As men, we are living to constant expectations. And it takes a certain attitude to maintain what is expected of us. In fact, we need to work hard to constantly improve ourselves for the sake of our partners and children. We are relied upon in order to fulfil our roles. And there is little gratitude or acknowledgement for the work we put in. We simply have to earn our place in the world or become obsolete. This is a Mans sacrifice.
So what happens if life throws something at us that is too big to handle. Maybe a chronic health condition knocks us off the path we are expected to walk. We may lose our ability to support our families the way we were able to. Situations like this can crush a man. It can leave us feeling less than. And worse of all, we can lose the respect of those who rely on us. Because we are expected to provide. And when we lose our ability to do that. What is left?
I’ve been through this myself over the last five years. And didn’t fully realise the extent of how much it had affected me until recently. Having come out of the other side of depression and frustration at the forced changes I and my family have had to go through.
I am the main provider in my family. From getting sober and meeting Stacey, I went at life with a new attitude and purpose. Because I believe that it was my job to take the weight and responsibility of being a provider. I worked hard as a structural welder. A physical job job that I worked bloody hard at. I knew what was expected of me to give my wife and daughters a good life.
So, after the car accident in 2018, the rug was ripped out from under me. Within months of developing Central Pain Syndrome and Occipital Neuralgia, I lost my position at home. I could no longer provide or even be fully present in the lives of my family. Chronic, around the clock nerve pain consumed me. I couldn’t even walk my dog around the block.
I had to give up my job as a welder, and full-time employment was no longer a possibility for me. My wife no longer had the man she married, and the pressures on me became immense. My condition was incurable.
Accepting charity to feed my children in the beginning absolutely destroyed me. I felt nothing but guilt and shame. I hated myself. Because the one thing I had to do as a man with a family I could no longer achieve. I had let them down. There were times they had to step past me whilst i was curled up on the floor in pain flare ups. How could they still respect me?
The depression I sank into only fuelled the feelings of separation I felt with my wife. She needed me to find a way out. But the more I learned about the condition, the more I had to accept it was permanent. It was tough for both of us. But I had to fight. I couldn’t give up. Because If I did, it would have been the end of my marriage.
So, I began to work to the best of my ability. My boss gave me a new part-time roll that I could manage. I accepted that I needed medications and began working with a pain clinic. Most importantly, I gave up my anger and resentment and dropped the self-pity. I slowly adapted to life with chronic pain and found my purpose again. My focus was aimed once again at fatherhood and being present in the lives of my family. If only a day at a time.
Now, I’m back to living up to what is expected of me as a husband and father. I feel respected once more because I fought to overcome the challenges in front of me and continue to do so. And it feels good to have a life of purpose again. Because as a man, I need to earn my place in the world. And that’s just how it is.