selfishly selfless, unedited, part two

Sitting on my friend Jean’s lap at our 30th. Camera don’t lie!

Ben called me yesterday.  After reading my blog he had one question.  “What’s your drastic plan to change?”  Of course, I didn’t understand the question.  His questions are so simple they often elude me.  Upon clarification he told me that if his kids were to ever have problems, he’d likely change their physiology.  Escape to the woods.  It’s the “chop wood, carry water” mentality.  This question has been posed over the years in some way.  What if I were to leave, escape to the woods? Go to an obesity clinic in-patient?  Do SOMETHING different.  Completely different?  For years, the answer was easy.  I didn’t have the money.  My company wouldn’t give me that kind of time off.  Jacob is sick.  I need to be there for Naomi and Ana. 

The answer is somewhat simpler now.  I work for myself.  Jacob isn’t sick anymore.  Ana is in Chicago.  I am not poor.  <Disclaimer: I am NOT rich either in case anyone is wondering.> Am I serving my wife, my family and my friends to the best of my ability?  If I hit reset and escaped to my metaphorical, mythical Sherwood Forest for a month or so, would this drastic change have better long-term effects?  What is my drastic plan of change? 

My life has been fueled with well-intended excuses of martyrdom.  It’s embarrassingly raw and painful.  I take on way too much without much completion.  When I do complete something, it’s a production.  Look at me.  Look what I did.  Why am I not getting credit?  Is my selflessness and sacrifice being noticed?  Very few things that I’ve done, in retrospect, are altruistic.  I’ve been selfishly selfless.  I see it now.  I’m the modern, male Joan of Ark. 

My family and I have been through hell in the past three years.  I walk a tight line.  These experiences and feelings are mine.  I will let everyone speak his/her own truth.  It would be unfair of me to speak for anyone else.  As much as I thought I was being tough for walking through the fire of fears, I wasn’t.  I was in that root existence and coping with Jacob’s cancer in a destructive way.  He saw it.  He would tell how he felt about my weight.  When you’re in a hospital room for days upon days, a lot is said.  We had very deep conversations of fear and coping.  Jacob knew I was in pain.  He read it on my face, even when I tried to hide it. 

I was a rock in the early stages of Jacob’s sickness.  There were FEW moments I let my family see me break.  I wore a smile and positive attitude to my demise.  I remember needing the walk up to room G111-19.  I needed those 5 minutes to mentally cloak myself in my “Super Dad” outfit.  I wore it the entire visit, only to take it off on the five-minute quiet, lonely walk back to valet.  I would then go directly to my local ice cream palace <insert Mitchells, B/R, CVS or Walgreens> to pick up whatever was going to help me “heal” for the night.  “I am not drinking,” I would tell people as my weight shot up.  I am sober.  Yes, in the sense that I am not drinking, I am sober.  Am I truly being selfless?

Killing myself with the guise of helping others is a rouse.  It’s not heroic.  It’s not selfless.  It’s total bullshit and needs to stop.  So, what is my drastic plan of change?  Is it writing this blog?  Is it putting myself out there and taking a “me first” attitude?  For the first time in a long time, I think it is.  It’s nice to get comments from people talking about my “bravery.”  It’s flattering to hear nice things.  What’s more important to me is someone sending me a message and saying he/she has these feelings too.  That Person X is struggling too and wants to change.  This commonality is what fuels me.  Can we find a way to better ourselves one day at a time?  Can I, Brandt MF Butze, step up and be selflessly selfish to realize that I don’t need to be a martyr.  I just need to b the best Brandt I can be.  No more, no less.

Tomorrow’s Blog: Using humor to deflect my pain

Thursday: I made a promise to a dying, young man that I need to honor

3 responses to “selfishly selfless, unedited, part two”

  1. Dealing with untimely death may be the most surreal and real thing we do. Metabolizing the fear, anger, injustice….as a father or patient….is an inhumane undertaking. If I didn’t have so many food sensitivities now, I’d totally comfort myself with food! Salt + fat is more my jam…bring on the chili cheese fries! And don’t get me started on how much I’ve missed wine (and the occasional martini) these past few years! Really, who but people like us went through the pandemic sober?! I do as much cooking for our family as I can. Same idea…cooking up comfort. I’m not sure how we find peace with things that are so obscene as cancer, especially when we have the knowledge that medicine and science could be better if not for greed and profit. Finding peace without my crutches/addictions is a challenge I share…what seems to help sometimes is talking it out (as you said, knowing we’re not alone) and praying (to whatever higher power built the beauty we humans barely understand). I like to think of her/him/they holding my heart for a moment while I rest. Sometimes I can feel it, like a warm bathI don’t know what food addiction programs would offer when your body would be healthier with less weight, , but I think ways to find peace that are also good for us (at least not destructive) must be at the start somehow. Your blog post always get me thinking…..appreciate the conversation.


    1. That which you love has been taken away by cancer. For you it was that sweet, savory food and that love of cooking. For Jacob, his outlet was guitar. Neuropathy took that as well. Often, even when he got that feeling back to play, he’d be too angry to enjoy it. It’s surreal indeed. I don’t know your pain, Jackie. I know a little of your family’s but not yours. I like to lie to myself and say I do. I get angry with myself knowing that I don’t fight hard enough for this body I’ve been given while you (and Jacob) do everything in your power to fight for yours. It sickens me.


  2. Kathy Armstrong Lehman Avatar
    Kathy Armstrong Lehman

    Hi Brandt, I have lost 60 lbs with WW but I feel it will always be a struggle. You have written about AA so, I assume it is okay to say that Joe used his “program” to give up cigarettes which was his greatest struggle. He kept saying to himself “is this what God wants for me?” Wishing you the best. You, Jacob, Namoi, and Ana are always in my prayers. Love & Peace, Kathy Lehman


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