Put Down The Heavy Load
Alisa was busy collecting the papers and half empty water bottles around the big boardroom table as the last few of the team sauntered out the double glass doors. The Chicago skyline filled the big windows and the room was glowing as the sun began its morning trek across the sky.
The room was still electric with the excited energy the third quarter numbers represented. The board and shareholders are very pleased.
One of the glazed doors swung open and Terry, the company's CFO in his classic tweed jacket and bow tie popped his head in.
Alison then realized that her boss and company president was still in the room. He was leaning up against one of the large floor to ceiling windows gazing down at the streets below. It was Terry's second calling of his name that Bruce snapped out of his thoughts and looked up and over in Terry's direction.
"Hey Bruce, great job man! Hey! Don't forget we've got reso's at Alinea to celebrate Buddy!"
Terry gave an exuberant "thumbs up" and backed out of the doorway before Bruce could respond.
"Bruce? Everything okay?"
Alison was quick to notice Bruce's far-away gaze. His muted energy was in striking contrast from the empowering speech he just delivered to the board only 10 minutes earlier.
Bruce, then just realized Alison was still in the room.
"Huh? Um oh yes. Yes, Alison everything is fine thank you. I'm just pondering in my own little world."
Alison looked at him squinting her eyes slightly with a little scepticism. As Bruce's executive assistant of 13 years nothing he does really gets past her. However, she was harried with grabbing what she could and began to back out the private entrance to the executive office.
"Hmmmm okay. You've got your 9AM with Mr. Laveen and Brett is here with the papers for Pauline's lawyer at 10:30."
As she pushed into the door with her backside she kept her gaze on Bruce to check his reaction, but he had already turned away to continue his far-away gaze at the streets below.
"Yeah...Okay got it" He murmured in response. "Right...the lawyer." Was what Alison heard last under his breath as the door closed.
On the surface, Bruce has it all! He's got a seven figure salary, loads of stock options, a corner office in one of the most prestigious addresses in Chicago, a summer home in Idaho and an amazing family with a beautiful wife and three amazing kids.
(Cue record scratch)
That was until Pauline asked for a divorce last year.
On a day when he should be celebrating and sharing this moment with those he loves, that dream is all but a world away. Pauline and the kids have been in South Beach for the last couple of months. Other than a weekend last month and a FaceTime chat he has not really had much quality time with his kids in months.
The decanter of Bowmore in his office should not be as near empty as it is. And the medicine cabinet has one too many prescriptions in need of refills.
The beautiful house they grew a family for 12 years together on Howe Street had to be put on the market. He's now leasing a luxury condo down town.
Bruce has not had a good night sleep in months. He's been out with a few friends, more work colleagues than anything. It seems the only people in his world are those that are bought and paid for.
He lost his best friend of 40 years when Mike found out Bruce was having an affair on Pauline. But it cut even deeper as it was with a woman Mike was very interested in dating. Mike lost all respect for a man he thought he knew.
Nothing Bruce did could salvage his friendship nor his marriage.
The affair was not the reason for the split, it was just the final straw. For the past 5 years Bruce's first love was his career. Buoyed by a healthy bull market, the company had been on a heavy acquisition push. Long days, high stress and equally high celebrating pushed the family further away.
On this day of all days, Bruce finds himself looking out at the panorama with his forearm high against the window supporting his forehead. He's struck with a gut wrenching thought.
His life suddenly lacks purpose, meaning and substance.
What the hell am I doing?
This can't be all there is?
Oh God help me! Im all alone in a world full of strangers!
Bruce feels the rush of anxiety paralyze him...He can barely move his arms as he franticly pats down his suit jacket for his pills...
There's so many men like Bruce that are wearing the mask of power, prestige and success. Yeah it looks f'ing great! They've got it all together. But behind the mask, he's hurting. He's struggling to keep his sanity. Plus, having to carry the heavy burden of keeping the illusion alive so no one will ever know.
Because of the masculine archetypes at this high level, most men are trapped to deal with their own living hell on their own. Asking for or seeking help in confidence with a colleague is fodder for shame, gossip and the potential betrayal of trust.
Instead, the distractions of drugs, alcohol and sex become the accepted outlets.
The spiral down continues as he never addresses the core issues and challenges that created this mess in the first place. Add to that, he really has no where to turn. Other than reaching out to a mental health professional and the stigma that comes with it, he doesn't know his options so very little ever gets done. He just pushes on with what he knows.
No matter how successful a man can be, chances are he's dealing with some kind of pain, guilt or shame that no one will ever understand.
However, it's time for men to truly look beyond the mask and find their true authentic masculine power. It's time to get real and rediscover you purpose, passion and bring your sense of significance back into your world.
It's time to be a champion to the women in your life and a hero to your children and take responsibility for how you show up.
Don't be like Bruce in our story. Put down the heavy load Brother. Take the next step and let's have a powerful conversation about reigniting the remarkable man within.
It could very well be exactly what you've been searching for. You'll feel it in your core if this resonates with you. It could be divine timing.
You are not alone on the journey...I've got your back!
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