01 Feb Thank you for breaking me
You were born to change the world.
I hated that. My world wasn’t perfect; in fact, it wasn’t even good. But human survival is based on our need for the status quo. This is true even when ‘business as usual’ is slowly drawing life out of us, second by second. We walk happily forward, somehow able to forget the fact that passing time is another way of describing death.
My life, a wise man once said, is measured out in coffee spoons.
You took all that away from me.
And I hated that.
The fear of caring for an entire human – and a helpless infant human at that – shook me to my core. I was so much more afraid of facing you than – well, anything – that nothing frightened me.
There’s no fear of getting fired once you’ve already quit. So I walked into my boss’s office at the box factory and told him that I was worth more than he’d been paying me. I also explained exactly why he’d been losing money. Spoiler: he was just as afraid as I had been of facing himself and making difficult decisions. I’d known it for quite some time, and had been afraid to tell him.
He promoted me on the spot.
The bump in pay was completely neutralized by preparing for you.
Dorothy wasn’t ‘the one’ for me to marry. We both knew it, and we were both afraid to let go.
Then she told me that she was pregnant, and that I had to marry her or leave. You denied me the opportunity to stay comfortably afraid to move.
So we accepted that we weren’t ‘the one’ for each other, but that the idea is probably based on a fantasy anyway. We embraced what worked between us, we accepted what didn’t, and we moved on together.
I had never realized just how much time I spent doing nothing. Internet chat rooms, watching TV, hitting the snooze button, sitting on the couch, spending an hour getting ready for the day when I can make it happen in nine minutes, 19 minutes here, 13 minutes there – holy shit, I was wasting 24 hours of every week on absolutely nothing whatsoever.
Were those things worth a day of my life? No, but I gladly paid the Reaper anyway, and I was agonized when I learned I’d have to give that up. But it turns out that’s just enough time to put you to sleep, pick you up, get food in you, clean the food that comes out of you, and repeat the process eight more times a day. I would have to construct my entire life around this reality. Eventually, you would grow old enough to handle those things yourself, and would never once show appreciation for my efforts.
That’s what I’d signed up for without wanting any of it. Life was going to be real, and that challenged everything I knew.
I hated the vulnerability.
Because nothing can describe the raw terror of a grim-faced doctor explaining that there are “serious problems with the pregnancy.”
You cracked open a nerve that I never knew existed. I would have lived, and died, placidly unaware of the horrifying knowledge that I’d been sitting on unused pieces of my soul.
Those pieces were rotting away.
Thank you for showing me how scary that is.
And thank you for forcing me to push myself so far into my discomfort zone that I had to give up on doubting myself. There just isn’t time to question whether I’m strong enough when my child is suffering. It turns out that doctors know more than they say at first, insurance has more than it gives at first, and I’m more of an asshole than I believed at first.
I know it sounds like that last part is a bad thing, but believe me when I say it’s not. If you have a terrible relationship with someone, they usually drift away in time; and if you’re an asshole to someone, they probably deserve it.
But even the biggest asshole in the world can’t bully circumstance into submission.
We learned what it was to suffer. Another wise man once explained that suffering is life.
Dorothy and I lived.
And we loved – we loved because we were broken, rather than in spite of it. We watched as our status quo died without fanfare, and you were birthed with much drama.
We watched as you struggled, and we struggled as you stopped.
This letter isn’t an apology, because I have no inaction to confess. This is a note of thanks, as I sit here with you in my arms, watching the sun slowly rise on the first day after your birth.
You were born to change the world.
And in the twenty minutes that you lived, you did.