In my post Adding Resolve to your Resolution I referenced Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. Charles has published a blog post today: Got a New Year’s Resolution? Here’s how to make it stick! which includes the following flowchart to help habits become ingrained.
At this time of year we reflect on what has come to be and think of the possibilities of a new start in the New Year.
It’s now traditional to plan, making resolutions to fix what is broken and think on of what you want. But anyone who has been taught manners knows that “I want doesn’t get”. And if planing of fixing the broken worked why haven’t you achieved last year’s resolutions and goals?
This year don’t *want* to change something broken. Just keep doing what’s already working. Do more of what is right for you. Do you enjoy the walk in the sunshine to work from the bus stop? Make a resolution to do get up 15 minutes earlier in the summer and get off a stop earlier. Do you enjoy the smell of fresh cinnamon buns in the morning when you’ve remembered to set the bread machine the night before? It worked. Do it again.
Did getting up at five to look after your six your old daughter when she was sick that time, and then you spent an hour writing your novel when she went back to sleep and the house was quiet make you feel energised & vital rather than exhausted? It worked. Do it again; set the alarm an hour earlier than the rest of the house wake up and do it. Again and again.
Don’t look to add something new. Nor indeed to remove something broken. Find something that you’ve done, worked and do more of it.
A friend came over to see me yesterday. Actually, not really a friend but an occasional business partner, an occasional client. We’d have little projects and we’d get together one every year or eighteen months to plot to take over the world or some such. He’d sent me an email a few days ago and I’d told him what was going on in my life. How I’d lost the woman I love, how my life was destroyed by someone vindictive after I made a colossal error.
He heard something in my voice that scared him. He could tell in a few words my state of mind and where that could lead. So, bless his heart, he arranged to come and see me.
Yesterday morning, day 79 of my purgatory, he took the train down and I met him at 11. And we walked and talked. We grabbed a coffee from a “greasy spoon” café and walked around the parks near here. Criss crossing them several times. Around the corner from where I now live I have three parks in one, they are dissected by a couple of roads. Then if you head over to the High Road there’s another two parks by the church. One the old village green with the almost invisible remnants of a cricket pitch. We walked around that, back to the High Street getting another coffee, and then started other loops until it got to lunch time and then he treated me to my first Franco Manca pizza. Then we talked and walked again. We talked of the blackmail. Of the threats. Of the abuse I suffered.
And the stupidity of letting her into my life after the relationship was over, just to honour a promise. A promise made in good faith, but extracted and used against me in bad.
He’s suffered depression. He’d had the thoughts. He knew what it means just to talk it out. To have someone listen, give little bits of actionable advice. To “judge” in a good way: “You were a fool, but not a cunt.”
His personal story is both interesting and in several ways directly inspiring. He was apart from the woman who would become his wife for three or four years before they got back together. They got married and now have a beautiful baby daughter.
He had a friend he’d wronged. And he begged forgiveness. And was rejected. And he kept on begging forgiveness. Actually that’s not true. He didn’t beg for forgiveness. He gave his apologies. He expressed his sorrow for the wrong he’d done. Eventually things worked out. But it took time, energy and perseverance.
I’m stubborn. I have patience. And I remain completely in love with the woman I wronged and want to prove to her that I am be the man she thought I was. That I will never do her wrong again.
The visit served two purposes that he knew all to well from his past experiences. One to talk it through, give a voice to the story. And it took hours. Several hours for everything to come out. And also to get out of the house, to exercise gently, getting air in the lungs and the blood moving rather than to sit, fester and wallow. We talked of some business projects too, an idea of his, and an idea of mine.
His idea was to get me moving, to get me talking, to let me see the future. Even if it’s not the future I want, which is of course my future with the woman I still love but lost 80 days ago as I write.
He got me to see a future. He encouraged me to remove a note from my desk that reminded me of my stupidity. Wallowing in it.
Many times I read about exercise helping, and I’d coincidentally started my own gentle regime of sit-ups and push-ups last week. To get back to a place where I can do 100 sit-ups and to finally achieve my goal of getting to 100 push-ups. I’m still only at 22 repetitions adding two each day. But it all adds up. I record the goals, and I can see since I started on the 27th November, I’ve done a total of 224 sit-ups and 112 push-ups (I repeat the repetitions on the sit-ups). That’s 336 pieces of exercise I would never have done.
Exercise can be a goal in itself. It lets you see something here and now that you’ve done to make your life better, to improve yourself, to push yourself.
To keep on keeping on.
How much do you have to give someone for them not to treat you like shit? For them to think the best of you? For them to accept your choices?
And this amount. The $10,946.60 is just a small part of the total. Not quite a drop in the ocean. This however is just PayPal. Not the Western Union, the MoneyGram, the bank transfers, the purchases made on credit cards and Goodness knows what else. So over years this amount was given for work that was not delivered, bills, repairs, rent, food, medication… it was given to look after someone vulnerable. To keep a promise. A promise that I would always be her friend, always be there for her, as her friend. Because there was no one else that would look after her at all.
And the payback? The reward? To have my life destroyed because I was in love and making a life with another woman.
This amount was above my desk, but I’ve removed it today. If I haven’t learned the lesson now then God alone can help me.
Talking to my friend yesterday we mentioned the people who get taken in my the Nigerian Scammers and cowboy builders. I was in a similar situation. I wasn’t scammed, but I paid out good money after bad. And I did so in the hope that things would come right. That at some point the stars would align and I’d be free. That she’d get the help I was encouraging her to get, the medication that I was providing money for. For her to see I’d done my best by her and she should let me go free. Without hatred. Without destroying my life with the nuclear option, the mutually assured destruction.
It wasn’t to be.
But lessons learned:
- Trust your gut.
- Don’t pay out good money after bad.
- Remain absolutely faithful to those you love, those who love you and have your best interests at heart.
On a day to day basis I usually don’t feel the need to kill myself. There have been times though, thankfully not too many. If at home looking at a photo of my daughter helps. Once or twice I’ve had to leave the house and just walk somewhere safe, somewhere where it’s difficult to do myself any damage. Somewhere with people around.
My fear is the tube. Moreover, throwing myself under one. This is the sort of thing I was worried about writing in my how honest is too honest post. I think it’s important to document though. The call of tube tracks was always my worry. Late at night on my way home after picking up my daughter. Sad, cold, lonely. Back then, this would be 2007 or 2008, I was heading back to my mother’s where I was living at the time. Often heading back into long conversations with the woman I was in a relationship with. A long distance relationship. She’d quiz me, question me. Ask me endless repetitive questions. Accuse me of all sorts. Analyse everything. The time I was getting in, the language I used in messages. Any kisses in them? Endless permutations. Endless nights talking right through the night until the wee hours when at last she’d be satisfied or I was too tired to carry on. Proving myself. Placating her, soothing her fears. Finally after some sleep in the morning, I’d likely get the same again. Requiring more answers, dealing with more analysis. I used to beg for a few “good days”. Without all the nonsense, the questioning. I used to beg just to have “normal”.
It doesn’t sound like much but it was exhausting. Ultimately I was so drained I wanted noting more than for it all to end. Almost my entire life was virtual and online aside from the times I spent picking up my daughter.
When taking the tube home, the tracks would call out to me. I’d pace around, just stare at a poster, look at a photo of my daughter on my phone. Anything to stop hearing their call. But the solution was fairly easy.
I only felt that way really when taking the tube alone. So I stopped. I took buses instead.
Everything took longer, but I got there in the end. And I didn’t have to fight the want to kill myself twice a week.
A few days ago I read the following BBC News – The railway workers trained to stop suicides and had to get out of the house as I was looking for ways to hurt myself. I couldn’t use a knife, my father was a chef and I have a fear of knives that he instilled in me. I do though have some thick chord and rope here and I have considered using that from time to time. Weave a noose through the bannisters and launch myself off the stairs. I don’t because of the effect on the person who would find me. I’m back at my mother’s, so it would be her. Coming home and seeing me hanging there. It’s good that I can usually think of such things. The effect the shock would have on others. Think of my daughter. My mother. But the other day I couldn’t get to those things and so I got out of the house for a while.
With the tubes I try to look at the drivers. If I see them, then I couldn’t do that to them. To throw myself under and perhaps destroy their life as they relive that moment endlessly. So I look at the drivers and picture the human being whose life I would mess up by being selfish.
I had a message from the woman I mentioned above. We’d broken up in 2009. To keep a promise she reminded me of many times, I remained her friend. Ultimately a year ago it briefly became a romance again. I’ll talk about all of that another time. The long and short of it is that I was forced to maintain a long distance relationship of sorts with her through intimidation and threats. 75 days ago the truth came out and my life-partner threw me out.
Mourning my life-partner publicly just infuriated the woman more, and ultimately she unleashed some of what she promised on my life-partner. Her hate. Carefully selected copies of chats. And then she sent me this:
Please kill yourself.
Go find those tube tracks you were always throwing up in my face and throw yourself on them.
Because I’m not going to stop until you can’t find a single person who’ll give you work.
I’ll destroy you utterly if it takes me the rest of my life.
I think you deserve no less.
I’m going to try and use that as a reason not to kill myself.
- My daughter.
- The effect on the person finding me, such as my mother.
- The effect on the witness, such as the driver if a tube or a train.
- And because it’s what that woman wants, and I don’t want her to win this battle too.
I know that getting enough sleep is a vital aspect of a healthy lifestyle but since splitting from my life-partner 75 days ago my sleep has been simply awful.
A couple of recent reports on the BBC demonstrate the need for decent sleep How much can an extra hour’s sleep change you? and Sleep ‘cleans’ the brain of toxins. The first mentioning that going from six hours to seven reduces the activity of amount of certain genes:
What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.
While I’m thinking about sleep, we also know the eight-hour sleep cycle is a modern myth and people used to have two distinct periods of sleep with about an hour or two hour gap in the middle. In an experiment where volunteers were in darkness for fourteen hours a day they got into a rhythm of sleeping four hours, being awake for two and then sleeping another four. I’d take that four hours right now regardless of the second period of sleep.
Anyway, the last 75 days my sleep has been terrible. Most nights I wake several times and will lie away my thoughts circling and looping. What if?
I’m likely sleeping four hours a night all together on a good night. A couple of hours before waking and then just a few minutes here and there. Jerking awake time and again with those thoughts of “what if?”.
I try to bring myself back to the present, the now. To give thanks for the good things in my life: my daughter’s love, my health, friends to help me bear my burden, a roof over my head and food in my belly. Regardless I keep looping back. To my love and what I destroyed though stupidity. Through trying to honour a promise to a broken woman.
Three thirty three was a time my partner used to call “the Witching Hour”, being half of six six six, the fabled number of the beast. Time and again I wake and look at the phone, its clock, and we’re just there. Again. 3:33. And of course I can’t help but think of her, and her calling it the Witching Hour.
There comes a point in every writer’s life where they have to ask themselves, “how much should I say?” As a blogger do you talk about things that can come back and haunt you? What if it’s something that would upset someone you love, your child, your partner? What if it would cause you to lose business or your income? Which also would obviously also affect your family.
It’s one thing to be a successful entrepreneur with millions in the bank and a Rolodex (or iPhone) full of contacts for when you’ve spunked all the money and need help; and it’s quite another thing to be A.N.Other, Fred Bloggs. Average Joe and struggling to get by at the best of times.
For someone like that, like me, just the proverbial man in the Clapham Omnibus, how can I be open and honest and yet risk losing business that I desperately need? How do I talk about personal things without potentially upsetting or alienating the people I love most?
I suspect that some who can talk so openly are actually less open and more potentially sociopathic. The brutal honesty being their “thing” and the fallout not something they particularly care about – or worse something they desire.
I also worry about certain parties who may take offence, and then take revenge. I don’t worry out of paranoia, but out of experience. Of having my life and the life of people I love being destroyed out of their hatred.
There are things I want to talk about, but I worry about the fallout. I’ll be as honest as I can be, but I’ll protect those I need to.
I promise to do my best, I’m sure I’ll fail time and again, just as I have in life. But I promise I’ll do my best.
As part of my own reboot I’m restarting exercise. I do keep a pedometer and have a vague notion of 10,000 steps a day, but I rarely get there. If I go to collect my daughter from school I might get that in, but even then I’m more likely to only get to eight thousand or so, like yesterday.
Most days I get a couple of thousand at most as I rarely leave the house unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Today though as I was boiling the kettle I got down on the kitchen floor and did ten sit-ups. Then ten push-ups, and then another ten sit-ups.
Six or so years ago I had a goal of doing 100 sit-ups, and then 100 push-ups. I did make the 100 sit-ups goal but hurt my back and stopped the exercise. I also had someone complaining at me that I was only doing it to prove I was better than her. :-\ So, after I hurt myself I never got back into the habit.
But I’m rebooting and here’s the goals again:
- 100 sit-ups
- 100 push-ups
Previously I did it by adding a few more each day. Sometimes I’d do several repetitions. If I couldn’t make it to a particular number one day, I’d go as far as I could several times to make sure I covered the goal and build up stamina until I could reach it. Eventually I’d get there after a few days of trying.
I’ll get there again.
A friend at Web Hosting Buzz suggested I read it after I went to him looking for help during my ongoing depression following the end of my business, running out of cash and most important of all, the end of my long term relationship.
I’ve reviewed it on GoodReads.com so won’t review again here.
It’s an interesting read. Now to re-read it and continue to put change into practice.
I left the following comment on How Do You KNOW When You’ve Hit Bottom Altucher Confidential on the James Altucher blog.
It’s a good as place as any to restart my blog, to reboot my life and document what’s going on with me, inside me.
I’ve hit bottom a few times. Each time the bottom is deeper and nastier than the time before.
I hit bottom when my first long term relationship (14 years?) ended.
I hit bottom again when in a long distance relationship with someone with BPD, leading to suicidal thoughts as I failed to cope with constant the pressures and abuses
put upon me.
And I’m on the way down even lower and I don’t know where it will end following the destruction of a long term relationship (four and a half years) with a magnificent
woman 74 days ago. The destruction caused by the woman with BPD with whom I’d remained in contact to honour my promise to “always be her friend”. Caused because she
didn’t want me to be with another woman and manipulated me into giving her ammunition to destroy the relationship with the woman I really wanted to spend the rest of
my life with. Whom I loved and who until 74 days ago, loved me.
So right now, my low is lower than before. The suicidal thoughts more vivid and compelling. I have a complete disinterest in work and no focus for when I try to do
I have read your book Choose Yourself, which is how I have ended up here.
I’ll try to choose myself, but for now the going is getting tougher as they say, and I don’t think I’m anywhere close to bottom yet.