Work, Sleep, and Moral Quandaries

Last week I was supposed to be on vacation. I didn’t actual drive around like a normal week, but I did handle a lot of work related crap each day. I have a number of bad hard problems created by my employer that put me in ethical quandaries that are simply trumped by my financial reality. This makes me sick. I feel like I am selling my soul, but in this economy I don’t feel like I have much choice. The mortgage is due the first of every month and my child meets me at the door each night ready for dinner. The bank man needs to get paid and the boy needs to eat. It is no more complicated than that. Except it is. Much more. “Golden handcuffs” was the term used to describe my circumstances. If only. If they were made of gold I would not be transferring money from savings each month to pay my bills. More like copper or tin handcuffs. Just enough value to keep me off the street.

I find it interesting that the sign indicates these things are all in different directions.

Interestingly while on vacation sleep was not a problem for me. I hadn’t actually escaped the problems, but dealing with them was my choice. It was simply me trying to do my best to get my customers what they need through the financial chaos and mayhem of the company I work for. Monday nigh, after my first day back on the road, I slept fitfully on and off throughout the night. Last night I had the same trouble. Slow to get to sleep, and when it came it only offered a brief respite from the tossing and turning. The awkwardness and tension of the past nights has left me with pain in my upper back and shoulders. It hurts to breathe which is interesting because that means it is literally painful to be alive. How apropos. If this keeps up maybe the soup line is a better option.

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4 thoughts on “Work, Sleep, and Moral Quandaries

  1. I read into your post that things feel pretty shitty for you. Life is tough for men who must provide for their families and just suck it up and carry on, even when times are tough — full of stress, depression, insomnia and anxiety.

    My husband is in a similar situation and gives me a few clues that he is miserable but I certainly don’t offer much support. He tells me his job is not satisfying. He wishes he could retire and jokes (or is it?) that he could retire right now if he wasn’t married. When I told him my antidepressant improved my mood, he off-handedly said, “I don’t take a magic pill that makes me feel better. I live depressed.” He tells me he is exhausted and isn’t sleeping well and wakes at 4:30 every morning. No wonder he falls asleep in his easy chair after dinner every night.

    I hear you expressing similar sentiments and I feel for you, him and all of the men who must keep going despite the fact that everything feels difficult. I know there are good things in your life in my husbands and other men who work their butts off but I recognize being the man of the house is a huge burden.

    This is why I like your blog so much. You are honestly telling the story of what it’s like for a guy to suffer depression and anxiety. My husband hates to read (except technical stuff) and he hates writing. He can do both but doesn’t like to. You, my friend, are gifted in being able to express yourself. And you are expressing what it is like for many men who have wives, children, houses and a job they don’t like.

    No magic words except you are inspiring to me — I like your blog very much. Keep on writing.

    –Daylily

    • Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. You are right in that things are pretty shitty right now. I am holding my own with mood and anxiety, but there are a bunch of external pressures that are wearing me down. I am in a financial prison, which is no different than millions of folks and could be much worse, but nonetheless it is not where I want to be. My pain in the ass neighbor cant seem to take no for answer and all that silly B.S. is being rehashed again. I am tired and sometimes just wonder what “right” really is.

      • Financial issues can be very draining and I thought that neighbor dropped the whole issue. Sometimes stress comes at us from all angles and never seems to let up. I hope you are getting a tiny break over thanksgiving weekend. –Daylily

  2. I don’t know if I ever received an email notifying me of your post! I just happened to visit here to see if you’d posted…I bet my new phone ate it–the email, that is. Not that this matters…

    I know of which you speak. We are in a similar position. I don’t think my husband loathes his job–well, he isn’t enjoying it, and he is in the middle of interviewing for a new position elsewhere. But, we are awash in medical bills, and I’ve managed to pay the mortgage late every month for 6 months in a row due to Peter borrowing from Paul to pay…Wells Fargo. Yeah…it’s fabulous. It’s so stressful that I feel like I have a hole in my stomach, and my husband isn’t sleeping well at all. His hands and feet are sweating all the time, and he walks around making this weird sucking sound when he inhales through his teeth while he rubs his abdomen–stomach acid. STRESS. His back hurts. My head hurts. It’s not exactly what you imagined when you were a kid, is it? Life as an adult…Nope.

    All this is to say that you are not alone. It feels this way particularly at this time of year. The consumeristic orgy is upon us, and the pressure is suffocating. We, too, are in a financial prison, and my husband and I hate it. I have hated it for years. I have fought it for years. It feels pointless sometimes. To ALMOST break free only to be pulled to the bottom again with some other crisis. You have your neighbor. I have the school board. Entities that seem to have no sense of what is truly appropriate or integrous. Self-interest. That’s the motivating factor, and it doesn’t matter the cost. A neighborhood. A family. The peace of mind of one man or even a street. The education of one child. The education of a school district. The educational futures of one…or even many. It can eat you alive if you let it.

    What is “right”? Context is everything. What is wise…what is even cunning…what is integrous…what is ethical…what is the one thing you can’t do? That one thing that would keep you from looking at your own reflection in the mirror?

    Daylily is right in that the pressure that men feel to provide for their families is fierce. I often remember that line from “Parenthood” when Steve Martin’s character says to his wife, “My whole life is have to.” I sometimes feel much like that, but that’s cynicism. And, I won’t go there. In the midst of all this….I could choose paralysis or something else. There are things that face you now, but they are not certainties. That neighbor isn’t immortal, and she’s a devil that you know, as they say. There are some very wonderful certainties in your life–you have a son whom you love. You have a wife whom you love. And they love you.

    I’ll close this epic comment out with this. I’m in one of the more stressful seasons of my life, and my therapist has little to say to me right now. What can be said? She did say this: The one thing that is certain is that I will fight for my daughter ’til the bitter end. She can count on me to fight for her until the day I die. That is a certainty. Money? School boards? Nothing is certain there. My presence and tenacity? Certainty. And there is comfort in that. I know what I’m made of. You? I imagine that you would fight for your son and even your wife. There’s honor in knowing these things about ourselves. You are made of stronger stuff than the things you’ve written of in this blog–depression and anxiety. You’re made of loyalty, honor, strength, and love. Money can’t buy that. The greatest job in the world can’t guarantee that.

    To me, that’s the man I’ve come to know in reading your blog. Don’t let your circumstances and present disappointments blind you to the marvelous person you are…You’ve got what it takes. Always have. Always will….

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