What The Hell Happened to You?


It has been just shy of 11 months since I have quit smoking. Last time I wrote here, I was full of a sense of accomplishment. It had taken me 43 years to quit. That’s over four decades of wasted time, wasted money, and in the end, wasted life. Still, I felt good about myself because what kind of recovery would I be working if I could quit drugs, and booze, but not cigarettes?

Since having quit smoking, I have been sick with bronchitis, chest infections, and a persistent “pneumonia” that my healthcare providers are just starting to consider is not really pneumonia.

I look in the mirror these days and I’m thinking, “What the fuck happened to you?” I am not healthy. My sleep pattern is lacking, to say the least. I weigh 40 pounds more than I would care to… I have let myself go.

I think part of it is the realization that maybe the glory days are gone. I appreciate that I am not 20 years old anymore, but I am not ready to be in my mid-fifties either. (Is anyone ever ready for that?) Yes, I am extremely grateful that I am here at all; really, I am. I think I had been hoping that perhaps I might have accomplished more.

I was able to get a job earlier this year but that turned out to not be a good fit, and not the right job for me. On the other hand, I have been promoted to Editor-in-Chief of the music magazine I have been involved with for the past 4 years. In this context, I continue to meet new people, and help musicians and artists where I can. I learn new things about people, publishing, writing, and the music industry every day. I cannot express just how much I am enjoying this particular aspect of my journey, and the personal growth it brings to my life.

So, while “gratitude is the attitude,” I am slowly coming to terms with what is. It is time for a turnaround. I am going to reach deep down, and dig deep one more time and start anew. Physically, I must get into shape, change my diet, and get better quality sleep. Mentally, I must challenge myself again. I think I am finally going to actually make a concerted REAL effort to learn to play the music I enjoy on the guitar, at least passably. I am going to get better at being an editor every day too. Spiritually, no more letting assholes live rent free in my head. Usually, I am pretty good at that.

Part of all this is that I think somewhere deep down inside, I never thought I’d make it this far. Now that I have, I have to plot a course. Again, I am very grateful. I live in a modest home that is the home I always dreamed of. My wife knows me and loves me anyway. She is the best friend I have. I am still crazy about her. I have food on the table, access to healthcare, and always, an ample supply of my own, hand-blended, Happy Budah coffee. Life is good. I don’t have many friends – true friends, but the ones I do have would do anything for me, and they love me, warts and all.

Most importantly, I am still clean and sober. Without this, there can be nothing else. Nothing.

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