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I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. – Ozzy Osbourne.

Don’t I feel like the ******* *******. – Colonel Jessep, A Few Good Men

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. – Jesus, Matthew 7:5

Today was epic on many levels. I swam a total of 5 miles. The first session was 2.8 miles, passing an ironman distance of 2.4 miles at about 2:03. (The cutoff in a race is 2:20.) I passed another milestone distance on Sunday. (to be revealed later) This is all good.

But what is more important is what happened at the Y while not swimming. I talked to a lot of people about Saturday. The regulars that were present on Saturday for the blow up were all there today. Including the man I collided with. He was, in fact, the first person I talked to. I had this feeling, as I entered the locker room at 6:15am, and heard the shower running, that I would find him in his usual pre-swim spot. And I did. I had no idea what would happen at this moment as I got up this morning.

Short version: we’re all good.

Longer version: Tom was the first to speak. (I finally learned his name. If I had done so a week ago, this probably would have been completely different.) He apologized for the collision. I apologized immediately as well, and let him know I was out of line to be so loud so fast and out of the blue. But understand that at the time, I didn’t think that was an accident, and it seemed like I was being taught a lesson and I left. He understood how that appeared to me. He was sincere that it was not like that at all, and I believe him.

We had a very calm rational conversation, and he is a reasonable decent human being. I am very happy about the way things went. I feel even more foolish about it now, but you know, that’s the price of being open minded. It is much easier to remain in righteous-indignation mode and be convinced of one’s own innocence, but that’s not my style. It might sound it when talking to friends, but when face to face with a person, I melt. And that is not a bad thing.

So we truly were good to go. That made the rest of day easier. Especially the next 15 minutes, as there were 6 of us lined up in the men’s room hallway waiting for the door to open to the pool. With a broken hallway light, and a dark pool room, this literally left us all standing in the cold dark. The AM lifeguard was quite late, and the men were unhappy. I was too, since it cut into my first ever 2.5 hour session. But I was totally zen about it. There were guys who had to get to work, and now their swims were going to not happen. Two just left. At least one complained loudly to the front desk. I stayed clear of it, figuring it was someone else’s turn to cite the rules.

I got in the epic 2.8 miles, 100 laps. I ran one minute over as the elderly aquacise was gathering, but a sweet older lady said “you just keep swimming.”

Took my breakfast break out, and returned at 11:15. I talked to the front desk person with whom I had spoken (more accurately: ranted emotionally) on Saturday. I expressed my sincerest apology for Saturday, and she was understanding, but asked me if she could be frank and of course I said yes. This was the hardest part of the day: she said that what she heard and observed from me on the way out Saturday after the incident was over and it was just me in the front, was a lot of terribly negative words about myself. As best as I can remember the quote “whatever made you overweight in the first place is something you haven’t dealt with yet.”

I have been letting that sink in all day. It’s true, I am sure, and I appreciated the input from someone I don’t know, but who had observed enough to see it as true.

So I went up to the pool for another 2 hours, got in 81 laps. I would have gotten more, but I paused as familiar faces came to the pool, so I could make sure to apologize to each of them individually. The reactions were all positive, but ranged from “I was totally on your side” to “you did get out of hand” and “some things just needed to be said.” (The last was followed by my own admission that yeah, it helps if the “sayer” isn’t a raving lunatic. That was agreed to probably be a good idea.) – That person had even made sure to stick up for me after I stormed out, saying I was a laid back guy and that wasn’t in character. He was very cool about it all, and is a bygones-be-bygones person. I was really appreciative of that.

But the hard truth is that while it may not be in character for me 99% of the time, that 1% is ugly and dangerous. This is not the first time I have had something like this happen, and when I say that in the passive tense, I do not mean to say it just happened like it wasn’t me acting. Not at all. I have been really going over a couple incidents in my life from some very different situations where I have verbally blown up at someone. I find two combining factors, each powerful in their negativity on their own, but when combined, produce a volatility that is not good.

Factor #1 – a self-righteousness fueled by the idea/justification/trigger that someone is being unfair to others. This makes it easier to justify my words, because I am looking out for others, right? While this could be a good thing in many situations (like teaching our kids to intervene appropriately when another kid is being bullied), it has gotten me in trouble when I have allowed that to morph from proper concern for justice into an excuse to rage.

Factor #2 – the low self-esteem that I spoke of last week, that has been the deeper more troubling part of my problems for a lot longer. I didn’t fully drown those demons yet. I still see myself in very negative ways, and while I will always strive to be a person more comfortable with truth than many (ie, yes I was the fattest person to run snowfest, but that is a badge of HONOR for me, not a putdown) — sometimes it manifests as pure evil.

Combine the two, and you have a molotov cocktail.

So amends have been made, I am moving forward a very happy person, but out of the aftermath come some revelations that I have to deal with. Just as this whole health process began with finally getting some bloodwork that would give me the truth, the less scientific but just as vital mental health things have to be dealt with too.

So thank you dear friends, for continuing on this self-awareness and self-improvement exploration with me. I don’t just do this blog to brag about the baby step achievements, or to say “hey look at me!” I’ve done plenty of that in other venues. I share this raw internal struggle so that others who may relate can see that it’s a shared experience. The details will be different for all of us, but the themes aren’t so special. We all face it one way or another.

Stay with me – it’s getting better, I promise.

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2 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Step Forward, But a Big Dose of a Hard Reality

  1. Finding true peace is the hardest thing in the world, because it forces us to recognize that in ourselves which we believe to be least desirable in the world.

  2. Hi Andy,
    Just wanted to say how much I admire the gut level honesty of your sharing, and your willingness to write for the world to see about your struggles with low self-esteem and self-righteousness. Both of those are potent issues for me, too, and going from a size 20 to a size 6 may have helped me feel better about how I look on the outside but hasn’t silenced my internal critic or made me value myself as a person any more than I did when I weighed over 200. It’s an ongoing struggle to truly *believe* I am God’s beloved child, created good, and not just intellectually assent to it.

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