I often beg people to be open and honest. It’s usually a struggle. It’s sometimes a boon of pushover easy peasyness. It’s not very often that I have to remind myself to do it, but occasionally I do. When I do stumble into those moments, those times that I would equate to beavers building an emotional damn out of fallen timber right there in my head, heart, and throat, it tends to come rushing out like a flash flood. Typically when that happens my openness and honesty destroy everything in their path. It’s ugly.
On the weekend I burned out and melted down a little. Burdened with actual tasks, obligations, and responsibilities, and mixed with presumed expectations, roles, and my own humble but often Gulliver sized ambitions, I kicked in the dam holding back all of that stagnant water and it burst forth a flood of irrational but sincere emotional detritus. When it was all over June was left clinging to a piece of floating floxum…not jetsam, but certainly floxsum.
I wouldn’t even know where to start save to say that trying
to be something is much more difficult than it is to actually be something. You can’t want to be everything to everyone and even come close to managing it. It’s impossible. And if you muddy the concept up with the notion that you’re probably a whole lot more than you give yourself credit for anyway, well, then all that effort and anxiety and inevitable disappointment will sink you. I’ve been very busy trying to be a lot of things and not paying very good attention to what I might actually be already.
I want to be an incredible Dad.
I want to be a stellar husband.
I want to be a good person.
I want to do meaningful work.
I want to be good at what I do…very good.
I want to orbit around a somewhat unique life.
I want to be better than I am at almost everything that I do.
Those are lofty ideas, and probably impossible to manage without dropping the ball here and there. So when I wake up worrying about my work day, and then watch for little Zedder’s eyes to open and get busy being a Dad when I can (some days she’s just not awake when I leave the house), and then actually get waist deep into my ugly day, and juggle all of…that
awful and amazing stuff…then hurry home to pick up Zed and find the Dad in me again… dinner, diaper, desperate hope that Zed is really digging Daddy that day…at least until Mom gets home at 6:30 or sometimes 7pm…and then want
to be there for bath time, and bedtime (less of late), and then dive into homework…by that time I typically don’t want to talk about money, or buying a house, or any number of endless other things. I just want 1+1 to equal 2. Holy Mother of Magglio Ordonez, I need to find some perspective in there somewhere.
I know that I’m a good father, and I’m certain that I’m a salvageable husband, if not one that requires very little maintenance…patience, sure, but maintenance, no. I know that I tackle very meaningful work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be reminded time and time again that I do it very well. Everything on my resume and in my memory serves as an example of remarkably unique choices, and most of that lends an air of being a decent person across the breadth of my life, but somehow, someway, even when I don’t have the time to breathe, I do manage to allow doubt and anxiety to slip into my schedule. I always seem to have time for that. And, of course, I don’t know whether it’s a by-product of all of my life experiences, or if it’s something I’ve just picked up in more recent years, but I never, ever feel good enough…not even close.
Compliment me and watch how I react…awkwardly. Assure me that everything is going to be fine, and I’ll almost always allow for the possibility that it won’t be. I tend to fill in the blanks with my own version of the story, almost as quickly as the real one unfolds. Call it a byproduct of the day job…insist that it’s a result of a life spent writing my own endings, in-betweens, and very often beginnings…but it’s something that allows ample opportunity for beavers to start building those emotional dams the minute my guard is down.
And so, although I know that I’m very likely better than I imagine myself to be…and although I’m reassured that it’s impossible to be all that I want to be, I’m still very much aware of the fact that on occasion I’m not so good at being the open and honest guy that I demand others to be with me, and then the dam bursts.
It burst on the weekend and June bore the full brunt of it (like a champ) without so much as a whisper of intolerance. If anything I may have broke her heart a little. I don’t look good unraveling. See, sometimes it’s all a little too much, and even my own reflection gets to be too impossible to stare at, and all of those reassurances of being the kind of person that I always wanted to be, just serve to remind me how impossibly hard that is. So after a brief stint in the world of “what-the-#$@%-was-I-thinking,
” more widely recognized as your run of the mill meltdown, I have stumbled back into a somewhat familiar rhythm of semi-conscious worry and anxiety over those things in my life that I can’t control. It’s what I do…and I’m good at it. Sometimes the dam bursts, and sometimes it needs to.
At least I'm not this guy
...nice parenting Ernest.