This post is very personal. If you do not wish to read this type of posting, feel free to walk away. This posts discusses some of the harder things that I have gone through and is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I attempt to approach the topic with some humility and humor.
It’s a word that over 90 million people in the United States alone consider themselves every time that they look into the mirror. It’s the look of disappointment in not being the body type that they want to be, but are unsure of what they are or are not doing that is preventing them from being that person that they dream of. It’s the disgusted look that you give yourself when you see how much you binged the night before on a “cheat day”, and the constant reminder that it’s probably going to be a cheat week… followed by a cheat month. The word “failure” creates a cascading effect, and it’s one that so many people have a hard time recovering from.
I’m a failure. Saying those words out loud gives a negative connotation that you cannot recover from what you did wrong and are doomed to never be able to change; or does it? I personally have failed in my own goals in life. I’m divorced, bull-headed/difficult to deal with in a relationship aspect, have unrealistic and somewhat toxic views of who I want in my life (don’t we all at times???), I refuse to settle for less than I think that I am afforded, quit the first career I ever had to pursue something better (that’s a work in progress, I’d like to think!!), I take my closest friends for granted but am forever grateful for their love and support (and strong kicks to my junk from time to time), and I am overweight. Let’s forget the rest of all of that and focus on my gut, though!
I have struggled with my weight for a while now. I wasn’t even aware that I had a problem until 2010 when I weighed in at a whopping 310 pounds! I knew that I couldn’t keep that up and keep my military career, so I was hell-bent on only having half a pizza a night instead of the whole thing.. funny enough, that didn’t work out. So, I dieted and started forcing myself to walk/jog a 5k every day. After a couple of weeks of doing this, I found that my body was able to move faster, that I had more agility and that I could have some endurance. By the end of that month, I was jogging (ish) for the entire 5k. Within 2 months, I was down to 210 pounds. By the time weigh ins came around for my Navy Physical Assessment Test, I was 190 pounds. I smoked that test! I became a long distance runner for about 2 years because of this and it became my escape from all of the problems I had in my life, and pretty soon I stopped dealing with them all together.
Now, you’re probably wondering where I failed at this point. Because it sure sounds like a success story, right? I started to struggle with some inner demons when I was faced with a major career shift in the Navy and I turned back to drinking and eating comfort food. I still ran often, but I was self medicating instead of leaving the problems on the roads. I put a large strain on my marriage because I refused to seek help for this, and it ultimately led me down a very dark road that I almost didn’t come back from. It didn’t matter how good I was at my career, how much recognition from my superiors, how much support I had at home or the appreciation my subordinates occassionally gave me. I was a failure without redemption. As a result, I was divorced, separated from the Navy (on good terms!), up to my shoulders in debt that I couldn’t see my way out of, the bar was my second home, and I had a long string of relationships where I didn’t appreciate the women that wanted to help me get through this phase of my life. I ultimately saw myself as a failure that couldn’t be helped or saved. The mountain of depression eventually buried me and I gave into the thought that I wasn’t worth anything and would never get out of it.
I probably wouldn’t have made it out of this alive if it weren’t for a few people in my life at that point, and I’ll talk about them briefly here. Lexi and Danny, you two were there when I made some of the hardest choices and went through some of the most difficult moments in my life during this period. You were there for me with my dad during and after my divorce court date, when I gave up the most amazing dog to a couple that could be better owners at the time and to help ease my transition into the civilian world. I owe you both debts that I feel are impossible to ever repay. Misty was the first real attempt at a relationship after my divorce, and she showed me that it was ok to struggle, but to open up and talk about that struggle so that I can move forward. Your friendship and want to help me ended up being the catalyst to our close friendship, but your loving and caring self is the biggest reason why I’m still here today. Aaron and Dakota were roommates during this phase at one point or another, and probably some of the best people to talk to during a long night of drinking. They were also fun to be annoyed with in one way or another, too. Your candid friendships with me gave me some of the most endearing memories that I won’t soon forget! My family and close friends ultimately saved me from being unrecoverable, and they refused to let me give up or surrender. Just because I don’t name someone by name doesn’t make them any less important in the process of me growing out of who I was to who I am now. So if you’re reading this and are disappointed to not see your name here, it’s definitely not because I forgot about you!
Why am I telling you ALL of this stuff? Well, I’m open about it. It’s part of my past that I can never change, but I also would never want to. The point is, I failed! But it’s not about the failure that defines who we are, even though a lot of people eventually allow themselves to do so. It’s about what we do to move forward and learn that makes us stronger, healthier and happier. If I could change things, I would in some respects (being a better husband, being able to get help when things were getting overwhelming, treated my friends better in the past… you know, simple things that aren’t so simple at the time). But all of this is to emphasize one important thing. I failed, and it’s ok.
So let’s fast forward to an amazing friend and his desire to see me happy. I got my license for a motorcycle and was ready to hit the road! Problem? I didn’t have a bike! My friend gifted me his and even put in countless hours making sure that it was ready for the road. I was all set; had all of my safety gear, some awesome biker sunglasses and an attitude that could shake Clint Eastwood in a staring match. So how do you think this ended? That’s right, I wrecked the bike avoiding someone crossing over the median in a curve. Some road rash, a couple of broken ribs and a broken wrist later, and I’m back to where I was… angry at myself and full of self loathing. I managed to get back up to 230 pounds (which was the largest I had been in 8 years at that point!) and decided “No more” (in a very Doctor Who tone, if you can imagine).
I’ve been at this for going on 6 weeks now, and I’m averaging 2-3 pounds a week at this point without exercise. I have cheated on my lifestyle change and have rebounded slightly here and there, but I have been consistent about getting back onto it as soon as I can. It’s not glamorous, but it’s enough to see results and to share my experiences. I started to talk to my friends again about the things that I felt, my desires and even goals during this time and was encouraged to start writing. I definitely shrugged off the suggestion because, “Who wants to read what I have to say?!”, but over time the idea really intrigued me. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I’m not stranger to failure, so why not? And here we are… one incredibly long and very transparent look through the looking-glass at who I am and why I’m here. I very much hope that anyone that reads this can look at themselves and see that their own failures don’t have to be the worst things about them, but more motivational nudges to try harder the next time.Without those failures, how will we ever know that we need to do more, shake it up or try something different to reach our desired results? Life is never an easy, one way or straight road. Sometimes we have to take the side streets to not get stuck in traffic for a while.
Suicide is never the answer. If you or someone you know struggles with their inner demons, please get them to get help or at least confide in someone that they trust.
The National Suicide Hotline : 1-800-273-TALK