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?
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?"