Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Part 1: The Descent

What a year.

I mean, shit. I remember New Year's Eve 2010 very vividly. The dog and I were at the ex-girl's house with a couple of friends. It was a really, really great night. Here we are, a year later. Almost nothing is as it was that night.

And almost everything was entirely unexpected and unforeseen. HOWEVAH. Almost all of it has been ridonk awesome and for the better. Almost haha.

I've actually been looking forward to writing this year-in-review for a while. If nothing else, this year has given me a LOT of time for reflection. I've thought a lot about this year and what it's meant for me on a lot of levels.

Geez, where to begin?

Overall, I honestly and genuinely believe 2011 turned out to be pretty excellent. And when you consider the extraordinarily inauspicious start, I think that says a hell of a lot about the final third of the year. So as you're reading this first part, keep in mind how, well, awesome I am now haha. It's incredible this is where I started. Parts 2 and 3 will be much more fun and happy, but in order to understand how excellent that was, I have to look at this part, too.

I was so excited about 2011 back in December of last year. There was so much promise, so much to be excited about, really.

A lot of things really seemed to be lining up well and falling into place. The ex-girl and I were thinking about renting a townhouse together. I had a job downtown I enjoyed. In hindsight, though, it's incredibly obvious to me now. I was very unhappy; I just didn't know it at the time.

Then a few things happened that really shook me.

First, the ex-girl and I found a townhouse to rent. Signed the lease and everything. Exciting, right? The next day, my job situation suddenly changed. Obviously, the townhouse couldn't happen anymore. I was devastated. For a lot of reasons.

Honestly, unemployment is pretty embarrassing. It just is. It shouldn't be. It happens. But you know. There you go. And in an effort to put on a strong face and try to force the idea that everything was fine, I internalized a lot of the stress and depression I was feeling at the time.

Well, that's not very productive, now is it? It's not. So what happened? I trapped myself in a downward spiral. Some other things were going on at the time that I clearly did not realize either, and naturally, that did not help matters. Allow me to explain.

I've never been a big guy. I was always very small growing up. At some point over the past two years -- after my half-marathon -- I don't really know what happened. I was complacent, I guess. I stopped taking care of myself the way I should have been. Last Halloween, I went to a party with the ex-girl. At this party, one of my old roommates took a picture of us. We were having a good time, so sure let's take a photo.

Then I saw the photo a few weeks later. Whoa. Who's the fat dude with my girlfriend? Oh shit. That's me.

Then I went home for Christmas. As we do every year, we took photos of Christmas morning. Then I saw the photos. Once again, whoa. When did I get so huge? No, I wasn't morbidly obese or anything. Of course not. But I'm only, like, 5'10". I was nearly 230 pounds. That's not a good look, my friends.

So add those feelings to the increasing feelings of stress, worry, depression, shame and embarrassment, which I was, unwisely, holding inside. Exactly. Nothing good was going to come from that.

I was trying so hard to "be strong" or whatever. It was a poor decision. All I ended up doing was shutting out the people who cared about me. I lost interest in doing anything. I watched a lot of TV. I applied to jobs. And not much else.

I can't even emphasize this enough: that is SO not me, you know? It's incredible to look back on that time now with the benefit of hindsight. Holy hell was I unhappy. How could I let it get so bad and so bleak?

Well, for me, the answer is when you're stuck in a pattern of negative behavior and feelings, it's not always easy to see it. I found a boring routine that suited me, and I stuck to it because it was comfortable. I had blinders on, and I didn't see what was going on around me. Not good times.

It's so strange to think back to a year ago. I seriously cannot even imagine feeling that way now. What in the world. It's just the opposite of everything I know to be, you know, me.

January through, I'd say, mid-April was so incredibly trying. I had a few job interviews. I was a finalist for a position and narrowly missed out. It was a heart-breaking experience -- to get so close to a new job on practically my first try only to be sent back to the beginning. That was in March. Whew. Tough day. It did not help my mindset at all.

I spent my days lying on the couch. I watched the entire series of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And I didn't do much else. I woke up, fed the dog, went back to sleep, woke up again, applied to a few jobs and hit the couch for the remainder of the day. It was a terrible way to live, and it was a completely unsustainable situation for long-term health and happiness.

Something needed to change. Well, a lot of things needed to change. The only problem was I was stuck in my own head -- so deep into the world of semi-depression I'd created for myself. Not only that, but I did not really tell anyone else I was feeling that way, so I had no idea how those feelings were affecting the people around me, who loved me and who I loved.

I needed a wake-up call. Badly. And I needed to get away.

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