Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sometimes I feel very ill-equipped to cope with the challenges facing our family right now. Like everyone else in the world, we feel the pressures of the worsening economy as well as anxiety over our new government's ability to offer relief to those who need it most. My employer has taken some strategic steps to avoid layoffs, which has lessened my worries over my job in the short term; however, when my group's primary mission is to drive sales within the corporations whose names continue popping up in the headlines (for all of the wrong reasons), I can't help but feel apprehension over what 2009 will bring. I am a man who works to live rather than one who lives to work; I try to maintain balance between my professional life, my family life, and my personal interests, particularly my activity in church, and so far this year, my professional life keeps trying to encroach on the other two equally important areas. Maintaining balance at this time is critical for me and for my family; we made it through the crucible of our first holiday season without Peter only to find ourselves facing his birthday, the anniversary of his baptism, and the anniversary of his death coming up on March 11. I rely just as heavily on my family to help me cope with such solemn milestones as they do on me, and as the world and the demands of earning a living continue to pull at my attention, steal precious time and drain my emotional reserves, I often feel spent, irritable, distracted and ineffective at the tasks I need to perform each day. I feel my anger and resentment increasing, I lose patience with myself and others more easily, and I find myself forgetting important details that sometimes come back to haunt me. I have no easy answers for this situation, but I do know that I can probably expect more of the same before things begin to improve. Peter's death is less than a year behind me, and I still find myself thinking of him constantly. I miss him so bad that I ache inside, and the weight of sadness that I feel at times feels overwhelming. It seems like the rest of the world has moved on, yet our family continues to labor daily with sadness and heartache; although the pain isn't constant, the moments, minutes or even days when it descends upon us are exquisitely intense. At this very moment, I feel a dark gloom hanging over my head, and I find at times like these, the only way to dispel it is to write about it with as much clarity and honesty as I can muster. It feels totally unfair that I have to contend with the day-to-day drudgery of earning a living, dealing with the relentless demands of corporate America and its dispassionate profit-driven sensibilities, when I feel like I'm suffering from emotional autism. I simply can't tune out the noise. I vacillate between wanting to be embraced and wanting to be left alone. My focus and my concentration is challenged at best, non-existent at worst. During my company's sales meeting this past week, I dreaded each meeting, each breakout, each banquet because I knew that the caring people with whom I work would each ask how our family was coping with Peter's death, yet at the same time I drew strength from the fact that they cared enough to ask. I have people who rely on me, and I don't want to let them down; however, I know that I'm not the same person I was two years ago. Discovering the dimensions, the contours, the limitations, and the capabilities of the new and evolving me will take time, trial and error, yet it doesn't seem like the world is interested in affording me the time I need. It's all very confusing, and I can easily get carried away in feelings of hopelessness. It's at times like this that I need to remember that, although I am weak, I can draw unlimited strength from above if I remember to humbly ask for it. I think that's why we're still moving forward in spite of the confusion and uncertainty we face each day, both from the chaos of the world and from the strong emotions related to our grief. Tina just reminded me that all we have to do is make it a day at a time; we don't need to worry about next week, next month or even next year when the emotions start to unravel and the world rears its ugly head to steal our peace of mind. All we need to do is concentrate on today and let the Lord take us by the hand and lead us through the challenges of the here and now. I pray that we can do that and appreciate the peace we have been given.