In keeping with the spirit of my last post, I’ve been doing a lot of culling and a lot of changing. I do not feel bad about either of them. If anything, I feel better than I have for as long as I can remember. Looking back over the arc of my life – I’m hard-pressed to find myself in better alignment between mind and body than where I am rightfuckingnow.
Let me break it down for you –
I’m in the throes of a fucking massive overhaul.
Think of it like this – I am a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. Throaty-as-fuck 426 Hemi under the hood. Lots of miles. Rust. My alignment is off just enough to notice(I veer to the right). Most of me is made up of original parts, but I have some foreign parts as well – lots of scar tissue from “accidents,” a couple of knife wounds, some bullet fragments. One owner. And like I said before – lots of miles.
Now that you have that image burned into your mind, I want to tell you what’s been going on with me over the last week to ten days or so.
Not only am I taking the opportunity to use the beginning of a New Year/Decade to weed out all the malcontents and misery addicted people from my life, I am also using it to get myself closer to something resembling “healthy.” I’ve spent so much of the last decade or so working on getting my mind/spirit “right,” that it would be a shame if I continued to neglect the vessel that contains me as well.
I have abused the fuck out of this body. Over twenty years of smoking. A life-long addiction to soda and sugar. Terrible eating habits. Awful sleep patterns. Years of abusing alcohol, narcotics, pills, etc. So sedentary at times that it’s hard for me to even believe that I used to be a pretty good athlete, a Gym Rat who was always hunting for an open gym to play hoops with anyone, any time(and I am sure there are plenty of people out there still in shock that a lumpy, “Elmer Fudd-lookin’ motherfucker” like me schooled their asses from time to time, too).
I took the beginning of a fresh year as a way to start working on getting myself not only back into something resembling the shape I was in when I was in the military, but to try and make it so that I don’t drop dead in the middle of the night standing there bathed in the low-level lighting of the open refrigerator as I’m rooting around for another Coke to chug.
I mean – and as per the usual, we’re on Front Street here – if I was able to quit my fucking drug/alcohol habit(s) in the manner in which I did(I made the decision to stop – and then just fucking stopped), why shouldn’t I be able to make this shift as well? In the long run, this will save me the agony of the early adult onset diabetes I had penciled myself in for, not to mention save my kidneys and liver the trouble of having to filter out all of that crap I’ve been dumping down my throat since childhood.
I made myself an appointment to go and see Gilles Obermayer, who is not only a health magician, but a member of my ever-expanding family(he’s engaged to The Wife’s Aunt, Rosie, who is also a healer – acupuncture wizardry). I was a little bit nervous on my way over to see Gilles, but then I really thought about it, and realized, that for once in my life, I was really doing something good for myself, and that I needed to be forthright and straight up about everything that I felt was wrong with me. Both Gilles & Rosie have come and done work on me in emergency-type situations(me falling down a flight of stairs, or my back locking up on me so badly that I couldn’t stand up straight), and in talking with them, they’ve made it clear that I have a pretty good understanding of my body, and about what is or isn’t working properly. Which is a bonus.
Gilles made me feel right at home immediately, and we got down to business – taking our time talking about every single malady and possible Costanza I had fears about. Talking about my diet, my sleep patterns, the way my body feels when resting – you name it – we covered it. I told him that it felt to me as though my “fire” had gone out, and that anything I felt passionately about was now bordering on being a chore, or a task that I couldn’t bring myself to complete without great and concerted effort. And I told him that throughout most of my life, the one thing that had always been a constant was that “fire.”
I’ve been having problems with my right hip & lower back since I had hernia surgery back in June of ’07 – when the doctors cut me open, they realized the injury was much worse than they originally thought, and that almost the entire abdominal wall on my right side was shredded. They put a bunch of that titanium mesh inside of me, hoping that the musculature would grow through it, like lattice, and become whole again. Because of this, and my irrational fear of re-injuring myself, it has been hard for me to maintain the strength of my lower back. I’ve felt all along that the problems I have with my right hip(it constantly feels as though a tendon needs to “pop over” my hip bone, and like my right leg is a taut line, ready to come unhinged at any time) are related to the surgery/lack of activity as well. As I relayed all of this information to Gilles, he kept on nodding at me, as if to say “You’re not too far off.”
After we finished talking, Gilles went to work on my body. As he was kneading and working on my muscles and joints, he kept on asking me if he was hurting me. I explained to him that I have an almost ridiculous threshold for physical pain, and that he shouldn’t worry about it. I could feel my body loosening throughout his systematic and methodical manipulations – I also felt great relief when I felt my right hip pop into the place where it is supposed to be, so much so, that I teared up a bit.
Validation is such a powerful thing, especially for someone who feels hyper-connected to their instincts like I do.
After the session was over, Gilles and I sat down to talk again. He broke it down pretty simply for me – my liver channel is not functioning properly, causing my body to be in an almost constant state of depression. Without question, my bad habits tax my liver far too much, rendering it unable to do the work it needs to do for me to be and feel healthy. Some of that can also be attributed to the titanium in my abdominal wall – a normally functioning human body will be in a constant state of battle with anything foreign residing within it – which is why some people are not able to heal body piercings, or have trouble holding ink from tattoos(both of which I have obviously never had any problem with).
Gilles then gave me instructions on how to change my lifestyle and diet to help my body heal itself from the damage I have done to it over the years. As he was talking to me, I could feel a Great Weight being lifted off of me – as if me taking just this one tiny little step was the opening of a doorway that was never going to close.
For me, that hardest part of my life has always been conquering that initial fear of the unknown. Once I’ve gone beyond that threshold, I can usually create the necessary drive and discipline to apply the knowledge I’ve gained, move forward with it, and grow.
And that is exactly what I am doing.
I haven’t had a soda, or anything containing refined sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup in almost two weeks. Not only did I power my way right on through that addiction, but I am drinking – wait for it – water – liters of it daily. If you know me at all, you know that for years, as soon as someone offers me a glass of water, I break out the old WC Fields line – “Water? I never touch the stuff – fish fuck in it.” – because for some reason, my body was conditioned to only consume things with sugar in them. Probably because I was a sugar addict, and a terrible one.
Not anymore. Done.
Because I’ve spent years dumping spoonful after spoonful of sugar into my coffee, I gave that up as well. I replaced it with two cups of Yerba Mate’, but I cannot drink anything with caffeine in it after 5PM. No raw foods – everything must be cooked or at room temperature for me to eat it. No cooling foods(foods that cool the blood), like broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach. No turkey or lamb. No eating after 7PM. I’m working really hard on some of his other recommendations, like me being asleep by 11PM(he knows this one will be rough for me – I’ve always been a night-time creature), and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night(I usually sleep no more than five – anything more than that and I feel hungover – which he said was a product of me conditioning my body to need to be awake and continue to consume all of that sugar).
The Wife tells me that I am already losing weight, and that my skin looks a lot better. All I know is that I feel fucking great – I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Most of my usual aches and creaky bones seem to have given up, and I no longer feel their dull throbbing. I haven’t had to slather my lower back and hip with Tiger Balm in two weeks. I don’t feel like I am dying after walking The Gracie for an hour in the evening. I wake up feeling refreshed – and actually hungry, which is totally a new one for me. Breakfast used to consist of one French Press full of coffee, coupled with at least half a pack of smokes* before I felt even remotely human.
All of this is hard fucking work. I know this is not going to be easy, but I also know that this is worth it – I’m not getting any younger, and my chances for reversing or changing all of the damage I have done to myself decreases annually.
This change, this personal revolution, is a necessary one. I have a lot of work to do in this life, and I am not going to be some sloppy, unhappy mess of a man who looks back twenty years from now and laments the fact that I didn’t align the physical me and the mental/spiritual me when I had the chance. I’ve worked far too hard conditioning the latter, while taking the former for granted. I cannot stomach seeing the me in the future that I was headed toward.
Removing a lot of miserable and negative people from my life, no matter how extraneous they might have been, has been a great help for me. I feel like a raw nerve emotionally – incapable of even reading something with a negative or woe-is-me connotation to it, my instant reaction being one of repulsion. And as I said in the beginning of this Ramble, not to mention the previous one – I just cannot roll with misery addicts any longer. I’m done with it.
I’m doing this for me.
*Before anyone starts to yammer on in the comments or in e-mails about me quitting smoking – please understand that this is a long-term goal. If I am making all of these crazy lifestyle changes, eventually I will get to a place, after lots of exercise and creating new habits, where quitting smoking will be as easy as can be. Until then – please leave me be about it. Thanks.