Tag Archives: stress

Being a war horse.

I live in a family of women. Apart from the guys that marry in, it’s all women. And most of us that marry in aren’t exactly what I’d consider to be real men anyhow. The thing about women is, they need good men to look to when life gets hard (even regardless of what the most brazen of feminists might lead you to believe). In my family, I’ve unwittingly become that guy everyone looks to.

Being the guy people look to in the family is hard at times. Always having to hold it together, be the one to make the tough decisions, steer the ship or keep the train from veering off the rails and into a ditch is challenging. It seems as of late it’s been extra hard as we have encountered various members of the family developing serious health problems and others falling into difficult financial times.

Similar situations arrive in our careers and professional lives as well. Things go sour sometimes, clients get upset, managers get upset, and a need always arises for someone in-between to keep morale high, persuade people from quitting their jobs and to offer reassurance that next week, or next month or next whenever will be better- even if just long enough to get through the hell the team is enduring at the moment.

Sometimes I fall into a rough spot of weakness where I feel I’d rather find a dark corner in a bar somewhere then proceed to binge on chicken wings and beer until I’m drunk, bloated and overfull than deal with any of it. But there is always work to be done, problems to solve, hot heads to cool and teary eyes to wipe.

I should feel honored I guess. Honored that so many people around me seem to trust and confide in me for whatever reason. Honored that my sister and mother in-law would rather come to me than their own husbands with their issues. God knows I don’t feel worthy of the honor. I guess they do so precisely because I refuse to retreat to a bottle, drug, or just shut myself off and go looking to someone else to whine to.

Hell, fuck that, that’s for pussies. That’s for weak men who can’t deal with their emotions. Men who don’t have the strength to pull through. I’m a war horse, thick skinned, determined, brave and stubborn. War horses get rode hard, shot at, cut up in barbed wire and bombarded with shrapnel, mustard gas and bullets. We don’t stop until forced to do so. Until there is no more fight in us.

Being the war horse is tough, but it is what it is and we are what we are.

Good talk.

-Holden

My mom attempted Suicide today

My Mom called me while I was at work today. She was upset, but that’s not terribly unusual. She often calls me crying when my father and her have had a fight. I stepped outside to get some privacy and that’s when she said it.

“I just swallowed a whole bottle of Klonopin”.

She was sobbing almost uncontrollable at that point and the adrenaline hit me in the face like a hammer. I almost started to shake and I could feel my lungs contract a little because my body was preparing itself in a fight or flight sort of way.

“Mom, call 911 right now.” She refused. “Mom, for your only son, please call 911 right now.” She refused again and the crying became more intense. “I just want to go and see Jesus” She said. The crying became uncontrollable at that point so I hung up. I took a deep breath and knew it was essential that I stay calm so I could handle the situation; however I couldn’t for the life of me remember my Mom’s address to call 911.

By the time I was able to reach 911 I was informed that parametics were already on the scene. Apparently my Mother also called her sister. I honestly believe that her “attempted suicide” was more a call for help than anything else. She didn’t really want to die.

More to the Story
Oh, but the story gets more interesting. After rushing to the hospital some hours later I find my aunt who has interesting news for me.

“They found Meth in your Mom’s system.”

My only question was who is she getting it from. “She’s getting it from your Father – he’s addicted to.”

So great – though my parents are separated they occasionally share a few hits of Meth together – how romantic. I can’t say I’m surprised though, I’ve had to deal with this shit my entire life. Fucking druggies and liars – you can’t really have one without the other. My parents are both.

I immediately called my father to get the whole story because as it turns out my aunt is a notorious liar too. I have to be a goddamn CIA agent to get any truth out of anyone. So my tactic was to seperate each, question them, and compile the truth from each of their corroborative stories.

Not surprisingly my Dad lied. He first said he had no idea what I was talking about. He said it so convincingly I’m sure he believed it himself. After about a half hour of questioning and begging him to simply “man to man, level with me” he came clean. He has himself been on Meth for years and occasionally shared with my Mother. This is not surprising since each of my parents have done stints with drugs that they finally admitted to me over the years. My Dad, though he does Meth daily and will not quit, claims he is not addicted.

So here I am – a guy trying to live his life. A mother who attempted suicide today, a mother on Meth, a Father also addicted to Meth – and just wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do with this mess. I have shielded myself and my wife from my family with a veil of selfishness – a refusal to recognize my parents’ problems as my own and continued successes in my own life. I refuse to bring myself down because of them. I’ll handle this shit just like I do everything else. If/When I have kids one day – they will never have the burden of their parents to worry about.

I think the helping my Mom to move closer to me is out of the question now, but we’ll see how this plays out. The idea of bringing that kind of trouble into my life may be worse that leaving her to rot in her own soup of destruction. This requires more thought.

She was asleep when I arrived at the hospital so I didn’t even speak to her. The hospital refused to wake her because she was “extremely aggressive” when they brought her in. More good news.

What’s Next
So for the next few days my Mother gets to stay in the hospital. I get to drive 60 miles (one way) to visit her and eventually they will transfer her to some sort of mental hospital for a week or so. At least I’ll have something to write about for the next year decade.

Some Personal Nonsense

For the past couple of months I have been on the road 6 days a week. I leave on Sunday nights and get home Friday evenings. I don’t mind the travel necessarily, but I can’t say that I would like to spend my entire career on the road either.

For one, it feels like you are at work 24/7. You are constantly “on call”. It might be networking with co-workers, answering a phone call or email, or just sitting in a hotel room that’s not home. All of those factors make it just a little less comforatable than they typical work day.

There are advantages to being on the road. My expenses virtually disappear, I eat a lot of good meals, and rack up on the hotel and frequent flyer points – all leading to a free vacation!

The worst part is not about me though. My wife sits at home missing me. Call me a softy, but I hate the idea of her sitting at home alone because of a career decision I made. Espescially days like Valentine’s Day – a holiday I wouldn’t even typically think much about – makes me wish that I was at least at home to hang out. I guess it’s just another reminder that I’m on the road.

For now I’m going to try to maintain some symbolance of structure. Work, Gym, Dinner, Lounge, Read, Sleep, and Repeat.

I have another six weeks before I role off this project and get to spend the night in my own bed. For now I’ll continue to deal with the 50 hour work week, emails from the partner at 2am, and newby’s getting a little too comforatable with the idea of binge drinking on work nights when they have to be back in the office at 8am. Yep, living the dream. :)

Update: Literally as I write this one of those binge drinking Newby’s I was talking about earlier came up to me showing me a reciept for $150 from a nearby bar last night. He also bragged to me that our waitress from last night’s dinner is “still in his hotel room.” See folks - its stuff like this I’m forced to deal with and ignore. FML.

have a relaxing weekend

Last night I was having trouble sleeping so I grabbed my computer and decided to take a trip down the rabbit hole (YouTube) in hopes of finding something that would relax me. What immediately came to mind was those Bob Ross shows (see: joy of painting). I remember listening to his voice and literally falling asleep before the program was up. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything on YouTube much longer than a few minutes of Bob Ross, but there are numerous folks out there putting up some pretty relaxing stuff. So, if you are like me and need to relax, hopefully some of these videos might help you too.

On a side note, I found that with some of these videos actually watching the video was more relaxing than just listening to it.  For others, just sticking your headphones in is good enough. I was also kind of surprised at some of the things that relaxed me, so no judgement if it does nothing for you.

Good for listening:
Barry Eisen Hypnosis Session
Whisper Relaxation
Relaxing Sounds – Zen – Chinese Bamboo Flute with Nature Sounds
The sound of rain
Relaxing Rain On a Metal Roof
Nature Sound 15 – Sounds of Nature
Sound of a Haircut

Good for watching and listening:
Water, Pebbles, Shells & Hands soft spoken visualization relaxation (she as several good ones)
Drawing in Sand. Soothing sound of soft sand on paper
Shiny Little Planets (Soft Spoken)

Not as relaxing but beautiful and good for concentration:
Chill Out Relax Music – Wonderful Meditation Mantra – Guru Guru Waheguru

And one whisper for laughs:
Extremely relaxing whispering

realizing THIS is your only chance really puts decisions into perspective

I think probably the best days of my life were spent doing menial tasks, but with complete freedom.  For example, in college I had several jobs.  I did some free lance web design and even some tutoring, but my main job was as a cook.  I spent at least 4 hours a day back there behind a hot flat top making orders as fast as my arms would allow me.  It was hot as hell, the work wasn’t glamorous, and I doubt anyone could care less who was back in the kitchen making their perfectly prepared meal.

Those days were great though.  I barely made any money, but I had all the freedom in the world.  I would get off work, take a shower, and head to the gym or to go grab a beer with friends.  The other guys I worked with back in that kitchen were great too.  We would sit back there for hours a day, but the time flew by because we were busy – and keeping each other entertained.  Later I became a manager at that same establishment, but I would still return to the kitchen during a rush just to get a piece of the action.  I never minded the labor, the repetition, and some strange since of satisfaction from seeing the results of my labors right there in front of me.

Today, I have a job most would argue is “more important”.  I guess I work for more expensive clients and a mistake would cost people a lot more money, but sometimes I don’t think that I get one ounce of satisfaction out of it compared to the days of my kitchen existence.  Honestly, some days I just sit at the computer and do work that I doubt will really add much value to the company.  I know what I am doing is necessary, but damn I do miss the days of seeing my finished product right in front of me.  These days – sometimes – I don’t even feel like doing what I do.

This job gives me security though.  If I stayed with this company, making great money, I could literally retire by 35 if I wanted to.  I could pay my house off in the next 5 years.  I get offers for interviews almost every week.  What I do is really in demand – even in the rough economy.  Sadly, I am fairly sure it is not what I want to do for the rest of my life.

What I really want to do is one of two things: own my own business or travel and write.  I want to open a restaurant or start my own business consulting firm.  Something about working for yourself just provides unlimited satisfaction in my opinion.  I just have to work up the security and balls to drop everything and make the leap. Give up security, give up insurance, give up a nice paycheck – all to pursue a dream.  Hell, its what I talk about doing all the time, but putting those thoughts into action is a lot harder than just saying it.

I’ll put my time in.  Make a plan.  Build a security net.  But I realize that doing those things can take forever, so eventually I’ll have to make the leap and do it while I still have the fire inside myself to do it.  I keep reminding myself that this is the only chance I have to live my life – so everyday I spend wasting it on a false since of security is a wasted day.  The time for action was yesterday – I have to really think about what I want out of life and do it.  Now is the time.

An update

Bought a Home:
Well, I guess it’s been a while since I wrote in my dear old blog. A lot has happened and honestly I’ve been busy as hell. First off, and perhaps most importantly I moved. It was hell on earth – the whole experience. The buying a new house part was stressful, the moving part was worse. I’m glad its over and now the fun begins. The maintenance and upkeep – yay. I made a few key mistakes.

1. I bought a small home.
2. I bought a townhome.
3. I bought an old townhome.

I hope I didn’t screw myself. The place is well maintained and in a nice part of town about 10 miles from the city center. I would call the neighborhood desirable and its “intown”. We got a pretty good deal on the place and we pay about $150 less than what we did for renting an apartment – so in that aspect I suppose its a good thing. Also, I don’t have to move all of my shit again for a whole – that is probably the biggest advantage I see.

A few other good points are that it is much closer to my work and my wife’s. Quality of life in general should improve for both of us for that reason alone. We also have a pretty nice little yard – which I have been spending the past few weekends working my ass of on. Which, honestly I enjoy, so that’s not necessarily a negative thing. There is also a few nice parks and a lot of running trails directly by our new place – and since I run a lot that’s awesome!

Damn is this shit stressful though. Spending a large chunk of savings and working out all of the details is enough to make renting almost worth it.

In the end I guess I should come out ahead financially by buying a home. Hopefully…

Arguing with the wife:
All of this stressful shit has stirred up a lot of friction between my wife and I. Myself being frugal and my wife sort of being they type that would rather “have it all now” collide a little more right about now. I have to admit that I over react, but I have certain goals that I want to meet. For example, she bought some patio furniture for the back porch today for $130 – which was a good deal – and I blew up. I was so mad and I really don’t know why. I guess because she did it without consulting me and I am the one who handles all of the budgeting and financing. I think a good talking to would have been enough, but I really went off like a volcano. Felt bad later…

Daddy Issues:
When I moved I had some help lined up. My best friend, brother in law, parents, and wife. My parents didn’t show! My dad was mad because I sold the appliances in my new house to make room for the upgraded ones. Of course he wanted the old ones – FOR FREE! I sold them, so he didn’t show up to help me. Like a true bastard.

Nothing new though… He didn’t help me move into college, out of college, in any of my two apartments, and now he wasn’t there to help me move in to my first home. Whatever, what a little bitch. His birthday was yesterday and I had the chance to be the better man and give him call, but I didn’t. Not because I was mad, but because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how the conversation would take place. Would I just ignore the fact that he screwed me over? I mean it literally took me two extra hours. Only two men to move all of my possessions – had I known he wasn’t coming I could have arranged more help. He didn’t even call! Anyways – I wasn’t the better man and I didn’t call – even though my Mother asked me to. I should have, but I can’t bring myself to.

What you have to understand is that my father is a horrible man. It isn’t like this is his first offense. Growing up (and today) he has abused the system to get food stamps, doesn’t pay taxes, doesn’t take care of my Mother (one would say is abusive), and has been in trouble for drugs and various other things. Basically I took what I saw from him and did the opposite. He was an anti-roll-model! He is a real bastard human being, but ask him about it and he is a victim. Hell, maybe he is – what the fuck do I know? The real question is how the fuck did I come out “normal”. Geez, I have some mommy and daddy issues. One thing is for sure, when I have kids, I know what NOT to do.

I’ll whine more about this later.

The Good:
I’ll end this with some good stuff.

I’m settling into the new home nicely. The wife and I are doing well. We are having a few college friends come over to grill out this weekend, which should be nice. A few drinks and good food should be great! My wife and I are both working and the finances are looking good – right on track to meet my lofty financial goals of super-early retirement. Planning on traveling to Japan in April – looking good for that. Overall, can’t complain! (Except for the stuff I already have complained about above, haha.)

Life Happens

This is an email my best friend sent to me yesterday.  I felt it was heart felt and others out there are probably facing some of the same issues so I would post it anonymously here.  I hope someone finds comfort in knowing someone else out there is going through stuff too.

Dearest Atticus,

A new journey is almost underway. This past week I was truly awakened to the fact that my wife is about to have another baby. She’s practically on bed rest, can hardly get around and really not doing so hot. Today is August 1st. My kid is due the 18th of September and will probably be induced early. So really I have a month.

Top this off with school starting next week to finish the MBA, possible new job prospects, and you moving closer, and I almost feel a bit overwhelmed.

Most days I still can’t believe I’m a dad. It’s a responsibility I proudly take on, and so far I don’t feel that I’m messing up at it too badly, but at the same time, I can’t help but think over and over, “Is this really happening?”

My parents moved this weekend and didn’t even ask me to help. My wife said they didn’t want to ask me. I was going to call and offer, but really the entire situation left me scratching my head. I don’t know where the disconnect happened between me and my mom and dad, especially my dad.

When I was growing up, I think it’d be safe to say that my father was miserable. He worked 12 hour days, welding and doing factory work, mostly on night shift. I remember my mom would often times be accused of squandering his paychecks, and I know she was. So my dad worked harder and harder. On the weekend and during the day he’d work side businesses, always trying to get ahead, but we never seemed to be able to.

Growing up, I was always by my father’s side happy and willing to pitch in. I didn’t even ask for money or allowance, I just worked and worked. We would chop firewood and sell truckloads of it, clean up construction sites, clean newly constructed houses, and haul off trash from just about anywhere. I remember filling the back of his old 70s model Chevy pickup with tons of construction debris, garbage and dust, old Gatorade bottles and water jugs, just endless piles of trash. Then we’d drive right back into the landfill, smelling the shit that was literally piled around us and shovel it out.

Other times we’d go to people’s houses we didn’t even know and plant trees and do yard work. I remember one time having to dig a series of holes wide and deep enough for 3 people to jump down in, so we could plant these fancy full grown trees. The rich people bought us pizza and Pepsi afterward and went on and on how I was such a little boy out there doing work with my dad. They were amazed.

My point is, the only fond memories I have of my father involve working my ass off. We rarely played catch, he never made it to my little leagues games, or took me to Braves games or amusement parks or anything. In fact, I’d never even been on a real vacation until Shat’s parents took me to Panama City beach when I was 15 or 16.

Most kids might resent their father’s for not really being all that involved in their lives when they were growing up, but I admire mine. The poor man didn’t know how to do anything and never was taught anything but work, and work he did.

Sadly, I think to a large extent, my mother simply pissed away the fruits of his labor. I may be wrong in that perception, but I don’t think so. He nearly left us a few times, but he always came back and stuck it out for my sister and I. The poor bastard couldn’t find it in himself to abandon his kids. When he did leave for a week or so at a time it really fucked me up.

So, I guess my point is, fathers are everything. I can deal with my mom being the screwed up, half psychotic woman she is, and I may go around being angry at her for it, but my real deepest sorrow comes from the life and challenges my father endured and having to watch them.

All I can do is take these lessons and not let history repeat itself. I guess eventually I’ll need to become a real man and have the same honest to God talk with him that I’m having with you right now. I think that will be the true mark of my maturity.

I appreciate that we have each other to lean on and bounce these deep feelings back and forth off of. For me, confronting my own feelings is possibly my greatest challenge in life. I would always rather ignore them or divert attention away to something else. I guess just taking the first step and starting a conversation is the hardest part.

Thanks for reading my really long long email, my friend. I hope we may share many beers together again soon.

positivity

This has been a good trip for me.  I have been in California for the last week or so.  It’s a nice change from the East Coast.  Just being away for a while has given me a chance to clear my head.  To think about life, to figure out I need to deal with my problems, and to even forgive my parents for any grudges I’ve been holding on to.

I feel optimistic.  I feel refreshed.  I still have another week out here.

I was talking to my best friend today.  We grew up with similar problems.  He was making all the same complaints we both usually agree to.  Mostly how our parents did a shitty job raising us, problems with society, criticisms of religion/politics, etc.  That’s when it hit me.  Just let it go.  Let all the problems go.  I told him that and he said he couldn’t.  I can.  So I am.  I am going to really try to let it all go.  Starting now.