Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Case of Mrs. Fidget

Let’s call her Mrs. Fidget. She is writing to Ask Polly— big mistake, that—to complain about her inability to sit still. She is a millennial woman who has a husband, a home and a dog. She has a great career and even goes to see a therapist. She is seeing the therapist to take care of herself and to control her anxiety.

I share her letter because it shows a young woman who supposedly has it all and who cannot stand being alone with herself. It also shows how well therapy has not been working for her. If this is a good therapy outcome, if therapy is helping her with her problems… well, I leave it to you to decide whether or not it is serving her well.

Here are some excerpts from her letter:

I’m a millennial woman. I’m living the easy life of good finances, with a loving, funny husband, owning a home and a dog, and I have a blooming career at a workplace that I am proud of, and where I feel very supported. I take care of myself with a regular therapist to help my anxiety and by going to the gym. I like the person I’m growing into, and my life has become something I like.

As long as she is on the treadmill, everything is fine. Apparently, work is so satisfying that she cannot bear not to be working. Without knowing any more than what Mrs. Fidget is sharing you might think that she is suffering from a neurological condition or even PMS. We do not know, but between her licensed, credentialed therapist and Polly, no one seems to think that consulting with a physician would be a good idea. Otherwise she seems to have so thoroughly committed herself to an ideology that she cannot think straight.

Anyway, a little time on vacation brings out her worst:

However, whenever life stops for more than two days, without fail, my personality turns into a snarling piece of harebrained shit. Every. Time. I find this happens when I stop having a schedule, work, or anything on my calendar and I’m forced to entertain myself. Stuff starts seeming meaningless, my hobbies like just stupid things to fill the time until I croak. I become more desperate for friends to respond to my texts, and I find myself clawing my phone when they don’t reply within a day to hang out with me. I get lonely in my room I used to love, sobbing, and lash out at my husband as he seems so at ease in the house on day two of wearing only his robe. It’s terrible, vindictive, and yet I don’t know how to stop.

It gets worse:

I try to keep busy, but I start hating things I liked. My knitting projects and my hobbies seem dumb, and every book I read suddenly makes me think “What is the point?” They’re all terrible and purposeless. I don’t want to do anything.

She is easily bored by travel, even when she is traveling with her husband. So much for conjugal bliss:

Traveling is terrible. I love new cities, and new experiences, but without a plan, I suddenly find myself bored in the middle of a bustling city like London. Resorts where you’re lying at a beach every day? Forget it. By day three, I start to fidget and wonder why my husband just wants to lie in total laziness like a sloth. On day six, I start feeling like I don’t love him anymore. Two days after I go back to work, it evaporates.
She describe her less-than-joyful vacation:

So here I am, on day three of a vacation. My husband being sick, and me being up at 8 a.m. crying because I don’t have anything to do except be by myself, and nothing I have here brings me joy. I signed myself up for a shift of volunteering this afternoon, and my stomach is cramping at the thought of those hours until then where I have to sit here, waiting. My husband suggested I go to a coffee shop, and I was a breath away from screaming at him for it. Why would I pay to sit in a room of strangers to do the same thing I’m doing here, sit still and be unhappy? Isn’t he just trying to kick me out of the house so I don’t distract his lazy ass from sinking farther into his computer chair?

You get the picture. She is so completely self-absorbed—from having too much therapy, I surmise—that she is incapable of giving anything of herself to her husband. Or to anything other than her career… where have we heard that before?

Allow me to mention the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the point that Polly, who wastes space solipsistically sharing her own life story— as though anyone cares—ignores completely. Why doesn’t Mrs. Fidget, a married woman of childbearing age—she’s a millennial—have a child or two or three? She does not raise the question. She does not seem to care about the issue. Polly regales us with stories about her children, but cannot bring herself to raise this salient point.

But, could it be that the emptiness Mrs.Fidget feels in her life derives from her having postponed childbearing in favor of a career. Does she refuse to slow down and think about her situation because she might have to reassess her priorities?

Otherwise, she might be suffering from what Pascal famously described as the human condition:

  • J'ai dit souvent que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.
In English: “I have often said that all of men’s miseries comes from only one thing: not knowing how to sit quietly in a room.”


LordSomber said...

Miserable, with her First World Problems.

We should be thankful that she *doesn't* have kids.

Jack Fisher said...

She's using work to escape from her marriage.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

A very reasonable interpretation... I concur. Perhaps that's why she is not having children.

David Foster said...

Maybe having children would make her happier...maybe having a different husband would make her happier...but I suspect her real problem is that she doesn't deal with freedom very well. There *are* people like that.

Sam L. said...

I note that she's irritated that her husband is in his robe all day for the second day in a row. Don't know where to go with that, though, other than this marriage is not good. Oh, and he's OK lying on the beach, and she needs to be doing something. I sense an incompatibility.