Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 641 What Suffers In A Whirlwind Week? And The Positive Epiphany Found In Childhood Bullies

Day 641

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...

Good Choices,

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...


  1. What an inspirational post! You truly have had an amazing journey. I am on a weight loss journey as well; down 90 pounds with 20 more to go. Thanks for sharing, it keeps us all motivated.

  2. Absolutely wonderful to see you so excited and happy! To reach a goal like running a 10K... wow! It's motivation like that that will help you make good exercise choices every day. I know how giddy I was when I was able to walk my first 5K earlier this month. Then and there, I stated I was going to run next year's 5K. I know I can do it! After that, watch out 10K. You're next!

    Thank you again for your continued inspiration, Sean. Means so much! :)

  3. Sean,

    I did a report on "Bullying" in my Psychology class last year after I saw a rise in teen suicide as a result of being bullied. I am sorry you had to suffer at the hands of those brutal men. Bullies want to enjoy the benefits of living in the adult world, but are unable and unwilling to accept the responsibilities that are a prerequisite for being part of the adult world, so I am not surprised Edwin and Frankie are where they are. Most bullying derives from fear. More often than not, it gives them a false since of control, and a way for them to mask their own fears.

    I am so happy your mother stepped in. More needs to be done to protect the victims of bullying. So often school staff, witnesses of the bullying, and parents do not take it seriously. In most cases, the victim felt unprotected, hopeless, and fearful to the point they saw no other way out but to end their own life:(

    I thank God you are not one of those statistics. Going to meet Edwin and Frankie will be a challenge, but another step I would love to see completed in your journey...another piece of closure:) God Bless you Sean!

  4. This video made me smile...the confidence and excitement in your face makes me so happy...:) :) :) And I guess that's all I'll say about it for now.

    I don't really know how I feel about you going to see Edwin and Frankie. (Weird, right? Since I usually have an opinion on everything..hehe) But I know you'll make the right decision when the time comes...

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you are inspiration personified...and that will never get old. :)

  5. You always inspire me. I hope I can tap into some of your strength as I change my self-destructive tendencies and learn to fight for myself.

  6. false *sense of security, not since:)

  7. Not only a false *sense of security, but control as well. For the most part, when you confront a bully, they back down. They are just as scared as you are. You just didn't know it. And to think victims have lost their lives to bullies. What a waste! Makes me mad, but more sick than mad.

  8. Truely will get where you are going, day by day, one step at a time! One day I hope you get to visit Edwin & Frankie and maybe your words will change thier lives as it has so many of ours!
    God bless you always Sean~

  9. I loved seeing your video after the 10K - it totally brought me back to how I felt after running my very first race (a 5K) and then again crossing the finish line at my first half marathon - the wave of emotions, the pride and amazement. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I stopped by your inspiring blog today. Congrats on your loss. My son went through a bout of bullying and I couldn't get anyone at the school to help - the comment was "it is junior high after all" it's definitely not acceptable. I'm glad you overcame the challenges. Bullies seem to go on to be CEOs
    Less of Me

  11. Wow, Sean! I didn't realize how my suggestions resonated with you. But now that you mention it, your writing includes a lot more paragraphs now! I'm glad that I have been of help to you, since you have such a wonderful story to tell.

    Actually, I've never been an editor as such. I've been a translator/interpreter for over twenty years and you can't help but reflect on how people express themselves. Keep up the good work!

  12. I don't really see the point in going to see your childhood bullies. Just as you were a child in the situation, they were children too. Children can be cruel and mean. But to go back and confront someone who did something to you decades later is unnecessary. You can't hold someone accountable for something they did when they were 12.


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