“My workplace is home. My actual home is Hell.” I remember starting out mildly amused at the way she said it, assuming she was exaggerating slightly, but I got very sad – for everyone – when it was clear from her moist eyes, that she mostly meant it.
For her, her workplace was where there was structure, predictable expectations, cooperation, clear communication, and even little touches like birthday cards and other gestures of kindness. Home had become fragmented and unhappy. My client’s marriage was becoming strained with both spouses working full-time, often needing to work late, with fewer family dinners, housework getting pushed to the weekends, and each of their three children expressing anger and unhappiness in their individual ways.
Of course, we all know that our realities behind closed doors are different from the public face we put out there. But if the discrepancy gets too big, and continues unaddressed, the unhappiness and distress affects our health and well-being profoundly.
It’s actually incredible how long some people can stay upright and just keep on going that way. Ironically, it hurts rather than helps that paying the bills is not the problem. Way too often, keeping going, sustaining the life they’ve chosen, becomes something that is tenaciously clung to – for fear of where things might otherwise go, of losing what they’ve got materially, and worse.
In this case, my client was using her Employee Assistance benefit to check me out. She was reluctant, but some of her colleagues had nudged her pretty hard to give it a shot.
It was a good beginning.