What Suffers In A Whirlwind Week? And The Positive Epiphany Found In Childhood Bullies
This has been a wonderful whirlwind week filled with so many different emotions and changes in scenery. It's times like these when I know I must be careful with my daily choices. The biggest thing that I've allowed to slip this week has been my workout schedule. My food? It's all good. I just can't imagine going back to the place where food was my constant escape. And so these changes for me, simply mean—that no matter what the schedule brings—I'm in control of my choices. It doesn't matter where, when, or what I'm doing. There's never a good enough reason, excuse, or rationalization to return to those old food addict behaviors. Now, the exercise department? That's another issue all together for me.
I must remember how I felt after completing the YMCA Turkey Trot 10K last November. It was the toughest workout I've ever experienced. And it felt so incredibly good. I want to feel that way again and often! I've included a picture and the “On The Go” Video from that day---just as a reminder for me. I'll never forget the exhilaration, the absolute sheer pleasure in accomplishment that engulfed me in that moment. That's my personal project...getting my mind right with my workout schedule---getting that mindset in the same comfortable place as my food mentality. Allowing nothing to change my commitment to exercise. I know that if I ever want to fully realize my fitness goals, I must choose change in the workout department like I've done on the food side.
After mentioning Day 53 “Childhood Bullies and Me,” I decided to go back and read. These early post really show how my writing style and structure has improved over time. NewMe in Canada has spent a great deal of time as an editor and she once told me that she enjoyed my content, but my structure was a mess. I was asking for her opinion and she gave it, and it was sincerely appreciated---I so see it now. In the early days---I would just write, write, write---new paragraph? Who needs it? Let it all run together! I say this, because when I re-post---I often re-structure. I don't change the words—unless it means fixing a glaring grammatical or spelling error, I just change the structure and layout of the writing. I try to make it easier to understand. So, with that said....Here's the writing from Day 53 that really helped me today:
I've always had an internal “hope mechanism” that automatically kicks in when I need it most. I first noticed it when I was eight or nine years old. I was always picked on, made fun of, and bullied in elementary school. I was targeted because of my weight, and I now know that it continued because I allowed it.
I never stood up to the bullies, I just tried to avoid them. When the bullying became too much to handle I would pretend to be sick and stay home. I missed so much school in elementary, it's a wonder I made it through without being held back. I drove my mom nuts with the constant excuses and flat-out refusal to go to school. I gave her so much trouble! At home I felt safe. I was surrounded by love and acceptance. At school I felt intimidated and different.
My two biggest bullies were Edwin and Frankie. They knew exactly how to intimidate. They loved the way that they could control me in every way. Edwin would extort pop and food from me in exchange for “protection” from him! Frankie would show up at my home and demand that I come outside so he could beat me up. I remember one time Frankie showed up at the door and quietly demanded me to come outside. I told him that I was grounded. When my mom heard this she said...”Sean, you're not grounded, go out and play.” My mom didn't know how bad it was because I didn't tell her until much later.
When I eventually told her how bad things were, she took me directly to Mr. McEwan's office. Mr. McEwan was the principal, and after mom and I explained all that I was going through he asked me a very important question. “Sean, why don't you fight back?” My reply: “Because I don't want to get suspended.” And that was true to a point, but I also didn't mention that I was terrified of fighting. More specifically, I was terrified of losing a fight. I remember thinking “What if I become defenseless on the ground and they beat me to death?” Mr. McEwan immediately erased the reason I gave by giving me 100% approval to attack the next time I was bullied. He told me that he would look the other way. He was a very smart man. He knew that if I stood up for myself just once, if I threw just one punch, I'd never get picked on again. He wasn't advocating violence, he was encouraging me to demand respect and stand up for myself just once. But even then I was always too afraid to fight.
I never did punch Edwin or Frankie. When I had missed too much school and I was at the limit, and I had to go no matter what, I would make the walk to school with fear in my heart. But I remember thinking to myself “No matter what happens today, at 3:30 I'm going to be back home safe and sound eating an after school snack and watching TV.” It was my internal “hope mechanism”. I still use that same thought process as an adult. If I'm facing something really stressful, I always remind myself, “hey, it's not going to kill me, I'll make it through, and everything will be alright.”
My mom took me to a professional counselor back then, and after one visit they told her that I was going to be just fine because I was a “survivor.” As I grew older and got into junior high the bullying stopped. I became the class clown, and as long as everybody was laughing, then nobody was picking on me. But really, I was picking on me! As I try to better understand the reasons and behaviors that put me over 500 pounds to begin with, I've come up with some pretty deep thoughts about it all. Stay with me here....
As an adult I became the bully and the bullied. The abuse I've inflicted on my body has gone uncontested for over twenty years. Just like I never stood up for myself against Edwin and Frankie, I didn't stand up for myself against myself for over twenty years. You've heard the phrase “I am my own worst enemy”, well this is what I'm talking about! And standing up for yourself against yourself is sometimes a very difficult thing to completely understand, let alone accomplish.
I'm finally doing what Mr. McEwan wanted me to do, I'm demanding respect, self-respect that is, and I'm standing up to the one person who has done the most damage to me...and that's me. To stay on this journey rock solid for 53 days I've had to battle myself daily. But I knew that I was at my limit, I couldn't keep getting bigger, and that no matter what, I have the love and support of my family and friends, and with that loving support and hope the worst days are really not that bad. I was never a fighter, and to this day I've never thrown a punch at any person, but I'm still a fighter, because I'm “punching” down the excuses and walls that have held me back so long.
By the way, Edwin and Frankie are both in prison now. The same prison! I kid you not! I'll try to put their mugshots at the bottom of this page. I sometimes think it would be tremendous therapy for me to take a trip to the Lawton Correctional Center where they live and visit them both at the same time. I have no idea what I would say to them or how exactly that would go, but it would be a tremendous positive thing for me. And maybe for them too. I'm putting that on my list of things to do when I reach my goal. Getting to know myself completely really helps me understand people like Edwin and Frankie a little better.
Gaining control and taking responsibility over your own self-destructive tendencies can save yourself from yourself. Unfortunately for Edwin and Frankie they never gained control and it cost them their freedom. For me, gaining control over myself was and is all about gaining freedom, gaining life, and making the kind of decisions everyday that will make me a stronger, healthier man, a better role model for my amazing kids, and a better husband to my wonderful wife.
I've decided not to re-post their mugshots. You can still see them on Day 53's post archived in the November 2008 folder. I wonder if they have any clue or care about the effect they've had on me. I was affected negatively at first, but through a deeper understanding---coming out and experiencing some positive epiphanies was the end result. There are positives in most everything, sometimes they just take longer to find.
I took a nap late afternoon and I really needed the rest. I enjoyed an amazing dinner at home and then was called out by a friend who needed a driver and poker playing friend. I can do that. I'm enjoying life like I've never felt. And no---this journey isn't perfect, but it is exactly what I needed to be free. I never needed perfection, none of us do---I just needed positive direction. And that's where I'm headed, in a positive direction with a confident patience---knowing that all I desire will come in time with a continuous positive effort, a smile, and my good choices.
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
That feeling---Oh my, it was amazing. I must remember how it felt—and strive for that feeling in my workouts.
I was overwhelmed with emotion---I tried so hard not to show, but sometimes---yeah...