We’re stressed at my house. This is often the case, but it’s been worse than usual lately. Ordinarily, we have a system. I run around like a chicken with its head cut off, and Lee calms me down. He’s usually a rock–sensible, relaxed, unflappable. But not always, and sometimes he has to really work to keep himself settled. He does–it’s a priority–because stress is really tough on the cardiovascular system, in a whole host of different ways. But it’s not always easy.
He has a lot of reasons to be stressed (the flighty wife and two obnoxious teenagers come to mind), but the most significant culprit is work. I’m sure this is true for lots of people; I don’t want this to sound like a whine, but an explanation.
Lee owns a small business. Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard that the economy stinks, and that small business owners are taking a big hit. Well, I’m here to tell you–it’s true. People are losing their jobs, running out of money, and sitting tight on whatever savings they have left. I don’t know about you, but I’m thoroughly sick of this recession, and I know Lee is too. He has something like 27 employees–that’s a lot of people to be responsible for and to worry about . Yes, it’s great to not have a boss–no one to answer to, no worries about that pink slip. But all those employees? They get paid first. It’s stressful.
That small business is a law firm. Lee’s dad was an attorney, too. I mentioned yesterday that Maurice (my father-in-law) died of early-onset heart disease that was just like Lee’s. Lee is convinced the job is part of the problem. Not long after his heart attack, he made an analogy between what he does, and mercenary soldiers. He’s a hired gun, going into court and fighting other people’s battles for them. The occupational hazard may not be the obvious risks of warfare, but the hazard is there, nonetheless–stress. It keeps a steady stream of cortisol and adrenalin running through his body, throwing his hormones off balance, pushing up his blood pressure, roughing up the insides of his arteries, and damaging his heart.*
He’s tried meditation, yoga, running, biofeedback, hobbies, denial, and avoidance. His television and reading choices tend to be pretty escapist. I don’t really blame him. Mostly, we just muddle through, using whatever cliches and platitudes we have to in order to maintain some semblance of calm. Life is short, right?
But I just felt like I needed to explain: if it seems, sometimes, like my husband is kind of stressed–he probably is.
*I should point out that he has, in fact, dealt with stuff like death threats and crazies with guns and the need for police protection. I’ve answered phone calls that start with that recorded message about how this call is coming from an inmate in a detention facility, and I still sort of freak out when the electricity goes out for no apparent reason–I learned years ago to immediately check the phone line. But luckily, he has narrowed and limited his practice over the years to the point that we don’t have much of that stuff anymore. Thank goodness.