How I Got Here – Gains vs Loses

I lost it all. At least that’s how I felt.  No more steady high dollar income, no more life of crime, no more single life and no more steroids.

My life changed drastically 4 years ago. Some of the changes were voluntary, while others were forced upon me. Instead of appreciating what I would gain in my new life, I could only focus on what I no longer had.

My ex-girlfriend and I were moving in together to start a life as a family with her son. He was 3 at the time and I wasn’t going to allow him to be raised around a man who was selling drugs. He deserved better than that.  So I quit my lucrative profession of choice for the last 20 years and I had no idea what I was going to do.

Luckily, I had saved up a nice nest egg to make sure we would be well taken care of for a couple years. However, I totally lost perspective of that.  All I could think about was what in the hell was I going to do now.

I was lost and I certainly didn’t have the work ethic to go work for someone else. My ego told me that was beneath me.  I was an entrepreneur, so I had to figure out a way to be my own boss. It’s amazing what ego and arrogance can lead you to believe.

I was forced to give up using steroids because a scan found pool ball sized tumors on my liver. The doctors told me they were liver adenomas from using steroids and I had to quit using immediately. Two years later I found out they were cancerous and had be removed, but that’s a story for another time.

I had been using steroids off and on for the last 10 years. The last 2-3 years I used them continuously.  I was obsessed with how I looked and how “big” my muscles were. If I had to rank the importance in my life, it was in the top 3 things I cared about most.

Without steroids my muscles quickly diminished and my clothes no longer fit like they once did.  I would put on a shirt I used to love and have a meltdown complaining about how it used to fit.  I lost 15 pounds in a couple weeks. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without clothes on. (more…)

The Snowplow Metaphor that Became a Reality

This weekend I went to Baltimore to meet up with some friends at a Belgian Beer-fest.  On Saturday evening I decided to drive back home to Philly when I saw snow starting to come fall. The weather reports were calling for some heavy accumulation and I didn’t want to be stuck.  It was Valentines day and I hadn’t booked a hotel for the night.  To make matters worse we were hanging out about a mile away from where my ex was currently living.  It had the makings me of getting horribly drunk and doing something asinine so I left.

As I started my trek home quickly realized I was driving directly into the storm.  The snow was coming down hard.  The wind was violently whipping snow all around which made conditions much worse. During certain points of the drive it was almost a complete white out.  Visibility was barely three feet in front of me.  Driving over 35 mph wasn’t an option.

Being from the North East you learn to become accustomed to driving in winter storm.   Even though I’m normally a pretty shitty driver, I’d say my snow driving game is pretty strong. But, This was one of the worst storms I had ever driven in.  About half way through I arrived at a bend in the road where traffic had come to a stand still.  The road was so icy that people were spinning out of control and careening off the side of the road.  Keeping control of my car became very difficult.  I was going 5 mph and when I had to hit the breaks my car would slide out of the lane.  Several times I came very close to bumping into other cars that were sliding all over the road with me.

With my steering wheel clenched my focus became on just getting past this small stretch of road safely.  I could see cars 1/2 mile in front of me driving safely.  It took the better part of 5 minutes to go 1000 feet.  At that point I could hear the horn blasting from the truck behind me.  The obnoxious sound aggravated me to no extent.  I was swearing and freaking out behind the wheel because of this asshole behind me.  Couldn’t he understand I was struggling like every other car on the road to make it through this section safely.  His horn continued to blast!  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I lost it.  I started to slide off the side of the road so I decided to just make it to the shoulder so this fucking guy could pass.

As I pulled to the side of the road I rolled my window down, stuck my arm out the car and flipped the trucker off.  I was screaming every horrible combination of curse words at this guy and praying for his demise.  Once the truck started passing me I realized why he was beeping and trying to get me to move over.  The truck was a fucking SNOWPLOW!  He wasn’t being an asshole.  He was trying to help me.  Once I let him in front of me I drove back onto the road and it was smooth sailing for the next 10 miles while I followed him.

I was so caught up in my own struggle to get out of the icy conditions I didn’t even bother to take a good look at the truck behind me.  Instantly assuming he was just a typical asshole on the road trying to get home faster. I didn’t stop to realize he was honking his horn to get me to move over so he could clear the path for my journey home.  I allowed my current situation to consume me and make me blind to the fact that there could be help out there in these dangerous conditions.

This story really happened to me February 14, 2015.  This situation was like a giant metaphor for my life kicking me in the balls and saying HELLO!  I become so entrenched in the bullshit that is pulling my life down that I don’t see that there is an easier way.  My impatience, shortsightedness, and inability to see the big picture causes me to make poor choices.  I can’t see past my current situation and the fact that it is only temporary.  I am only concerned with how it is affecting me at that point in time.  All I want to do is get out of whatever I’m feeling or dealing with as quickly as possible because it is just too much for me to bear.

The ride home sucked. It was treacherous and scary at times.  I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me or control my car at times.  What is normally an hour and forty-five minute drive took the better part of 5 hours.  This type of journey is on par with how I have lived my life.  I don’t take the time to evaluate situations, see what is unfolding and navigate them correctly.

I have lived my life this way for as long as I can remember.  My tendency is to ignore signs that are telling me to stop or slow down.  The ironic part of that is I have “SLOW DOWN” tattooed across my knuckles as a reminder to myself.  Something better is ahead of me if I’m patient, do the hard work and take the right actions.  I don’t take the signs from God, the universe, friends or a real fucking snow plow that they are trying to get my attention for a reason.  That they are trying to show me there is an easier path for me to drive on.  That there is a better life or way of living if I am willing to slow down, put my ego aside and allow them to show me their plan.