I once stood on a stage at 19, unable to please him, frustrated by the whole thing. I finally asked him what it was he wanted me to do.
“Do better,” he said — The Measure Of A Man, The World According to Chuck (Xlibris, 2004)
I could have called this 98 Days Later. I thought about it.
So here we are, New Year’s Eve. Fourteen weeks later.
I had all this profundity to share, but I decided against it. Really, when you start talking about obesity and diets and weight loss, it gets worse than politics. People have attitudes, opinions, issues. I’ve heard from some. I want to say, It’s not about you, but I’ll just leave it alone. I started on a journey, a little challenge to myself, an attempt to change something. I ended up here.
Here’s a story, though, that’s been on my mind. When I was in treatment in 2006 for my alcoholism, I sat through a lecture by a counselor, a woman who’d been addicted to meth. As she was describing her life at its worst, she told of how she made her children scrounge for scraps while she hid in the bedroom, smoking her meth. And how she’d force them to go to bed at 3 in the afternoon just so she could get high in peace.
“Most people wouldn’t understand,” she said, “but another addict would.”
And it took all my feeble will at that moment not to stand up and say, “I’m an addict, and I don’t understand.”
A little later, I brought this up in my group counseling session, and my counselor nodded in understanding, chalking it up to my personal minimization of all the many faults and abusive behaviors I must have demonstrated during my drinking. He tried to be gentle, though. “You think you’re better than her,” he said.
“I AM better than her,” I said.
I was, too. They were children.
I have done time with my demons. You have too, probably. It was hard. I’m still here. I’m doing OK. Other people have done the same thing, lots of them.
It doesn’t mean you get to be forgiven everything. You might have to make some amends. You might have to grovel a little. You might have to come to terms with the chaos you caused, not just yours but theirs. You might, in fact, have to do better.
So I changed what I could. I thought it’d be better if I lost some weight. Healthier. I also found the theatrical aspect intriguing; I would not only feel different, I’d look different. Believe me, that kept me going on a lot of rainy days when I didn’t feel like walking.
It was just my thing, at that moment. It was the only thing I could think of at the time, actually.
I have lots more things now.
And besides the sense of accomplishment, and the fun I had today buying a new pair of jeans (dude, check it out: 34 regular, not “relaxed fit,” not “loose,” but freaking regular), I have the satisfaction of knowing I crossed that one thing off my list for now. And more than a little energy. And cockiness. I lost 70 pounds in 14 weeks. You want to take me out of the game? You’d better bring a loaded weapon or a whole bunch of kryptonite, I’m not going easily.
Of course, tomorrow I might get hit by a bus. You pretty much only get one day at a time, a daily reprieve, but I’ll take this one, and my new jeans, and the knowledge that the world is just waiting. If only for today.
Because in 49 years, stuff happens. I’ve been pretty fortunate, but still. I still miss my dad, gone now four years. I miss my daughter, living her own life on the other side of the country. My son faces problems that overwhelm me sometimes. A dark winter looms, money is always an issue, I have career choices to make, the roof needs fixing. But for today, this last day of the year, I get to say this.
Through my life, at different times I have battled grief, loss, loneliness, depression, boredom, financial insecurity, obesity and booze, and you know what?