Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Long, Hard Look

I have struggled in some capacity for most of my adult life with being "too much."  I know, pretty broad brush to paint with.  But not without reason.  I've never been too much of something, rather too much of everything.  Or so I have come to believe in my heart.  For the longest time, I've viewed such a trait through the lens of a troubleshooter.  In search of a problem; a common denominator.  Ah ha, found it.  I oppress and overwhelm.  In more instances than I could ever recount in a single entry, my headstrong and over-the-top commitment to whatever lies ahead, has driven others away from me. 

In no place has this ever been more present than the weight room. I punched in every day with the steadfast intent to depart stronger and more intelligent than when I'd arrived.  I accepted no less than constant progress. Reaching peak potential is a decades long journey and I had not one minute to waste in the slow lane behind anyone's bullshit. My drive to advance beyond the walls of a local gym immediately put me at odds with anyone unwilling to step outside their comfort zone. I met their lack of similar ambition with great hostility, as if my own goals were under threat. Looking back, I'm certain no one ever sought to slow me down. I was protecting a pursuit I held close to heart and would not see it held back by anything or anyone. I wonder if my appetite for more and more and more, ultimately cost me the kind of camaraderie so many lifters flock to powerlifting for in the first place. 

You could choose a subject at random and I could talk you into a coma about it. Or worse, we could be driving somewhere for such a conversation and your only choices would be to grin and bear or unbuckle and barrel roll into the ditch. I love to talk about the things I love and can exhaust a room full of once engaged but inevitably detached participants.  I never stop. My life is nothing without passion and I possess the strongest desire to share mine with anyone in a hundred mile radius.  
- Looking back, I wonder if I never considered that the conversation wasn't so mutual. Rather, a one-sided purge driven by necessity. Bursting at the seams. Like a bonfire seen from space when you were expecting a match book. I'm the guy who talks to himself on the phone, not realizing the call dropped fifteen minutes ago. And then I stress because I could never recount such a tale twice. Unfortunate for me, though a blessing for the reader. 

I can't help but feel everything more. Bleeding heart, worn on rolled up sleeve. Some days I feel fortunate to harness the strongest love for the moments that make me who I am. To have an albatross wingspan to hold so much close to me.  To feel so much - it has to be a gift, I say to myself.  Then I realize the complete reality of a wide open soul and a prominently displayed welcome sign.  When I lost my job early this year, it fucking ruined me. I came unhinged and drove myself into darkness.  It broke my spirit.  I hadn't simply lost a paycheck.  I was stripped of friendships that don't occur twice in a generation.  The unfolding story of a crew who'd stand in front of a bullet for one another, had its final pages torn out prematurely and burned by an indifferent machine. I wasn't just without employment.  I was void of purpose. I'd lost my identity. 
- Looking back, I question if I should have invested so much of my emotional capacity into something that should otherwise amount to a bi-weekly direct deposit. If I'd not attached my soul to an offshore installation and its occupants, I wouldn't have felt so violated when it was taken from me.  Maybe this whole 'heart on my sleeve' thing is a dangerous way to walk through life.

I live with an overwhelming desire to build an empire composed of souls with similar destinations.  I don't really know how to embark on a solo adventure.  It has never been my way.  Even in a seemingly one-man pursuit like powerlifting, I have never felt alone or sought solitude.  Rather, I drove myself just as aggressively to become a successful coach and mentor, as I did a lifter.  My path to fulfillment in strength sport is to elevate the entire group.  To feed off one another; exchange ideas and grow together.  Fail together and rebuild together.  A fire smolders in my chest that only remains subdued by the continued advancement of the ones around me.  Removed from my element, the flame is all-consuming.  I question everything I've come to know and love about my sport and my role in it.  On more than one occasion, my seemingly righteous path of empowerment has led me to run everything over in front of me.  Someone sends me an email asking for a few quick lifting tips, and within minutes, I'm drafting the plans to build a war machine of the newest member of my army.  "Uh actually, I was just wondering like, what kind of pre-workout you use."  ... Oh.  Try a coffee.  I imagine them receiving my fifteen page response to their single-sentence inquiry, and slowly backing towards the door.  My bad BRO, I thought you wanted to do something real.  
- Looking back, I'd probably be a more effective coach if I didn't try to jam everyone into my ideal model of "Will Die For Sport" work ethic.  Most of my failures with lifters were probably a mixture of not just a lack of effort on their part, but a lack of tolerance for less than my impossible standard as well.

ALRIGHT.  Enough lying to myself.

A funny thing happened recently. I found myself on a couch in the office of a therapist.  Admittedly, far outside my comfort zone.  Then again, I arrived on that couch in the first place because my entire life has devolved to the point that I'm forgetting what comfort ever was.  So, I tell him my story.  As you might expect from the paragraphs above, I blew through the first hour of conversation in what felt like a single breath.  I don't know where the time went, and I can't even recall the contents of my words.  I felt like Will Farrell after his debate with James Carville in Old School.  I was out of breath, having just returned to earth from a different dimension of time and space.  Only several hours later did I begin to collect my thoughts and make sense of my first real hour of professional help.  Since it was the first one, naturally, I gained no answers to my questions.  But I did produce a thousand more questions.  Anyway, this post is not about the inner particulars of some very personal subject matter.  It is about being too much of everything in life.  

During the second session, I deviated from the original reason of my visit, to elaborate on what I first identified as a common denominator in several areas of conflict in my life.  After looking at all the problems and messes I've found myself in, I couldn't help but feel like there may be some modicum of solace in blaming myself for as much as possible.  Maybe this is some kind of self-destructive impulse, I don't know.  I'm not the therapist.  What I do know is that I've arrived at an all-time low in my life.  And some of the observations he revealed to me, left me spinning around in circles for days after leaving his office.  I've never felt more overwhelmed and confused; possibly hopeful but still unequivocally defeated by the reality that I, ME, may be the one responsible for so much of the destruction in my life.  Despite all of that, I was on the brink of seeing my whole world through a new set of eyes.  Isn't that what therapists are for?

Ok, now I'm walking a tight rope between unloading what has felt like a crushing burden off my back, while protecting a private matter.  Bear with me.  I guess I'll just say that I was afforded a contrast in perspective on many events in my life I'd blamed on being an overwhelming and intolerant asshole.  That perhaps, there is an actual potential inside me for certain greatness.  Maybe my inability to harness the full magnitude of what lies beneath my surface, is the origin of conflict.  Maybe, I have failed to channel something beautiful into a more productive life than this.  I had long convinced myself that I am a disease.  My heart is toxic, and following my instincts will write the story of my fall.  I talk hard and walk hard and live hard and love hard and it was all bullshit. In the face of the greatest adversity of my life, I wrote myself off as obsessive. Oppressive.  Overbearing. Suffocating.  Oversensitive.  Fucking bullshit.  What a sellout pussy way to wave the white flag.  I am no sellout and I am not an illness.  Nor a coward.  Fuck me for taking the bait I dangled in front of myself for so long.

I dream on a scale only a five year old could appreciate, and I wake up believing every minute of it.  My endeavor as a man is to blur the line between imagination and reality.  Sometimes the biggest dreamers are also the the biggest cowards, afraid to take action on their innermost convictions.  Prisoners by choice, electing a life of fantasy for its convenient lack of consequence.  Days turn into months, while a very real clock is turning and burning towards the finish line.  Life continues to expire while chasing butterflies and living vicariously through someone with a bigger dick.  Fuck taking another breath without your hands on the wheel, and fuck cowering in silence, fearing rejection for revealing who you really are.  If it's too much, it's too much.  Maybe I chose the wrong audience.  Maybe my methods of expression were such that I poorly displayed an otherwise pure and genuine desire to be a positive influence in my environment.

I am not without fault.  In fact I possess more fault than the next fifty souls you'll pass on the street.  I feel hard, and as such I fail hard.  I accept that about myself today, in a way I've been unable for years.  I understand more about myself, and doubt far less.  I don't believe I'm any better or worse a man today than I've ever been.  Though I feel infinitely more powerful as I seek to assign a more productive direction for the hornet's nest of emotion that never sleeps inside me.  I guess that's what this entire entry is all about.  The most defining parts of who I am, and how I was ashamed of them for so long.  I only saw fallout in the wake of my most passionate endeavors.  Friendships cut short, and others that never saw lift-off due to a once-believed stain on my chemical makeup.  But there is no stain.  And there is no flaw.  There is no perfection.  There is just me, with the extreme propensity to laugh harder and cry harder than some may understand.  

To those who understand, I extend my hand.
To the doubtful I demand, take me as I am.

Fair enough.  But I'll try to apply a bit more patience with those doubtful.  

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