The question I've gotten more than any other is "What made you do this now?" which is like asking Stephen Hawking if he has any opinions on the origin of the universe. I've made a career here out of intrepid and constant navel-gazing, so such inwardly-focused inquiries are bound to set me off on extended flights of introspection. Please move your seat-backs to the upright and locked position.
As I reach Day 45, the mid-way point of my Total Body (and Mind) Makeover, I have, as you'd expect from me, a few thoughts.
Before I get to The Theory, let me get everyone up-to-date on the bare statistics.
Pounds lost: 13
Belt holes reduced (in lieu of "Waist Inches Lost." More masculine): 1 1/2 (I can totally pull to two, but it's a little--just a little!--snug)
I've reached "slender" status again and am not going to lose any more weight. I don't really have any more to spare, though a decade of decadence has likely rendered my beer gut (and attendant love handles) permanent. I'm okay with that, I suppose. I've shrunk it, continue to try to cardio and crunch it out of existence, but will happily live with it, since it's not about appearance or vanity, but health and energy and feeling better mentally and unintended benefits and not having man tits.
Near as I can tell, the process came about organically. I was tired. Tired of smoking and drinking and living a life of dreamy disconnection. I felt terrible. Every morning, every day, most of which I was hungover. To get out of the subway, I had to climb a few flights of stairs and by the time I got halfway, I was wheezing. When I got to the top, I had to stop and rest, catch my breath, so I could light up a cigarette. I'd wrestle on the bed with AJ and need a break after two minutes. The house was a mess. My clothes smelled like stale bread. I wrote long loathesome screeds about missed opportunity and failed potential and sheer motherfucking laziness. I think it's safe to say I hated myself. I found my niche and it was this roller coaster ride of fleeting euphoria, white-knuckle intensity and abject wallowing. Bi-polar, basically. Or maybe tri- or quad-.
Kurt Cobain said it best, "I miss the comfort in being sad." The episode with X left me rotten inside. I've acted less than admirably. Woe is me and because of this bad beat, I could afford to be reckless, with myself and others. "Look what tragedy has befallen me!" I could shout and use it as an excuse for erratic behavior, escapism. My mood was capricious at all times, going zero to 60 in no time flat for no reason at all and the only ways for me to silence the demons were to drink them into oblivion or lose all contact with myself via total and laser-like focus on another.
This served as the basis for me to ignore the path down which I was heading. Total self-destruction. I busied myself with the logistics of my relationship, plans drawn in the sand with no contingency for rising tides. I held fast to the way I felt for her, avoiding self-examination, even when she asked for it. I could answer, sure. Glib one-liners and profligate adverbs.
You know what comes next. She became too real for me to handle. WE became too real for me to handle. So I detonated a bomb and blew us to smithereens. Zero to 60. And then I could wallow again, where I felt comfortable, as opposed to holding up my own end. In retrospect, I think that's exactly what I was doing. Subconsciously. My feelings were valid. Deep and true. I've no doubts of that, for they continue to this day, more clearly even, more easily grasped with a less-muddled heart. But knowing I wouldn't be able to play my part, not in that present condition, pushed me to an unjustified level of anger and disappointment.
The aftermath was similar. That pain, profound and murky, that has no antidote. The sudden outbursts, waves of irretrievable sadness, all familiar to me from when X walked away. And somehow, this stung at an even higher level, because of all those things I said I'd do when X left, all those improvements, changes, goals and desires. Lies. I was nowhere different from where I'd been then. And what struck me, finally, irrevocably, was that I am, now and forever, officially on my own.
While there are aspects of this view that focus on the maudlin ("I'm going to die alone" is a biggie), the acceptance and the wider implications are nothing but positive. It means I have to build that trust in myself, a trait I've not possessed in a long time. It means my self-worth will come from within, will radiate outward, instead of trying to find personal value in the character and actions of others. What it means is, I have to take care of my own fucking business.
So, on the same day, at the same hour and moment, I quit smoking, drinking, playing online poker (five nights a week) and started eating right and exercising. I feel unbelievable.
Yes, I've had to sacrifice. I don't get to talk to a lot of you as often as I'd like. That's a temporary affliction. My social life is comatose (which is too bad since I'm getting kind of ripped for a skinny guy. Hear that ladies?!?!). There are things I can't say, things I want to, feel like, I should say, but have no right. Not yet. Not honorably.
Make no mistake. I consider this a full-scale rehabilitation. It's not simply physical and/or mental. It's about discipline more than anything. It's about character-building. Maturity. Sincerity. Spirituality.
I like to joke about my little mid-life crisis. That may well be what it is. Gold chains might be just around the corner for me. But I'm not forecasting. I'm living in the present, trying to attach myself to something permanent instead of the blurred decade that has preceded Now. There's only one person I'm going to wake up with from now until the end, so I guess I'd best get used to what I look like in the morning.