Defending Dads

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Escape from Purgatory

So many major life events have hit me in such a short time span that I found myself in what I recognize now to be a state of shock. I had so much to deal with that, often, I couldn’t deal with anything. Oh, I’ve had the occasional stretch of hyper-productivity, but it has been tough to sustain momentum due to the sheer volume and difficulty of responsibilities I face. For men of my age facing similar challenges, this situation is commonly referred to as a midlife crisis or adjustment disorder.

The path to self-satisfaction and long-term happiness begins with self-care; for too long now, I have put my problems before ME. I woke up this morning with the express intent to change that dynamic. This post is Step 1.

My first clues that I was going through something were feelings of extreme fatigue, physical weakness and constant hypervigilance. I would experience one or all of these symptoms at any given time. At home, I felt a creeping distance developing between my ex-wife and me for which I couldn’t identify a single, clear source. Alarmed by the possibility that, after years of struggling to build for myself and family a better life, I stood to lose it all, I resorted to online research.

I discovered a wealth of information from reliable sources that explains the midlife crisis and/or adjustment disorder and the best coping methods for dealing with them. I continue to follow the steps when I am motivated, but there are days when I simply cannot muster that drive. Then, there are days like today, when the quiet, indomitable spirit that has driven me from the streets of the Bronx to where ever I am today, peeks over the horizon like the New Mexico sun. Hope not only returns, it walks arm-in-arm with determination and ability. I am reminded that my struggle is not my own; I am rebuilding my life for the kids, too.

For the self-aware, a paradox of the midlife crisis is that, even with the help of a good supporting cast and the innate understanding that they have the power to pull themselves through with flying colors, they are also at times beset with self-doubt so crippling that they can lose sight of this. On such occasions, It can be comforting to lock one’s self in a motel room in a small town long enough to stop thinking; to give that over-worked brain a well-deserved rest. Once rested, the brain is better able to take stock of the situations at hand, prioritize them, concoct plans of action, then act on those plans. Direct, concerted action is the tunnel out of the prison of indecision, the purgatory constructed from the ruins of good plans gone awry.

I am doing serious introspection today, the kind I have avoided for weeks because I was so mentally exhausted from 4 years of sheer hell. I am going to re-examine all the obstacles to long-term happiness that I must overcome and figure out how to get ‘er done. Whatever life there is left for me to live, I will live it on my terms.

The path to self-satisfaction and long-term happiness begins with self-care; for too long now, I have put my problems before me. I woke up this morning with the express intent to change that dynamic. This post is Step 1.

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