The Burden of Being Upright, Part 2

by Bill Brenner on April 6, 2015

I’ve written a lot about the frustrations that come with trying to be a good man when you carry so much baggage. The burden of being upright is something we all carry, but it’s really been weighing on me of late.

Mood music:

This isn’t a pity party. But I’ve learned over the years that listing my issues and what I’m doing about them can help put them into perspective for me and can encourage others to do the same. The stressers in my life are not unique to me; it’s the kind of stuff every human being must deal with.

So what’s going on lately?

My father is bedridden and in a home, and my aunt — his sister — suffered a stroke and was unresponsive in the hospital for a couple of weeks. She’s responding a little now, but still. I’m not dealing with either of these things on my own, however. My sisters have been particularly awesome about communicating with my aunt’s doctors, and my stepmom has tirelessly seen to my father’s needs.

My frustration stems from the fact that I can’t do more. Living an hour away, traveling frequently for work and raising two young sons means I can’t drive to my father or aunt at the drop of a hat. This makes me feel guilty and failed as a son and nephew. Does my frustration square with reality? Probably not, but I feel it all the same.

Meanwhile, my depression was particularly brutal this past winter. And since the cold air and piles of snow are still here in April, I’m struggling more to come out of it.

I worry about not doing enough to keep the connection with my wife and kids going as strongly as it needs to be. As a result, some hang-ups have taken hold, the kind of stuff that comes from insecurity and is too personal to get into even here.

What am I doing about all of this?

I’m doing everything I can to move forward. I’ve played my guitar every day. I’m even taking walks most days — not yet consistently but more so than I have in a long time. And since I have a charity walk to prepare for, I’m going to keep walking.

My diet could be better, but I’ve managed to stabilize more than it has been in recent months.

I’ll keep plugging along with that stuff, and it’ll work. But it’s going to take longer than I want. That’s OK, though, because as long as I’m moving forward, I’m moving in the right direction.

face being punched by a boxing glove

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John F.J. Sullivan April 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Keep plugging away, friend, but also consider taking even a few days off of work (family leave isn’t restricted to childbirth, after all) and, if it’s something you’re interested in doing, spending at least some of that time with your father and aunt.

My late father and I didn’t have an ideal relationship (who does?), but I truly treasure the time I was able to spend with him in his most vulnerable season and, eventually, at the end.

I am obviously on the outside looking in, but my advice is to consider taking even a little time to focus solely on tending to this, rather than just having the stress and anxiety of the situation simmer (then boil) in the background.

John Cox April 6, 2015 at 9:49 pm

The things you describe doing are like the practice of the virtues — they are the upright actions that makes us more upright, one day at a time. Don’t stop doing.

jonee April 8, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Life is cruel. Death is inevitable.
Winter has been rough this year with my SAD. Monday was warmer and I walked then ran on the sand to the ocean water where the saltwater smelled wonderful – like I could breathe again. Staying in touch with nature always helps me (and staying away from sugar).
Don’t feel guilty, don’t carry the world on your shoulders. That was told to me and I pass it on hoping it’s good advice. I say give a lot to God to work on as it’s his world anyway, isn’t it. I pray a lot.

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