Friday, 4 February 2011

Frying Pan Moments

Confession time: Every few weeks I go and talk to a counsellor, who listens and asks questions, mainly "and how do you feel about that";  by the end of the session I usually feel that I can face up to another of my skeletons more easily.

It all started because I complained to my doctor that my periods of highs and lows,  from great excitement to deep disappointment in four easy steps, were getting more frequent and interfering with my physical health; he suggested that a spot of the 'talking cure' might be better than drastic medical  intervention. He was right. Lauren is an excellent counsellor, she is helping me unearth problems and memories I'd forgotten I'd buried.

Frying pan moments came about literally through the use of a frying pan. I am sure that many of you carry around some resentments - if you are like me these fester and become entrenched; every time a similar situation arises, out pops the resentment, poisoning the atmosphere.

We have very irregular visitors with whom I have never been on an easy footing, but I cannot get out of the visits. They never stay for more than two or three days, so I should be mature about it and put up with things with a good grace.

If only I could.

A member of this family likes to eat at his own time; he fries himself some eggs, has some bread with it and makes no fuss about it at all.  There shouldn't be the smallest problem about it. Except that he uses my favourite pan and has no idea that I have been pampering and petting, seasoning and proving this pan for years, it never has the slightest contact with any detergent. He also doesn't know that a pan needs a little grease and a fairly high temperature before you fry anything in it.

Weeks before the visit was due I was fretting and muttering and generally getting myself into a state over it. The frying pan became the focus for my resentment: I had managed to get it back to peak condition and now he would come and ruin it again. All you clever clogs out there already know the frying pan was only a symptom of the general malaise, still, it served as the hook to hang my resentment on.

So I told Lauren.

She didn't laugh. She simply asked a few questions.

Do you ever tell them that there are things they do which you resent?

Do you ever ask them why they say certain things? (I tend to smile and turn the conversation away from hurtful ground.)

As you can't get out of these visits, have you ever laid down ground rules for them?

and finally,

Have you thought of buying a cheap frying pan just for him and his eggs?

So, now I know just how easy it is. Lauren is teaching me, by teasing it out of me, that even when you are resentful of the status quo there are things you can do, quietly, politely but firmly, which make the situation more bearable for you.

The funny thing is,  the moment I actually bought that cheap frying pan in the picture above, the problem itself became much less threatening. I was able to remain at ease with myself, if not with the guests.

Since then, Lauren's first question when I come for a session is: "Have there been any frying pan moments since I last saw you?"


  1. nice...sounds like a good conselor...most of us just ask the wrong questions and having someone elese ask them can make all the difference in the world...

  2. A very wise counselor. I hope that you will not have a "frying pan" moment the next time your friends visit. I have difficulty with some people, too, can only take them in very small doses.

  3. Friko - I like what I'm hearing about Lauren. It does actually take a lot of courage (especially for a mouse like me)to point out to someone if they're annoying me. The trouble is - is when you do put down ground rules and the other person is so insensitive that they don't take a blind bit of notice. Thank Goodness, like Lorrie says, these kinds of visits are best in small doses.

  4. First of all, how cool that you have someone like Lauren for a counselor...she sounds like a good person to talk to...I really really appreciate your honesty about going to a counselor and facing your skeletons...not that it makes me happy that you have to do this but it does feel good to know I am not the only one that needs help facing my skeletons now and then...I am terrible with that as I am a big am taking baby steps at getting better at it but still if I can avoid it I's to kicking skeletons to the curb and not allowing people to steal away our peace! XX

  5. I'm very happy you have a Lauren.
    I can relate to this very much, Friko.
    I tend to be a people pleaser and it often creates a resentment when really the issue is with my own sometimes lack of self-esteem .
    Sometimes I'm attached to the wrong things, sometimes I try to be attached when I really should be able to just let it go.

  6. My first thought was also "why not get a cheapo frying pan and hide your good one?" But I must admit, my mind just doesn't work on that confrontational level.

    I was in therapy last year for a few months, and I was absolutely astonished how much my childhood played into 'the big picture. I knew, of course, the stereotype - "So, tell me why you hate your father..." No, I don't hate my father, but soooooo many of my problems are directly related to childhood events - and these are things we can't change, but just have to figure out a way to live with and control them now.

    Sounds like you have a good therapist. Mine left to go back to school and I miss her dearly. Good luck!

  7. Aren't you good ! I would have hidden my good pan the first time a Brillo pad was wielded on it .
    Guests , even lovely and very welcome ones , can be tiring , so any possible cause for , "Not at all ! Of course , it doesn't matter in the slightest !! " , must be eliminated , before one side or the other feels uncomfortable .
    But sometimes it's easier said than done . The solution to this problem , at least , is elegant in its simplicity .

  8. There was a young lady named Friko
    A fry pan she really did like-o
    She buffed till it shone
    For a look of it's own
    On the relative's head she did strike-o

    Love and Peace xo xo

  9. Yes, I had a frying pan I used very carefully. It's too heavy for me now - a very big iron pan. I suggest hiding your good one. (Grin)

  10. ......that is the first thing that accured to me...put away my good pan..give him free reign of a cheap one
    problem solved

  11. Friko - Bravo for being brave enough to write about this.
    Its not always easy to face your demons - alone things are blown out of all proportion and the silliest things become huge bones of contention. Lucky you to have found Laura!

  12. I love that 'frying pan moment' question! It's wonderful you can talk to someone about these things, someone who helps you find solutions, rather than going all Freudian on you. Problem-solving is much better than analysis-to-paralysis.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  13. It is amazing how much we can discover about ourselves, if only someone will ask us some questions. our own answers can surprise us.

  14. I do believe, thanks to this post, that "frying pan moment" is destined to enter the lexicon.

  15. Oh I've been to a counselor more than once and was in a woman's group with a facilitator for a couple of years as well. they really can be so helpful. I'm glad this latest visit went better for you. it's unfortunate when you have to have guests in your house when you don't really like having them around. You may have to put up with their visits but you don't have to be their victim. Maybe after you finally tell them, kindly and politely, the things you really want to say, they won't feel like coming around again.

  16. Good counseling is often good sense coming from an objective person. I think you found yours!

  17. friko - it's so hard to explain the simple things like glasses that make beer taste better because they've never known soap, ditto for coffee pots, tea pots, frying pans. because of that i have extras for those to whom those little strange quirks of mine are anathema. it's a simple remedy and leaves everyone feeling good and almost whole and perhaps even loved!!!! steven

  18. It's great to be able to talk to someone like this, the right person: intelligent, sensitive and impartial. (I'd be hiding the pan until they left)

  19. It is wonderful that you have discovered someone who can carefully lead you in a new direction. Having worked for two very gifted therapists years ago, I saw the importance of finding that neutral zone where a client felt comfortable. Then those steps ahead can begin.

  20. I have a few people in my life whom I would thoroughly enjoy whacking with a frying pan! Glad you found Lauren. She sounds like a treasure! Always nice to get an objective perspective on our frying pan moments and the folk who cause them......

  21. I love your frying pan moments. Like Molly I still too often get the urge to whack certain folks over the head with one. I have a wonderful therapist, Janet, who is helping me with anger management as well as my highs and lows.

  22. Sounds like you've found the perfect therapist to get the the root of your concerns. I love the idea of buying a cheap pan. I was thinking you should just hide the good one but replacing it for their visits is much better. Good luck.

  23. I'd like a Lauren in my life too. The frying pan moment was such a gift to you - and buying a cheaper pan, just for your guest was hard to see until it was pointed out.
    I hope the visit goes well, and that no one gets whacked (accidentally, of course)with a frying pan.

  24. ein wundervolles Post, von dem man ja selbst so viel lernen kann. Ich habe mit der Zeit für mich herausgefunden, dass man solche Probleme besser sofort zur Sprache bringt, anstatt sie in sich vergrössern zu lassen, bis sie wie ein Sturm herausbrechen. Wie schön, eine so klare und wunderbare Gesprächspartnerin zu haben!
    Dir einen sehr schönen Tag und innerliche Stille und Gleichmut!
    Ich denke an Dich!

  25. Really liked this post, Friko. Imagine having your very own guest-of-honour frying pan! Gosh, That's hospitality! (And sanity for you.)

  26. Oh my yes. I've had quite a few frying pan moments in my life. I do tend to resent the small things more than the big ones.

  27. Good morning Friko. Once again, I have treated myself to the time to catch up on your posts. As I've said before, I feel that you write very well about varied topics and I like to savor your words.

    What a variety I have found today. The post about winter and sheep and lambs took me outdoors to nature, and the caring for young animals.

    The post about bricks at first astonished me with the photo of the old bricks. I have so many photos myself of old bricks (walls and pathways and floors) taken over they years in the UK, that I have used as inspiration for oil and watercolor paintings. I have also had many a long viewing of the bricks at the Tate, gaining more understanding with every view.

    And then, I read about frying pans, and all that those words might stand for. Yes, you are fortunate in connecting with Lauren, who does seem a wise and caring person. As I grow older, I am trying to be better at extricating myself from old behaviour patterns, or ways of responding to situations, while trying to be better at subtly trying to influence situations a bit more. This is not so easy, but it can make for many interesting encounters with folks who might be used to more vintage versions of ... me.

    Best wishes to you. xo

  28. i can relate entirely to this post - there are things that i really don't like: like sharing a plate of food or someone trying to feed me food - its my space, if you know what i mean

    I think a cheap frying pan for your visitor is definately the way forward - but i wonder how often we all get into situations because we don't just say how we're feeling

  29. Smiling about the 'frying pan moments' ;-)

    At one point in my life I decided I couldn't handle my parents anymore. Long story. So I broke off contact with them. Which resulted in them going into therapy. And then their therapist suggested I'd come to one of their sessions and talk about things. That all came back to me when I read the questions Lauren asked you about how you've dealt with your favourite guests. In that particular therapy session with my parents, the very nice and wise therapist suggested I'd immediately tell my mother if there was something bothering me in her behavious towards me. HA!!!! As if!!!!! As if anyone can say to my mother: "this and that really bothers me" without her getting really mad at you. Hahahaha. But we all nodded and agreed I would do that.
    But I've only bought a 'cheap frying pan' and have learned to count to 10,000.

    So can I borrow your 'frying pan' expression please? It will come in very useful very often I'm afraid. LOL


  30. So interesting you mentioned this today Friko. I too have pans I have had forever (it seems). It took David a while to understand why I do not like these pans put into the dish washer. We sought help from a psychatrist who worked with couples and he had us join a group. Today, I do not have any trouble letting David know how I feel, but sometimes I still feel a little guilty about it. Over the years, he has come to see that at times he can be a bit passive agressive, and we have had to develop code phrases like yours to settle things quickly. Ditto my relationship with my daughter, who has her own way of communicating with me.

  31. Sounds like you have a wonderful counsellor who makes exactly the right suggestions. It has set me thinking about a difficult visitor who comes to stay - wondering how to work out what are the actual frying pan moments, and what can be ignored. Thanks for being so honest, it helps a lot.

  32. I, too, love the 'frying pan moment'. I must tell this to my best friend who is a therapist. I am sure she will use it with her clients.

    I had a therapist once when I was going through a very bad time in my life. He was of very little help, but when I started crying an couldn't stop he took me to the psychiatrist. I told the shrink how I analyzed my feelings. He informed me that I didn't know what the s___ was wrong with me and put me on a tranquilizer. I was so shocked the tears stopped. ;-)

  33. Hi Friko!!! LOL @ "frying pan moments" . . . I've had many and can so relate to your post.

    My story has a different twist, but the incidents are definitely "frying pan-ish moments" . . . my issues stem from the being a widow. ALMOST EVERYTHING that surrounds me is special. I cringe when anyone gets near my "special stuff" . . . and I know it sounds crazy, but . . . some stuff, no matter how insignificant the item is to someone else, means a lot to me.

    My BF didn't know what he was in for with me and my "special stuff" . . . I don't have resentment, just a whole lot of cringing . . .

    In the end, he actually loves my "frying pan moments" because of the fierce loyalty and sensitivity for my former life . . . it is a respect thing. I need to write a post about this!

    I really enjoyed this post and look forward to reading more of your posts :) Thank you for following my blog, LaBelladiva . . . I'm your newest follower!

    Sorry for the long comment!

    Have a wonderful weekend . . . Gina

  34. Two very sensible women here, you and Lauren. It's remarkable how we can be fixed on something, to the point of being overtaken by our resentment.
    Telling someone what bothers you always seems confrontational, and most of us avoid that. Out of fear of a scene, or being disliked. It's really quite ridiculous.
    The frying pan analogy is going to help quite a few of us out, I think. In fact, I've got one of those situations coming up soon when a family member of MFB's will be coming for a visit. Very timely, Friko.

  35. Oh dear Friko I really thought you had clacked somwbody with the frying pan - I could see the headlines in the local paper!

  36. A wise counselor! And you are wise for visiting her.

  37. What a great metaphor! I'm going to remember this one. I can see it becoming a national idiom!

    My husband is annoyingly good at this. Annoyingly because I'm not. He can tell anyone anything, because they know he isn't being cruel or judgmental, just factual. He truly lives in the moment. Well most of the time.

    But really, what a brilliant and easy solution to your problem, to just provide the man with his own fry pan. It's like when we try to answer questions someone didn't ask, we make it too hard.

  38. My thinking is like Hilary's: I would've just hidden the pan for the duration. But of course providing the Guest with His Own Pan is a much better idea. THEN hide the good one.
    I have a Lauren Person too, to whom I have referred in AG as Trusted Friend. Such a comfort to go and dump your bucket, isn't it? No matter the issue, it's always better afterward.

  39. I like the whole idea of having "frying pan moments," since the image that arises in my mind is the idea of living free enough to have them! I would NEVER let anybody touch a favorite pan, and I'm glad you fixed this problem with a replacement. Now just getting through the visit...

    You certainly have been given some great ideas here in the comments!

  40. 'I tend to smile and turn the conversation away from hurtful ground': ahh, there's so much of me here, dear Friko :D
    I would probably buy a second frying pan too, as I am fastidious and take extreme care with my belongings!

  41. 'Frying pan moments' - I love it! I know I'm unreasonable about some things (and people) but recognising it makes it worse. How lucky to have a 'Lauren' like yours.


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