Where We’ve Been: Seeking the White Picket Fence
September 20, 2016
We’re sick. Seriously. It took TWO HEART ATTACKS (his, not mine) – a direct result of crazy stress, crazy hours, crazy finances (and yes, smoking…ahem!), before my fiance Don and I realized that something about our lives was seriously broken.
Probably, I should have figured that out long before….perhaps when I started having weekly anxiety attacks, or when my perfect neighbor who lived next to my perfect house, in my perfect master planned community, started sneaking out his back window, so his wife wouldn’t realize that he had a whole separate household for his mistress a mile away…but I didn’t! I hadn’t recognized that being on the perfect track I was on, going from college to law school to an MBA program, buying my first condo at age 19 and my first house at 23, wasn’t going to make me happy. Neither was making more than 6 figures a year before I hit age 30.
My amazing, responsible, professional parents raised a self-motivated high achiever whose goals aligned perfectly with our consumerism-based society.
Don, on the other hand, took a more roundabout path. He worked for himself in a variety of fields, including running a BBQ restaurant and a telecom contracting company, before deciding just shy of age 40 that he wanted the steady income and benefits of a “real job.” So he happily climbed the ladder for several years, ultimately landing himself in a managerial role sitting behind a desk, living in spreadsheets and to-do lists. And worse, he was always willing to work overtime – whether or not he was paid for it, and even when everyone else was long gone for the day. He has a work ethic a mile long – that his employer was happily taking advantage of.
And then, a year ago, Don found himself in the hospital. In his early 40s, it took 3 days for the hospital to determine that he had definitely had a heart attack; and a fairly significant one at that. An angioplasty and a stent later, he took two weeks off and went back to work.
And three months later, he was back again. This time, it took four more stents to resolve the problem, and he headed to cardiac rehab for 12 weeks. When his employer fired him midway through that rehab for missing so much work (and yes, he was out on FLMA and disability), it finally occurred to us that maybe work WAS the problem.