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The Bull Wins a Round

There.  I’ve done it.  I have allowed work to consume me, chew me up and spit me out and make me physically and mentally ill.

Bull rider, mid air, upside down, with bull looking back rider in a dusty rodeo arena.

After enjoying an exciting 3 decade career with companies in Europe and the US serving the global telecommunication industry, the ever present, invisible enemy called stress has brought things to a jarring stop. 

A little over a year ago I developed IBS but didn’t take the hint.  A month ago my wife pointed out to me I had lost all interest and capacity for anything but work and recovering from it, and that included capacity for her.  I developed chest pains on Sunday nights, anticipating the week ahead.  Last week anxiety became an unwelcome daily companion as work and life overwhelmed me and I could no longer manage my way out of the trap I found myself in.  

I informed my boss and my teams of my struggles and while they jumped in to graciously provide relief,  I was beyond the tipping point.  I informed HR I would be taking advantage of the Employee Assistance Program and by late last week I let everyone know that I needed some urgent time off to reset.   By Saturday morning we had cleared the decks for a week off and by Monday afternoon, under advisement from my primary care physician, we made it 2 weeks.  Oh, and I have an appointment with a counselor.

How did I ever end up here?

I believed the lie that I thrived on stress. But we are not designed to be a flailing bull rider, clutching on, tossed and turned on the back of a beast rampaging aimlessly through the arena of life.  Despite having a head full of knowledge, an immeasurable library of literature and advice, and a strong faith to guide me, this week I find myself bucked to the dusty arena floor with a few bruises and even some fractures.

I have a couple of weeks to catch my breath, assess the damage, and with help, figure out how to get back in the saddle to ride again. It will need to be a slightly different journey with a new set of tools.  I am blessed with an amazing wife, family and friends who love me, a God who loves me even more, and an employer who cares enough to give me this space.

If life has got a hold of you instead of you having a grip on life, ease that baby over and get off that ride.  By the time that turns into a rampaging bull, getting off ain’t easy or painless.

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