Hey wait a minute, I recognize this place; I’ve been down this road before. This is the path that leads back to my destruction. I know this road like the back of my hand, so well in fact, that I can go down it twice as fast as recommended. I know every twist and turn because this is the paths I ALWAYS end up on.
I’ve learned a little about myself, so I now know what starts me down the path… self-doubt. Usually I’m humming along the road to wellness when my buddy self-doubt comes knocking at my door. He tells me that I can’t stay “good” forever and that I’m bound to fail. Then he proceeds to tell me all the great excuses I can use, should I decide that he’s right. “You deserve a break” and “life’s too short, enjoy yourself” are a couple of the lines I hear. Before I know it, self-doubt is crashing on my couch because he’s got nowhere else to go. Eventually I break down and I begin to listen to what self-doubt has to say.
The road might look a little different each time I go back down it, but it always ends up back at the same place. This time the road started with stress, or more accurately, it started with my inability to deal with my stress. I used to deal with stress by smoking cigarettes. Then I quit smoking 5 months ago. I used to deal with stress by drinking alcohol (heavily) on the weekends, then I quit drinking about 4 months ago. All I had left in my stress toolbox was eating; I gained almost 50 pounds before deciding that it was not sustainable. I found the courage to take on my unhealthy eating habits about 2 months ago and my performance up until now has been stellar. The problem though is that my stress toolbox is empty. I tried to add exercise, but it wasn’t the same. I tried meditation, but it wasn’t enough. The stress has been building and building for 8 weeks now with no outlet.
For me, stress turns into anger. I begin to lose control over my anger and outbursts ensue; outbursts at work and at home. One of my good friends told me that he liked me better when I was still smoking. It was not in a mean way; it was in the context of me talking about how short my fuse has been lately, and it was not meant to suggest that I needed to start smoking again either. Still it stung a little to hear that. After outbursts comes the guilt about not being able to stay in control. I’m a well-respected leader; it’s my job and I’m paid handsomely to stay in control. My wife and kids deserve a father and husband who doesn’t yell all the time. THERE IT IS… THE NOBLE EXCUSE.
It actually started 2 weekends ago with a little drinking on Saturday night. Unfortunately, it worked and I felt better for a few days. Hey nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam now and then right? So why not do it again (last weekend)? A little more alcohol, but last weekend wasn’t as effective (or maybe the stress was a little more?). I guess it doesn’t really matter; the point is that it was the beginning of a pattern that built up to my latest epic performance last night. Last night I drank way too much alcohol, ate way too much junk food, and smoked a couple cigarettes to boot. I won't go into all the details, but it's fair to say that the ditch I landed in is fairly unpleasant at the moment. Yep, I’ve definitely been here before.
So now I find myself back on the road to hell. It’s a toll road that gets more and more expensive the longer you travel on it. Much like parts of the NJ Turnpike, there’s not a lot of exits. Even if I see one I’m not sure if I can get off, because after all, you have to want to. There’s more to come; I’m not exactly sure where I go from here so I need some time to figure it out. I’ll let you know how it goes.
-Stay Strong! (not like me)
[Photo: Flickr / János Csongor Kerekes]