This Wasn’t Part of the Plan

by Bill Brenner on July 26, 2016

This is the first in a series of posts about navigating through the unexpected. It’s based on experiences I’ve had since my father’s death last year. I’ve tried to follow the words of Winston Churchill, who once said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

I’ve had shitty years before — 1984, when my brother died, the year following my best friend’s suicide in 1997, and 2004, when another close friend died and I came closest to an emotional breakdown.

I can’t say 2015 was the worst year I’ve ever had. But it was pretty damn shitty all the same.

My aunt and father — siblings — died within a week of each other after long illnesses. I inherited the task of closing out the family business, which included the responsibility of trying to sell a building that’s mired in a costly environmental cleanup. That, in addition to the already full family life and career I have.

I had spent my life running from the family business. I had built my own successful career. Now the whole crumbling enterprise was on my shoulders, and there was no escaping the responsibility. But I wasn’t about to quit the career I’d worked so hard on. So I doubled down, and 2016 has been about learning to make this new equilibrium work.

Because of the cleanup, I decided to hang on to the building and lease it. I moved into my father’s office and determined that I could do my real job from there and keep an eye on the place without having to keep driving between offices for crisis control. So far, so good.

It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve learned more about business and the legal system this year than I ever expected to. Having the office doesn’t suck. And the fact that I haven’t fucked it all up yet is a sizable confidence booster.

At one point in my life, I thought I had already faced all the big tests, passing them one by one until about the time I started this blog six-and-a-half years ago.

Looking back at the posts I wrote that first year, everything was about how I had brought all the demons to heel: facing down fear and anxiety, learning to manage an addictive personality, and so on.

What I wrote was genuine, and I’ve continued to hold true to a lot of the older lessons.

But the test is never over. Now that I know that, the next several posts will delve deeper into the new challenges.

Stay tuned.

If you’re going through hell keep going Winston Churchill

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