I’m Hanging in There

When I decided to start a blog post in January 2022, I had no idea what would happen. I suppose I thought I could talk about my most awesome 50th year on this earth and share how I celebrated. I would talk about my favorite things. I would share about my awesome rounds of golf and great runs of glory! There are less than 2 weeks to my 50th birthday, and I’m just trying to make it thru day by day.

It’s been a really tough year. And when life gets tough, there is no pause button or fast forward button; you have to keep going; I’m watching live tv with the commercials.

I’ve always considered my resiliency to adversity as an area that I need to improve. I’ve worked on mental toughness a ton. The truth is that I’m pretty good at handling adversity over the long term, but I’m horrible at dealing with it in the moment.

Right now, I’m overloaded and tired. My resiliency is at a low point. I just don’t have the energy to deal with any more challenges. But life hasn’t stopped throwing them my way.

  • We recently lost my mother-in-law after a long battle with cancer. She’s been really sick and was hospitalized for the last 3 weeks of her life in palliative care. It’s very tough when a family member is on their death bed for weeks. You can only hope and pray for a good visit with them in the last weeks. It’s tough to watch someone in pain that doesn’t have much to live for anymore. It’s tough to watch a family suffer thru it.
  • At the same time, my father was in a health emergency in the U.S. He had COVID and pneumonia. He was really sick. They drained over 1L of fluid from his lungs. On top of that, scans to check his lungs for fluid revealed dark nodes that are likely cancer. He was flown back to Canada on a private jet. He’s back in Canada awaiting a biopsy and then a treatment plan.

It’s stressful enough to deal with one family emergency but to deal with two family emergencies at the same time, it’s draining. Every little thing that happens, every thing that goes wrong, it amplifies my emotions by 100. And when you are dealing with so much already, any adversity can trigger you.

I was reminded of that this weekend.

Every Saturday over the winter, I meet up with friends for a round of virtual golf. Golf can be a really good sport for releasing energy. You swing a club at a ball and when you hit it well, it feels great. It’s even better at a range. For less then $10, you can get a bucket of balls and let loose; it feels so good. But when you are good at golf, you have expectations. And I’m pretty good at golf and trying to get better. You can’t just turn that off.

This Saturday was not a good golf day. My swing was off. My mind wasn’t focused. I was tired. And frankly, I wasn’t prepared for a bad day of golf. But I figured I would push thru it. I had a pretty terrible warm up session. But some of my best rounds come off of bad warm ups. I proceeded to hit the first 5 tee shots into water. Talk about a kick to the gut! I couldn’t keep a ball in play.

The last tee shot was an easy 9-iron (supposedly an easy club to hit), and came up short and into the water. The last straw was the game force me to drop at the tee box with no mercy. Likely the perfect PGA ruling, but not a ruling I was ready to accept. I simply walked up to the machine and removed myself as a player. I didn’t know what else to do. This isn’t golf, this isn’t fun, and I can’t handle it. My playing partners were in disbelief and admittedly, it’s probably not a normal reaction. But this is no normal period of time.

I apologized to my playing partners. I told them I simply did not have the mental strength to go on. I didn’t have any resiliency to deal with a bad swing. I couldn’t handle hitting one more ball into the water. On any other course, I might have been ok. But this course, had water on the left on the first five holes. It was a disaster and it was clear more water was on the way.

I fought every nerve in my body that wanted to just pick up my clubs and walk out. Instead, I sat there and enjoyed watching them hit great golf shots. After they finished the front 9, they encouraged me to get back into the game. I agreed if we changed courses. So we found a hilly, mountain course without water. And I joined back into the game.

I didn’t hit the ball that well, but I didn’t hit it that badly. My chipping was on point, and thus I scored extremely well. I score better than I deserved and better than my attitude deserved. I think I beat both my playing partners. I’m not even sure if I found a way to enjoy the game in the moment, but I managed to get thru it.

Mentally, I wasn’t prepared for any of it.

My playing partners were true friends. They were very understanding and not judgmental. That’s exactly what I needed. They encouraged me to hang in there, and I did. I texted them afterwards and apologized again. They are very gracious and understanding. Not just golf friends, but real friends.

There is a lot for me to learn here:

  1. In hindsight, maybe I should have just cancelled golf. But I was stubborn. I thought that with my normal swing, it would be a good distraction. And this is a logical thought. It just wasn’t true on Saturday. I didn’t have my normal swing. On a good mental day, I would struggle, but I could get thru it better (I hope). Honestly, hitting 5 water balls on the first 5 holes is tough on any golfer!
  2. I knew I was in a bad head space before we started playing. I should have insisted on an easier course, but I didn’t. Then again, how could I know that the first 5 holes had water on the left and that my miss today was a hook to the left?
  3. I need to be better at managing my expectations. I mean, who in their right mind would expect to golf well with so much turmoil in their life? There is no way that I could focus on golf. I should have lowered my expectations and found a way to make it fun. Maybe I try to hit every ball as hard as I could…maybe I should have tried hitting a 5-iron off of every tee. Instead, I played my typical game expecting my usual results.
  4. I think quitting and taking a step back was exactly what I needed, but that made it really awkward for my playing partners. Maybe I should have just taken some gimmes and tried to have fun instead of grinding out a tough round. If I was playing real golf, I would have just stopped keeping score and brought out my pretty pink ball. It’s impossible to pout when you’re playing golf with a florescent pink ball.
  5. I forgot my mantra “next shot”. With every ball into the water, I got more and more upset and by the time I hit the 5th ball in the water, I couldn’t deal with it. Next shot is supposed to help with adversity. Ah, it’s so tough when things add up to remember this.

Life is hard and it doesn’t stop just because it’s tough. All of this stuff is happening, but I still need to go to work, eat, sleep, support both families, manage things around the house, manage the hot tub chemicals (that are always out of sorts!), fix the cable box, fix the security system, pay bills, etc. And somehow, I expect to be really great at golf as well.

The carpet doesn’t care if there’s been a death in the family, you still need to vacuum. The car doesn’t care if your family needs support, if it’s on empty you need to fill it up. The hot tub chemicals don’t care if you have time to manage them, if the PH is high, you need to fix it. Dishes must be done. You need groceries. Life goes on. You need to find a way to get thru all of it, while still dealing with the turmoil.

I had an excellent counsellor appointment today. We talked. I cried. And we discussed prioritizing “stuff” in my life right now, resetting some of my goals that match more to the circumstances I’m facing and most of all to adjust my expectations.

I’m eating lots of candy/chips right now. It’s ok. I’m not going to reach my goal of being the lowest weight and best shape of my life by my 50th birthday. That’s ok. I’m not going to have a perfect golf swing for my trip to Phoenix and my golf club fitting but that’s ok. Maybe I don’t hit my move goals every day. That’s ok. (hrrrrmmmm…that’s a tough one, so we discussed lowering my move goals temporarily to a reasonable level since they are pretty high right now)

None of this is easy to do for a person that has high expectations for themselves. So I continue to work on it. In the meantime, I’m thankful for my support structures that are in place. My wife and I are in this together and we’re very supportive of each other. My friends have been great and very supportive. My counsellor is great and we had a super chat today. I need that grounding.

But the little things are getting to me and they’re adding up. I need to find a way to take it easy on myself and realize that I can’t solve everything for everyone and I can’t fix everything now. Some days, you just have to get thru the day.

Maybe life is like golf. The golf ball doesn’t care what your swing looks like, just ask Jim Furyk. The water doesn’t care if you’re having a bad day. That long par 4 isn’t going to shorten itself because you’re feeling tired today. That sprinkler head isn’t there on purpose to screw you. Right now, I’m stuck in a bunker and that bunker isn’t making it easy to get out.

Life is tough. Life isn’t fair. Life doesn’t care if you have too many things on your plate. Life doesn’t care if this is bad timing. Life doesn’t care if you’re turning 50 or if it’s your birthday. Life goes on, and thus we must go on as well. Life is what we make of it, during the good and the bad.

Give yourself a break. Take it easy on yourself. Talk to people, they’ll understand. Lean on your support structure, they’ll hold you up. Talk to a professional and get some solid help and advice. Don’t forget to take a break if you need it from working out or eating healthy or your favorite hobby. Focus on what you need.

Love yourself, even when it feels like life isn’t loving you. You are worth it!! I am worth it!

I guess I don’t know what I’m trying to say. Is there a point to this? Life is tough, do I really need to be mentally strong right now? I’m hanging in there, that’s what I can handle today and that’s ok.

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