A new me

The drinker who doesn’t drink. That’s me. I quit eighteen months ago. No backsliding, no cheating. Once I got through the first few months, it hasn’t really been that bad.

I have Tourettes Syndrome. But you’d never know it. My tics are fully in control. Effectively medicated with no obvious side-effects. As an added bonus, my intrusive thoughts, the hallmark of my OCD, are silenced as well.

Last autumn, I ran a 50K. This was the culmination of a big mileage year where each weekend found me on a two to three-hour run. This year, I’m focused on speed. Most of my runs are forty-minutes or less.

This is a readjustment period. I’m trying to figure out the new me. I’m not a drinker, or a Tourettes sufferer, or a distance runner. I’m no longer the guy with swirling thoughts leaving me ill-at-ease with everything.

I have a long-standing habit of trying to pin a label on myself. I look for something that makes me different, odd, broken or special, and I circle it. I say “this is me.” Right now, I have nothing to circle. No defining trait. Nothing that sets me apart from the next middle-aged, middle-class, middle-American guy. I’m the bourgeois, the hoi-polloi, part of the masses. I’m a tiny cog in the wheel of conformity.

Even my decades old distrust of the government has become run-of-the-mill.

I’ve worked hard to achieve this. I’ve been working to eliminate my feelings of outsiderness, otherness. It’s been my goal for years. I think I’ve finally done it, but now I feel ordinary—unworthy of attention.

Even my propensity for social awkwardness seems to be ebbing. It’s something I’ve been working on. The focus of weekly therapy sessions. Yesterday, I went out of my way to engage in conversation with a guy returning from a swim in the ocean. I stopped him. I asked some questions. Made small talk. I found the interaction satisfying.

Who am I?

I’ve worked hard to create a new me, and now I’m struggling to find any trait to circle. Anything to point to that makes me special, good or bad. Possibly, I’ve been too successful. Maybe I crave a little bit of that attention.

17 thoughts on “A new me

      • Your wife is insightful. You are right, though, that it’s hard to break the habit. I’ve learned that any identity I try to cling to, life comes along and melts it down… back to Tabula Rasa. I’ve felt like nothing, then like everything. I’ve stopped shopping for a new me. The side effect is that I tend to RESPOND to life more appropriately and less personally, rather than REACT to it according to my preconceived, limiting identity. 🙂

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  1. I’ve just found my trait to circle and I almost wish I hadn’t. It feels like a lot of pressure, stemming from self competition I guess? But an identifier is also comforting. Until it becomes monotonous. If that’s the only thing you can think to say when someone asks what you’re about.

    If I had a point, I forgot it (haha) sorry. Anyway, congrats on overcoming and conquering!

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  2. One day at a time. I quit drinking and smoking about 14 years ago. That’s when my life really started… Since that time I got married and moved 3,000 miles from my hometown. I’m now surrounded by four kids! My point is, you have no idea who you are for most of your life, because we’re always learning and adapting. Your wife’s suggestion is smart. Just live for today and enjoy the new sensations. One day at a time…

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  3. I don’t know if this will make any sense but I have found myself at a loss for who I am after my life was turned upside down. I always knew, always had one goal, and now I am completely at a loss. And the only way I can keep from running in circles gibbering to myself until I figure it out is how I’ve chosen to look at things that may or may not resonate with you. We are always evolving. Who we are is not a stationary thing. It’s, for me, scary and freeing. So you’ll be who you want to be for as long as you want to be it, and then you can move on to something else. And if you can’t decide who you are, keep your mind open and it will eventually work itself out. That’s not a bad option overall. I just stumbled upon your writing and I’m enjoying tremendously. Congratulations on your alcohol-free lifestyle choice, and holy moly at your running. 50k seems like a made up number. It’s quite brave to put such personal musings up but it’s a refreshing read.Thanks for putting it out there.

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    • ​That does make sense. I’m doing far more of the final option these days – just letting myself work its way out. 50K is definitely ​a long run, but there are tons of people racing that distance these days. For me, it was one & done. I found that sort of mileage pretty punishing for my body.

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