Monday, April 16, 2007

The Broken

On an unrelated note, Angie's got a very real, very candid, post up about her own racism and prejudice and that of others. Please check it out: click here.


The Story.
I believe in the power of a break. I don't mean those 15 minute power-naps I take to help get me through the medically-induced daze of most days. I'm talking about the recuperative potential of having something broken, damaged, or ended - with or without your consent. It's not always pleasant, but it often leads to very positive things.

In the literal sense, I've heard of metal that gets melted down, then reforms harder and stronger than ever. Weight-lifting is the breaking-down and rebuilding of tissue.

In a more figurative sense, I'm reminded of the end of high school when people are so ready to move on to the next phase of life where they can reinvent themselves, becoming the "me" they've always wanted to be. I think of relationships that ran their course, then died a natural death. It hurt, but, in time, I usually realized that it was for the best (and, in some cases, that it never should've been). But that relationship almost always lead to better relationships, probably for both parties. Leaving one job usually leads to a better idea of what you want and need in a workplace environment (or a financial/benefits package) and sometimes to getting just that.

It seems like it often takes a breakdown or a break-up to build-up and get better. Below, are some recent examples from my own life:

The Breaking.
I've changed somewhat over the past few weeks. I've encountered a number of challenges and difficulties - physical, emotional, personal, and professional. They whittled me down to the core, but then I healed and I'd like to think that I've come back stronger than before (or at least well on my way there).

The Body.
I got sick. Really sick. And, while I'm not completely better, I'm much, much better than I was a week or so, ago. I'm trying to eat better and plan on taking vitamin supplements as my loved-ones have suggested for years. Even the unresolved issues have resulted in my having a better understanding of and approach to the insurance and medical system in this country. I didn't get everything I wanted out of them, but I'm now armed with valuable knowledge about how the processes work (or don't), the right questions to ask, and how much more aggressive I'm prepared to be when dealing with these insurance, medical, and dental organizations.

The Heart.
Emotionally, it was all very frustrating because, like a lot of people, I've certain long-standing and even chronic medical concerns. There's been pressure from my employer to do things and go places that aren't, from my perspective, worth my time. As a direct result of having agreed to their near-demands, I spent a day exposed to a trainer, an organizer, and a receptionist who were all sick with who-knows-what... and one or more of them gave it to me. That was highly unfortunate since, with me, one type of sickness usually leads to another and so on. Those health concerns combined with the challenges of the journey (i.e. getting lost in DC and Virginia), getting profiled, pulled over, and searched by the cops on I-85 in North Carolina, and the fact that I spent a great deal of the subsequent sick days without much lonely (except for my mom's dog, who's now my best buddy) and unable to get the medical care I needed... well, let's just say it was an emotionally draining time, for me, which resulted in my becoming a bit more of a hard-ass, to the delight of few, I'm sure. If I was an asshole before, consider me to be an enlarged, flaming colon, now. Luckily (or not), it's the kind of assholery that fits snugly within the confines of my conscience.

The Work.
Work has been a trial in more ways than one and now it sounds like it may even get worse before it gets better. I don't feel respected in the ways that matter most to me, but my work ethic demands that I maintain and even raise my own professional standards of productivity and interaction.

While dealing with poor management planning and decision-making I'm also somewhat burdened with the repercussions of their action and inaction. If nothing else, though, this cements my confidence in my own decisions and abilities. I know who I am, professionally, now, better than I ever have before and I'm comfortable with him. I've planted seeds and taken steps to better my situation, while also practicing patience as I wait to reap the benefits of those actions. I know that my day will come and that I will be a more well-rounded and well-prepared professional - one with a better grasp of my own boundaries, limitations, and aspirations.

The Personal.
Some of my interpersonal relationships have suffered blows in recent times. The highs are too often followed by very deep, very dark lows. It's a hard time that's not fully passed, yet, but it's one that I feel I've waited out and tried to address in various ways. I don't take lightly the impact and responsibilities of cutting someone off and how one goes about doing that, but I'm not going to let those concerns freeze my limbs into a numbing state of inaction. The poisonous, needlessly combative, or endlessly draining and unfruitful elements of my life need to be changed or they need to be purged. No one can make that happen but me and I feel more prepared than ever to tackle what has been and probably will continue to be a very sad, difficult, and painful job.

The End.
I don't know how any of these things will ultimately end up, but I know that I'm more than eager to tackle these challenges head-on with the strength, conviction, confidence, and wisdom that my younger self marveled at and closely associated with adulthood, with manhood.

I believe that it took being bent and nearly broken to energize and awaken what I hope is a better me than I've ever been. A better man than I've ever been - and still trying to get better. That doesn't mean my journey is over, but it's one of those milestones that I just had to take note of.

I welcome your questions and comments.


Miz JJ said...

I can relate to large portions of this post. You are very introspective and I think that will serve you well during this time. I hope you are able to take time to heal yourself both physically and emotionally.

B. Good said...

I wonder if it always has to be that way. Must we be broken, in order to be better? I wish there was some way around that, but I'm afraid that there isn't. It seems that we must make room for new fruit to grow, and that means breaking the monotony of what currently exists. I guess if we can accept this, then we won't fear "the breaks" as much, and we can take the time necessary to heal them properly, rather than rush into a quick, yet unsettled, fix.

West said...

Thanks miz.

b, I dunno if we *must* be broken, but it's funny how often it seems to work out that way.

Angie said...

Sometimes we have the feeling we're being broken - in truth we are being bent. The "bending" forces us to stretch and grow. It makes us limber, and opens our lungs to take in more oxygen. It offers us a different perspective by changing our vantage point.

Go with the bend, don't fight it. You'll spring erect again, in time.

Beef mug said...

I've been going through some personal trials myself and found a very good book called "Overcoming Life's Disappointments". It's by a Jewish Rabbi who looks towards the story of Moses as inspiration as to how to put life's disappointments in perspective and how to grow because of them. Highly recommended.

chele said...

Usually, when I have one trial after another like this I try to ask myself, "what am I supposed to learn in all this?"

Sometimes I receive a profound revelation which leads me to a more positive direction. Other times I get nothing. It's a crap shoot.

Take care of you!