An Abrupt Introduction To Sally’s Struggle
Monday morning quarterback. The saying began in professional football. Radio talk shows cropped up to discuss in detail the previous day’s game. Which team won, which team lost. As the experts provided in-depth analysis of the game, the talk show expanded to include call-ins. Regular folks openly expressed their displeasure when their team lost. If their team won, they were joyous, elated. Even so, some folks called in to discuss the nuances of the game, particular plays that impacted the result of the game, and which players did well or “blew it.”
I received a call from a woman on a Friday morning. She asked me to listen as she unearthed a litany of complaints about her husband. “I’ve had it with him. He’s becoming more difficult for me. May I make an appointment just for me, please?” We secured a time early Tuesday morning. At 8 a.m. Tuesday morning a well-dressed woman entered my office carrying an umbrella. The storm from early morning barely let up. She sat and sipped the coffee she brought with her. She looked up, offered a grimace, shook her head and started “what am [doing? I can’t believe I’ve come here just to complain about my husband. He doesn’t even know I called for this appointment.” She then ran her hand through her hair. She stood up momentarily, sat down, and stood up again. “God, I can’t even think straight.” I gestured a signal for her to please sit down.
This was my introduction to Sally. Thank-you for coming this morning, Sally. I’m interested in learning about your story. What led you to call me? You reference your husband. Please explain how you are feeling right now. Sally stared into space. Many clients who are unsure of what to say often appear to wander with their eyes.
“I’ll tell you how I feel. I feel really uncomfortable being here. I don’t believe in keeping secrets from Roosevelt. I don’t know if I should stay or just pay you for your time.” Sally, I can only begin to imagine and to understand the process you experienced to generate a call for someone to listen. You are here now. I want to invite you to use this time. If you leave, please consider the fact that the energy driving that process to reach out might be challenged to open its door. Sally took a deep breath. Sally, you said moments ago that you feel uncomfortable being here. I accept your position. How else did you feel?
“I don’t know. Maybe I need to stay and fill you in. Why did I call you? Are you a sports fan?” Yes, Sally. I like sports. What prompted that question, Sally? “My husband, Roosevelt loves sports, too. He follows our local professional teams. You know … the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and the Buffalo Bills football team. He watches all the football games and some of the hockey games. I used to watch and root with him. In fact, our two children used to watch with him, too. None of us do now. To think of it, he used to rotate with friends watching football at each other’s houses. We’d all gather together with lots of good food and drink and cheer on the team. We no longer get together with our friends, either. Roosevelt watches alone. I’m not sure he cares that no family and no friends sit and join him.”
Sally, how long has he watched football alone? Does he ever comment on that change? “Well, the gatherings went for several years; some with the kids. They go to their friends. Roosevelt says nothing. He gathers his snacks and watches the game alone. You know, I like sports too. When he watches the game, I go visit my cousins or go shopping. I return after the game is over.” What is the feel of your home when you return?
“The air feels thick. I say hi and start to make dinner. Sometimes Roosevelt eats; sometimes he’s not interested. Maybe he’s full from snacking. I don’t know. He doesn’t watch anymore television. He goes out usually to his shop. I can hear him yelling and swearing … fu**ing Bills; they just blew it; they suck. That’s just a few of his tirades. I’m not sure if our neighbors can hear him. I sure can. You see, Roosevelt pops off in harsh tones. He’s loud, talking to the t.v. as if they hear him. He’s angry throughout the entire game. He’s tense lying next to me in bed Sunday night or any other night they play and lose. The next morning he’s all over the talk radio yelling and cursing. To top it all off, he calls each Monday. I think they screen the calls because he’s never been on the air. He’s angry when they lose. He’s angry in bed and he’s angry at talk radio. He listens to those who have been able to get on and spouts all kinds of defamatory statements. No one knows what they’re talking about. Then he goes to work. He has one friend who shares his position. They talk at lunch. Of course, he’s a good employee. What can I do?”
Sally, are you planning to tell him about your concerns voiced here today? Do you think Roosevelt might join us for another session? “I guess I need to think that over. Can I get back to you in a couple of days?” Sure, Sally. One question before you leave. Do his tirades ever get scary, intimidating, and even assaultive? Sally left without a reply. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.