What is a man to do?
I feel so much pain inside. Maybe I should not be writing this letter to you. Maybe it is a bad idea and will only piss you off. After all, I presume that no man wants to know their son is feeling this way. You and I don’t talk anymore and we have little to do with one another, and here I am turning up in your email with an email like this.
But I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where else to turn. I have no man in my life who I can talk to. I have no one to seek guidance from. I need a father to help me through this one.
I really don’t know what to do. Here I am on a Wednesday morning feeling like I am about to cry. But I won’t. I will hold back tears. I think I want to cry because it feels so painful inside. It really hurts dad. I am in so much pain. Ridiculous, right?
I mean, I have a nice life by most people’s estimate. I live in a nice home. I have all kinds of wonderful possessions. I am not a rich man but I don’t want to be a rich man. I have never wanted to be someone who makes much money. But I make enough money now to live a comfortable life. I want for nothing material. I can buy whatever I want (within reason) and this feels nice. I don’t have very expensive tastes so I don’t need much beyond clothes, books and records and food. But none of this takes away the pain. What the hell? I have a beautiful wife, dogs, garden, nice bed, my own writing and art studio- all the things I could of hoped for when younger. But these things don’t seem to arrest this pain.
Why? What is going on? I don’t understand?
My wife came in to give me a kiss this morning and I could not even face her. I asked her to go away. Like a cat who is dying, I want to be left alone. I don’t want to be seen like this. It has been happening too much. For too long a period of time. I don’t know how much more I can take before my body and mind breakdown.
What is a man to do dad? You are an older and successful man? Granted I don’t think you have found happiness either but maybe this can allow you to have some insight into what I am going through. Maybe you can tell me what to do because you now know what does not work?
Why am I starting to feel like a brat writing this? Maybe I just need to get it together and stop complaining. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with it. This is the American way right? Maybe I need to just stop feeling sorry for myself and snap out of this? Maybe. Maybe this is what a man has to do. Maybe this is just the way life in America is.
But my work feels bad. I feel like my work is making me sick. I do not enjoy it. It causes me so much pain. I struggle through each day filled with such uncomfortable anxiety. My chest gets tight and I struggle to breathe. I feel awful. Today I have a long day at work ahead of me and it feels terrible. I don’t want to do anything. I feel empty inside. I am just sitting here killing time waiting until it is time to get ready to go to work. I don’t have the energy to exercise. I don’t want to read or listen to music. It is hard for me to find fulfillment in anything. I feel empty and drained inside. This worries me but I don’t know what to do dad. Can you help me? Can you give me some guidance here? I don’t know where to turn.
I make good money from my job. I have the respect of others. It brings me a good amount of social legitimacy. It provides me with a decent material quality of life. You and I both know how down and out I once was. You and I both know how much I struggled to make a dollar and lived for years in impoverished conditions. But I did this because I did not want to sell-out. I did this because I did not want to go against what I felt was right and best for me. I did this because I knew that if I sold out I would feel like I do now.
What do I do dad? Do I just quit my job and find some other way to make a living that does not hurt so much? Do I commit myself and try and make a decent living at my lifelong dream of being a writer and artist? Do I really apply myself to living my dream or do I continue to let my dream die out? My work and everything I have to do to make money just drains the dream right out of me. Isn’t this what selling-out does to a man? It drains the life or the dream or the substance or the soul right out of him.
I don’t know what to do dad. I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. My poor wife. It is so hard to have all these wonderful things all around me but feel so bad. I do start to feel better on my days off. I feel this huge sense of relief but all I have energy to do is rest and recover from the drain of work. By the time I begin to feel better again, it is time to go back to work.
Maybe you don’t have any answers for me dad. That is ok. I have never felt like I have received much helpful guidance from you in the past. We have never really gotten along. You have always felt like I need to work a job (even if it is “flippin burgers”) and become a financially independent man like you. You have never really had much tolerance for all of my negative feelings about work and selling-out.
So I have done what everyone one else has told me I should do. I have done what everyone else around me seems to be doing. I have gotten a real job and am making good money. I have my own office and my own house. I am a financially independent man. I did good dad, right? But then why am I in so much pain? Why does this hurt so much? All these fucking bills and debts and things that I have to do to make a living and support myself in this society- it does not feel alright. Why does it not feel okay? What the hell is going on dad?
What am I supposed to do?
Maybe I should just go take a shower and get dressed. Maybe I should get out of my house and get to my office early. Maybe this will help. Just get out. I know that work today is going to be really hard and painful and unfulfilling but maybe I just need to get started with it. Stop sitting here dreading it. Two more days of work in front of me and then I can be free for a few days. I just need to get through this week. When I come home tonight I can look forward to drinking a bottle of good wine and just relaxing. This is it. This is all a man can do, right? Tell me dad, what the fuck am I supposed to do. How the fuck do I get out of this mess without losing so many of the things I love?
I don’t know what to do dad. Maybe I should not even send you this. I don’t want to worry you more than I probably already have throughout the course of your life. People tend to worry way too much about their kids, but I assume that it is because they do not want their kids to end up where I am right now.
I really don’t want to go to work. I really do not want to do all the things I am going to have to do. I really don’t want to do this. It hurts so much.
I hear a bird chirping. It is a beautiful sound. The sun is out. A fly is keeps running into my window. Silly fly. Maybe I just need to sit here for a little and pay attention to these things. Just watch the shadows on the wall. Maybe this is all a man in my situation can do? Just let go? Just surrender?
I know you don’t believe in that sort of thing. You believe that a man must tough it through. Just suck it up.
But this world of work really sucks dad. This is why I wanted my dreams to come true. I thought it could be a way out of this. I wish you could of understood this more dad and given me more support and less hardship. But that’s in the past now. That doesn’t matter anymore. I’m just going to sit here for a bit and listen to the bird chirp. Then I will go shower and get dressed nicely for work. I will spray on a lot of cologne. Maybe that will help to lift my spirit.
That is what you did, right dad? I remember your smell more than I remember your face.
Anyways, just writing this letter to you has helped. I don’t think I am going to send it now. What would be the point? I don’t think you could say anything that would help me anyways. I hope you are enjoying your winter vacation home and getting a lot of skiing done.
Thanks dad. Take care.