The Mud Kingdom

A magical place, an independent spirit.

Hamburger Heart: Part 2

The Life I Could Barely Remember

I can’t say that I have no idea where my heart issues came from, there were a few clues. About a year before my heart attack, I had been working for the same company for six years, I was in deeply in love with a girl that I had been dating for two years, and I was finally feeling at home in an apartment I had been living in for one year. As things in life tend to go, a lot of things were about to change all at once.

On the work front, the balance of institutional investors had changed and with it, a new cast of c-suite executives moved in. The office moved from the suburbs into the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., changing my short driving commute to a buses and trains for a couple hours each day. My new executive also brought on a consultant to observe my team and make recommendations. To summarize, they observed that myself and my supervisors were a transformative team and they recommended that we become a service team. For this, I was forced into a full year of constant conflict every day at the company I had worked at passionately for six years.

The consultant’s criticisms were, in a word, dishonest, and their personal attacks and even a threat of violence against me were only halted when I demanded evidence and advised my employer by walking into the office of the general counsel to warn him of the extreme position of liability the consultant was creating. Both my direct supervisor and his director quit during this, leaving me alone to represent the institutional knowledge of the full stack of enterprise applications aside from the accounting system. The final dishonest knife was the consultant accusing me of stealing the company’s data. During their presentation of evidence, it became clear to everyone that there was no evidence that would provide any legal defense for the consultant or the company in court. I pointed this out and asked if anyone had consulted with the general counsel before I found my own representation. I also asked the consultant for their lawyer’s contact information.

On the romantic front, I was with a woman that I believed for years that I would marry and have a family with. I met a west coast girl in an Oregon coastal forest and took to her right away. We kept in touch for a couple months before I decided to fly back across the country to see her again. Then we did the long-distance thing for an agonizing eight months until I could convince her to pack up her life and move across the country to give us a shot. Moving her into what was just my apartment was exciting as we trained for local races, played video games, and just lived together. She decided to start nursing school and I was quite proud to be supportive.

One evening I got a call from my mother. She asked me to return home with my girlfriend and to pay my rent to the family to help my family’s current financial struggles. This was just when the conflicts at work were starting. I agreed and broke the news to the girlfriend that it wasn’t ideal, but that we would be moving in with my family. She dutifully packed her things and helped me empty the apartment. The stress of combining my romantic and family issues into a confined space worsened the cracks in my relationship. After almost two years of dating I still had not asked her to marry me because she always seemed to be missing a piece. There was always something she was unhappy about: my friends, my sense of commitment, my encouragement for her to develop her career, etc. Not long after we moved into the relationship pressure cooker of my mother’s house, she told me that she wanted to break up with me and return to Oregon.

On the family front, all I can really say is that I never really got along with my family. My younger sister is the glue of the family but she was far away with her new family. This was not a good time for my family. Not only were there financial pressures there were other social and even biological issues that were in the mix. I can describe the atmosphere at home as being antagonistic. It’s not to say that everyone wasn’t doing their best, but that it often wasn’t enough. Things at home were not pleasant and I really did not want to be there. I was already fully loaded from the conflict at work and the conflict in my romantic life, but now I had family conflict at home. Each would feed the others in an inescapable cycle.

In just a single month in 2015 this entire chain would collapse. The work issue was resolved when the dishonest consultant was pushed out and so was I, having handed everything I could over to another consultant with some severance for my trouble. The romantic issue was resolved when I had finally detangled myself from my ex and asked her to move out after she had found someone else. The family issue was basically resolved when my mother decided to move in with my father, leaving the family home with just my brother and myself. I was free from everything, left to my own devices, and unleashed back out upon the world. But I was heartbroken in every emotional sense. Lost love. Lost purpose. Alone.