Success Is Too Expensive

My parents were very driven in everything they did. Their house was immaculate, my dad owned his own business and was quite successful. Both of my parents had very definite expectations of pretty much everyone. I think as a result of that, they didn't have many friends--not because they were unlikeable, but because people couldn't live up to their standards. Oh, and neither could I. I was an only child, which I didn't think much about as I was growing up, but later I learned that there are disadvantages to flying solo. I had nobody to bounce ideas off of, nobody to give me any tips or guidance, other than my well meaning parents. My dad loosely classified everyone as 'a worker' or 'not a worker'. As a pre-teen and teenager, I was 'not a worker'. I was too busy goofing off, having fun, and just being a kid (as I remember it). But the whole 'worker' classification system dug into my brain a little deeper than I thought at the time. To make a long story short, I spent the rest of my life, even after my dad died, trying to prove that I was a worker. I worked as many as three jobs at once, worked as much as 100 hours a week, and really (really!) gave 110% as they say. So...who do they think I am? I was a VP at a fast-growing company, after years of working myself to the point of exhaustion. I married a little late in life, (28) and didn't let marriage get in the way of my work, if you know what I mean. As someone with several hundred people in my 'organization' at work, many people viewed me as quite successful. Not bragging, really--in fact I enjoyed the work, and wasn't in it for the glory, just maybe for the money a bit, and to continue to prove to my dad that I really had what it took. So what I had (maybe) was conventional success. Corner office, liberal stock benefits, big budget, expense account. Swimming pool, movie stars. (not really) But I still didn't feel worthy, and I knew I was neglecting my marriage and my only-child daughter. But I'd find time to make that better later. Just to be clear, I wasn't completely neglectful of my daughter--I was involved in Girl Scouts, hardly missed a meeting. I helped my daughter with science projects, math homework, went bike riding with her. My wife, unfortunately I didn't find as much time for. Of course she had an affair in our second year of marriage (married now for 20 years), and I had trouble looking at her the same after that. I thought I could look past it, and I tried. Just couldn't make it the same as it was before. So back to the story. I had all the stuff. House, car, job, respect at work, maybe a little less at home. I think my dad even decided I was a worker. But about that time he got cancer. Then my mom got cancer. Then I got cancer. Then my dad died, my wife's parents both died, and my mom died--all within a relatively short time span. I didn't die--obviously--my cancer was surgically removed and hasn't come back, tho I'm still getting regular checks. My kind of cancer has an 80% recurrance rate. Where am I going with this? Success. I pretty much sold my soul to get it, and found out it wasn't worth it. The death and cancer snapped me to attention--the things I worried about the most were the least important. Too much work, not enough family. Of course, I was the sole wage earner for my family, so I was always worried about how we'd make ends meet if I lost my job. But, my success was one dimensional and meaningless. People at work who treated me with respect as a successful leader had no idea. And, in the wake of all my personal goings-on, things really fell apart at work. I couldn't focus, didn't care. I had a chance to volunteer for a hefty severance package and I jumped at it. So now, I'm separated from my wife for the past year. I'm seeing someone else, though I doubt anyone cares--I haven't had a normal relationship with my wife for over ten years. I keep wanting to try to put my marriage back together (now I have a job where I don't work all the time), but it doesn't feel right. She doesn't really like me, and we have no common ground aside from the very important common ground of our daughter (who's 16). I want to offer a piece of advice that cost me almost a lifetime to learn. A good job, a career--and a decent income IS important. Ask anyone who is between jobs or chronically under-employed about that. I've been there too. BUT--don't trade your family or your life or your sanity for some magic beans. It's not worth it. But I have a request too. How do you glue together a broken life like mine? I'm a Christian, so I read the Bible and the message seems to be so focused on not making mistakes in the first place. Too late for me. I'm married to a woman who threw me out a year ago, too guilty-feeling to file for divorce, but not at all happy in my present situation. I have a lady friend who is very supportive, but I don't want to get in too deep with her without getting divorced. And I think the question is really broader than that anyway. I don't even like myself--not the least little bit. For what I've done to myself, for what I've done to my family, all of it. Any suggestions?
russ56 russ56
51-55, M
7 Responses Jun 16, 2007

Well, there is no way you can change the past, you can only look at what you've been through and see the value of what these experiences have taught you. Your story is both sad and amazingly powerful. It seems like you have experienced an incredible wake up call. Now it is time to move forward and create the future that resonates with your psyche. No guilt, shame, or blame, those are all useless. Mistakes are lessons in disguise. We all make them. I think you're judging yourself too harshly. The Universe / God is infinitely benevolent, you need to forgive yourself, that's who you're at war with!

I feel your pain. Although I'm the Mom that left when 3 were grown but one I left at home. I too had been ignored until I felt like I was just one more appliance. Work gave me what I thought was a feeling of contentment. I was wrong. Now I cant afford to divorce, there is an entire continent between us now but my Son is in the home he knows, it's just with a new appliance who's been there almost the entire time I've been gone. These last 6 years have been HELL. So now, with only a career to feed Me I realize just how much family and friends do mean. I'm too far from them to reconstitute any of it. My suggestion to you is move on. God doesnt want you miserable or guilty. Both are negative and do not wear well as you know. Rebuild a life with someone who loves you and dont forget the mistakes made in the past. With time and communication you'll be you again.

I want to tell you that the first step to getting the right prescription is to diagnose the problem correctly. <br />
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Now you know what went wrong in your life and you need to seek what to do right. Guilt is not healthy! Let it go! Forgive yourself. <br />
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Once you let go of the guilt you can truly move on to your new life. You should let your wife go so that you can grow whole and make new decisions without the weight of her hanging in the shadows.<br />
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Best of luck to you!

How could you know what a family is if you didn't have one? Why would you spend time with your family, when they didn't spend time with you when you were growing up? It's not your fault. You are not alone. It has, and is happening to many families who only occupy the same dwelling. Many people work two jobs to maintain a moderate lifestyle. Some have given up on a relationship and work more to avoid it. Nobody can argue if you tell them you're too busy and have to work. Work is the perfect excuse for not living.

Errr... that would be "daughter". Geez... I speel gud. *sweat*

Russ... I certainly know how hard what I am about to say is to accomplish... and you have probably heard it all before, which I apologize for-but you must forgive yourself. The only way we can move on and learn to love ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are is to be able to forgive ourselves... and practice it on a regular basis. We all make mistakes. While some mistakes may last a longer time span, that does not make them any less forgiveable. Honestly, as far as your daugher goes, you have done more with her than many, many dads. I suggest finding something, something you can do that allows you to let go of who you are and allow yourself to breathe mentally. (I dance and paint-but there are so many different choices out there ;D )Give your heart and mind a break through this activity often, and then come back to deal with working on forgiveness. I wish you all the best-my heart goes out to you.

wow, you've really experienced life - even if you believe 'part of it' only. so i don't know what good my suggestions will do. but, will do my best. okay, here goes:<br />
i think you really need to learn to like yourself again. and when you've done that, maybe love. because i think that your problems won't really be resolved whatever you do unless you learn to trust yourself, and forgive yourself for "disappointing yourself". if you keep kinda hating yourself, it will probs affect your choices, subconsciously i mean. in yoiur head, you'll keep thinking that you don't deserve this or that or love or a fresh start, etc. so i think that's the root of it. maybe when u feel like you can forgive yourself and trust yourself, you can make decisions on the other parts of your life so that your life is happier. and for a start, i think that you shoudlnt beat yourself up so much about your decisions. everyone makes mistakes, big whoppers adn little slip ups, but you seem to have at least reached out to your daughter - "I was involved in Girl Scouts, hardly missed a meeting. I helped my daughter with science projects, math homework, went bike riding with her". thats more than some dads ever do for their daughters. <br />
i must admit though, i feel a bit like a hypocrite for saying this, bc i don't totally like myself either...but i guess its all in the effort you make. <br />
so, there's nothing more to add for my 2cents worth than GOOD LUCK!

I know how much of a pain life can be but don't give up. There will be a moment that it will all make sense, just give it time ok? I have been through every aspect of life and I know that life will be hell that it goes to great then back to hell. It has been so since I existed. Of course. if you wanted to enjoy only your life and only that then revel in in this make the felling so strong that it is the only thing you feel. But that has yet to be a permanent solution of me so it's not good for me but you has a very slight chance of working in the long run. try other things first my idea is for people who live a long time.