Every parent has encountered that frustrating situation where they've told a child something repeatedly. And yet later it transpires that they don't seem to have heard it at all. Weirder is that they can actually tell you what you told them. They heard you. They just chose to not actually listen to it. Actually balls to that. Everyone knows what that feels like. Children or not.
|Mavis had been diagnosed with Dildo-Ear a year earlier...|
There are only a handful of people who know this. But if you aren't honest about your scars you can't come to like them. Even love them, in a weird way. In 2005 I was living in Buffalo, NY and I wanted to go home. So I went. We didn't own anything. We had no kids. And it was the first time that I knew my marriage was over. I called it homesickness. I wanted something else. Anything else. So I went home. And I lived by myself for six months. Still married. But in effect it was done. No paperwork signed. No actual discussion had. But we both knew. Mostly. Six weeks after getting home I remember standing in a phone box in the pouring Bristol rain and having the actual conversation. Knowing in a few weeks it would actually begin to officially end. Somehow it didn't. Somehow instead we decided to have a baby.
In the Fall of 2011 - quite honestly - I felt as if I'd lost control of everything. Not for the first time. I couldn't even fake it anymore. And if I'm entirely honest I was probably exhausting to be around. Luckily - that didn't happen much. When I was with my kids it was different. They were my energy. But outside of that - I really did feel as if i'd lost control. Except for one thing. I could run for fucking miles. Every day I'd get up around 4am, get dressed and go. And then I would run at least fifteen miles. Pitch black. Muggy and pouring with rain. Feet of snow and -20 degrees. Didn't care. I was going running. And then - when the kids mother came home - I'd do it again. My diet consisted of a pot and a half of coffee and a ridiculous amount of apples. Or as I referred to it at the time - Arsehole Fuel. If I was having a snap-hunger (which would happen every few days because I just wasn't eating) I'd eat tortilla chips and a few slices of cheese. No meat. No sugar outside the coffee. No alcohol. No anything, really. How the fuck I had the energy to run is anyone's guess.
I became obsessive. Could I run a marathon at least once a week in the morning before I had to be home to take care of the kids? Damn right. - if I left at 3.15. Then something really odd happened. I knew I was leaking weight. I had - in the Spring - been 180 pounds even. A little round. A little soft. A little unpleasant to look at (shhh). A few months later I remember being stunned that I was dropping fifteen pounds a week. None of my clothes fitted. Not a single thing. And for a very short period I felt attractive for the first time in many, many years. And at the same time I was absolutely, completely, utterly miserable. I was overwhelmed by life. Scared that I knew I was a good dad. But knew that if my ex wife and I dared to actually talk to one another that everything would and should change. So instead I ran.
In February 2012 it didn't work anymore. The running didn't help. That modicum of fake-control just wasn't there. And then one day I was picking my daughter up from school and her teacher asked me - with the most polite, sensitive concern you can imagine - if I was dying. That's quite a question. But my daughter's teacher had seen me go from a relatively, happy-seeming guy to a gaunt, pale, skeleton with exceedingly troubled eyes. From 180 pounds to just a touch above 125. I turned into this.
The problem with that guy is I don't know who he is. I don't like how he looks. I certainly don't like how he felt. And I hate that stare. I do remember how he felt. Like a faint echo. Like distant feedback. A very, very faint, remnant of white noise. I had to go through why he felt like that. Picking apart everything. And realizing that he held on to so many things because if they were let go then who knows what could happen. He was opinionated. Stubborn. Ignorant of why he believed most of what he thought he believed in. He had convictions that he bitterly held onto - without any knowledge of why they were there in the first place.
But here's the good news. I got to figure why I felt like that. I got to understand who I am and why I think certain things. Understand why feelings well up before an actual thought process has taken place. Even weirder - actually managed to make quite a few of them go away. I got to know who I actually am. Warts (no - not that kind) and all. I got to love my own scars. And by all accounts, I quite like me. I'm happy with me. For the past ten months I've been exceedingly happy. I mean - I might have mentioned that it's a bit hot. But I'm good. And if you knew the people in my life the way I do, I can promise you that you'd be good too. I don't run at all. I do hike a bit. But that's just glorified walking. I'm in decent shape. I like a damn good margarita. I smile an awful lot.
The thing is, one of those people in my life that makes me smile in a way I never imagined has mentioned several times that I don't appear to be eating very much. And for someone who talks about food a lot that doesn't really add up. Add that yeah - you look alright and all - but that I'm looking a little....lighter. And while they said it with genuine kindness and love, I sort of shrugged it off. Because I feel pretty good. Then randomly I was waltzing about my house in my knickers and I caught my reflection. And for the first time in a very long time I thought that maybe I'm not looking as healthy as I thought. Lean, yes. Fit, definitely. Muscle, yep. But there was something. So I weighed myself. That hasn't happened in a very long time. And it turns out I haven't been listening. It's a weird feeling when you realize you're fifteen-twenty pounds lighter than you think you are. And weirder still when on the whole you feel pretty good. Then suddenly the fact that my day consists of two huge iced coffees, one meal and whatever tipple I fancy at the end of a day became really obvious. And it's usually an indication that there's been something on my mind.
So as weird as this sounds - I'm going to eat. And this is some sort of accountability. If you say out loud or write something down there's a lot more weight behind it than it just swimming around in your head. I like food. And I love going out to eat. I just haven't been doing any of it. But now I will be. And I am definitely listening.
Fatty is coming home.