Thursday, February 26, 2009

How do you turn lemons into lemonade???

After feeling like my husband has had an affair for 15 years because he has been so focused on his career, he was "resourced" from IBM. Andy is a singularly focused guy and sometimes it felt like his only focus was on work. Everything else, including me and our plans for a family, were secondary. My winning argument was often, "If you focused on me as much as you do work, we wouldn't have any issues!"

Anyway, Monday was his last day at IBM. He was totally down on himself, feeling like he was a failure in life and struggling with the idea that his wife would be supporting him. He even felt like a failure at the Unemployment Office because after some bum advice, he found out that he wasn't eligible for unemployment until after his severance package terms were covered. I am trying to be the super supportive wife and let him talk through everything that is going on but as I mentioned before, Andy is a singularly focused guy. Lately, his focus has been on his shortcomings and failures.

I want to shake him and tell him to wake up! This is an opportunity for him to figure out what he really wants to do with his life! O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y...not the downfall of our life. To be honest, I'm jealous. I've been trying to get him interested in things that I would like to do like write a book or open a doggy day care/camp just so I could live vicariously through him! In his situation, I would write and spend time volunteering or taking classes just because I could. Or maybe going a whole different direction and go to cooking school. Or become a bartender. The possibilities are endless...for me. I have a list in my mind of all the things I want to do. I have passions I want to pursue at some point. I have dreams and ideas and fallback plans.

But, how do you get someone who is a glass half-empty kind of guy to fill that glass with lemonade? What are the magic words to tell him that he wasn't a failure and that the resource action (fancy term for lay-off) wasn't personal and was just a nameless business decision? How do you get him to have faith in himself again? And how much time do you give an individual like this to be able to moan and groan and relive his past? It is a very precarious line to walk between support and enablement.

I met with a friend today who is going through a spiritual journey and trying to find, well, basically himself. Stefan is young and single and doing well in his career. He's not hurting to meet women, not hurting for money, has a great job -- so whatever could be missing in his life? He took off this fall and travelled for three months in Asia. The culmination of his trip was a 10-day stint at a meditation camp in Thailand at a Buddhist Monastery. When he told me he was going to a Monastery my response was, "You???? Is this a joke???" And he told me today that a majority of his friends responded the same way!

At first he hated the rules and the schedules (4:30 am wake up call!) of his stint in the monastery. He didn't know how to meditate or how to get in touch with his real self. But each day he was able to see a little more of what his life's journey is and a little more of his real self. Instead of quitting (which he really wanted to do!) he took the challenge and stayed. I could see a change in him. Don't get me wrong, he's still the fun-loving German I met three-years ago but somehow he seems to have focused in on his purpose and a course for his life's journey. He doesn't want to wait and see, he wants to live and see!

Bill O'Reilly, media personality and Bold Fresh guy said in his latest book, A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity that he wakes up in the morning and asks what his purpose is every day and before he goes to sleep at night he asks what purpose did he serve each day. What Bill (and Stefan) have learned is that you can't skate through life. You've got to belly up to the bar, declare your purpose and go for it.

For Andy, he says he wants to focus on getting himself healthy -- going to the gym regularly, taking responsibility for his diet. He says he wants to be the "Domestic God" to take some of upkeep responsibilities off of my shoulders. I want him to believe that his purpose is taking care of himself and building our family (we are in the process of adopting an older child(ren) in the foster care system). He says the words, but I think I see some of the gleam wither in his eyes and I'm not sure he believes that his his purpose.

So I will try to be the spiritual guide, wife, #1 fan, nurturer, supporter (but not enabler) and hope that it is enough to teach him how to make lemons into lemonade. Sometimes life sucks and sometimes those sucky events just give you the kick in the pants you need to lead you to happiness!