Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What do you do when...

What do you do when you find out that someone whom you have known and trusted for a long time is blatantly lying to you?

What do you do when it's unclear whether they are doing it maliciously or are completely out of touch with the reality around them?

What do you do when the person's inability to accept responsibility for their actions threatens to destroy your relationship with them, which to this point has been quite good?

What do you do when the situation is affecting your ability to meet deadlines and perform the way that you need to in order to accomplish your job?

What do you do when the person is your Dad?

I realize that this post is a bit off-topic and borders on too much information. However, what I have been painfully learning the past few weeks is something that should be obvious, but that which I had previously ignored. This job does not happen in a vacuum. There are always personal factors that can crop up at any point and without warning. Two weeks ago I had no idea that there are significant problems at the heart of my parents' relationship and now I can barely recognize the charred remains of that perception. The significance of this to me is obvious, but what you should take away from it is the second-to-last point above. Like most new faculty, I have been operating with zero "head-space", meaning that with all of my responsibilities both at work and at home I have effectively stretched myself to the max in order to move everything along at a pace that I am happy with while ensuring that the Wee One still knows what I look like in real life and not just pictures. We can argue the merits of this approach or whether there is another way for junior faculty to live, but the unfortunately reality is that when you are spread so thin it doesn't take much to blow everything up. Once the current situation stabilizes a bit, I plan to be a bit more selfish with my time at work and say "no" to a few things in order to create a little space to mitigate the damage the next time Godzilla strikes. If you can avoid learning this lesson the hard way, then maybe you won't have to pop Tums like a pregnant lady.


  1. I tried to post this comment this morning but Blogger seems to be screwing with your comment section like it was doing with mine yesterday.

    What I wanted to say was hang in there. You have the love and support of your wife and Wee One and I'm sure they'll help you survive this shitty situation. And then there's your bloggy buds ... we're always here if you need to vent/rant :) Oh ... and DORITOS! They always help.

  2. Yeah, Blogger is acting funny. I got the following in an email last night from Comrade Physioprof, with a request to post it.

    "Having gone through some family convulsions over the years, I have come to the following conclusions.

    (1) Regardless of your love and gratitude to your parents and siblings, your number one responsibility is to yourself and your *own* family: partner and children (if you have one).

    (2) You cannot allow other family members' failure to plan or bad decision-making to become your emergency, no matter how much disappointment or anger those other people project in your direction when they realize that you are not orienting your entire existence towards the family situation.

    (3) If you do choose to involve yourself in a family situation, it is best to try to remain as dispassionate and calm as possible. This can be difficult, as family members will want you to "be on their side" and will perceive your dispassion and calmness as absence of "loyalty" or "empathy"."

  3. Thanks to you both. My wife has been great throughout this mess and we're trying to keep everything between us as paramount. I am trying desperately to avoid the dreaded family meeting for this particular situation because, in the end, this is something between my parents and there are certain things that kids just shouldn't be dragged into.

    PiT - unfortunately, I don't share your love of neon-colored chips :)

  4. Ooooh sorry! That's rough. I second PhysioProf - your job is to take care of yourself and your spouse and kids. Your parents are grown-ups, so they SHOULD be able to act like it. However, from the sounds of it they probably aren't. In which case, the best thing you can do is to ignore any childish tantrums that they may throw your way until they get the picture that if they want your attention, they need to act like adults. They raised you to be one so they obviously know how it works. Don't let childish behavior from grown-ups suck up your time and emotional energy. In the meantime, my sympathies for what sounds like a tough situation. Chocolate and ice cream always help if you're not into the neon chips. Best of luck.

  5. I'm sorry. The mess with parents and their relationship and its influence on your life is sad, annoying and something I think several of us has to deal with (although, I at least, thought it would end after my teenage years...).

    I end up, as suggested by PP and others, with the suggestion from an old therapist to realise that "they [parents] have to deal on their own" and even if it hurts a lot for you, try not to fall into the "guilt machine called parental love and coping". As you said, somethings kids shouldn't be dragged into...regardless of age of the children.

    Since details aren't really that important (in what is going on I mean) I just want to chime in "think about you and your relationship with your spouse and child". There is really not more one can do. (in regards to friends being in trouble I would say "be there and talk to them" but in regards to my history with parents I find that I can't say "talk to them and let them knwo you want to be there for them" since it is complicated. Especially when it comes to lying and reevaluate your relationship with them - as this seems to be.)

    it takes time. Best of luck.

  6. Oh I am sorry. As one that been dragged into too many parental situations, I think that PP's advice is bang on.