Morbidly Obese Dreams, Envy--Gone and A 5K With Jeff
I wasn't able to find my old CPAP mask last night. I found everything else, but no mask. I slept really well anyway. A full nights sleep, more than 8 hours! I felt rested and alive. I didn't notice any sleep apnea symptoms, but I'll be watching---and making a doctors appointment this week for a professional opinion. Really, that's the smartest thing to do. Losing my extra pillow really seemed to help.
I was up and drinking coffee, then I started writing. I wasn't the least bit hungry for whatever reason, but I decided to help out my metabolism with a very nice three egg-white, leftover barbecue chicken, and mushroom omelet. I enjoyed a banana not long after, and my day was off and running.
I've written recently how I've finally discovered me, embraced me---the Sean I always knew I was, completely accepting and loving myself, dropping the self-defense mechanism that meant not being myself. I was constantly pretending to love 505 Sean, and constantly looking for acceptance and love in return--despite what my mind told me I was: An un-lovable mountain of a morbidly obese man. I do realize now that I was loved and loveable, even at my heaviest. I didn't need to spend so much time chasing acceptance from the masses. I go back to my stand-up days to find the biggest example of this pursuit. In reading the following, I've concluded that I owe Jimmy Kimmel a big thank you for making me realize that I was tired of being "the funny fat guy." That wasn't me. The real me was trapped inside that miserable existence. From June 29th, 2009--almost a year ago--Here's another excerpt within an excerpt:
When I think about how my dreams have evolved over the years, I think about how I used to make my dreams revolve around me being morbidly obese. I couldn't really imagine losing the weight, so if I was still going to dream, it had to be as a morbidly obese person. I pursued my comedy dreams as a morbidly obese funny guy, and surprisingly found a certain level of professional acceptance. But I wasn't comfortable being that guy. I didn't want to be the funny fat guy. Most of my material was self-deprecating. I remember several shows where an overweight person would come up to me and ask me to stop being so mean to myself. But I was hooked by the laughter of 399 others in the room that night. It was acceptance. It was a feeling of being loved despite my appearance, and actually loved because of it! I was addicted. It was a powerful thing.
When I started, I would drive four and a half hours to Dallas for five minutes of unpaid stage time. I drove to Tulsa and Oklahoma City twice a week for unpaid stage time. I wanted the rush of making those people laugh. I didn't care if I wasn't getting paid...I was paying my dues, even if it was at the expense of my family. If we could barely afford groceries that week, I would still take the money to get me to that next comedy show. I craved that love from audiences while ignoring the love from my family.
When I started getting paid to perform, it was never enough to justify the extreme cost. But I was always dreaming of that big break on the horizon. That's what would save everything. When I “made it” to Hollywood and was asked to be a host comic at the Hollywood Improv, you would think that would have been the big time. It wasn't. I was sharing the stage with big name comics, I felt real important, but you see, The Hollywood Improv is a showcase club. When you're on that stage, anything can happen. It's like you owe them for allowing you to perform there. As a host comic I was paid $35.00 per show. It was a showcase club, I was lucky to get that. It does pay off for some. But usually for the ones who are truly comfortable with who they are as a person and a comic.
BJ Novak was a relatively unknown comic at the Improv around the same time as me, eventually the executive producer of a new NBC show caught his act there and offered him a part on a show. That show was “The Office.” BJ was very comfortable, very natural, and himself on stage. I was forcing myself to be something I really didn't want to be. I was addicted to being mean to myself, being a bully to myself, for the sake of laughs and acceptance. The breakthrough for me in realizing this unhealthy addiction came while filming a segment for Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The following is an excerpt from Day 18 of this blog:
The bit was produced about an hour before the “live” broadcast, and it wasn't long into the shoot when the director told me that Jimmy wanted me to really put on some womens undergarments so they could photograph it and then make it look like an x-ray image during the bit. This was never mentioned beforehand, and despite the fact that I was so excited to get to hang out and be a part of this show, I told them flat out NO! I said “If that's what I have to do here than I'll just leave now”. The director and segment producer left to consult with Jimmy somewhere backstage, and after what seemed like 10 minutes, they came back and told me that they would use one of their overweight production assistants as a stand-in. I would still be in the bit, but this poor guy would have to be the one they take the fake x-ray picture of in panties and a bra. He was happy to do it, and I was happy to still be in the bit. But I certainly realized that I wasn't one bit comfortable as the “big fat guy”.
I didn't want to be that guy. I never have wanted to be that guy. After that initial appearance they called me several times to do other “let's laugh at the fat guy” type bits. One was a take off of the TV show “The Bachelor” called “The Fatchelor”...and I wasn't in town to do it. I'm glad I wasn't. They ended up using that same overweight production assistant...and I bet he was thrilled!
I want to be that slim, neat looking, in shape, well dressed guy. That's what I dream of being, even if Jimmy Kimmel doesn't think it's as funny! I wasn't in town to do anything else for the Kimmel show, because I packed up and headed back home just a few days after that appearance. I was done trying to make myself feel accepted and loved as the fat guy. My addiction to that rush was over. I had my family's love waiting back in Oklahoma. It was there the entire time. My days of making my obesity a part of my dreams ended on that hot June day in 2003.
When the clarity of this journey started coming about, all of a sudden I started dreaming as a thin and healthy individual. It's so much better. I don't have to be anything I don't want to be ever again. I can be my true self once and for all.
A foot-note to all of that. BJ recently starred alongside Brad Pitt in the Tarantino film "Inglorious Basterds." I'm pretty sure he doesn't complain about the $35 per show check at the Hollywood Improv. Honestly, I used to see the success enjoyed by BJ and a few others in my comedy "class," and I would feel a very real envy---a quiet jealously masked with a smile and a few proud words of "I knew them when." But the more I think about it, the more I realize something very important: Good thing I didn't get that massive break that most comics look for on that stage, not like I was. I wasn't the real me, but I was a good enough actor to fool the audiences---but I never fooled myself, not really. Today, when I see an old comedy buddy on TV or the big screen--I feel genuine happiness for them, gone are the green tinted emotions...because they're being who they really are. And I'm finally being who I really am...and it's an amazingly beautiful feeling.
Before leaving for Stillwater this afternoon, I updated my status on facebook, inviting any of my Stillwater facebook friends to join me for an evening 5K at Boomer Lake. I was pleasantly surprised to have a message not long after, from my childhood best friend Jeff. Jeff was a next door neighbor to my grandparents on Walnut Street. I met Jeff at four years old and we grew up together on that street. Isn't facebook amazing like that? I called Jeff and told him I would be visiting with family first, but would love to do the 5K with him later.
My Aunt Jean and Uncle Sig traveled down from their home in Michigan, on their way to California to visit their son. They're staying at mom's for a week. They haven't laid eyes on me, except maybe for blog photos, since early last fall. I walked in this afternoon and was greeted with hugs from Aunt Jean and "Oh, you're much smaller." Uncle Sig just looked at me and smiled. He was convinced I would never do this. I spent years telling him "the next time you see me I'll look drastically different," so it feels incredibly amazing to finally make good on that proclamation. His smile said it all. Look at you, wow...you look amazing---he didn't say it, he just smiled it. And that was good enough for me. I know that his concern was always for my health, and he looked genuinely proud. We visited, enjoyed some of Uncle Sig's bean soup and some ham sandwiches, plus I brought some extra fruit. It was good, fantastic really, a nice laid back visit. At 7pm, I changed into my 5K clothes and said my goodbyes for the evening. I'll go back sometime this week before they resume their travels West.
I normally don't visit while I walk/jog, but I asked for it tonight---and I enjoyed every minute of my time with Jeff. We actually kept a decent pace, although I didn't officially jog. We talked about the old days the entire time. It was very cool. By the time it was over---we were both covered in sweat. It had rained earlier and the humidy was really high...so really, it was a decent workout and a great visit.
I'm really getting back into the swing of things in the workout department. Spinning class on Friday and two 5K's over the weekend---now if I can get a spinning class complete on Monday evening, we'll really be on a roll!!
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
My dinner tonight. Not pictured: My 3/4 cup of Uncle Sig's Incredible Bean Soup
With my childhood best friend Jeff---right after our 5K at Boomer Lake