Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Taking Stock


[photo: http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45246000/jpg/_45246118_contemplate466.jpg]

Well, I’ve hit a wall. I can’t continue on this path. That much is clear. Time to try something new.

And by “new” I’m referring to a variation on the “time out” I did recently. The focus is simple: regain focus. Hopefully, this will allow me the time to examine where I am, why I am where I am, and, ultimately, how I can move forward again.

This “time out” involves the following over the next 30 days:

*Heading out with friends once a week only. Meeting up with large groups of people, all very much interested in partying and debauchery, is at the core of this current downward spiral. The idea is to limit these activities as a precursor to finding my way back to a healthier Jack.

And no, I don’t think going cold turkey on this would do much good. I would rather have access to people I trust and care about once a week than to cut off contact completely. At least I should get the chance to evaluate whether my current friendships are helping or hindering my progress.

*Limiting drinking to the once-a-week get-togethers
. I’ve noticed that drinking is clearly exacerbating things whenever I am out with people. Better to limit this as well.

And no, I don’t think I have a drinking problem. I’ve cut off drinking quite a bit over the past couple of years. Up till this past month my MO was clear: give me 2 glasses of Cabernet or 3 bottles of Sam Adams and I’ll be good to go for the night. Twice a month. At most. The problem is the combination of alcohol with my current state of mind. Need to reevaluate this as things progress.

*Limiting sexual activity, if any, to the days I meet up with friends. I think this is self-explanatory.

*Taking the time to contemplate my situation. The idea is to have enough time to really understand why I am where I am. I need to interrogate myself in a serious and honest way. There is clearly a disconnect between my actions and the person I want to be. I just have to figure out how to identify the source of that disconnect and chart a path towards safety.

I’m fully aware that there is no guarantee that this “time out” will work. But hey, I’ve learned that in life nothing is guaranteed. I’m going to give this a shot because deep down, I still believe in myself. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t.

And if it doesn’t work, well, as suggested in comments to my previous post, there are other alternatives to consider.

Wish me luck.

Jack

32 comments:

Claire said...

Sounds very sensible. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

http://www.aci-la.org/teach_marut-essential.html

fatstupidamerican said...

We have this club amendment.

"We only party after we workout."

Jerry Critter said...

I am going to take a wild guess here, but it sounds like to me that you are bored.

Rather than a time out, you need a new set of activities to occupy your time. Your previous job was very time consuming. You now have lots of free time. Without a lot of other things to keep you occupied, you have fallen back on typical activities of the rich and idle -- drinking and screwing.

Time to find a new activity, work or play, to suck up all that free time.

Good luck, Jack. I know you will land squarely on your two feet.

Christine said...

This is awesome. Have you considered looking into self help books or other resources to get to the root of the problem? (Unless of course you already know what the problem is and how to change it.) Sometimes we have issues that we're not even aware of, and it can take a lot of work to turn around erroneous and damaging beliefs behind those issues. Wishing you the best of luck! I'm excited for you. This could end up being your best journey yet. :)

i.dream.in.red said...

You recognize what you need to do. No one here can tell you if it will work or not. But you're trying. That's the best we can do as we are changing, right? The way I see it is that you are AWARE and you are making strides to change those things in your life that do not make you happy or whole and that hurt others. Focus on that.

I really wanted to post on your last post. I follow your FB and your blog. You always have so much good advice handed to you (along with a lot of hateful/misguided commentary)but sometimes TOO much feedback can cause a person to spiral into an existential crisis. So, I am usually a silent reader, but not today I guess. I keep reading because despite the mistakes you make, you have a good heart and a good head. I enjoy learning from you.

I felt sad for you (not in a pity-way but an empathy-way), Jack, in reading your last post and all the subsequent comments. I was really sad when I saw the picture of the girl in your bed and the subsequent backlash (theirs AND yours). (Was this the same "pretty girl" you HAD to make sure to have a second date with?)

Maybe you should make a list of the things you love about yourself. Sounds cheesy and some people who have their panties in a wad about what a narcissist you are may disagree...but in my mind, sometimes deep-seeded insecurity can be mistaken for ego/ narcissim/arrogance. There are great things about you, about who you are. The asshole part, that is not who you are that is what you are doing. The way you are acting. And seeing as how you are in the place in your life where you are "searching for love in all the wrong places" maybe you should just make a list about your good characteristics, but also about what you DESERVE in a woman...a list that maybe should start with a woman who is not so self-loathing as to engage in one night stands or sleeping with a guy on the first date. A woman who loves herself and respects herself more than that. Maybe as you "date" you should set a standard for yourself and excercise a "no compromise" policy. In the end, you are a guy and you have sexual needs, it is nature. I think you need to recognize your NEED for a respectable woman.

Dont misunderstand me though. I dont see everything you do/say through rose-colored glasses. There are times when I have to roll my eyes at some of your decisions/comments. I see all of that too. And sure, MAYBE there is a chance you arent giving ALL the details in a given situation. I still believe in you and what you are doing here. I believe in where you WANT to go. I hope you get there.

Buddy said...

I am glad that you have hope in yourself. Many people do as well, myself included.

Have you considered writing out, for your own personal use of course, your various histories? As an exercise I have found this useful in spiritual growth.

You mention, mainly in your last public writings which I've read, your concerns over sexual activity and alcohol.

While there may be other issues at play, it's a no brainer. You love getting high and getting off.

And you're obviously a writer.

Why not write out your sexual history for your own edification, and perhaps your history of alcohol, and any recreational drugs which may have been involved in your life.

It helps to see objectively.

All the best,
Buddy

Me said...

All right jack. I know u a tad bit. And I'm pretty awesome @ knowing, really knowing people, sight unseen...

I know this. I know that when u 1st started blogging u would take the time and interest in fellow bloggers blogs, u would comment and pay attention. Then u went on a trip. U gave it all up to live a life that people like me, in "fly over country" as u said, live daily. U became, in the small world of the internet (and yes, its small, because I still believe that the world out there is so much bigger then the internet) a semi-noticed person. I honestly believe u, as much of us do, crave this attention. People relish in the fact that others
out there listen and take notice.

Now I know this. I know my husband has stopped reading. I know that. Many of my other blogger friends have stopped paying attention.

If u continue as u are, u will juump the shark, so to speak. Yet for some reason I still read ur blog. And everytime I do, I feel like I'm reading a soap opera.

Yet, I still believe in u, as do many of ur other readers. But its time. Its time u became a real human being. Time to take stock of ur life and analyze it. U have done many great things with ur life. Things that others live vicariously thru u. If u honestly value ur readers, then u need to take stock.

I personally was not offended w/ the whole facebook thing. I personally think if u want to have needless sex, do it. Sometimes we need that physical connection more then we need the emotional connection. I've been there and done that.

But back to that taking stock thing. U need to do it. U need to get real. U need to stop professing and acting self important. If u don't, then all u will have is a bunch of groupies, not honest people, like myself, that care about what u do.

Now, u may comment back, yet those are becoming far and few between, and u may not. Either way, u know how to reach me if this actually "reaches" u. Take stock, take time, invest in MORE personal friendships then the trivial ones u seem to currently have.

Hugs, love, and all that good jazz... signing out,
Dana Linze-Dengler
Http://www.snapshotsbetweenraindrops.blogspot.com

manda_jayne said...

I hope the reflection is helping the focus, You've probably heard of it but I found the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom a wonderful read when I need something to ponder and focus my own perspective. I just found some of Morrie's recordings here if you (or any readers) wanted to listen :)
http://mitchalbom.com/books/node/3856
luck and happies

Anonymous said...

Jack
Your mission in simplicity is lacking a vision. You quit being a lawyer but now what? Let me share my story and see if it helps you.

I too went on a quest for simplicity. I worked as a machinist 10 hour days, 7 day s a week since the mid 90's. I hated it. I was burned out, I had enough money to retire but no vision. I met with a new financial advisor who told me I could do what I wanted but refused to allow me to do it until i had a new game plan in place for my next life. He would not allow me to sign the papers to quit until I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do next. He asked me one question. "If you could not fail what would you do?"

I gave it alot of thought and I decided I wanted to help others in need, specifically senior citizens. I attend culinary school and cook for senior citizens at a local church. They come play cards talk, go places and have a great meal which I cook. I also cook for a meals on wheels program.
I have a vision and I love it! I ride my bike throught Wisconsin, I provide a service for others, I am relaxed, in the best shape of my life and live on my terms.
Jack, you quit the first part of your life with no vision for the second, you wear the fact that you are bucking the system as a badge of honor but are not doing anything to fulfill your life. So I ask you " If you could not fail what would you do?

trinity67 said...

Finding a balance is difficult. Because it's geared to satisfy you first it's completely personal. And there's nothing wrong with putting yourself first, always.

I wish you strength, peace and joy.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #11, what a great comment!! Spot on.

LAS said...

I completely agree with Anonymous #11 too. Great comment.

Change, even if it's for the better, can make us feel adrift. Maybe you just need to find an anchor.

Cage Free Family said...

We all crash and burn sometimes. You'll find your way back.

Try and remember where you were, but don't try too hard. Sometimes the shit has to resurface for us to take another look at it.

Maybe checking in with those who inspired you originally would be helpful. Sometimes I tend to isolate myself and in the absence of people to look up to I start to forget which way is even up.

xoxo

Suz said...

Jack

"There is clearly a disconnect between my actions and the person I want to be. I just have to figure out how to identify the source of that disconnect and chart a path towards safety."

Actions don't make the person you are. How you feel about yourself makes the person you are and you've got to learn to like yourself.

I know from a previous post you are considering professional help. Go do it! Why are you wasting time with this self help supposedly logical bull crap that could really be masking deep down emotional bull crap?

You don't talk about loving anyone, including yourself. Sounds like to me that you need some real "love" in your life starting with YOU. I wonder why I feel real "love" is so difficult for you? This stuff from my experience usually starts at home - the home you grew up in. You also seem too busy trying to perfect yourself. Perfectionism takes too much time out of your life. Hey, life is short - don't waste this time on using a self-designed system that can break superficial habits and actions like sex and drinking for the moment - use this time to figure out how to accept love and most importantly yourself.

Good luck Jack.

Daily Panic said...

I gave you a creative writer award. Claim it on my blog.
http://adayonorbedge.blogspot.com/2010/06/clapping-like-maniac.html

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

As your resident religious commenter, I think this is my cue to encourage you to ask for help from a Higher Power.

I know, it sounds absurd, but you might want to give it a shot. (I say this as someone who spent 27 years as a militant atheist but who has found that deep, lasting change is not possible without help from outside the material world.)

Also, with your new interest in Buddhism, I really encourage you to check into Franciscan spirituality. I think you might find a lot of strength and peace there. To make it easy, just try saying a prayer asking God to send a Franciscan your way. Who knows, it might work. :)

Take care, Jack.

Laurie said...

I'm sorry to say, but you sound very self-indulgent and perhaps you are lacking a meaningful purpose in life... I was missing that too, until I had a child. Then a person realizes that the whole world is not just about yourself, and never was.

Perhaps, you would benefit from travelling the world and living with and learning from many different types of people; especially those who live very simply by necessity, not by choice.

I think you could use new "friends" with higher values.

Bringing Pretty Back said...

Taking stock... I thik we all need to do that. Bravo.

Mavis said...

Where does the money come from that you live on?

Anonymous said...

"Actions don't make the person you are. How you feel about yourself makes the person you are and you've got to learn to like yourself."

I disagree with Suz. Actions are part of you; you choose to take them, and thus they do say something about who you are. How you feel about yourself is your self-esteem, not your character. So evaluating your actions, and determining if they are the right actions, is part of making sure you're on the right path.

Seriously, Suz, if I feel great about the way I kill puppies, am I making myself into a good person or a bad person?

Jack, it's been a while since I followed your blog, so I don't know: did you ever get that therapy? Maybe it's time. And if not now, why not, and when?

Sara Outdoors said...

Why not do what I did and haul ass to alaska? Juneau's a great little city.

James Doakes said...

"I think you could use new "friends" with higher values."

The above is full of valuable insight.

Jack lives in the douche bag capital of the world; presumably because he is a douche bag himself.

No wonder Jack is full of internal 'dirty laundry' which he airs on the internet: his value system is corroded.

Did you have that vasectomy yet?

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

I haven't been following your blog for very long....it's not easy reading. Part of it makes me sad, but mostly it makes me angry that you see what's happening, but like a deer in the headlights, you simply lack the capacity to avoid it. One of the comments suggested you seek professional help, and I have to agree. I know there are a great many people who refuse to see a therapist/psychologist because they feel it's quackery or big $ sitting on a couch feeling sorry for yourself. But there's much more to it than that....considering the difficulty you find yourself in, it could be all you need to get back on track.
You may also be lacking in empathy for others....your constant self focus may be holding you back.

Ben said...

Hey Jack -
Still contemplating? How about an update...don't leave us hanging.....

emmani said...

hi jack i'm back... i'm lovin' the new you!
i have so much respect for your journey...
mental suffering keeps changing colour, there's always something to worry about and if a problem gets to the top of the list, then it's always the biggest worry!
veering of your path keeps you human
emma x

KeithTax said...

You must decide what is really important to you in life. Professional help is the only way some times.

Your life is simple only if your mind and spirit are free.

Ms Hen said...

Please listen to the audiobook .. By Eckhart Tolle called A New Earth.

I don't if you remember me. I'm BettyAnn from NYC....

I was a bit busy and have not read your blog in about a year.

Eckhart Tolle also first wrote The Power Of Now in 1997.

I just read both of them. I like that the 2nd one I'm listening to as an audio book that he reads himself.

I found so much peace and serenity and joy the last few years and in my 50th year of life (I just turned 49).. I feel totally full of Grace and know my place in this world. No confusion.

I hope you do read/listen to those two books. (hugs)

Betty Ann

Lauren Alissa Hunter said...

Wow... um, I'll be honest and say that I don't follow your blog incredibly closely, just stopping by every so often, so I can't claim to "know" you so well as many of the previous comments, but I'd just like to say...take heart... seems like a lot of people like to hurl self-righteous condemnation or well-meaning advice at you, but I doubt that's what you're really needing. Self Help books represent the largest portions of most of our book stores, so its not as though it should surprise any of us that we all experience moments of self-loathing and doubt and seek some explanation for our inability to find a common and consistent connection with anything-- ourselves,our world, each other... I hope that you are able to, as you say, "take stock" and find some way to regain what you feel you have recently lost in your return to ~real life~. I'm currently on my own vacation from normal existence and I know that my eventual descent to reality is soon to come and I will face similar struggles. So I say again, take heart.
Cheers.

Vaos said...

A fascinating blog, and a very brave life change to document so honestly and share with others. Sincere kudos.

I did an eerily similar thing around 4 years ago. I was a CPA and I don't maintain a blog, but many other aspects are substantially similar.

In my opinion you're not out of control. You're bored. You're bored because you're missing a critical component of this lifestyle. The one which provides much of the satisfaction, challenge and reward.

What you're missing is the challenge of supporting yourself. There is considerable satisfaction to be found in doing so (if, and only if, the alternative is starvation!)

Living off investments (which it appears you are doing?) is missing a large part of the point of the exercise. You're cheating yourself. You take, but you don't give. It doesn't feel 'right', does it?

What I personally did at this junction was to use my investments to purchase land, with a view to providing both a sustainable lifestyle for myself, and as a means to benefit as many others as possible.

I wont derail this with the details, but it was the most satisfying and rewarding element of the entire process. You mentioned the dilemma of not having children for example... the right project will create most of the same rewards.. it will be there long after you will etc.

Perhaps play around with some ideas in that direction, and I suspect you will find the next logical step in your journey.

Storyteller said...

i suggest you come to austin for something radically different than your life has been... rest and relaxation, freedom to explore whatever you want... it might actually be more interesting than the kind of party you are used to enjoying - rensilvet@gmail.com