I cannot imagine a deeper depression.
The pain was so deep, but the depression so immense that I did not even have the energy to identify where the hurt originated. It was August of 2011, and the summer heat was brutal. I was maybe three weeks out of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and my life was an absolute mess. I had recently missed my daughter’s second birthday as well as the birth of my nephew in an isolated and drunken stooper. I spent that evening in a shivering, shaking, and crying ball of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. I spent most of the night with a gun in my hand while alternating its placement between my temple and the back of my throat. Suicide seemed to be the only logical solution, as there was no other way out.
I had an opportunity to redeem myself for my son’s birthday a few weeks later, but it was scarcely different from all of the other events for which I was emotionally unavailable. I wasn’t drunk, but I wasn’t in attendance either. I had checked myself into a mental institute to get help for my problem. I wasn’t there for him. I had been unavailable for both of my children throughout their lives because of my addiction but I refused to see this, and I certainly didn’t want to hear about it from you or anybody else. I had not necessarily checked into rehab because I wanted to be there, as much as I just wanted to be somewhere other than where I was at the time. I have placed myself in some pretty shi*ty situations in my life, but none more-so than this.
I was in a pickle.
Something had to give.
The gig was up.
There were no more options, excuses, or energy reserves to try and rise from the ashes. There were, seemingly, only ashes.
Upon leaving treatment, my dad and step-mom graciously took me in and allowed me to begin the hellaciously long, slow, and difficult process of recovery. My days were spent in therapy, 12-step meetings, and bed…there was nothing else. Divorce looming, parental performance abysmal, 3 packs a day of cigarettes, sleeping until noon, crying a half a dozen times each morning, afternoon, and evening, along with a newly-formed habit of eating chocolate cake (and whatever else I could cram down my pie spout) in the middle of the night. Needless to say, I was not on a winning streak. I was down, but not…. well, I was very, very down. There were glimpses of energy, but fleeting and vastly spackled. For each good morning was followed by 3 or 4 bad days of bedridden depression. I truly wanted to make changes, and I wanted to get out of bed, but there just didn’t seem to be that option. I honestly felt like I was tethered to the sheets. There is no darker hole that I can imagine.
I had tipped the scales at a blubbery, sweaty, and greasy 296lbs. I would say that the number depressed me, but I was too depressed for anything to add to my self-loathing. Honestly, self-loathing required energy, and I don’t think I had the energy to properly hate myself.
My dad sat me in his office and expressed his concern for my condition. Naturally, living with a 300lb cake monster, who does nothing but drain your air-conditioning bill and smoke cigarettes in your driveway can be not only concerning but it can also be very frustrating. He asked me, hypothetically, “If you could do anything, go anywhere, travel to any destination….where would you go?”. My response was, “I would go back to bed.” This was the severity of the condition.
The conversation with my dad had really pissed me off. How dare him to bother me with questions, display love, and show concern while I am trying to live a life of solitude and misery. I was frustrated and I needed a smoke. I walked outside and fired one up. I was afraid that my dad would soon follow and want to talk through the problem, so I began to walk away. As has been a common theme throughout my life, I did not want to talk through the problem, I wanted to be angry. I wanted the feeling of rage because it gives me that rush which I so deeply crave. I walked to the end of the driveway with my very “not stylish” mom jeans and oversized tablecloth for a tee shirt along with my big puffy tennis shoes that looked like they were designed for old people to mow grass in. I had no idea where I was going to walk. I had no preconceived ideas or expectations of how far I would go. I don’t know who or what was guiding me along the next 30 minutes of my life, and I don’t know what message was being transmitted. The only thing I knew for sure was this:
1. Something was telling me NOT to go back to bed.
2. There were two light posts, maybe 40 yards apart, one called out “Start” and the other sang “Finish”.
And just like that, if only for this moment, it was back!
The perpetual negotiator, my constant companion, and my very best friend. It was my inner voice. It was that guiding light that I had lived without for over 15 years. It was the voice that told me, “Betcha can’t”, cause it knew I would. It was that voice that said, “I dare you”, cause I’ve never needed to be double-dared. It was that voice that said, “You can do this” when my spirits were broken, and only it knew the truth. It was the voice that said, “Do it anyway” when I gave way to the opinions’ of others. It was the voice that guided me on the soccer fields at 6 years of age, and onto the basketball courts, and into the baseball diamonds of my youth. It was the voice that made me do my homework when there was no way out around it. It got me through the projects, the studies, and standardized tests. It was that voice that tightly squeezed itself into my varsity football helmet and confidently shouted the orders. “The guy in front of you is going backwards. We are about to plow.” It was the voice that let me know that let me know when the hard work was paying off and it was the voice that told me when it was time to put it on display.
The voice in my head was the voice that once fueled me to be better. This was the voice that wanted me to be successful. A little crazy, certainly mischievous, but well-intentioned was this voice, and confident and courageous was this friend. It told me, “Jog from this light post to the next one, and you can enjoy your next cigarette. Go ahead, earn it….betcha can’t”. My old trash-talking buddy was stirring the pot because only he knows the recipe. I used to love this game so dearly but it had been so long since I played it. The drugs and the alcohol had drowned-out my friend and diluted my passion but it seemed as if sobriety was about to kick-in.
I knew I looked funny, and I knew it seemed strange. I was a 300lb man in the streets of Germantown, wearing blue jeans, a cotton shirt, and sweating like I had just come out of the swimming pool. I was fifty feet from my last cigarette….and if my inner voice and my two very weak legs would hold up, I was one light post from my next one. I lowered my head, I took a deep breath, and I began to waddle…
….the pain was far from over, and the work was just beginning. Albeit just a few steps, I had no way of knowing that my journey to Lift Heavy Run Long had officially begun.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,