18 September 2009

Stress v Anxiety

If anyone has ever happened upon my blog, what you do know is that I always try and put myself out there, for better or worse. Let me stay true to that.

With apologies to our Fed Reserve chief, we're at or near the bottom of a pretty rotten economic climate. It's been bad since Q3 of 2008, and I don't expect it to get a much better for the US as a whole until Q1 2011. My logic is fairly simple: Fiscal 2011 budgets are being made now, and executives will remain conservative regarding headcount and budgets. Also, the policy curbs that company's have put in place regarding expenses and spending won't be lifted any time soon.

One of my strengths is to always see the glass as three-quarters full rather than half empty. It's gotten me through tough times when I was employed at large company's, and it's helped us weather big storms (including post-9/11, when no one wanted to talk to anyone about consulting for quite a long time).

This economic collapse, however, left me with my shorts at my ankles.

I blindly stumbled into a client that has kept me extremely busy since December. It has been a very good thing as we've had very strong billings since. But it also brought to light a big gap between my wife and me. This gap is kind of complicated, but let me explain it.

My wife I'm pretty sure is smarter than I am, and I like to think I'm very smart (she has a BS in Chemistry as well as a BS in Chemical Engineering). Once we had our boys, she decided she wanted to stay home with them. And she is a great mother who is a big help to the boys and to me. She does the finances for our company, helps with the new soccer club (now in its third season), as well as takes care of everything.

I've dutifully been the breadwinner who shields her from most stuff. She patiently let me go through my three years of being engrossed poker, both playing and blogging/writing about it. She then let me move onto starting the soccer club. As Summer approached, she was on to planning for the logistics of taking the boys here and there, etc. I started feeling more and more alone, and became resentful I think for the first time in our marriage.

It was a very difficult series of weeks. I was five hours away most of the time, and I was struggling with our relationship for the first time since we were married eighteen years ago. The few folks I confided in laughed that "...it took you this long..." For me, I became very concerned. I didn't want for us to transition into a new type of marriage, a new phase of our relationship.

I think that we've made it through the end of this tunnel. I know she understands where I am now and the risks there. We had a great meeting with our accountant (I've never really done that), and he actually helped frame what I'm going through. I've had my company for eleven years, and I'm basically still self-employed rather than having built a company.

We also had some tough discussions about my faith and our church. I don't feel connected there, and she has been very involved in a Discipleship group as well as in the Children's ministry. I think she went through a period of time where she felt I was broken and needed to be fixed. I definitely feel that I am broken, but I don't think there is one-size-fits-all way to cure me. Sara Groves says it like this in one of her songs, "I am just a seeker too, in search of God."

So anyways, as this big project comes to a close, the anxiety starts anew for me. It is a different class now, how do I capitalize on this, can I build a company that can sustain us? I seem to have talents and can do great things. Can I exploit these?

And can I find happiness and fulfillment through what I do for a living? That seems to be one of the macro-conclusions from my four years of poker and soccer, that I can't find fulfillment through my work and consequently dive into other things.

I don't know the answers. I'm hoping to post at the other blogs that I spent alot of money designing, but this will be our secret place if that's OK.


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