Saturday, December 28, 2013


Right now, I can't see the forest for the trees.  End of year reflections,  new goals and objectives for the new year, resolutions to blog more and more often. ...I can't.  I can't seem to see beyond the situations circling me.

Let me start by saying I'm fine. D. is amazing. Me and D, we're solid. He is truly the Best Baby Ever. (Don't believe me? Ask his grandparents. No bias here. Natch) Xmas rocked. Many visits with family and friends.  Many outings before the weather turned frigid. I think he finally figured out the whole opening presents thing, now that there aren't any left to open. D dazzled everyone with his walking (!) and new front tooth (!) But some other family members are weighing down my heart, and my shoulders. Heavy. Both feel so, so heavy.

Let's start with the easy one (it's all relative, isn't it.) M got a promotion at work. A pretty huge one. As in, he is now kind of a public figure. A pretty visible member of our little community.  For some, this is a dream job, a career goal, something to aim for and hope that you're in the right place at the right time when a position opens.

For M, it is not exactly that. In fact,  some days it feels like torture. Constant and steady torture. It is nothing he asked for, nothing he actually ever wanted. But he was in the right place at the right time and didn't really have a choice in the matter. As in, "can I go home and think about it?" "Not really, we're making a public announcement at the end of the week." "Oh." A painfully shy person with some serious social anxiety and remnants of PTSD who is pretty averse to confrontation is now managing a staff of 20, most of whom have been in his field for 20+ years and are, shall we say, pretty set in their ways.

You would know NONE of this if I didn't tell you. M puts on a helluva a front. And by all external accounts is kicking ass in this new role.  So, if you know us in real life, ixnay on the ob-jay talk. Mums the word, ok? For all you know, all is well. The new job is "challenging," but that's it.

To the world, he's confident, knows what he's talking about, has his shit together. And he does! But he doesn't think he does. Every step is filled with doubt and apprehension. He dreads most days (And nights since he's pretty much on call 24/7 now.) If you break it down to an hourly wage,  it might not be worth it. And when I say "it," I mean losing the person I love.

Moments of joy and laughter feel rare. Even with the Best Baby Ever at his feet. At the end of the day, he's just not sure this is what he wants to do, how he wants to spend his time and more importantly, his mental and emotional capital on.

So, we're dealing with this. Do you owe it to your son to stick it out and provide for him? Have a job that he would be proud to tell his friends about? Or do you owe it to your family to understand that what some people define as success is not necessarily what works for you? Is it brave to leave a job that is sucking out your soul, or cowardly? I'm not sure.  Neither is he.

When I started this draft, it was 11 pm on a Saturday night and M was in front of 3 computer screens and 2 laptops with his cell phone on hand. Taking calls.

This is success?

It's selfish, but I want my husband back. And I would like to have just a portion of my brain back to not think about this 24/7.  I can't speak for M, but I had a dad who put "providing for the family" first, before anything else. And I can tell you it harbored resentment, not pride. I would seethe when he actually showed up for any awards ceremony in grade school, because in my mind, what did he do to help me get there?

And yes, I know. He put food on the table and a roof over my head. But he never let me forget that either. Food and shelter, essential, yes. But I think there is more to life than the first row of Maslow's pyramid.

But right now, another family member is pretty focused on maintaining that first level. My brother, through every fault of his own, lost his girlfriend, his job and fears he could lose his house. All in the course of a few short weeks.

I'm not going to go into it, because, well I'm tired of hearing about it and I'm tired of talking about it. But let me just say this, yes, it's important for someone to admit, "I f-ed up." But the next step, and this is an important one, is to STOP F-ING UP.  Like, now.

He's said things to others about borrowing money from me, or moving in with us. Both of those statements make me laugh. Out loud. Ain't happening, dude. I will change my locks first.

I had offered a month's mortgage payment when I heard the first version of the sob story, but as further editions were refined, and more info was gathered from other versions others had heard, that offer is off the table.

Because what is the line between compassion and enabling? How gray is that space? How fuzzy is the boundary? I am probably the last member of my family still in the gray. Everyone else is on the "you've made your bed...." side.  Even my mom.

But I spend my days trying to get people the resources and help that they need, so I can't really shut that off when a situation presents itself so close to home.  But I can only open the door. My brother still needs to walk through it.

And here's a little tip: one should probably lay off the FB status updates with pics of nights on the town if they conflict with the tales of woe you are feeding your family members, who are also on FB.


But he's my brother. So how far do I watch him fall? How far is he going to fall? And more importantly, will that fallout hurt me? My family? Because when my brother feels helpless or frustrated,  that's when threats of violence emerge.  His reaction to feeling out of control is to regain some sense of control through intimidation. And as much as I claim that I'm used to it, these are the things that fill my mind on these days off work once D is asleep.

I hope this explains my silence. My absence lately.  I know these things will work themselves out.  I do.  M will find peace and, dare I dream,  satisfaction in his new role.  Or he won't.  My brother will dig himself out,  or he won't. And the world will keep turning and I will remember to be thankful for all of the things we have.  But right now,  I feel like I'm going through most days without my glasses,  and I can only see as far as the emotions in front of and around me.


Danielle said...

Oh, M. Much to say here, but it all falls under the heading of unsolicited input. Except for my amazement at the incredible walking 9-month old. Go, D!

As to the rest, of course your head is full. And I am sending you and M lots of love as you figure it out together. No matter what form it takes, D will know that his daddy made his decision with love.

Carla said...

Oh my! I so wish things will settle and improve. I don't know how things will work out and will be thinking of you until we get some message from you. Love to your family.

Heather said...

Family and major life decisions will get anyone down. I think you are right that your brother needs to sort out his own shit, but it sucks when worrying about him takes up so much of your energy. And M, well I kind of get his struggles. I hope he can hang with the new job for a year to see if things get easier and less anxious, but at the same time work shouldn't take over every thought. I wish him, and you, some much needed peace.

Walking? Seriously!?

Heather said...

Did it really take a week for this post to show up in my reader?

Barbara said...

This definitely falls under the unsolicited advice category. Definitely, and with apologies I'm going to stick my oar in/poke my nose in/stick my neck out.

It's great to have a well paid job but if it's breaking you or your family, what's the point? We have very little and frequently struggle with money but if it meant one of us had to be stressed and unhappy to be wealthier I wouldn't change any of it. Time and mental health are much much more precious.

Your brother. He's an adult? Intimidation and/or violence? He might stop falling if he sees there's no safety net?

Wishing you, M and D peace and love.

Barbara said...

And D! Walking??? Oh my!

m said...

Oh ladies, thank you all. Consider my post an invitation for advice/input. I wouldn't have written if I didn't want it. And I appreciate all of the things you are saying here.

@Heather - it didn't take that long to get to your Reader; it took me that long to hit "publish." I've been sitting on this one for a while. And in that short while, things have gotten a little better with M.

@Barbara, I agree. And I think M does as well. We've lived on little and been happy. The bulk of our expenses over the last 7 years have been towards baby-making. In fact, I feel decadently rich right now just not having those monthly expenses.

I am hoping that M soon understands what I believe to be true - if you are the boss, YOU dictate what your role should be. It doesn't HAVE to be 24/7. Give your staff defined roles and objectives and leave them alone to do them. Sometimes they will fail; sometimes they will really, really succeed.

I think part of (maybe most of) M's problem right now is that he feels he has to provide a safety net for everyone.

My brother is an adult. Age-wise. He is a grown ass man. And his rage is coming from the fact that none of us are offering the safety net he thinks is owed to him as family.

Walking! Seriously! just wait. I'll show you....

Carla said...

I don't know how this will add to the conversation, but here goes. I am a SAHM and my husband makes above average for the area we live. It would be nice to have more money coming in, but we live simply and get by fine. He is the senior person in his department and has been passed by SEVERAL times for promotions by people who have been there less time. Why? He has made it VERY clear that he is NOT interested in being a boss. At first, I did not know how I felt about that. Was it being lazy? I don't think so. I think he has the forethought to know what he wants. He wants to do things well, but his job is NOT his priority. His farm and family are. He does not want to be a boss to other people. He is fine with being a cog in the machine at work and more in control/more time available with his personal life/family/pleasures. He also knows I would mentally suffer if he was away/busier with his job. I initially do not seem to be high maintenance, but DO lean on him heavily for emotional support.
Hopefully, peace will come soon for you all.

Anonymous said...

First off.. man this sounds like a tough period (mixed with super D joy!!!).

I know first hand both living with anxiety (me!) and losing my husband to work now and then (no fun!). They say it takes 7-9 months in any new role to get into the routine of it and things get easier then. On the other hand, by then precedents are set. I like what was said about setting boundaries -- plus if your boss is working 24/7, the rest of the team feel like they have to...

Not sure if it is useful.. but that Quiet book and the Renee Brown books (The gifts of imperfections and Daring Greatly) were really relevant to me. Both spoke to the social anxiety and my introversion and my difficulty managing people in a way that made me feel hopeful.

Can you guys have a chat about what each of you needs at minimum to get through this first period of his new job role? If he could leave the job duties for a 20 minute walk each night? lunch together once a week? How much time does he need to disengage from work (my man sadly needs like 3 hours.. sometimes 3 days)? Do you just need signs that he isn't becoming your father about work? Do you need a deadline (6 months and then as a team you re-evalute whether this fits your family goals)? What would help him feel more balanced and alive? Can you have a friend over for beers/wine/fill_in_the_blank and get some joy and laughter in the house that he can join in for the few moments he can steal away from work?

Two of our good friends have a young kid, super intense jobs, and completely isolated from their social network. We see that when we visit they each keep working, but there is enough life in the house that as they each of them can join in to the ongoing fun. The company makes a huge difference in creating a gravitational pull away from work, without the work of having to get fun going, or a sense that 90% of the social support has to come from one person.

As for your brother.. .yeah, let him sort it out. I think M and D and you are where I'd put my energy :) Seriously, the FB post thing made me roll my eyes and nearly burst out laughing!

Sorry this is so long.. I wish we could go for a run tonight or I could come babysit and send you guys for a outing:) much love!!!!