Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Year I Stop Hating Myself

"New Year's Day is every man's birthday."
--Charles Lamb.

So now we begin a new year.

It’s freezing cold in New York on this first day of 2009 and it was absolutely sub-arctic last night as I rode home on the train.

But I didn't sit home on my rear end and watch TV, which is a good start for the new year. No excuses.

I went to a great party with great people and some very nice cats and I happily survived the ride home on the subway.

The F train was jammed and one guy next to me was reading Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich—one of the earliest self-help books--and making all sorts of notations, while another guy across from me was reading Consolation of Philosophy.

It was a pretty literate crowd, until a bunch of drunken high schoolers got on and uttered ever sentence at the top of their voices.

They were apparently looking for someone named Emma, because at every stop one young lady stuck her head out the door and screamed “Emma! Get on the train!” for the whole platform to hear.

Either there was a major breakdown in communications or there was more than one Emma in the group.

And now it's 2009. My pocket '08 pocket calendar is battered and torn, wiped out from a year's worth of my abuse and ready for the trash bin.

This book is like the Cliff Notes version of my year, listing appointments, phone numbers, addresses, and various duties I had to fulfill over the last 12 months.

I still haven't joined the Blackberry crowd and I get a kick out of the looks on people's faces when I take this thing out and actually start writing something down instead of pressing buttons.

Now it's time to get a new one, complete with more inspiring quotes like the one from Charles Lamb. It looks like we're going to need a lot of inspiration.

Just about every analyst I’ve read is saying that the economy is going to take an even deeper dive this year. I'm not sure why were even celebrating last night if things are going to suck so hard.

That's kind of scary for me as I was laid off in January 2008 and I would dearly love to take a year off from that experience.

The predictions are so dire, I wonder if we should all ban together and agree to skip right over to 2010. I won't tell if you won't.

But it’s not the time to be negative. I’m sitting at home in the early afternoon, still in my pajamas, and preparing to make--yes, really--my new year’s resolutions.

I will join the millions of others (suckers? fools? optimists?) who will make grand promises for 2009—lose weight, save more money, cure world hunger, end all wars, clean out the garage, and so forth.

Yes, I know, it's a waste of time and the odds are so stacked against us New Year’s resolutionaries why should I even bother.

These articles say that a staggering number of people who talk big on January 1 will crap out on their solemn oaths by the time Cupid shows his bare ass to the world in February.

Stacked Deck

It’s a pretty sobering statistic, but I still see a benefit to starting with a clean slate. Even if you don’t make good on all your promises, you’re trying to change for the better. Maybe a few of them will stick and what the hell else are you going to do anyway?

One expert said that you start with big changes, not small ones, because is “likely to yield immediate, noticeable benefits that will inspire more positive change.”

I’m thinking now of a sermon I heard at Trinity Church a few months ago. The reverend was telling us how God wants us to do more with our lives.

“We can always do more,” he said. “God wants us to love ourselves more.”

When I heard that I immediately felt tears forming in my eyes. Love myself more? I thought. I don’t love myself at all. Deep down, I hate myself.

It took a while, but that sermon got me thinking. I can see where so much my unhappiness stems from the fact that I don’t like myself, that I consider myself unworthy of all the good things in life.

When you start to love yourself, then you can really change yourself. A change you can believe in.

I can go over why exactly I have these negative feelings, but I'd much rather throw out the garbage than roll around in it.

One thing that fascinates me is my mind's ability to instantly dig up a negative thought or memory. I'll be feeling good about something and my inner saboteur will immediately throw down a bad memory, like we're playing some kind of sick gin game. It's time to deal myself out.

I have a great list of things I want to accomplish in this new year, from eating better to finally finishing my novel. But I think first and foremost, I want to stop the self-loathing because it stifles all hope of making your life better.

And this is more than just smiling at my reflection in the mirror every morning and saying “how’s it going, big guy?”

It requires a commitment from me to change some of the habits that lead to the downward spiral.

So, for example, I want to finish the novel--fine, finish the damn thing.

That means get to work. Do your research, make the phone calls, do the rewrites and find an agent.

Don’t come home and read the emails and screw around on YouTube half the night and then tell myself, “hey, I wrote all night and I didn't watch TV at all.”

If you’re staring on some mindless nonsense on a screen, guess what, Einstein? You’re watching TV!

Action has to replace fantasy in my life. Actually doing something is a hell of a lot more satisfying than daydreaming about it. The past has to stay where it is—in the past, while I live in the now. I will stop breathing life into ancient memories.

I'm going to make mistakes along the way; we all do. But I'll admit my mistake, try to make amends, and move the hell on--as opposed to crucifying myself on the cross of self-pity and inviting the world to throw bricks at my bleeding carcass.

New Year’s Eve can be tough when you’re single. I was on the subway platform last night when I saw a young couple getting all smoochy and I rolled my eyes, thinking, please control yourselves.

But why should they? They weren’t breaking any laws. They were in love. It was just me being jealous and whiny about how I can’t find anybody and I’m alone on New Year’s Eve.

Gosh, maybe if I put more effort—a sincere effort--into finding some one of my own, I wouldn’t even notice what other couples are doing. So when Cupid unveils his bloated bottom on Feb. 14, I can moon the little bastard right back.

I’ve got a laundry list of things I want to do this year, like improving my diet, going out more, getting organized—both in my head and around the house—but the first thing I want to do is to start liking myself.

Yes, you've heard it all before, and you'll probably hear it all again. But someday I might surprise myself and get it right.


Jennifer G. said...

Happy 2009! We love ya, Rob!

Rob K said...

As I love, Jennifer. That photo is so cute, it's killing me!

Brenda from Flatbush said...

I love the "gin game"...I think I've played that one with a "full deck" a few times! May you deal yourself a better hand this time around, and thanks as always for making me smile.

Rob K said...

Oh, my pleasure. And thanks--as always--for stopping by.

Calamity Jen said...

You deserve so much more than you give yourself credit for, so I hope this particular resolution is a success.

While you are right in not wanting to roll around in garbage, don't forget that it can be necessary to examine the root of your problems in order to tackle them. Just be sure to resist the urge to wallow.

I have an acquaintance who is known for her grumpy, negative attitude. Over the past two years she has made a point of focusing on the silver lining. While such positivity was never in her nature, she is gradually internalizing it and becoming a whole new person. If she can do it, you certainly can. You have a lot of people cheering you on. Go Rob go!

Rob K said...

Thanks so much, Jen. I appreciate your support, and that story about your acquaintance is very inspirational.

Happy new year!