Sober City Redux: Day 26

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When I was younger the Happy Face (or Smiley Face) was my thing. I mean it was and still is a lot of people’s thing but I adopted it as MY THING. I had happy face paraphernalia everywhere in my room; everyone who knew me bought me absolutely anything with a happy face on it; I incorporated the happy face into my actual signature, and because of the happy face I once got punched in the face giving me a black eye for prom (that’s a story for another blog). Needless to say, it meant a lot to me and it’s not hard to see why. I was always an extremely positive person and I fully believed in the power of positive thinking and manifest destiny and all manner of self help book rhetoric, so the happy face seemed like a pretty natural logo for me to adopt in retrospect. This kind of outlook and thinking served me extremely well and I fully believe it directly influenced a lot of my personal and professional success, so it’s a little disheartening to realize that I now feel completely disconnected from the happy face I used to love so much.

This isn’t to say that I’m depressed. I’m not. I feel pretty great for the most part actually, I just don’t feel a connection to that younger, full of life and promise, happy face guy I used to be. This might not be a bad thing necessarily and it’s more than likely just one of the many things you grow out of as you get older but fuck that! Getting older shouldn’t be about letting go of everything you held dear when you were younger just because time passes. It should be about learning to amplify those things that worked for you and only leave behind all the hot garbage that dragged you down. Apparently I’ve been opting to just lump my wide-eyed-optimistic-fearless-over-confident-anything-is-possible-happy-face persona that made me who I was and brought me nothing but success and happiness into the “Young and Naive” category to wither and die along side “Petty High School Drama” and “Playing Ghost Busters”. It’s ridiculous. Letting go of my happy face obsession is one thing but letting go of what it represented in me is totally unacceptable. When did “growing up” become synonymous with “giving up”? Who decided aging has more to do with changing than adapting? At what point did we all let “getting older” become the opposite of “getting bolder”? I really don’t know but it’s all a pile of horse shit.

The point I’m trying to make (poorly) is that growing up and getting older is a perfectly normal and necessary part of life that benefits everyone in many positive ways and is great and fine and super and ultimately has the potential to chip away all the great parts about ourselves that we used to love while sucking all different kinds of ass and balls. We know this. We know all this yet we let age and fear and jadedness seep their way into our tiny lizard brains and slime the place up with lies and false reasoning. We gotta hold on to the good parts from the past, those good bits of us that helped create and define who we were, who we are. The happy face. My happy face. It worked for me. It inspired me. It lifted me up higher than I had any business going and it’s part of who I was and who I am. Growing up doesn’t mean giving up. Growing up means getting up, again and again and I for one am going to do my damnedest to try and remember that, with or without a thousand happy faces in my apartment.

This post is dangerously close to entering “Sarah Palin bumper sticker ranting” territory so I’ll end it there. As always, feel free to like and share and comment as much you see fit. Every click makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Also Sober City might be going through some changes in the near future so please bear with me as I navigate potentially uncharted territory. Cryptic ominous sentence! Don’t worry. Just stay classy San Diego.
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JM

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Sober City Redux: Day 20

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And here comes the blog delays!

I started writing this on “Blue Monday” which is apparently the most depressing day of the year according to people who have nothing better to do than figure out which day of the year is suppose to suck the most. Lots of days suck already people! No need to point out which one is the worst according to people who have the time to fill out surveys! Those people are probably out of work and depressed enough as it is. I’m surprised they don’t think everyday is a struggle. Seriously. Who even takes these surveys anyway? Whatever. Maybe they’re right. I’m clearly cranky.

None of this matters though because I’m not here to talk about public opinion, I’m here to talk about me. 20 days into Sober City 2 and already I’m feeling the stagnant pangs of redundancy. Like pretty much every movie ever, the sequel just isn’t as good as the original (except Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part 2 of course). The first one was fresh and exciting, exploring uncharted territory with a younger up-and-coming lead who was out to prove something with will power and wit alone. One man’s year long journey into sobriety. Will he make it? Will it change him? Will Wendy finally realize Daniel Stern has been narrating his thoughts the whole time? (Spoiler alert: She never finds out!) The point being, this all made for a relatively exciting blog worthy adventure and now I can’t help but feel like the follow up just doesn’t carry the same weight.

The biggest hurdle I faced doing this last time wasn’t craving alcohol or feeling pressure to drink when I was out with friends, it was boredom. Hands down. I got to the point somewhere around the fall when I had already lost the majority of the weight I wanted to lose and I felt great but I just didn’t really want to keep the experiment going because I was bored with it. The thing that did kept me going was almost entirely the fear of breaking my promise and letting everyone down. I had to see it through to the end to prove to myself that I could do it (even though I already knew I could do it) and I did do it. Good job. Great ending. Bravo Joe MacLeod. The problem I’m facing now is figuring out a way to keep myself excited about doing this for an entire year all over again and to be completely honest with you, I really don’t think I can. I mean I already know I CAN but the question is do I really think I NEED to or do I really even WANT to.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me throwing in the towel. I’m committed to doing this and definitely have no intention of running out and getting drunk anytime soon but I do question my need to abstain completely for an entire year. It just seems like I’m repeating myself. Rehashing the hits for another tour with the same debut album. That being said, I still think staying away from booze completely is the best way to kick start my weight loss and help get me back into shape (both physically and mentally), so I’m definitely sticking with it for a long time to come regardless of all these trepidations. I’m just trying to stay honest with you guys and ultimately with myself. We’ll see where this all ends up together. Blue Monday’s officially over now. Happy Taco Tuesday everybody!
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JM

Sober City Redux: Day 12

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Excuses are the enemy and I’m their number one arms dealer. I excel at creating them out of extremely thin premises and giving them validity and truth for absolutely no positive reason and it’s extremely damaging. Convincing myself to sleep in an extra hour or two because I “need” the rest; Eating all that extra garbage food on Sunday because football is on; Not joining a new gym because I don’t have the money; These are all lame excuses for shitty behavior and I never seem to run out of them. It’s that voice again. That evil demonic asshole voice who does a masterful job of convincing me these terrible lies are true. Soft whispers of doubt. Loud screams of hate. We all have this voice but some of us do a really good job of ignoring it or even silencing it altogether. I used to be one of the lucky ones. I’ve shut him up plenty. He was a tiny speck in my psyche for so long that when he finally grew loud enough for me to hear, I hardly noticed his influence at all. But it was there. It’s a poison. It’s a cancer. It’s the one thing that has the power to derail the greatest of intentions before thought even becomes action and it never takes a day off. It feeds off of fear and insecurity and in turn cultivates more food for its insatiable appetite, swallowing all that is good and producing nothing but despair.

So what’s to be done? How do we expel this infectious swine from its toxic lair of turmoil and rise victorious in the wake of its destruction? We don’t. We can’t. It’s not going anywhere. It’s here to stay because that voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough or we’re not pretty enough or we’re too fat or too old or not the right color or we love the wrong people or we wear the wrong clothes; that voice is our own voice. Sure it can be strengthened by outside influences and various complicated situations but in the end it’s just our own voice and we have the power to shut it up or give it a megaphone. For me, right now, that evil voice is fronting Metallica with 20 stories of Marshall stacks behind it and the only song it’s playing is “You Suck Joe MacLeod”. Nice. Real nice, you jerk.

I clearly have no answers. I’m just experiencing the same thing everyone experiences when trying to change. The shitty voice is resisting and is beginning to roll out the big guns. It’s not an easy fight and I don’t even know if I’m capable of winning. Making excuses is so much easier and immediately rewarding. Why bother trying to do something when doing nothing is clearly a viable option? Terrible lies from the poisonous voice. I’m still optimistic though, oddly enough, that one day I’ll strengthen that other voice, a new voice. A voice of love and compassion and encouragement but some days, some weeks, some years, that shitty voice is just too loud to ignore and that’s where the real challenge lays. When the negative voice is assuming complete control and shouting really, really loud, I have to find a way to plug in my amp, hook up my mic and start shouting louder. Sounds like a good plan at least. Time to see how many excuses I actually have left.
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JM

Sober City Redux: Day 8

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So the one week mark came and went and during that time a lot of people were asking me how I’d been making out without alcohol. Because of this, I feel the need to clarify something on the record for anyone reading this who may not know me on a personal level. I like to drink. I always have. I like the taste and the culture and the buzz and I have a high tolerance so I tend to drink more than some, but I am not an alcoholic. I didn’t drink everyday, I didn’t drink to get drunk, and I definitely didn’t have a problem giving it up for a week. I realize this may sound like text book denial to some of you and if that’s the case then I guess I’m a lost cause because I just don’t see it like that at all. I do however think it’s fair to say that I indeed have issues with drinking from time to time. The simple fact that I feel the need to cut it out completely instead of just cutting back is a good indication of an underlying problem of some sort, I just truly don’t believe it’s alcoholism. But, regardless of what my situation is or isn’t, the important thing is that I’m doing whatever I can to help create a clean and positive mindset to tackle the bigger issues in my life. My weight is one of them but my poor body image is the bigger one. Getting myself back in shape is one of them but getting my self confidence back is the bigger one. Drinking too much is one of them but getting to the issues behind why I let myself give up on truly living in the first place is the biggest one. All of this together is why I’m here.

Also for what it’s worth, I wanted to take a moment to express how grateful I am for everyone reading this and following me on my journey. Making my personal thoughts and struggles public can be a little scary at times so every comment, “like” and share is deeply appreciated. It might seem a little premature to thank you at the beginning of this but I remember how much knowing my words weren’t simply sinking into a void helped keep me motivated and in check last time so thank you, thank you, thank you! You guys are all part of this now whether you know it or not so let’s take this twisted beast by the horns together and ride it until it there’s nothing left!
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JM

Sober City Redux: Day 6

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I did two things recently that tested however many small shreds of confidence I still manage to cling to after letting myself get to this point. First, I took my new “Before” pictures. This is absolutely an essential part of the whole process as far as I’m concerned and I highly encourage anyone else challenging themselves to a New Years transformation to do so as well but be warned, it sucks all the balls all day long. Any self denial mechanisms I had in place regarding just how far I let myself slip, were singled out and quickly taken down by a pack of rabid reality wolves and torn limb from fat jiggly limb. They died. They were eaten. They will be missed.

Secondly, I went shopping for new jeans. Now the only reason I would even subject myself to such nightmarish torture (right after the holidays no less) was due to complete and utter necessity. My only pairs of pants that even remotely fit anymore were literally falling apart at the seams and I’m told it’s socially frowned upon to leave the house in oversized swimming trunks everyday, so a trip to the mall was unavoidable. Now I’m sure that some of you reading this don’t understand how shopping for clothes could ever be described as “torture” and good for you for having great metabolism or awesome self confidence or whatever form of unimaginable black magic lets you coast through life on a cushion of blissful ignorance but for people like me who deal with the twisted horror show that is weight problems, shopping for jeans when you are (or feel) fatter than usual is nothing short of hell on earth. Bad lighting, skinny sales attendants, 8 million mirrors in a tiny room making sure you see every god damn inch of grossness you’re desperately trying to jam into jeans that are already 2 sizes bigger than they used to be. Some chipper and content person saying something like, “You making out OK in there?” and the only honest response is something like, “Oh yeah! Totally fine! I just slipped into the seventh circle of hell! Only two more levels to go before I reach the epicenter of Satan’s inner sanctum! Do you have this in a size Hammer Pants?” Madness. Total panic. Don’t do it. Buy patches.

So I’m not even a week in and already the mountain seems way too impossibly high to conquer. My commitment and drive is still sound and secure but shame and despair hold a shit load of ground. This may sound negative and whinny but it’s important to talk about. This isn’t easy. This isn’t pretty. This takes time. That’s ok. I’ve got a long road ahead of me but so does everyone. Life is gonna happen regardless of what I do, so I may as well actively do something to steer it in the direction I want it to go instead of complaining about where it’s taking me. The good news is that the simple act of committing to change, while it may not make the journey any easier, does in fact make all the other bullshit a thousand times more manageable and that’s a great place to start. Just stay the fuck away from malls and mirrors.
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JM