Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old Friends I've Lost in 2009 (NOT a sad story)

At the beginning of a new year, we tend to take stock of the previous year and consider what changes we need to make. I did some serious taking stock late in 2008 and early in 2009 and came to a sobering conclusion.

I knew if I was going to live a long, healthy and prosperous life, I had some friends who could no longer be a part of it. From then on. For the rest of my life. “For the rest of my life” is what was so staggering for me.

For almost four years, I had kept them out of my life. And, really, I’d never been better, and felt better. Based on my test results, my doctor said I was his most-healthy patient. (OK, so he’s got a lot of elderly patients.) Life was so good with these old friends out of my life.

Then, early in 2008, I decided that I was strong enough to let them back in. I was sure that if I just limited our time together, I could still have a good life – maybe even an enhanced life. Very shortly, I knew I’d made a mistake. By mid-year, it was too late – they were woven through my entire life. I didn’t get my annual physical in 2008 because I was afraid of the results.

So, now it’s a new year, and it’s time for a clean break from these old friends. Let me tell you just a bit about them.

Ben and Jerry and I spent a lot of time together in 2008. At first it was just on Friday nights. Then, on an occasional weeknight. Then, whenever they were in the house, we partied.

Famous Amos and Little Debbie went to work with me – old faithfuls. They got me through many afternoon lulls. You might get a mealy, pithy orange, but you can always count on Little Debbie to be good.

Milton Hershey and I celebrated a productive workday, a good grade report, the end of an exhausting day. Hershey and I also got through some tough times together.

Duncan (Hines) and I spent many evenings together, making cookies. Duncan taught me how to “love” with food. I know now that what Duncan and I were doing wasn’t “love” – baking cookies for family and friends who shouldn’t be eating them in the first place.

The turning point for me in 2008 will shock you. I trained for a marathon – and gained 25 pounds. I ran a total of 1450 miles (I log them) – and gained 25 pounds.

Making the decision to eliminate (for the rest of your life) such friends who have been such an integral part of your life is terribly difficult. I think we actually go through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief – I know I have.

Denial and isolation – denying there has been a loss, withdrawing from social settings. I’ve been there – terrified of, perhaps, a family birthday party where I know my old friends will be, tempting me.

Anger – furious with the one who inflicted the hurt, or at oneself. What kind of a company would make such destructive products? What kind of a weakling am I to be drawn in so?

Bargaining – with God, “If I do this, will you take away my loss?” I promise to run more miles if I can just keep these old friends.

Depression – feeling numb, with anger and sadness underneath. What’s life going to be like without these old friends? Is it even worth it? My family will still love me if I’m fat. (But, I know I won’t love myself.)

Acceptance – finally accepting the reality of the loss. I’m not here, yet, but I hope to be someday.

Maybe you have some friends who are holding you back from the healthy and prosperous life you deserve, friends who need to no longer be a part of your life? There’s no better time than now, at the beginning of a new year, to make a change.

It won’t be easy. But, nothing worthwhile ever is. There’s going to be some grieving. But, you’ve got a network of family and friends, and Nelson pulling for you. You can do it.

Happy new year, friend.