Thanks ladies, but you have this backward. I see myself as a failure because I am not as successful as my father despite being provided financial and educational advantages as a child / young adult. I have squandered the opportunity to move beyond where my father was - I will never even get to where he got. And it is not like he founded Microsoft so it isn't even worth trying. It was quite reasonable 20 or 30 years ago to think that I would be even more successful than he was, and I have failed to realize my potential. Combined with being far less financially successful than most of my law school classmates, and no one is going to be able to convince me that I have had a successful career.

So my wife is not sending out a message I disbelive. She is not poisoning my self-image. My wife is merely agreeing with my self-assessment. She expected that I would be able to afford the country club and kids' summer camp and fancy cars and paying for kids' college that my father was able to afford. She is bitterly disappointed that I cannot afford that lifestyle. But no more disappointed than I am.

Smiling, what is "clear on paper" is that I have NOT accomplished what I set out to do. That I have not accomplished what could have reasonably been expected 25 years ago. She agrees that no psychiatrist could say I have done a good job of taking advantage of my talents and education. She wants the psychiatrist to help me deal more productively with my failure.

It is like being a #1 draft choice in the NFL, and then not being able to make the starting team. That is not success relative to what was reasonable to expect on draft day. Sure, it is wonderful to have been drafted. But few people view "draft busts" as successful professional athletes. They have to pick themselves up and reinvent themselves as something else (although the millions of dollars of signing bonus helps).

No one is ever going to convince me that I am not a failure at work. The key, as Mrs. Hold said, is where do I go from here?

When you can see it coming, duck!