Finding a new path

As I’m at this stage of needing to turn the corner in so many parts of life, I’m reminded of the journeys that I’ve seen other people take in such a situation.

The common main theme that I’ve noticed is this: whenever someone appears to actually accomplish a much newer, healthier path in life, they really had to put most of their mind, body, and focus into it. To the point of obsession, you might say.

But hey…..no one recovering from years of sunken-in addictive behaviors is going to be able to move forward without having their share of issues. So if getting too intense about something healthier (as a replacement “issue”) is what’s necessary for things to work, more power to them.

There’s one specific example of such a transformation who I’ve read a lot about lately. He was actually my mother’s former doctor, and his early and mid-life path was similar to mine. Someone with the talent and, back in his 20s, the opportunity to make a great life and success out of himself.

And who did so for a number of years. But then threw it all away from his depression-based addictive and degenerate behavior. And ended up hitting rock bottom in his 40s with few ways to turn things around (just like me now). Before he found his calling for the future, that is.

You might be thinking: well, why wouldn’t I use that as a guide for my own upcoming journey? Seems simple enough eh?

The answer is that his (and most others’) severe lifestyle changes in these spots are based on religion. Usually in a “giving yourself to christ” kind of way.

And that’s just not something that I believe in.

Obviously you can’t force yourself to be something you’re not. Though sometimes I wish I could. Especially since it would give me a lot more support in my battles (from that former doctor if I need it, among others).

So, it looks like if there’s a path to a better life in my case, I’ll have to clear it myself. As I’ve said in the past, I’m well used to that.

Gotta admit though……it makes me a bit envious of Dr. Z. Even though I could never see eye to eye with him on how, he eventually found a way to move forward and make the most of his future.

While it remains to be seen if I can do the same

Keeping the hope alive

In a recent entry, I mentioned how I was considering giving up trading and any gambling (even advantage gambling) for the first time in order to possibly save myself from losing everything down the road. Though that would also leave me with no hope of ever redeeming myself and permanently feeling like a life failure.

But since neither of those simple “yes” or “no” choices was likely to leave me with an existence worth living, I’ve decided that a compromise is the best option. Instead, I’m going to stop those activities…..but just for the time being. And immerse myself completely in every way possible to try fixing or taming all of my demons.

How long will that take? It could be six months. Six years. Or even never.

Then if that does happen, I’ll resume trying to recover my past success then. And even if the opportunities to do so still aren’t what they need to be at the time (an issue I’ve discussed before), I’ll just have to hope that they do eventually improve before it’s too late.

Yep, plenty of “if”s here. But that’s the best that can be done at the moment. And I’ve decided that it’s my only choice.

Because when it comes to the hope of ever feeling good about myself again, I can’t throw in the towel completely. Regardless of the risks.

Ever

Have yourself a merry little Christmas….

….now?

Guess I shouldn’t be whining about this past weekend. Plenty of other people had no one for the holidays (or else were separated from them), while mom and I had our fourth straight Christmas alone since my father passed away.

I do hope that everyone else enjoyed the day with family and friends. Never want others to have to experience the life emptiness here. Especially this time of year.

But that doesn’t mean that our time is one for even the most unfortunate people above to envy.

We don’t exchange presents. We have no interest in going to see any friends (and this year, didn’t even have the sad get together that we have on most Christmas eves at one of her close friend’s house).

Actually I didn’t even get a single Christmas gift this year (for the first time, I think). Even last year, the lady that cleans her house got me a phone charger for the car. And it meant something, since that was the only present I got last year either.

Didn’t even hear my favorite Christmas song during the season. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” So, I decided to play it a few minutes ago. Knowing I’d tear up.

And I did.

Even as I learned something new while looking up a word (turned out to be “bough”) from one of the lyrics: I never even realized that it’s “Have yourself a merry little Christmas now.” For some reason, always thought it was “little Christmas night”.

Yep, I didn’t even know the whole main lyric to my favorite seasonal song. So now I feel sad, empty, AND ridiculous.

January 2nd can’t come soon enough

Is there any way out?

This moment could be the worst that I’ve ever felt about my future. And that’s saying something.

It comes at a time when I’ve actually kept up with the new gym routine. Having a personal trainer hold me accountable is helping the motivation. So there’s a start on fixing my physical being.

But the mental state? I’m about to throw in the towel.

After another horrible night of destructive decisions, I’ve come even moreso to the conclusion that I may never be able to stop ruining my livelihood (if I stay involved with trading and betting). With all the details involved about why I can’t control my behavior, there isn’t much of a path for future success that way, despite how I still have the same skills from when I was doing these things for a living.

Because as I’ve mentioned in the past, the opportunities just aren’t good enough anymore. And without much of a realistic chance to get back my past success at this point, I probably won’t have the patience to attempt moving forward that way to salvage anything on a smaller scale. Which is what leads to pressing way too hard to catch lightning in a bottle……and that has, and will, always ended up making things worse in the end.

So then the question becomes: do I just quit trading and gambling for the first time?

It seems like it might be necessary. But if I do, there are consequences just as dangerous for my well being.

Mainly……I might lose all hope on ever feeling better about myself and my life. Since it will seem like I’ll never redeem myself from everything that’s been lost in the last 15 years.

And if that’s the case, I’ll wake up every day feeling like I ended up as a failure. Without continuing to battle to redeem myself (even if it’s a losing battle), it’s going to be easy to lose all hope about enjoying much about life.

It’s hard enough living a depressed, problematic, empty life with just a shade of that hope. But if feels gone completely? That could take me to even worse places than I’ve ever experienced.

But it might be my only choice.

How much do you need to fix….or really want to?

I’ve had the initial get togethers with both the personal trainer and the retired psychologist that I mentioned in my last entry. Both went about how I thought they would: the trainer seems nice and a good match for the goals I want to accomplish, and the psychologist really didn’t have any insight that helped much. Eh, was worth a shot.

So I’m not sure if I’ll follow up with the latter, but I signed up with the personal training company. Hopefully that will go well…..though based on the timing mentioned in our meeting, I expected to hear from her by now, even with the holiday just ended, about the upcoming week’s plan to get me started out (yet barely have). A bit troubling, but we’ll see how it works out.

All of this has me thinking even deeper about everything though. At the forefront is something I’ve brought up before: the prospect of just not wanting to be happy. As bizarre as it might sound……with the way that I often glamorize the despair and isolation of living a hopeless, empty life, I’m not even sure that I want to change that. Especially at age 48.

But like I said the last time here, I’d still have to fix the issues that lead to me throwing everything away. Thing is, I had assumed that leading a happier life was necessary to do that.

Is it really though? Couldn’t you just retrain your mind to stop sabotaging your life completely? While still managing, but not overcoming, your depression?

Makes me shake my head that I’m even considering the possibility of that route. But if it increases my chances of saving myself overall, it may be the better choice.

It sounds like that quote by Billy Crystal near the end of “When Harry Met Sally”…….when he says something about how he’s fine with his life of comfortable depression.

Will probably be awhile before I figure all this out more. Who knows how long.

For now, I’ll sit here at 1:30 AM and listen to Enigma’s MCMXC a.d. album yet again. And let my mind fade away into the middle of the night….

When your life depends on it

So…..I may finally be about to meet my challenges head on.

While the meeting with my high school mate’s gym manager (and the follow up) did not work out, I’ve set up a consult with another personal trainer tomorrow. And have plans to call a close family friend (retired psychologist) to see if she’d be interested in talking to me for a bit. While I don’t expect her to “fix” much of what’s wrong with me, I’m hoping that she might have some fresh perspective on how to possibly go about taming my demons.

It can’t hurt to give it a try, anyway.

This means that I’m attempting to better myself both physically and psychologically at the same time. Hopefully it won’t be too much to handle at once, but it’s tough to imagine improving much without both parts going hand-in-hand. One has to support the other along the way.

That being said: I am still very concerned about the viability of any such journey’s chances for much success. I’ve read so much about the limitations that human beings have in permanently making these types of changes. Especially when depression is at the forefront. And I’ll have to find a lot of mental strength and willpower that I’ve never had before. So, a student of the odds such as myself knows what I’m up against.

But there’s one thing that I have in my favor. And while it might be necessary to even have a chance to buck the long odds, it’s scary as hell at the same time:

My life depends on it.

Yes that sounds quite theatrical. And likely overstated. But I promise you, it’s not. I’ve mentioned in a prior entry about how I’ll eventually lose everything down the road if I continue this way. The timeline for that would likely be about 10 to 15 years from now.

Which means that I have two choices. Either find the strength to change my life (even if it’s virtually impossible), or end up as a derelict on the street as I hit 60 years old. Needless to say, that would not be an enjoyable way to fade into the darkness.

How far will that dire motivation go in shaping what happens from now on? Guess I’ll find out as I go. And as mentioned above, that first page of the new book is tomorrow.

We’ll see what gets written from here.

Has the fire gone completely out?

I was fiercely competitive as a child and throughout college. Just ask the occasional tree which, during my worst moments, may have found a tennis racket flying up into its branches. Or how inconsolable I was after a tough loss.

These characteristics had plenty of upside, though. They brought the best out of me as well, and I never would’ve had my past success without that level of desire to excel.

But once my depression got its permanently tight grip on me in my early 20s, things started to change. I stopped doing much of anything athletic (and the occasional times I did, that winning drive wasn’t really there anymore).

That was followed by a very long period of frustration, and some extra anger that came with it. Which actually began slightly before my successful times started to crash and burn, so maybe I could subconsciously sense what was coming.

This anger was never taken out on other people; only the occasional inanimate object or somewhat embarrassing episode. I might break a laptop after yet another poorly handled market trade, or cackle derisively at myself as a casino visit went horribly because I’d lost my composure.

On a side note: I don’t know if any readers have stuck with me for the entire few years that I’ve been making these sporadic entries. But if they had, they’d notice that I’ve never blamed “bad luck” for any of my career/financial failures. And that’s because when it comes to risking your money, luck only applies in the very short term. In the long run, your skill level and execution entirely dictate your results. So anyone who blames lifelong bad luck in those spots is just deluding themselves from the reality of their own shortcomings and mistakes. Anyway…..

There has been a change in me more recently. For the last few years, I haven’t reacted much to the continued ever worsening failures. No more throwing anything at the wall in my apartment or childishly storming away from a casino table as others shake their head.

Just emptiness. Which is scary.

Because while those past actions were often inexcusable, at least they were a sign that I cared. Of life in me. The urge to battle on.

And I’m afraid that might be gone. At the worst time for that to happen, no less (as at this current new and uncertain mid-life stage, the will to move forward is more necessary than ever.)

If there was ever a need for a spark, it’s now. But I don’t know if one will come.

The remnants of past success and hope

Even after all these years, a few of them still remain here and there in this apartment that still looks like someone is either moving in or moving out. Furniture that I bought when I moved to Southern California in 2005 (with success in my hands and the life that I wanted within reach).

If only my then 30 year old hands would’ve had the capability to grasp it.

When you look at what’s left here from that time, most would see some nice items that have held up fairly well. A quality glass dining room table and the four chairs that go with it (not that anyone else ever sits in the extra ones). A California king bed. The dresser and nightstand that came with it. Even the TV stand that I never replaced after the wrong one was brought in.

But what do I see? Just a glimpse of everything else I used to have. The younger (though still highly troubled) person that I used to be. But still a time when I didn’t wake up every morning being ashamed of who I am and the life I’ve led for so long now.

It’s also a reminder of how bleak my future likely is. Especially since I really doubt that I can be fixed at some point.

I mentioned in a prior entry that if I don’t tame my demons, I will lose everything down the road. That wouldn’t happen until I’m in my 50s or 60s for various reasons, so it could be awhile. But it’s inevitable unless I do.

Are we talking 5 years from now? 15? Who knows. It’s like an ominous clock ticking on my likely eventual Leaving Las Vegas type ending, but without a very specific time table yet.

Not to mention that I’m also at this new crossroads since I recently moved back close to my hometown that has few good answers. I’m not stable enough and may not have enough long-term profitable opportunities to work for myself again at the moment, but I don’t make a good 9 to 5 employee either (since, among other reasons, I’m spoiled by a lot of longtime career freedom and don’t have the usual number of years of traditional work experience).

So…..I just wait. Waking up every day with little direction. Hoping to get through the day without destroying my finances and everything else even worse (though there’s still a steady decline). Just wanting to get to these late hours and the escapism that comes with them.

Wishing the next morning wouldn’t come.

When it comes to solving your depressive issues and destructive habits….which comes first?

One of the main obstacles in trying to fix this multi-faceted midlife crisis is this: what do I tackle first? Because when your life is as off-track as mine is (and you’ve let the problems build up for so long), there’s a long list. At the top is:

  • Depression
  • Destructive compulsive behaviors
  • Little energy
  • Avoiding happiness
  • Letting go of past career failures and lost successes
  • Lack of current career opportunities (stemming from those failures)
  • Absent willpower
  • Out of shape
  • Bad diet

And I could go on.

I’ve often felt that I needed to deal with the energy and out of shape issues first. Because while some people can get away with the too big belly that we sometimes develop in our 40s (and still live a productive life), I don’t have that luxury. With as much as I need to fix, feeling better about myself physically is a necessary part of the project. And obviously if you don’t have the energy to feel stronger about breaking bad habits, nothing else will likely improve anyway.

So a few weeks ago, I contacted someone I knew in high school (a jiu jitsu black belt) who owns a gym in the area that offers a personal training/diet program for people in my situation, among other classes that might help. Even called his gym’s manager and set up a time to stop by in a couple evenings.

Do you think I went? Nope. Called, cancelled, and never rescheduled. I rarely follow through on any self-improvement plans. Guess you could add that to the list above.

But after yet another big setback yesterday, I just keep getting closer and closer to that “enough is enough” mindset. And it’s still not too late to start finally trying harder to get the best of my demons.

The gym is on my way out of town to mom’s house, and I’m heading down there tonight anyway to help her out this weekend. And this is one of the nights that they open late for evening classes.

So, I just decided to stop by on my way and see if I can catch that manager for a few minutes and start working with them. Even if he’s not there or too busy, at least I can leave a message to get back in contact with me. And feel like I’ve taken the first step.

If I do become a regular at his gym, it’s going to be a LONG road of improvement ahead. Not just physically, but psychologically (and in all aspects of life).

I’ve told myself a good 99 times in the last dozen years that this had to get done. Maybe the 100th will be the charm

Letting it all out

That’s what I need to do sometimes.

Nobody wants to hear a 47 year old guy get emotional and complain about how bad his life has become, though. So…..I don’t do that.

Sure this blog helps a little. But not nearly enough. Especially since I don’t post that often. And even if I did, no one wants to read repeated whinings here either. I already appear to have alienated my few former regular readers that way.

Naturally this means that I often just hold it in. The hurt. The frustration. The hopelessness.

It’s amazing how someone who’s so emotionally distant from the world and emptied out can still feel so deeply.

So one day, if you hear an earth-shattering, deep scream from somewhere in the world…..don’t be surprised if it came from here.

I could use that relief. Even if it’s just for a few seconds