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How I Make Life Changes.

7 April 2021

I have spent a lot of time in my adult life making changes to myself. Everyone changes over time, of course. I think for many people, though – normal people – there is a kind of matriculation into adulthood where they set their course of life. By the time they’re 30 or so, they have a strong sense of self, they have career plans or goals, they have their fundamental education. And they have an internal vision of who they are. How they eat. Whether they enjoy exercise. What hobbies they participate in. How they think of themselves as a person in the world. Or, perhaps, how they don’t have to think of themselves in the world because they are content and established in how they inhabit themselves within the world.

I didn’t have that. At 30, I was drinking a bottle of whiskey or the equivalent every day. I was smoking a pack of cigarettes. I was about to graduate with my PhD, but I have no understanding of my career plans. I intended to start a business, but I had no idea how to do that and rather predictably it failed completely. I destroyed a marriage (I had help) and I was obese and trending toward diabetic. I was, in short, a total fuckup with no sense of who I was or wanted to be.

When I got sober at 33, a little more than 13 years ago now, I immediately realized that the way I was living couldn’t persist and wouldn’t serve me if I wanted to stay sober. I was, however, hit with one of the many but great strokes of luck in my life, and I was offered a job – a real career building job – while I was in rehab for alcoholism. I took it. Even though I was terrified. Beyond terrified. I had no idea how to have a job. I knew how to do the work they wanted me to do, but I had no idea how to be a worker. All I did was show up when they wanted me to, and do what they told me. I hid in my office space most of the time, and tried not to be seen or thought of.

I’ve always had fears around being noticed – while at the same time wanting desperately to be praised publicly for doing well. And I’ve had fears around seeing and knowing difficult true things. I don’t mean big existential true things like heart disease runs in your family. I mean mundane and basic true things like, your bank account balance is $671. I hate looking at the scale, checking the post, looking at my bank balance, etc. etc. etc..

And so for me, making changes in my life is something that has been utterly necessary for me to have the kind of life I want, and also at the same time an exercise in the daily confrontation of terrifying minutiae. And the only way I can accomplish it is to embrace fear, conduct a little exposure therapy on myself, and dive into the world of difficult true things even though it feels like leaping off a cliff. So I check my bank balance every single day and have for about 12 years now. As a result? I have managed not to be overdrawn for those 12 years. I have been able to budget, pay off $14,000 in credit card debt, and establish a credit rating that starts with an 8.

Lately I have turned my attention weight loss. And so I step on the scale first thing every morning, no matter what and I force myself to see and know the number on the scale. I write it down. This is already a long post, so I’ll get into my ongoing results, maybe, in a future one. The why and the how of my weight loss attempt is for another day. But the germ of it, the start, the fundamental origin of all my journeys of change – and I’ve succeeded in all of them so far – is the willingness to look at something about myself I don’t want to know, and know I won’t like. To force myself to be honest about myself. Without that, without recognizing my fear, my self-hatred, my self-disgust, I can’t begin to make the change that relieves those things instead of burying them in denial. Which is what I generally prefer.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. sdrozda90 permalink
    7 April 2021 11:23

    I appreciate your post. I encountered this blog almost 5 years ago. I was attempting to get sober after 23 years of daily drinking. I’ll be celebrating my 5 years of sobriety next month. This blogged help me tremendously. As with most alcoholics, I was an egomanic with an inferiority complex.

    I needed to know other people smarter than me had used the 12 steps to sustain long term recovery. Thank you for help paving the way. Good luck on the weight loss. I have lost about 30 pounds in the last 5 years. Running has helped to vastly improve my mental and emotional state. The weight loss has been a nice compliment to those other benefits.

  2. cintancredi permalink
    7 April 2021 11:36

    Love this! Thank you for your transparency. I believe I’ll read this to my 17 year old who seems to be stuck in that mindset about life right now.

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