I hit the wall at 50
Somewhere along the way I had lost my balls.
Not to say that my life had been smooth and groovy up to that point, but I had somehow managed to make it that far without serious, irreparable damage to body, mind, spirit, reputation or credit rating. I had worked as a professional chef, of some notoriety for 25 years, and had just been fired from the best job I had ever had. I had abused alcohol, cocaine, and finally became addicted to doctor prescribed painkillers after a second back surgery. I had bloated up to 290 sick, inflamed pounds.
I was married and divorced three times, with three children quickly becoming distant adults. My love relationship at the time was quietly failing, understood but not necessarily accepted by either of us. Regret, remorse, shame and doubt filled me, squeezing anything else out that would have had me holding my head up.
I moved to the island of Tortola, BVI, with nowhere to run and no place to hide from my demons, predilections, and appetites. I went to the local pharmacy to get my prescription filled and was told, quite impassively, that they would be unable to fill my script as, on the island, those types of medications were used only in surgical procedures.
Holy shit, I thought, now I’m in real trouble.
Previously, I had always been able to stay one step ahead of disaster, shucking the noose at the last minute. Now it seemed that I was going to have to face who I was, with nothing to distract me from the life crafted by my choices.
Late one night, with a bottle of Brugal rum and the remaining pills carefully counted and laid out on the table, I saw the corner I had painted myself into and made a decision. I knew things could be different, had been different at an earlier time in my life, but fuck if I knew how I was going to get “there”. What was clear to me is that I could not go on.
Somewhere I had lost the three most important Man-Senses: A Sense of Place, A Sense of Passion, & A Sense of Purpose.”
I didn’t know it then, as I understand it now, but being on that island, at that time of my life, was a choice point of cosmic proportions. At that moment, I would choose to either live well or die poorly.
How I Found Them Again
Step #1 – I finally stopped believing my own bullshit
Alone that night in the Caribbean, I didn’t know if everything was going to be okay. I had no idea what my transformation would entail or where it would take me. For all I knew, the damage that I had inflicted on my body and spirit might well be beyond repair, ultimately too late for salvation.
Would I end up like my father, dead just as he was getting ready to live his life finally? DOA on the doorstep of a life worth living?
I had spent a good portion of my life giving the world the high hard one, a grand Fuck You to the Universe; daring it to prove me wrong, determined to collect any evidence that there was no grand unifying theory – only random chaos. I was peculiarly calm while calculating the cost-benefit ratio of this approach to life, and had to admit that I had a pretty shitty return on investment. I had only myself to blame.
Curiously, that did not depress me, as it might have at another time in my life. If I had gotten myself into this, then I could get out of it. That realization was powerful and liberating, but a problem remained. I still had no idea how to start the process of revitalization, so I took one small step. Then another, and yet again. The journey began to reveal itself as I was taking the steps, and I was only ever able to see as far as I needed to stop from stumbling. There were times when I was frustrated that I couldn’t see the entire path; having a plan had been so important in my life. Going step-by-step, without knowing the ultimate goal, felt scary to my monkey-mind.
I took out a resume and deleted the job descriptions. I then wrote in the major relationships I had during those time frames; the big life events and what I had come to believe about them. I put in everything I could think of; drunken jags, messy breakups, and what coping mechanisms I had used to get through those times. It was a meticulous and unvarnished accounting. When I was done, the cycles of my life became sobering clear, such as how I would use sex to feel better about the crap I was cultivating in my life. It was time for a new paradigm.
I was able to change my ways of being by shifting my perspective, creating a different context from which to make choices.”
Step #2 – I stopped making excuses and took action.
I wrapped myself in a blanket and sweated the junk out of my body. I began running again, laughing at the image I must have made, huffing and puffing up the hills in the summer heat. Slowly, day by day, I took better care of myself. I had lots of compassion, grace, and humor for myself. Although I didn’t have the language for it at the time, I later understood that I had been practicing Kaizen, the Japanese principle of small incremental improvements over time. Leveraged in such a way, all the little things I was doing would later develop into something much larger than myself.
In the oddest set of circumstances, things started to come to me. Someone whom I hadn’t heard from in a long time sent me an mp3 of a motivational speech by a woman. As I listened to her presentation, something was nagging at me. She sounded so familiar, but there were no tags on the recording, so I couldn’t backtrack it to its origin. She was making a lot of sense, and I felt that she was talking about what I was going through. Finally, toward the end of her speech, she mentioned her name and her website address. I accessed the site, and there she was. I suddenly realized that I had been part of a small group that she, and her boyfriend of the time, had put on. She and I had even spoken at length about trust, honesty, and transparency in relationships. After the little workshop we attended, I hadn’t given her a second thought.
What a strange coincidence this was. I followed my curiosity and signed up for one of Jennifer Hough’s programs. I even emailed her, thinking that if I could make a connection, maybe I could get a discounted rate.
“Hi, I don’t know if you remember me, but we met in Fort Lauderdale a couple of years ago?”
“Yes”, she replied, “Aren’t you the chef?”
“Why, yes I am,” fascinated that she would remember.
“Well, I’m taking a group to Bimini to swim with the wild dolphins. Would you like to come and be our chef?”
On that trip, after an evening meal, Jennifer asked me, “Adam, who in your life didn’t value you?”
I was going to give her the pat answer, the one I had kept in my back pocket throughout all the other seminars and workshops I had taken, all with little appreciable difference in my life. It was then that I took a breath, and everything that I never knew was there came forth, spooling out unto the ground like wire cables.
Step #3 – I stopped trying to have it all handled and got some assistance.
I took The Wide Awakening’s Personal Mastery program, and then graduated from their Certified Awakening Coach program. I was able to take this back into the kitchens I managed, discovering a renewed sense of enjoyment in my work. I was able to gain an ease in being completely me that had eluded me for most of my adult life. I was able to reconnect with that child of possibility that I once was, before society and life pounded me with their version of maimed masculinity. I was able to heal my relationships, take responsibility for my prior acts, and renegotiate more vibrant and mutually empowering versions of those relationships.
The miracles didn’t stop there. My life has become one of constant discovery and synchronicity.
Jennifer and I have gone on to bring our lives and missions together, and although we are wildly different human beings and speak to different audiences, we are committed to our piece of the puzzle, assisting others to find their most authentic selves.
What I do with ’em now
I was able to do all this because I had the courage to start the process, no matter what anyone else, or my ego would say. I had the strength and determination to continue my journey, because I got assistance along the way from a compassionate community dedicated to my transformation.
I couldn’t have done it alone.
The reason I do what I do now is because she took the time to ask me a compelling, insightful question, one which had gone unspoken til then. Because she guided me, I have dedicated my life to guiding others,just like you.