It barely seems feasible as I type the words, but it’s now the 21st of December. In 45 minutes it will be the 22nd.
Time is a flexible commodity. It seems like it’s endless when you’re experiencing a given moment – but in retrospect is fleeting and appears as if it’s flown past at an impossible rate. Tonight it feels like a barely heartbeat has elapsed since I started writing my blog In February – but it’s much longer – and it’s only now that I’ve begun to realise that fears I’ve carried with me and that have driven me for almost a year are slowly fading away.
People ask me a lot of questions about my weight loss and other aspects of personal change – but several questions keep cropping up.
Firstly – ‘You must feel different. Do you feel different?’
The easy answer is ‘yes I do’ – but the ways that I feel I’ve changed are becoming a bit difficult to list. It’s not just physical. It’s emotional, intellectual and deeply psychological as well. I can list the reverberations of weight loss one at a time – but often I stick with the basics and say ‘yes’ and mention a couple of areas where I feel better. I never feel like I’ve done the question justice with my various answers though.
Secondly – ‘What about your excess skin?’
Oddly this one I find quite amusing lately, although the first time someone asked me I didn’t take it quite so well. The answer to this is ‘I don’t know.’ After losing nine stone there’s some sagging here and there – but nothing that makes me want to throw myself off a tall building. I think all of my walking helps in this respect and I’m just taking each day as it comes.
Thirdly – ‘Do you think you’ll fail like you did before?’
Now – to be fair no-one has ever asked me this. I’m cheating a bit here for dramatic effect.
This voice is my inner monologue. It’s my fear talking and it’s a question I’ve asked myself over and over since I started losing weight. It’s prompted by the third thing that people really ask me – which is:
‘You must be so proud of yourself – are you proud of yourself?‘
Honestly not really – and every time I’m asked this I think of my own previous question, and shrug a bit to deflect the need for a proper response.
This is because I feel like rather than winning I’m somehow just resetting the clock back to zero. Since I started changing in January it’s seemed to me like ALL of the work I’ve done upto (and a bit beyond) this point is to get back to the person I was in 2008.
I feel like any praise that I might inadvertently acknowledge about what I’ve accomplished this year might detract from the memory that I previously had all of this ‘success’ (or at least a version of it) once before – and through sheer stupidity I threw it all away and regressed into old habits again.
I’ve held onto this thought (and fear) as a form of motivation and self punishment.
A good friend came to visit me today and we discussed this as we walked the long way (I need to make up for a weekend characterised by the munchies) into town and also while we drank coffee.
Despite me telling him I wasn’t able to do presents this year he had unexpectedly cheated, and presented me as he walked into my kitchen upon arrival with a brightly wrapped gift.
In doing so he displayed both his customary generosity of spirit and a deep understanding of who I am with an item that zeroed in on something I love – one of my great pleasures in life.
I didn’t open the parcel until he’d left my house to drive back up north, but after he departed (and as I was sipping coffee from his mug with a smile) I was still thinking about our chat. I had mentioned to him that I’d realised my fear was fading – and that without knowing quite when it began to dissipate I had also begun to accept that success may be in my future rather than the inevitability of failure.
In the past when I’d lost weight or tried to modify my drinking and other habits I always felt like I’d been hiding my true nature (often to please others) and that something darker inside me needed to be metaphorically and literally fed in private. As soon as my willpower to ‘be a good man’ faded and people’s backs were turned the gloves were off and I engaged in bare knuckle bouts with junk food and booze.
I suppose the best way of putting it is that I thought that in order to be who others wanted me to be I had to continually pretend to be someone that I wasn’t.
This used to manifest itself most profoundly in relationships. I was the guy that hid his cigarettes under the spare wheel of his car. I was the guy who as soon as his girlfriend went away he’d hit the pub and not come up for air for days. I was the guy who had muesli with the girl he loved for breakfast whilst listening to radio 4 before leaving for work and secretly buying junk food on the way.
I was a crappy boyfriend at times because of this, and really didn’t deserve the patience of the women who had to put up with it. A lie in a relationship is a lie, whether it’s big or small and it’s cumulatively corrosive if it becomes constant.
However – I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m NOT that person any more, and thats a really difficult thing to wrap my mind around.
I’ve said to a few people (usually in answer to question one) that I am continually taken aback by how my thought processes have changed in the last year – but secretly for a very long time I was quietly wondering in the next breath how long it would be before I reverted to type and pressed the self destruct button again.
As I write now, with the clock approaching midnight and time invisibly edging closer to Christmas day (and 2017) I’m struck by the fact the the new year represents a lot. Soon it will be year zero again for me and I’m going to be entering territory of all kinds that I’ve not been in for decades.
Surprisingly though I don’t think I’m going to be carrying quite as much fear with me – just a willingness to get on with the day to day business of building my life back up again, and truly living rather than just existing.
I’m going to climb a mountain soon internet, and I don’t mean a metaphorical one. It’s not a pipe dream. It’s going to happen in 2017. I’m going to reach the top of it, and when I do I’m going to take a photo and post it for the whole world to see.