy I work with always manages to screw things up, and he never sees it as being his fault. He’ll leave his desk in the middle of the day and explain later he was feeling too nervous to focus, but when he comes back when he’s supposedly feeling better, he still doesn’t finish his work and leaves early. Or he’ll come to work stoned but insist that he’s not stoned, just tired, or hung over, or, my favorite, “homeopathic anti-anxiety medication” that he has to take to deal with work-related stress. Then, having blown his money on weed and wherever he goes in the middle of the day, he complains he doesn’t have a cent and that’s why he can’t chip in on the office coffee money. And of course he has some titanium connection to someone higher up, so he’s almost impossible to fire. My goal is to get him to take responsibility for his fuck-ups just once, even if the bosses will never take him to task.
Trying to pin down a slippery person about responsibility is a contest you can’t win. He’s heard all of the complaints before and has a ready answer; it’s a verbal version of Matrix kung fu. The more you confront him, the more it will strengthen his belief that there’s a good reason for every bad thing he’s forced to do, and the more you’ll want to kill him with your bare hands.
Ideally, your boss is the one to deal with your fuck-up colleague, and you know that isn’t going to happen. If it did, however, the challenge for your boss would be the same as for anyone who is trying to help a fuck-up cease his stupid fucking ways; to find a way to challenge his behavior in a way that he can actually hear.
You wouldn’t challenge him about the painful problems that he says cause him to arrive late and leave early, but you’d tell him that some people are unlucky and carry a lot of pain, and trying to escape just makes it worse. As such, if he can suck it up and stick to a work schedule, he’ll feel better in the long run. Otherwise, he turns himself into a failure who never has enough time to get his work done and always has to apologize.
You’d ask him to review the way he spends money, knowing that his feel-good expenditures leave him high and dry (pun intended) for necessities and make him break promises. If he can’t suck it up and stick to a budget, his pain will escalate.
You’d finish by citing his strengths, whatever they are, and lamenting that he won’t ever get a chance to use them until he can get a grip on his many bad habits and develop the pain tolerance he needs to stand up to himself. Then you’d probably still fire him, but at least he’d have some good advice.
If you have some friendly feelings for your colleague, respect his strengths, and can keep your anger to yourself, try talking to him about his problems yourself. If all you have at this point is contempt, then when it comes to the fuck-up, you just have to suck it up and deal with his bullshit until it becomes impossible for those in power to ignore or possible to find new employment.
“I hate working with a fuck-up, but, if I like him enough, I can tell him, sympathetically, how he’s fucking himself up in a way he may be able to hear. If I hate him, I can put up with him until I find a new gig. Either way, I can’t push him to change (or off a cliff), just urge him to consider why he might want to.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname