They say it’s sometimes necessary to destroy before you can create. The act of leveling the old, creating bare ground, and building anew is true in the construction of a building, but in life we rarely have the luxury of starting over. Some problems don’t warrant simple solutions.
I’ve been going through a rough patch lately, and my life has taken some heavy hits. I know that I must rebuild and hopefully create something better. Looking toward the future, I see several areas where I need to develop in order to become the man I hope to be. I write this as a kind of therapy for myself, and I’m sure that several of these challenges aren’t unique to my life, so maybe some of you can relate.
I work in the construction industry in a large consulting engineering firm. Trained as a geotechnical engineer, I conduct soil collection and tests, and I give recommendations for foundational design. While I could rant for the entire length of this article about the company’s problems and the things they do wrong, it really wouldn’t change my situation in the slightest. Honestly, my company isn’t bad, and I am glad to be employed. My job keeps me outdoors most days (even in bad weather) and provides good benefits. I get to play with dirt.
On a very micro level, the problem with my job (not to be confused with my company) is that there’s little hope for advancement. I need my engineering license to proceed to the next level, and that requires passing a test I can’t pass due to memory problems. Furthermore, it’s difficult to see my children with my work hours. So how do I fix these problems?
While I am looking for jobs that have the same positives as my current job, few are hiring. Thus I’ve decided the best solution is to go back to school for a masters and a PhD in geology. I do enjoy playing in the dirt, but my true passion is mineral geology. Early in my bachelors, my college placed a strong emphasis on acquiring a background in geology, and went as far as mandating a freshman course in Geology 101. I was hooked, and I’m currently studying for the GRE with hopes of attending the Fall 2016 semester.
When I asked my wife out, I weighed 190 pounds. While there’s no confirmed connection between depression and weight gain or loss, my method for coping with stress has been to stress eat and binge watch Netflix. Attractive, I know. Additionally, the lithium I take has a side effect of weight gain. Put the binge eating and lithium together, and this explains how I’ve ballooned to 235 pounds. The weight gain has increased my depression, lowered my self-confidence, and made me very self-conscious. So how do I fix these problems?
Most people would say that I need to watch what I eat and exercise, and they would be right. Unfortunately it’s never that simple. Do I work out at home or at the gym? At home I have little motivation, as Top Gear on Netflix calls my name. The gym is a forty-mile round trip. My vote is the gym, despite the distance. Ultimately, it’s just a question of self-discipline and perhaps finding a workout partner. I know that’s always the answer for fitness… doesn’t mean I have to like it.
The full story of my fall from grace with my family can be found here. The important part is that I lost my family and have been trying to mend the damage for a long time now. The current situation allows me to see my kids as often as can be coordinated, which is whenever my wife and I find the time between our jobs. Another issue that plagues me is my in-laws. They’re very generous people who treated me with kindness when I deserved it the least. When I became unstable with bipolar II, they circled around their daughter to protect her from me. Now that I’m stable, I can only guess that they’re guarded and suspicious of me. I say “guess” because they have no interest in seeing me now that my disease is under control. Who could blame them? I treated their daughter with disrespect and anger, to say nothing of how I potentially endangered her.
To say that I’m at a loss for how to mend this on my own would be a huge understatement. I continue from a distance to try to be a good husband and father. I continue to talk to my wife, and I try not to push her towards a solution. The harsh truth of the situation is that this isn’t something that can be forced; it must flow naturally. If we rush in to heal the situation and we aren’t ready, one of us will end up resenting the other. As for my in-laws not liking me, I can’t do anything about that. That’s my wife’s fight, and I’m relegated to the sidelines.
Ultimately, these are the problems that I need to solve. I’m confident that, with a lot of work, I can move past them. In my opinion the best way to begin to fix all of these issues is to choose one and move to the next and through this build confidence with the first task to conquer the next. For example, my weight seems the easiest thing on my list to do something about. I can spend the time and put forth the effort to improve the way I feel about myself. This can help me build confidence to tackle my next problem: the job situation. In the end, improving any one of these issues will help me with my most significant challenge of reuniting with my family. Maybe I’ll come out of this stronger and find my life renewed, like a shiny new building that stands proudly where an old warehouse was once broken down.