Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scared?

I have lost 117 pounds to date. I have made the choice to change my life and eat better and exercise more. I have probably added 20 plus years to my life. I did it for me. I did it for my family. I am a better man because of it. I am still scared.
I often do not like to divulge many personal feelings in my blog. I am the happy go lucky person that enjoys life, at least on the outside. My wife and my circle of friends could tell you of a different Joe. One who is still sad. One who still sees his life as unfulfilled. One that wakes up everyday trying to figure out what his purpose is. Sure I have changed my life, but I did not solve anything. Some people may read this and question my love for my family, but that is not what this is about. I have the best wife in the world. My kids are fantastic. I live for my family. I may be a little grumpy, okay a lot grumpy with them, but I love them with all my heart and would sacrifice everything for any of them. I should treat them better, they deserve way better.
My problem is between my ears. I cannot get out of my own way. My weight issue has held me back for a long time. It has kept me from chasing my dreams and I have never stepped out of my comfort zone. I may have lost weight, and even gained some confidence, but I’m still scared. Scared of another failure. Even without the weight I am being held back by my weight. Somehow, someway, I must confront this demon. Step outside my comfort zone, take the leap. I deserve happiness and so does my family.
But…the last ten years of my life has been littered with poor decisions and failures. I never found my way, if you will. I was content just getting by and most of the time I barely did that. I stayed in a “career” that I knew wasn’t a good fit for me just because I was afraid. Growing up through school, I was smart, never anything special, but I didn’t have to work too hard at anything to succeed. I never developed a solid work ethic and always expected things to come easy to me. Wrong! In college I did the same but instead of A’s I got C’s and eventually I quit. Quitting became the motto of my life. I quit my marriage to Rachel, I quit many jobs by simply not caring, and I quit myself. I was in a dark place. A place that I am still slowly crawling out of. At that time I could have lived or died and did not care. I floundered like that for many years. I kept seeing my best friends become successful doctors, engineers, and artists. I saw my brother become a manager of a major restaurant. I saw my sister go to school to enter the health care field. I saw my wife give up everything to support our special needs daughter and thank goodness because I was absent, not physically, but let’s just say that I had checked out. I was witness to all of this and it pushed me deeper and deeper into the depths of depression. I was The failure. I was The one who hadn’t realized his potential. I gained more and more weight and even hoped to have a heart attack. Everyone would be better off I thought. My daughter deserves more than loser like me. These are the thoughts that crossed my mind. Everyday. Day in, day out. Every hour, every minute, every second. Thank God for Rachel. She never stopped believing in me.
I did finally got a job that I liked. It didn’t pay very well but I enjoyed the work. It was a good fit for me. I even felt a little better, but I wasn’t cured. Rach and I had our second child in June of 2008. A little boy. This should motivate me right? Nope. I never understood how people got to weigh six, seven, eight hundred pounds. Suddenly I started to understand. I understood that it is a conscience effort. People don’t accidentally weigh 800 pounds. I was well on my way.
In August of 08’ I popped the buttons off both pairs of pants that I wore. I decided that enough is enough. I vowed to lose the weight. I even bought a giant poster board and drew a weekly chart with weight and measurement columns. I saw that poster board in the closet the other day. It had the first week and second week filled out. Yep, quit again. Another failure. More depression. What could I do? How could I motivate myself?
So I inquired about going back to school. As it turns out they don’t care how much you weigh as long as the bill gets paid. So I started back on a Tuesday night at 6:00pm. It was a big step for me. I was scared to death. I wanted to leave as soon as I got there. I was always social around people I know, but in a classroom full of adults and professionals. I was horrified. I was also the fattest person in class. I hated myself for this. During presentations I was embarrassed and ashamed. No one takes a morbidly obese person seriously. How could they?
I was never going to make it. Quitting again I thought to myself. Figures.
Except something happened. Something deep within. Something I cannot explain. It coincided with New Years in 2009. It wasn’t a resolution but something more. A commitment to myself. A commitment to my family. I’ll never forget that night on January 4th. Rachel and Bella were playing with finger paints at the kitchen table and I had my shirt off so as not to get paint on it. I was so fat I could barely muster the energy to play with paints. I told Rach that this was it. Never again. I’m losing this weight for good. I said it with conviction. Of course I’ve said it many times before, but this time I meant it. Rachel drew a red smiley face on my belly and wrote the word bye-bye, and she took a picture. I looked like the freaking Kool Aid man. I put the picture on myspace and started a blog. How embarrassing. How humiliating. How disgraceful. How motivating? How inspirational? I received several words of encouragement on that first blog. I lost 20 pounds my first week. Then 7 pounds. Then 8 pounds. I took a picture every Monday and wrote a blog about my weight loss experience. It helped me. Soon I was below 300 pounds. I changed my thought process. I didn’t want to have a heart attack any more. I wanted to live. I want to be something. But I’m still scared. I may have lost all this weight, but I’m still that fat person who fails. I’m still a loser. That is what I’m dealing with right now. Overcoming those thought pattern that filled my mind for the last ten years. The voice in your head that says “you can’t do it” “you’re too stupid” “you know you will gain all the weight back”
Yeah that voice is still holding me back. But, losing this weight has also put another voice in my head. He says “you can do it” “you are worth it” “if you want it, go for it” “you deserve this”
They battle it out on a daily basis. My own little rockem sockem robots in my head. Some days the negative fella wins, but you know what? With every pound, every success, every ‘A’ in my college class, my confidence grows. The positive voice wins most of the time. I am starting to heal. I am almost ready for my next step.
You see, I have wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a little kid, when I sat in my living room with my Mom and watched my first episode of LA Law. I love the theory of law. I love analyzing situations, seeing the angles, and arguing my point. I will make a great lawyer. I never concede defeat. My #1 dream job would be playing for the Royals, becoming a lawyer is #2. Actually I might try out for the Royals at this point, but really, being a lawyer is my calling. Unfortunately, I wasted my opportunity when most people grasp it and chose not to finish college. Now at 29, I am scheduled to graduate from college in May 2010 and I am going to take the LSAT in September, maybe December. I’m still scared though. Can I do it? Can I even get into law school? If I do get in, can I cut it? The answer is yes.
Literally as I have written this blog, I feel better. I feel stronger. Maybe this is the first step to conquering that demon that is known to me as the bad rockem sockem robot. The weight loss was a catalyst, but to continue I must face my fears. I will succeed.

9 comments:

  1. Oh Joe. What a wonderful, sad, honest, happy blog. I am so proud of you for placing yourself out there for all to read and see. I know how difficult it is for you to let your guard down and reveal, but hopefully this will help self medicate. You can do anything and everything you put your whole heart into. I've seen it over and over again in the nine years we have been together.
    I fell in love with 'a man with a plan'. I am still madly in love with that man, no matter how much he doubts himself. I know you will do great on the LSAT. I know you will be an awesome sports lawyer for the Royals. I know you will continue to be a great husband and a loving father. I know you will!!! Because you do great at whatever you try to do.

    I have always believed that in some peoples lives they have to fail to truly succeed.
    Time to continue to rise back up, because you are on the journey of success.
    Love,
    Rachel

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  2. Powerful story Joe, keep up the good work!

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  3. Thanks for sharing Joe! You are great! Let Rusty and I know when you graduate from school AND law school. We'll be there.

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  4. Joe,
    You are truly an inspiration to me as well as a great friend. One of these days you'll find what you're looking for. It might be right in front of you. You don't have to have a 'title' or a college degree to be a success in life. Look what you've accomplished in just a short time by putting energy into getting fit! Don't give up! Just know that there are a lot of people around you who love you and are pulling for you every day! I was proud to have you as a friend in school, when you were at your heaviest, now, and hopefully 40 years from now. Keep up the good work and don't be afraid to share your stories with everyone around you. You may be the one to help change someone else's life!

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  5. I have faith in you Joey! You were always the "smart one" growing up. You actually motivated me to do better in school, because I am so stinking competitive. I know that you can do well in everything you do-now, that you know it depends on how well you think you can do- you will succeed! Best of luck!
    Tiffany

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  6. I read this slowly and carefully. It really moved me. I can relate to you now on another level. I understand where you're coming from and what you're experiencing. Our situations and circumstances might be vastly different, but the emotions over the basic structure of our lives and decisions up to this point are very similar in many ways.
    You may have already, but if you haven't---please read Day 327 of my blog. If you never read another day of my blog--at least read that one. It's had the most profound effect on me and it may you as well.

    I sincerely appreciate your honesty and emotion here. I completely agree with you about how writing it out---putting it on virtual paper---gives us a better understanding--a real education about ourselves.

    You're incredible Joe.

    I use to dream of playing for the Royals too. That impossible dream miraculously comes alive every time I visit Royals Stadium (I know it's not called that anymore---but I just can't help it) It's a fantasy more than it's a dream---because dreams can come true if we decide they can. It would take some kind of miracle straight out of a Disney script for that dream to ever become reality---so I'll be content with the fantasy. I wonder if they still have a "fantasy camp" where you actually workout and "play" with the players?? You get to wear a uniform and everything I'm pretty sure...That may have to be one of my super goals/rewards if it still exist.
    If you decide to be a lawyer---you will be a lawyer...whatever it takes. You know what you're really capable of right? Anything at all...except maybe playing for the Royals...that's a toughy.
    Sorry this is a book. But your post here really stirred me.
    Congratulations on your success and...
    My best always
    Sean

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  7. This is an absolutely naked blog. Your belly is just as exposed here and it was the day Rachel drew the face on it. How brave and wonderful of you to share like this. My secret? I wanted to be a lawyer too but life got in the way. Now, I'm too old (probably old enough to be your mother!) but you're not! I'm signing up to follow your ride. Hmmm, maybe living a bit vicariously through you. Go for it!

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  8. Joe,

    Hey man...off the bat you may not realize who I am, let me re-introduce me. My name is Chad Handley and for a long time I have followed you and you’re daily, weekly, monthly struggles. You may have not noticed as I just have been a spectator. Though through your eyes you may have seemed to be a failure but your courage to publish your trials and tribulations have done the complete opposite. Your ability and strength to let it out, has build an inspiration within me. We go back, and I - to this day believe you were the best manager I worked for (FYI). You may not realize this but the person you were/are is the person I reflect on in the times you’re going through. I have to quit about everything I have done. Since graduating in 2004 from high school I have managed to go through 3 colleges quitting all but 1 where I completed and earned my certificate but yet not satisfied did it for the wrong reasons! Your thoughts and inspiration is definitely shining through your capabilities and I know for sure im grateful for the time and effort you have put towards what you do. You are a smart guy and I always thought that. Those days at work, I would sit there wanting to end up like you. You held your head so high and just were above all the negative and I was appreciative of that. I haven’t forgotten about you Joe, I followed your journey through Myspace to your home on blogspot. Keep doing what you’re doing man you are on definitely paving a clear path to an amazing future! I wanted to break my silence just to let you know you are inspiring more then you know…so never forget it!

    Keep fighting the fight!

    INSPIRED,

    Chad

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  9. Reading this I kept thinking of my husband. I might just link to this so he can read this too. What a great post! We are all scared at points in our life. It really is about believing in ourselves and realizing we can do ANYTHING. I so happy you and Rachel have each other. Reading this made me realize too that my husband needs more support from me to realize the great person he is. Thanks.

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