Posted by: Marie | November 11, 2012

(746) Really unreasonable

Post #746
[Private journal entry written on Monday, December 19, 2011]

Well, yesterday was yet another interesting day of drama in the world of teaching piano lessons . . .

Of course, the drama surrounded Jane and Bailey and Jacob . . .

After her email on midday Friday, I didn’t hear a peep from Jane until noon on yesterday (Sunday) – and that’s when she sent me an email:

How did it get to be Sunday noon???? All are doing good….I’m still not 100%…but am up and functioning. If it is not to too late, Jacob and I can come [to the studio] at 1pm today. Will that work? Thanks so much and see you soon.

Really???

Does she think I’m sitting at my computer with my whole weekend on hold, just waiting for her to send an email that tells me she is ready now for me to make an appearance in their lives? Really??

Photo by Martin Chen

When I hadn’t heard from her by Saturday evening, I had given up on them doing a lesson this weekend. I never dreamed that she would email me at noon today and ask for a 1pm lesson – well, actually, I guess I do know that is a possibility with her.

I usually don’t even look at my email during the day on Sundays . . . just once in the morning and once at bedtime. Fortunately, by fluke, I did happen to be on my computer and I did happen to check my email at 12:30pm. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen her message.

The whole thing got my goat . . . uncomfortable situation aside, this is not okay. My first thought was to say, “Sorry, I’ve already made other plans!” even though I was just doing housework. But, I felt that would be lost on her – in her mind, it would make her a victim. I felt like I needed to draw a line in the sand and my studio would be a good place to do that – I would have the territorial advantage.

So, I sent back this email:

Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better!

I’ll see you guys at 1pm . . . can you bring your calendar so we can firm up some plans? I can be flexible for the remainder of December, but once we get into the new year (January) things are going to be far less flexible, especially around the weekends . . . pretty much I’ll have Friday and Saturday evenings . . . and I’ll need to have a pretty firm schedule a few days in advance. Let’s talk more when I see you.

Then, I raced around to get dressed – I was in the middle of doing laundry and all of my dress pants were in the wash. So, I pulled on the nicest pair of sweat pants I have, threw on a dress shirt, combed my hair and packed up my computer. I quickly drove to the studio . . . I scrambled to get the doors unlocked, the lights turned on, the heat turned on and my computer set up . . . all before 1pm. I made it with a couple of minutes to spare.

I heard the downstairs door open . . . Jane and Jacob blew into the studio . . . she greeted me and told me that Jacob would be doing his lesson first . . . they started to sit down at the piano . . .

————-

Me: Before we get started with the lessons, we need to have a conversation about scheduling . . . let’s do that before we get settled in at the piano.

Jane: Can’t we talk about it after the lessons?

Me: No, because what we decide may affect how we move forward with lessons.

Jane: What do you mean? How would our scheduling affect the content of the lessons?

Me: It might not . . . but, let’s talk about scheduling first and get it out of the way . . .

Jane: Well, okay . . .

Me: Would you like to sit down so you can see my computer’s screen? I can pull this chair over to my desk . . .

Jane: No, I think I’ll just stand . . .

Me: Okay . . .

Let me start with this . . . I have a significant number of new students starting in January. My schedule is getting really full and I’m having to become more proactive with the scheduling of my time. Going forward, I need to plan my weekends in advance.

It doesn’t work for me to not know, in advance, when your lessons are going to occur. I’m fine with rescheduling your lessons when you have a scheduling conflict, but that rescheduling needs to occur in advance of the weekend. I’m not willing to keep my schedule open each weekend until you decide at the last minute when and where and with whom the lessons will occur.

Jane: I already told you that doesn’t work for us. We don’t plan our weekends. We plan out what we want to do only a few hours at a time. The weekend is our family time. So, I don’t know when we will be available for lessons until we are ready for them. If that doesn’t work for you, maybe we need to find a different piano teacher.

Me: It doesn’t work for me – and the solution may very well be your finding a different teacher. I need to be able to plan my days at least 24 hours in advance. I’m not willing to go less than that.

Jane: You aren’t being flexible like you promised you would!

Me: Wait a second . . . since you started three months ago, I’ve rescheduled nearly every single lesson at least once and sometimes twice, usually with only a couple of hours notice. I’m willing to be flexible within the 24-48 hour prior window, just not within an hour or two before.

Jane: I haven’t been doing that!

Me: Actually, that is how things have been going – I’ve maintained a log to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. I can show you the log and the emails . . .

Jane: But you rescheduled that one time – for your recital.

Me: Yes, one time I asked to move the start time one hour later because I had a recital. And, I made that request a week in advance.

Jane: Well then, I think it is best we stop taking lessons from you. (reaching for her checkbook) Here, I’ll write you a check for today’s lessons since we are canceling at the last minute.

Me: That is not necessary. We’ll just let what’s done be done.

Jane: (Putting her hands on her hips and raising her voice) How dare you do this to us – especially now!

Me: What am I doing?

Jane: After all you put our family through in the last two weeks, I can’t believe you would do this to us!

I feel so sorry for you . . . why you think it is okay to treat people this way? Just because you are in pain doesn’t mean you can go around creating pain for other people! I feel so sorry for you and the life you are destined to live! I really feel sorry for you! I can’t believe you would do this to us!

————-

As soon as her words developed into a personal attack, I stopped participating in the conversation – I knew my words would only inflame the situation. So, I turned away from her and started packing up my belongings to go back home. She grabbed her son’s arm and ran out the door muttering to herself.

So, I’m not sure how much of her angst was the schedule issue and how much was the disclosure issue. But, it seems she was not as “okay” with the disclosure issue as her demeanor in last week’s meeting indicated.

Either way, I will not be doing business with her in the future. I feel okay about walking away from the family – away from Bailey – because other adults in Bailey’s life know to keep an eye on things. And Jane won’t be able to push those adults out of her family’s life so easily.

When I got back to my house, I sat down and wrote an email to Edward . . . it provided a way for me to blow off some of the steam that had gathered inside of me. I outlined what all has happened since the last therapy session, and I ended my email to him with this:

So, I’m relieved . . . I was at my wits end with them, so I’m glad it’s over. I’m surprised that I’m angry about it, though . . . I’m angry about how unreasonable she is being. I really want people to be reasonable and it hurts when they are not.

I’ve noticed I’m pushing unreasonable people out of my life at a pretty high rate lately . . . I’m wondering if I’m going overboard or if this is “normal”. Maybe it’s just because I getting clearer about what I do and don’t want in my life. That might be something we can touch on in our next session.

Okay . . . enough for now . . . I’m looking forward to seeing you Wednesday!

– Marie

This morning, he responded with:

Dear Marie,

Good job setting boundaries and taking care of yourself.

You acted with both courage and conviction.

I look forward to our time on Wednesday.

Warmly,

Edward


Responses

  1. Like Edward said, excellent job setting boundaries. I bet that act actually attracts more of the ‘good kind’ of people into your life.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      Thank you for the kudos! Last week, one of my students mentioned that I have strong boundaries . . . I was so tickled to hear that . . . and I thought to myself that has been quite a journey to learn how to set and maintain them!

      – Marie

  2. I’m not surprised, and I think it’s good to get the family’s energy out of your life. It’s odd how blind people are to themselves, isn’t it?

    • Hey, David –

      I laughed a bit when I read your “blind” comment . . . yes, I have a hard time understanding how an intelligent woman can allow words like that to come out of her mouth while maintaining a straight face.

      – Marie

  3. Hi Marie, it’s good that you have a solid number of students – you really don’t want clients like that. I have dealt with people like Jane a fair bit – if you can afford to not have them in your life this is WAY preferable.

    • Great point, Evan . . . the price of doing business with someone like that is prohibitive!!

      – Marie

  4. Hi Marie,

    I too agree with the other comments. There was an appalling lack of boundaries on her part and her expectations that she could schedule at the drop of a hat, well that is a huge boundary violation, but also way out of the norm in what she could possibly get with any other teacher, unless it is someone just starting out who has a lot of open time available and is willing to be treated like this and has no expectation of any income. She could call up anyone and ask how piano lessons are normally scheduled and she will not find someone who is willing to be mistreated like she did to you. The only other way someone would be okay long-term with this arrangement would be if teacher was a family member or if they lived with them and had other duties. Since they are not rich enough or smart enough to do so, well that is their issues, not yours.

    If this behavior was new I would say that was doing this on purpose in order to sever the connection. The fact of the matter is, she is throwing blame onto you and blaming the fact that you are a survivor and working on healing, and the truth is that is a lie. The fact is that her child lied and told an adult that she was being violently abused and that no one in her family was protecting her from that. It obligated you, as her teacher, not because you had been a mandated reporter and not because you are a child sexual abuse survivor, to report. I understand that they are oblivious about abuse, and you tried to educated them about those facts and that others need to participate in the process of keeping children safe, and many of the reasons you were knowledgeable and caring about these issues. However the issue is not about you and she proved that she still did not want to take responsibility for her life, her duty to be respectful of others, and the consequences of something her child did and said.

    I seem to recall you mentioning that the mother’s interactions concerned you, this would be a huge concern for me about how healthy the home life is. If I saw this family and they were as big of boundary violators as they have been with you on each appointment schedule I would definitely not call them normal, respectful, or feel confident that abuse was not happening in their home. She obviously does not want to acknowledge her part, their part in what happened. She is wrong to blame you, but it is an easy out for all of them. And you are right, you are well rid of them and doing that with people who are dysfunction shows a huge amount of healthy boundaries and growth. Good for you.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

    • Hey, Kate –

      You make such a great point about her behavior on this day is a sign that she might be the cause of problems in the home . . . that concerned me as well. As all of this unfolded, I got the sense that she is a tornado in the home and her husband is the one who goes around quietly and tries to hold it all together.

      Her behavior was very manipulative. I think she thought she could use my own stuff against me as a way to control me. But, it didn’t work.

      Thank you for all your great input!

      – Marie

      • Hi Marie,

        I think that many survivors who disclose abuse do it early in their healing and then much later after a lot of healing. She might have been disclosed to early in another survivor’s healing and was bullying towards that person and got the idea there or somewhere else that bullying or manipulating a survivor was easy. She was definitely misreading you if she thought you were young in your healing. Again, good for you.

        Good and healing thoughts to you.

        Kate

  5. Wow, can’t imagine that anyone would expect that not making appointments for their lessons is acceptable. Lots of families lead busy lives and still make regular appointments. Yikes. No respect for your schedule and time!

    • Hey, Jo –

      Yes, I agree . . . pretty off-the-wall thinking! I guess she has gotten away with it before!

      – Marie


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