**This post is super personal, confessional and somewhat of an “oh shit, I probably shouldn’t share this” entry. So please read on with care. I’m still working out this being-me-and-living-life thing…**
As I talk a mean game about the things I want from life and from myself there are serious short comings in the approach I’ve taken time and time again. By putting myself through the ringer with hard work and rewarding myself with things that hurt me, I become utterly frustrated with my lack of respect for myself and in turn, the lack of respect I’m showing towards those I care through my actions.
This repressed frustration has been simmering for some time now, but came to an uncomfortable head very recently.
I got a call from my uncle while I was finishing up work yesterday. I missed his call and I checked my voicemail shortly before I went out to happy hour with a friend from work. The message he left wasn’t normal. He just said that he wanted to talk to me and that I needed to call him back. My phone wasn’t working well in the office so I figured I’d call him later.
When I was out having a drink and appetizers at the bar, my mom called. She said my uncle went to the doctors and found out he had a large tumor on his esophagus and that he was really scarred and wanted to talk to me. My stomach dropped and I felt myself getting upset. We decided to leave the bar and head back to my coworker’s apartment and then go out to get food and drinks with some other friends. I decided to call my uncle on the drive to the apartment but couldn’t get a hold of him.
So, we went out and had more drinks before dinner and while we were waiting for a table my uncle called and I stepped outside to take the call. He told me about what the doctor said and how if he hadn’t quit his last job for a new gig and needed a physical before starting that he would probably not have found out about the tumor until he starting having symptoms and it would have been too late. I asked him to keep me up to date with the surgery and how he was feeling.
He asked me how I was doing I told him about some of the frustrations I’ve been having lately and how regardless of it all, I’ve still never once regretted making the biggest career and geographic move of my life. As always, he reminded me and re-assured me that I was doing the right thing and that moving forward I would continue to do the right things as long as I stayed true to myself.
After hanging up the phone I took a deep breath and went back inside to have dinner. We stayed out for a bit having a few more drinks and then I went home around 1AM.
On the way home, I picked up a pack of cigarettes. When I go out drinking I have always liked to have cigarettes because it always feels soothing to smoke and feel buzzed. Plus the social aspect of stepping outside to smoke with people has always been something I didn’t have to think about. I just did it.
I’ve battled with a lot of demons in myself since I was a young person. I think I had my first cigarette when I was around 13. I probably had my first drink around that time too. I make excuses to why I’ve drank and smoked pretty much my entire adult life and even as an adolescent and the fact of the matter is that I haven’t ever been able to respect myself fully for doing these things.
I’ve gone months or even years without having a cigarette or alcohol and lost a whole bunch of weight and gotten healthy in the process. I’ve worked my ass off physically and mentally to get to certain points and suddenly when I feel like I accomplished something, I reward myself with the things have hurt me and always have hurt me. It’s a ridiculously vicious cycle and I hate it. I truly hate it and sometimes I even hate myself for falling into it repeatedly.
I get frustrated with myself and the people I surround myself with because I think back to the days when I was at my best, or what I considered my best and I was more or less a self-motivated person going to the gym, eating healthy and withdrawing myself from the social circles that I continuously found myself battling to escape.
The lack of mental and physical balance and the persistent extremes that I put myself through are what I feel continuously make me veer of course further and further. When I completely remove myself from my friends and the situations that influence my poor behavior, I’m sealing myself off from a lot of the good things that sustain me as well.
I feel like my family and friends won’t expect much out of me at any point unless I throw up a façade of extreme changes that don’t really seem sustainable in any reasonable regard. I guess I don’t expect much out of myself either. I don’t understand the lines between where I go so wrong and where my best intentions are.
I read somewhere once that when you’re trying to break bad habits, the key is consistency. Whenever you commit to something and give up on changing your ways, you’re essentially lying to yourself and letting yourself down and in essence entrenching yourself in your bad ways even more.
I want to quit drinking, quit smoking and I want to become healthy, forever. I’ve used alcohol, cigarettes and food to comfort and reward myself for the hard work I’ve put in elsewhere in my life and they essentially decrease my ability to be my best self for myself and the people I love. When I decide to punish myself and withdraw as I crumple up a pack of cigarettes, pour the remainder of a bottle of wine down the sink and throw out junk food laying around my house, I become this broody bastard and resentful of all the external forces that I feel like are trying to sabotage me from enjoying my life. My friends call and want to go out and I resent them for trying to put me in a position where I’ll be tempted to drink, smoke, eat shitty food and spend money that I should be saving.
The difference that I’m feeling now compared to the other times I’ve tried to kick my habits is the sense of obligation to honor the people I love and the things that I love about myself. My uncle is very sick right now and he took a big part in raising me when I was young when my father wasn’t around. He’s always been better to me than he needed to be and the sobering (no pun intended) encounter with his mortality has made me suddenly too aware of my own.
I’ve heard around the way that you shouldn’t ever publish a blog post unless it makes you a little bit scared before you hit “publish.” Well, I am scared right now. I’m very scared of losing my uncle, I’m very scared that the positive things I do in life will be outweighed by the negative and I’m scared of how hard the future is going to be. However, I’m not scared of being judged. No one reading this could judge me as hard as I’m judging myself and nobody can make me change the way I’m living better than I can.
So with that said, I’m dedicating this blog post to my Uncle and everyone who has ever held higher standards and hopes for me than I have for myself. Thank you and I love you.