Life Date is a term I know from gang culture. Gang members often get tattoos of the date they joined their chosen affiliation, forever marking that date as the day they began life anew. “Began life anew “ is a phrase no gang member has ever said and serves as proof that I am not one. Today is May 7th, 2018, and it gives me unsure butterflies to suggest that today is mine.
I’m halfway through twenty-seven, and I’m miserable. Since I was twenty-five, I’ve let my life be a slow descent into isolation, stretch pants, stretch marks, mediocrity, and hopelessness. I’ve been aware of this through my observations and previous counseling for my depression, habits of isolation, and eating disorder - I’ll get to that later. Recently though, I’ve been experiencing something foreign even to my ever-darkening horizon. That is the feeling of malice.
From age twenty-five to today, I’ve sunk further into the quicksand. I’ve declined more invitations than ever before. I’ve punched more walls than I ever had in my lifetime, and then teared up at the frustration of only hurting myself. I’ve broken down in tears a few times out of nowhere, feeling crushed under the weight of despair. I’ve said things about strangers in the privacy of my car that shocked and frightened me because they were so vile. “Is this really me speaking?” The things I’ve said to myself this year have changed too. I’ve looked my reflection dead in the eye and said, “I hate you, you piece of shit,” and I really, really, meant it.
In the past few months, the newest deviation from my old self-image is the sick pleasure I got from bullying some house pets, in particular, an annoying Shih Tzu named Chelsey. I’m an animal lover, but Chelsey, I don’t like even a little. What alarmed me most was my pure enjoyment frightening her with my mere presence. I enjoyed watching her scurry away like the coward she is. I suppose it made me feel powerful when I felt the weakest - like the twisted gratification bullies get when they prey on the meek.
I’ve never hurt or even touched Chelsey. I couldn’t if I wanted to - she is afraid of her own shadow, and barks bloody murder at the faintest sound. But every day, I got more enjoyment from intimidating her. I made more and more jokes about her accidental disappearance, and the humor that disguised that truth slipped away every time. As an animal lover, I didn’t use to believe I could ever harm one. That wasn’t me. In fact, imagining the violence I would bring to those who do hurt animals had been one allowance of evil I’ve let myself contemplate. But I’ve encountered more and more of my dark side this year, and I believe I have a better understanding of how evil manifests. I’m glad I caught it before it was too late.
I think we are all capable of committing the most insidious horrors just as we are capable of the grandest acts of kindness. All of us. I used to believe that there were good and bad people, and I was one of the good ones. Chelsey helped me understand that the tilt towards the angel or devil on my shoulder is a gradual sway made up of millions of benign choices. For years, I’ve been allowing myself to tolerate decisions and circumstances that deviate from the better angels of my nature, all the while imagining who I used to be, as who I really was.
Today, May 7th, 2018, is the day I realized that who I am now is entirely different from who I want to be. I’ve chosen isolation over community. I’ve chosen food over love, perhaps confusing the two. I’ve become bitter, resentful, and jealous of those who prosper. I’ve become Cain, and I’ve seen that I’m able (cough) of committing more evil if the years continue like this. Before I go on, Chelsey is fine and thriving as much as one can as a terrified Shih Tzu. If she doesn’t bark at me and run away, I’ll have to thank her. She showed me the reflection I needed to see.
As of today, May 7th, 2018, I accept and own the following:
• I am 40 pounds overweight, and my pasty- white belly spilling over my pants is a daily disappointment, often preventing me from venturing out the door.
• I am about $14,000 in credit card debt, and I have no plan to get out. Continuing down this path will make the debt worse.
• I currently make about $600 each month, which is just enough to make the minimum payment on my credit cards, leaving me little cash to fill up the car or make purchases, so I use the credit card and sink further into debt.
• I live at a friend’s house for free, and nothing is mine. I’m a tolerated guest, but I need to be the king of my castle.
• I’ve lost years of my life “waiting to be better,” and I will continue to lose years if I don’t make a change.
So, today is the day I’m tentatively committing to change.
It’s scary to commit, even to no one. What if this is just another broken promise I make, and no one ever knows? Based on Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and a basic understanding of The Law of Attraction, here are the things I would like to focus on every day, as a ritual to pull myself out of the dark and into the light:
Mantra: I will work daily to create and follow new processes and habits that will shape me into the person I wish to be. I will adjust strategies along the way, but I will not stop. I will be 145 pounds of lean muscle. I will have $250,000 in my bank account. I will write professionally. I want to be a New York Times Best Selling author. I will be honest with myself and others. I will be my most authentic self for myself and others. I will live my definite purpose in life. I’m thankful for everything and everyone I have. I will relentlessly pursue my desires. I believe they are working just as hard to reach me, as I am to reach them.
• Implement the Bulletproof Diet Plan and Inter- mittent Fasting for weight loss
• Start looking for a job
• I want to increase my knowledge by finishing one book a week from now on