Help-Wanting Peace and Trust: How Would You Handle This Situation that Involves Triangulation?

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I have spent the last 3 years of my life rooting out drama and setting boundaries to stop the craziness of it all. Drama breeds craziness......drama can tear up friendships......and drama causes small problems to mushroom unnecessarily into......a huge mushroom cloud where feelings start getting hurt. Drama also puts the focus and attention of a less significant problem......and diverts attention away from the real issue (s). I have come to hate drama......

So here's my situation that obviously involves drama-I would be grateful for your feedback. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Participants:

1. My best friend-a caring gal with some educational counseling expertise. She lives by the philosophy of I'll help you (rescuer/fixer) and lower your stress level when a problem is brought to her. She can not bear to see the cleaning lady upset......she has known her a long while and she, like many of us here, have a sad story to tell. She is a wonderful person......but has few boundaries, and comes more from a normal household setting, so she is very trusting and does not see manipulation or triangulation till it's too late.
2. Cleaning Lady who I hired on in March to drive me, and gave extra weekly work to and food during the worst of Covid when she lost a lot of cleaning jobs. Cleaning lady has a history of trauma, high anxiety, and doesn't do change well if it is not in her control.....and she kinda marches to her own drummer. Kinda me-centric wanting her appearance to be that she's the most helpful person on the planet....but she's not about getting anywhere on time or walking her talk.....says she'll be there at 9:30 and doing it are two very different things. Cleaning lady occasionally uses my best friend to get "advice." She desperately wants to be trusted, and has lots of cognitive distortions at play.
3. Me-I am trained from the perspective of behavior management (reasonable expectations and positive reinforcement). I'm paying someone for a job, we agreed upon times, and I expect follow-through without a lot of excuses. I too have a traumatic history...

I had hired the woman to do cleaning monthly in 2019, then I fell and broke my face all up in spring 2020, and was not driving for a number of months. I hired her to drive me to the doctor regularly and other places right after Covid became a big issue and it worked out because she had lost cleaning jobs due to Covid. I kept her on through the summer, and had her come extra to work in the garden (outdoor work). I'd give her some meat out of my freezer when things were especially hard. I did what I could to be helpful when things were tough. She'd say she'd be at the house at one time, but almost never arrive on time. Since I was stuck at home, and I needed the ride to the doctor, I occasionally mentioned it would be helpful if I knew a day before the time she was coming, but she'd either tell me then text me and say, she'd be late.....or just say she wasn't sure. Sometimes, I'd find out later that she'd stop at a grocery store or Walmart..... So, I allowed the relationship to be loosey goosey so I could get to my doctor's visit weekly without it being uncomfortable riding there. I figured I'd have a discussion about being on time (though I have to admit, I wasn't sure it would be heard) once I was back in the driver's seat and could get myself to the doc.

Once I got a medical release to drive, it felt like I owned the world and all the possibilities! And first, my schedule changed. I set up a time for her to come work with me, and she was suppose to be there at 9:30, and then she had made another commitment for 1pm, 20 min from my home....on her working time with me so she'd get there at 12, leave at 12:30 and be back by 2pm (yeah, no I thought-I've wasted the whole morning.....waiting). So, I contacted her and said, you aren't going to be here till 1:30 or 2:00? She said yes. Then she said, "I'll just cancel today and reschedule another day"-the more freedom she had, the looser things were without regard to my schedule. I had been up early that morning getting things ready for her.......and this by far wasn't the first time, but there seemed to be no respect for my time.

Two weeks before I got my driving freedom back, she had a meltdown at my home. It took an hour to quell, and I gave her the tools she needed to solve her problem (she had a surprise house inspection which she had a few weeks to prepare for), so I let her borrow my car which was much larger than her own and I had 40 plastic boxes with tops to store her stuff in, and an empty shed. She'd have her house clean in no time but apparently it had been 12 years since she had her last inspection. I told her she could take a box back each time she came. She agreed. She had my car for 2 weeks and came to the shed twice...once with 3 boxes, another with almost a car load. She had my best friend come with her car to finish the job, days before the inspection.

So, I decided to look at the problem, and the things that I was having issues with, and resolve the problem with me in mind....but also make it a solution that should resolve my issues with her.
1. Chronic lateness
2. A lack of respect for my time.
3. Over time, she was slacking up on her work (Christian Podcasts which slowed her down)
4. Increased emotional meltdowns

My two choices that I saw from an employer's perspective:
1. Change the time so that worked for me and expect adherance to the new timeframe.
2. Not have her back anymore.

Then I sent her a text message asking her to come at 8am till 2pm. She called me immediately and we discussed the time change and reason at great length. Since we now have daylight savings time, that would give me 3 daylight hours on any day she came, to go to the doctor, go visit a relative in the nursing home, or go exercise, shop, etc. She would come at 8am, a set time for the long haul, and always know she was leaving at a set time 2 and could schedule around it for other clients; or go shopping, or do whatever her heart desires AFTER WORK and would get her home before dark with hours to spare. I thought this was reasonable.....and it was a solution where she kept her job. 8am is not an abnormal time to be getting to work.....at least I thought so-it's a real world work hour. I thought this was a win-win solution.

But-------She didn't like the 8am time, so she went to my best friend, who entertained her issues and says I'm changing things-this is after I've explained clearly why, and explained my needs for consistency in the arrive/depart times. My best friend comes over and says, "What's this 8 o'clock business?" It was clear my best friend thought this was unreasonable because she felt it would increase her stress load. She said, 8 o'clock sounds like you are punishing her. This will only increase her stress. Now I'm perplexed because when I was done talking to the cleaning lady...she had seen the positives in the solution and had agreed to 8am........I thought I had a win-win situation (Time works for me, and the woman still has a job) But now....I'm coming across as the bad guy for having her come at 8am and (this is my most trusted friend who has been with me through many years of music and my trauma)....... and the cleaning woman is singing this woo is me song about 8am......hooked my friend in emotionally.


😣 I was the bad guy when I left my family......it's an awful feeling......and I'm not the bad guy.....I'm setting a healthy boundary.....and I just didn't see where it was my friend's business.....which I did tell her at one point.

The cleaning lady came on the set day and made it at 8:20am (this is as close as she's ever come to being on time), it was a tad tense at first, she was very different, quiet, and she didn't listen to her Christian podcasts and dissociate and we got the job done in the time allotted with a 30 min. pd lunch break. She put her hard-working cleaning lady self back on when she came....and by the end of the day we were chatting and laughing. I gave her some pinky links (farm sausages) to try and sent her away smiling. Before she left, I told her that there were some issues with my security system, so I changed everyone's code....even the next door neighbor's code, so if she came to get her boxes out of the shed, she wouldn't be able to get in, in case she needed to use the bathroom.

Changing the security code to inactive led to the cleaning woman having a cognitive distortion.......She had to get all of her boxes right away because now I didn't trust her on my property and she didn't think I'd want her on my property if I wasn't home. She told me that she thought that I didn't trust her after changing the code and I wouldn't want her on my property going in the shed (regardless that I told her that I changed everyone's code and I left the shed key hidden outside where she knew about it and decided the placement of it, so she could get in anytime she wanted).

She said that because I changed her code, and she had the boxes in the shed, she came to the (wrong conclusion) that didn't trust her and she wanted to get all her boxes....like RIGHT now. So she contacts my best friend to come get all the boxes at once the next day.....she lives an hr away, and wasn't even coming to my house....but was coming to the area....and it would be dark out and late and she had work early the next morning. I had seen this wasn't going in a good direction, days before that if the cleaning gal had any issues with me at all, and had specifically asked her to please refer the cleaning woman to me and not get in the middle because she wasn't happy with the time change. That was ignored by rescuing friend.

So she calls my best friend to drop hints knowing she comes to my area on Weds, to drive to my home and get the boxes out of my shed, and my friend was willing to do it because it was easiest for her......I got a text to that effect. Now, if these boxes were so important that the cleaning lady had to have them, she's been in the area 3 times, and not taken any back in her own car. I reassured her that she could come any time she wanted to get her things, and that she knew where the key was. I talked to my friend and said that it was dark, cold, and there was no light out in the shed and she didn't need to be moving the boxes at night....it wasn't an emergency or necessity. Then I called the cleaning woman and said that that my friend was working 5 days a week as well as at home and she had agreed to take one or a few of them home, each time she came to my home. I also said I didn't want her working in the dark, =without lights. So I offered to help her move them if she worked to pack both of our cars.......and I'd follow her in my car to her place. I heard nothing back from the cleaning lady since that time about getting her boxes....and I don't think she's gotten anything, either. I'm the bad guy again.....😖😫My best friend was upset with me because I told her not to pick them up in the dark .......so she didn't get her "rescuer feel good" (to which she admitted) from being able to bail out the woman.

I see this like when Dad is more of a disciplinarian and lays down a boundary, and child bucks, and runs to mother (the overly nurturning one) who doesn't do boundaries either and is emotionally entangled in the child's manipulation and says......let me talk to your father.......UGH

My Goal: No Drama

What I need: Distance from the craziness.

My Initial Desire: To fkng fire her ass for going to my best friend to stir up shit.....if she had a problem, she should have worked it out with me.

The Kind Thing to Do: Since I just learned I'm not traveling for the holidays, as I hand her a Farm raised Thanksgiving Turkey I promised her, on Tues....her birthday, to let her know that I won't need her during December due to my change in schedule, and we can discuss coming after the New Year.

The Surefire Drama Stopper Thing to Do: Tell her how upset I am about her discussing her discontent about our arrangements with my best friend and that stirring up drama for me is unacceptable. Since she's uses my friend as a sounding board, not working for me won't prohibit that relationship.....and it will insure there is no more triangulation😖 and drama😢. Plus, just this little bit of drama has me looping.....I need to stop the looping shit....

The Up side: My best friend owned her part, and did agree to not engage with her if she went to her, and it had anything to do with me for the future.....after she realized she was deep in the middle.....

Downside: Because my friend is amenable to working with "The cleaning lady in her time distorted world" and sees and acknowledges things from her world perspective and sees/deals with her as mentall ill-.....it is hard to have real world expectations that I can count on her to support. I also see this as a trust issue because my friend didn't trust me to handle it because I wasn't working in the Cleaning Lady's world....and she believed handling things (rescuing and reducing her stress) was better than mine (real world consequences and rewards). My best friend is someone I've known for almost 19 years......so she's a special friend and we rarely have a disagreement.....we had one over a nap once while traveling....that's the worst I recall until now. My best friend wants to take all the blame for this situation.......(because she doesn't want me to fire her-which she'd then take on as her fault, too) because she didn't heed the warning, my request to reroute her to me if she starts complaining....But I told her the cleaning lady knew we were best friends, and knew she could bring issues to you, hoping you'd agree, .....and ultimately punish me or admonish me for making the time earlier and consistent which wasn't my friend's place to comment on.

I realize this is drama all over a change in time and boxes in a shed........the problems themselves easily resolved.....but the emotions and crazy thinking.....are over the top which created unnecessary interpersonal issues.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?
 

Friday

Moderator
What would you do if you were in my shoes?
1. Fire her.

2. Have a sit down with my bestie and tell her that if SHE wants to remain friends with my former cleaning-lady & personal assistant? That’s fine. But that I’m done with an employee -that I’m paying to help me- constantly showing up late, taking advantage of me in countless other ways, and trying to drive a wedge between me & my friends.

Also? Quite possibly this...

My best friend wants to take all the blame for this situation.......(because she doesn't want me to fire her-which she'd then take on as her fault, too)
3. Tell my bestie “Don’t you DARE”... Cleaning Lady / PA is getting fired for things SHE has done, not things you have done. Don’t cut off my balls and paint me into some helpless victim corner who isn’t even allowed to fire people who are treating ME badly... and, because I care about you, don’t let HER manipulate you into being responsible for her f*ckups, her failings, and her being fired, as she’s clearly been trying to do. You have been the soul of generosity, but you are not her puppet master, and are not responsible for her decisions. I am firing her. Because of what SHE has done, during her time as an employee.
 
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TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
1. Fire her.

2. Have a sit down with my bestie and tell her that if SHE wants to remain friends with my former cleaning-lady & personal assistant? That’s fine. But that I’m done with an employee -that I’m paying to help me- constantly showing up late, taking advantage of me in countless other ways, and trying to drive a wedge between me & my friends.

Also? Quite possibly this...


3. Tell my bestie “Don’t you DARE”... Cleaning Lady / PA is getting fired for things SHE has done, not things you have done. Don’t cut off my balls and paint me into some helpless victim corner who isn’t even allowed to fire people who are treating ME badly... and, because I care about you, don’t let HER manipulate you into being responsible for her f*ckups, her failings, and her being fired, as she’s clearly been trying to do. You have been the soul of generosity, but you are not her puppet master, and are not responsible for her decisions. I am firing her. Because of what SHE has done, during her time as an employee.
I just feel like no matter which decision I choose......I'll be the bad guy in both of their eyes...... and I tried so hard to be nice and helpful to the woman and she had to go get between us...........and my best friend will be quietly upset with me for not choosing the high road...........because I didn't try harder; and she's already established the guilt thing.......it's her fault for all this happening......so if I fire her.....she gets to feel guilty.

I also think we could never be unified in working with her because she meets the cleaning lady in her dysfunctional world, and my expectations are real world expectations. This feels like an old position I am in.......smack in the middle of dysfunction.....a no win position. I'm so sad because I don't want to fire her....but I know I need to for my own sanity.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
If I turned up late. Didn't work the hours I agreed. Went to my boss's best friend to complain.
I really wouldn't be surprised that I would be fired.

If I was friends with someone, whose employee came to me to complain about the working contract. I would send that employee straight back to my friend and not get involved, as it isn't my business.

Both of those people are not respecting your boundaires.
Your feelings are valid. You are allowed to act on them.
I'm most sorry that your friend has behaved like that.
Do what is right for you.
If we only did things because we don't want other people to feel bad about what we did: we would never be able to live our lives the way want to.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
If I turned up late. Didn't work the hours I agreed. Went to my boss's best friend to complain.
I really wouldn't be surprised that I would be fired.

If I was friends with someone, whose employee came to me to complain about the working contract. I would send that employee straight back to my friend and not get involved, as it isn't my business.

Both of those people are not respecting your boundaires.
Your feelings are valid. You are allowed to act on them.
I'm most sorry that your friend has behaved like that.
Do what is right for you.
If we only did things because we don't want other people to feel bad about what we did: we would never be able to live our lives the way want to.
Yes, I guess you have a point there. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in everyone. 😢
 

Justmehere

Moderator
People managing skills is difficult - and can get especially complicated when friends and personal matters are thrown into the mix. It's a good thing to allow the employee to learn hey, this is not ok job behavior, and it comes with the consequence of losing the job.

You are not the bad guy. Don't take that on.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I think the bigger problem is not the cleaning lady (though this is a practical and monetary issues which is easy to fix - like firing her and hiring through many online businesses where people are bonded and vetted for). The bigger problem is how you see yourself in this situation - You are in a real double bind with your friend.

If you do anything about the cleaning lady, your friend will see you as a bad person. And if you do not do anything, you will see yourself as bad person and struggle in so many ways. The only way to get out of double bind is the third option - the belief your friend will think bad of you is in your head - this is not reality and even if she thinks of you as bad at one time, this is not forever you are a bad person AND ultimately it is OK to be a bad person now and then...nothing wrong with being bad now and then! Trying to look good person actually may look bad to others.

I simply honestly do not know what you need to do and I trust you will find the courage in you since you have way more information than me but my feeling is this: to have this much anxiety about a spoiled cleaning lady tells me you ARE NOT a bad person - SERIOUSLY!
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Okay, this is an update:

Recap: Triangulation with cleaning lady and best friend, cleaning lady is compulsively late, and going to best friend to stir up shit....to get some sympathy for lateness-
She was supposed to show up at 8am.....it was 8:20 week 1, and she shows 1hr and 9min. late this week. Remind you I gave her a turkey for Thanksgiving, I asked her to choose the time she could meet me, 10 min. before leaving the house, she says she can't make it till 12:30, I'm there at 12:20, and I left at 12:45 after waiting 25 min to give her a farm raised, fresh never frozen turkey for the holiday. I keep my promises but in that moment....having to wait......I wished I hadn't made that promise......her disrespect with my time took away from the kindness of a turkey gift.

Next workday was the beginning of this week. The evening before she was scheduled to work, I sent brief text reminder. She did not respond that evening. In the morning, she sent me a video of a stick man with an extremely sad potato head, who could hardly walk....all bent over. Shows up over an hour late, raving about how wonderful the turkey I gave her was.....and I was polite.....when she stopped talking I was glad she enjoyed it and then, I asked her to come sit and talk with me.

I needed a solution to the cleaning woman that was going to take the guilt off of sappy overly helpful best friend, make me feel like I've taken the high road and given her every chance possible, so that if she lost her job because of lateness.....the only one feeling bad would be her.....things would be very, very clear and bestie wouldn't own a situation which she had no reason to own.

So, the convo went something like this....."I have two issues.....chronic lateness and creating drama..(Auto response from cleaning lady-tearing up eyes and a fearful look)-I realized I had her attention..."Neither are okay," I said. Being chronically late tells me you don't respect me nor my time................When you make an appt to come work for me, I want to be the only thing going on in that 5-6 hr. window of your time.....I don't care about any other jobs you have going on......you don't make me feel important when I'm always waiting on other jobs of yours to determine when you will be at my home-after making an agreement to come on a certain day and time.........you are chronically late....You are not walking your talk......you are not doing what you say.......you are doing what you want in the moment.....and that's not okay when you have promised a window of time to me. When you come here, I don't want to hear excuses why you were running late with all the story telling details.........you have used up all your excuses for 2020 and 2021...........no more excuses.

She said, "Making 9am was very hard with the 50 min. drive".....🤕..I said, "Fine, come at 9:00 but if you are late.......you won't be working for me anymore-there are no exceptions if I move the time to 9am. "Is that understood, and she said, "yes."

The second issue was discussed, about her going to my best friend to complain about the work hours being too early, and I told her creating drama was unaccpetable.....it was called triangulation 🔺 and it is a very dysfunctional behavior. She said she knew what triangulation was and agreed it wasn't a good thing to do and that it could create drama. I said, that drama and talking about me to my friend to complain will not be tolerated. I don't need any drama created and that will stop now."
She agreed.

I explained that how I knew she was unhappy was because my friend was concerned that you brought a problem to her, and she felt compelled to get to the bottom of it. She said, "She [implying my friend] came and told you what I said about the time change? I said, "What did you expect her to do after you dumped it in her lap, and complained about the time I set for you to come work for me? I explained, that she is my best friend and likes to see everyone happy....you know that, and you know she'd at least ask what was going on my end.....I proceeded to give her a number of examples about your chronic lateness [this was a door you opened by going to her].....and she said, "You talked to her about it?....."Yup, was my answer......only because you went to her to complain....(I wanted to say.....How's that shit feel when you are talked about and drama is getting started?" but I refrained).

She agreed to the conditions, and she looked at my work list, and went to work......the whole time she worked......I really didn't want her here and I was unwinding from the conversation we had had. I had hoped she'd just quit.....but that didn't happen.

That same evening, my best friend came over for dinner and puzzle. She asked, "Did the cleaning woman come on time?".....I said, "Nope she was an hr and 9 min. late today!" My friend said, "You think it's passive aggressive?" I said, "It doesn't matter but to me if feels narcissistic.....those are the warning bells going off in my body". She now knows, there are no excuses for 2021 if she's one minute past 9 am-she's jobless!...........and the talking to you stuff.......isn't to happen."

.............................and my friend says, "After everything you've said and her lateness today, over an hr late......I can live with that......you do what you need to do, and I'm good with it."

So, while the story continues.......she will not likely last long since she doesn't believe she has to work in the real world time, with real world time boundaries.

Thanks 👍👍👍 to those of you who posted.. @Friday , @desiderata310 , @grit @Justmehere and @Movingforward10 ....it really had me looping..🥴...your responses were very grounding.!!!!!
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Well done for having a difficult conversation! I'm glad your friend is backing off.

What's your plan for if/when this happens?
Taking the high road on that one too......she has only one more scheduled time this coming week, to winterize......and then there are no more scheduled times on our calendar. So, I thought I'd tell her I'd give her a call when I needed her and that I needed to review my 2021 budget, since I just this week dropped $6000 on some new hearing aids............ So, while some may see it as the coward's way out-not outright firing her.....I see this as the least drama provoking way to just let something that isn't working , just let it go gently without any hoopla. I feel sorry for her because she'd had lots of trauma......but the lack of common courteousy and basic skills isn't mine to fix. This way.....no big dramatic exit to deal with her dumping more stress in my stress cup. Do I have to have a cleaning lady?.....Nope....it's a luxury and I can spend the money on something else.........I know how to push a vacuum (aarg). Thanks for asking.........it was good to write it all out.....and get some sound feedback.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
So, today, she showed up at 9:01. She promised to come on time. After 6 months of chronic lateness.....I guess she didn't care enough. I liked this person.....I just think she valued control over needing to work and make a living. So, I fired her. I wish it could have worked out....
 
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