Not Yet Fully Set

My friend Seth Clifford has written an articulate piece on how we become defined over time as humans.

We all have our own issues that we are facing that cause massive amounts of stress. Not all of us share them publicly. Some of us choose to eschew the issues instead of facing them.[1] Anticipating issues, enduring the stress, and returning to a state of stability make us who we are. The analogy Seth used in his post is perfect:

It’s like breaking a bone: it’ll set, it’ll heal, and you’ll go back to the way things were, but it won’t ever be exactly the same. … but there are small variations and flaws that weren’t there before.

The notion that we as human beings are flawed & broken is something that we as a society struggle with often. Both conventional and social media can paint pictures of the perfect life, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth: life can be rough and smooth, amazing and cruel, and/or any other set of dichotomies that come to mind. What causes you to struggle may cause others to thrive. Perseverance in the face of adversity can define you just as much as a life full of stress fractures. Once we have been broken, we work on healing; but – for better or worse – we aren’t the same.

I personally have at least some level of stress on a daily basis in my life. I constantly have people and projects to juggle, at both work and home. At times, I feel very broken, ill-equipped to handle the stress; I just want it to go away. I feel like I am a huge letdown to those around me, and feel like giving up. But I’m an adult[2], and I don’t have an option to give up. I have to remain confident and steadfast in the wake of the emotional collapse that stares me in the face. An important point:

At times like this, I try to remember that all those bones I’ve broken have made me the person I am today, and I’m (mostly) pretty satisfied with how I’ve “set”.

We must endure getting “broken bones” from time-to-time along the journey and hope that in the end, we’ll end up ok. We will heal, and that we can endure the next challenge. Perhaps now that we’ve broken a bone once, we know how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.[3] We might not be able to protect ourselves from other breaks, but we will be better equipped to handle the recognizable stresses in our lives.

I’m really thankful that Seth shared what he did; I’ve been thinking about the same thing for a bit now myself, but hadn’t yet shared how I felt. Sharing anything personal can be unnerving, but can also be immensely helpful to others; judging from the responses to his post, he’s not alone, which means neither am I. Having these conversations allows us all to grow, help ourselves, and help others.

Personally, I am slowly getting more self-aware, happier with where I’m headed and can look back at what I’ve endured with both humility and pride. I’m not yet fully set, but I can see the cast coming off soon; I look forward to when I can start down the path of rehabilitation towards the goal of healing. This is all just part of my journey in becoming more human.

  1. An important aside: you will occasionally find yourself needing some outside help. Talking about your stresses is a wonderful thing, whether it be with a close individual in your life or a professional. We aren’t in this life alone, and you shouldn’t endure it without having a support structure. There is zero shame in needing support to heal. If you feel like you cannot handle the stress, I urge you to reach out to someone you trust and get the appropriate help you need.  ↩
  2. really a big kid  ↩
  3. at least not the same way  ↩

Diaper Changes Man

When the actuality of having my son happened, I’m not sure if I was ready. As my parents would say: you’re never ready. And then there are the diaper changes. Lots of them. And as time go on, they say it gets fun. But they are full of shit. They are a workout, a martial art (BJJ – Baby Jujitsu), and often very difficult. But they can also be great bonding times with your kid, your other kids who help, your wife, etc. And given a nice changing area, all ends well hopefully without many messes other than in the diaper…

Since having my youngest, I have noticed something that infuriates me. I have become aware of something that though small, shape our culture and how it perceives men.

Many times my family & I have gone out, be it to a store or a restaurant, and have had the need to change our son. This is a common occurrence, as it is for many others in that situation. A majority of the time, I see the child passed to the mom, and then the mom whisks the child away to get changed. But why is it always the mom?

Men have that responsibility too, as they should. We don’t live in a world where dads are the “head of household”. It is not beneath a man to be a parent. So it goes without saying that a man should change their child from time to time. And this should be easy, except for one thing:

There is hardly ever a changing station for men.

I can recall twice when there has been one. Most times there isn’t one. And after my last experience with the “golden arches”, sometimes there are NONE. Changing stations not only make it easier for the parents, but it makes it easier for everyone else around. It gives them the privacy to not have to look at that crap. (Yes, pun intended…) I have a few times now spoken to the managers of establishments, urging them to have a station installed. The responses vary from “there’s one in the ladies restroom” to “it isn’t my decision”. These answers are both unacceptable.

What about single dads? What about dads that are taking care of their kids while out? What if the dads out there are giving their wives a fun day out while they take the kids? There is no option for them. There is only the grass, the car, the floor, etc. No matter how you look at it, there isn’t thought put in for fathers, and that is a shame.

So to the store & restaurant owners out there, spend the money and think of a dad’s need. Make it so that we can care for our children. Make it so that we have the same access to conveniences. Don’t give us places to change diapers, but rather a place that we can help change the perception of men. Help men be better fathers. Help men change diapers, so diapers can change men.

One Year Later

A year ago today, my life changed forever. I had gone through a few years of a personal hell, but I didn’t realize it. There were a lot of events that took place to get me to this point, and something that I will write about (and post <a href=”>here) later.
I sat at the hospital, prepped for my right adrenalectomy, uncertain of what the outcome would be. My family and doctors told me that my life would be different; not just different, but noticeably different. I can honestly say that I didn’t think any of them were right. I was hopeful that they were, but I really didn’t believe it at all. I had a lot of time to allow my mind play out what would happen (as I like to do); all I was worried about was waking up after the surgery and my heart stopping for the 5th time. I had put my family & friends through enough, and I didn’t need to add stress to them with something bad happening. I vaguely remember things after, up until I was in my room for a while.

The next day, I was feeling better. “Drugs do amazing things,” I thought to myself. Other than some gas from the laparoscopic procedure, I was feeling fine. I was able to get up & not have a code called on me. Progress.

The rest of my stay (on my birthday) was spent with family and the wonderful nursing staff who took the time to walk with me. All said and done, I was in on Thursday afternoon and was going home Saturday morning. Looks like things were ok for now, though I was still scared of what could happen again.

It was Saturday afternoon that I really noticed: I was feeling great, amazing in fact. It wasn’t a small change, it was very noticeable. I wasn’t feeling sluggish. I wasn’t feeling depressed. I wasn’t stuck in this fog of despair and self-pity. I was seeing life more clearly and it was beautiful.

Life has been improving ever since. I’m down to the smallest dose of one blood pressure med; I was on 5 meds at the highest dosages before. My blood pressure is perfect now; it was 170+/110+ before. My potassium levels were back to normal. Small things that would keep me angry and pissed at everyone & everything either didn’t bother me or were short-lived. Everything was getting back to a “normal” state, though I had no idea that this was life as it should be lived.

A week after the surgery, my wife & I found out that we were going to have a baby. I was able to care for her through the rough 9 months (what a courageous woman she is — I truly admire her for it). I am able to care for my family now and care about them in ways that weren’t possible before. I am present. I am happy. And by removing part of me, I am becoming whole.

I am so thankful that I have the best wife, parents, family, friends, and doctors I could ever hope or ask God to graciously give to me. They put up with all of my shit, all of the stress, and help me figure out what was wrong and fixed it.

This past year has been this amazing start of a transformation in my personal life, and I look forward to what my future holds…