Skip to content

I want to live.

November 15, 2010
Before & After

Me: Old and New

Some years ago I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and what I saw was not pretty.  I found myself out of shape, fat, and depressed.  Getting into this state of malaise didn’t happen overnight.  I spent the better part of my 20s and 30s eating and drinking myself into near oblivion.  Most people didn’t see this in me.  On the outside I appeared successful, living the American Dream – married, kids, house, dog, good job.  On the inside I was a gurgling mess.  It turns out that deep down I was driven by insecurity, fear, and self-preservation.  Food and alcohol became my coping mechanisms of choice and they worked well.  Drinking alleviated my fears and eased my insecurities.  Eating just made me feel damn good.

My first wake-up call came when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  For the first time in my life I was completely helpless and totally afraid.  This was grown-up stuff.  I could die.  I was only 36 years old and frankly, I wasn’t ready to check out just yet.  Questions swirled though my head – How long do I have to live?  How would my kids deal with losing their dad?  How much pain will I endure?  Who would teach my boys how to grow up to be good men?  I had to do something.  I wanted to live.  I decided to fight.

The next year or so was all about hospitals, surgeries, x-rays, and blood tests.  I was treated successfully for the cancer and am in remission today, but I had to do more.  My body needed an overhaul.  I started exercising and eating right.  I started running.  I set goals for myself: Run a 5k, then a 10k and a 15k.  I kept running.  I found a healthy hobby and started seeing some positive changes in my life.  I was slowly easing away from my eating obsession.  I was losing weight and feeling better, but there were a few more battles waiting for me up ahead.

My drinking advanced.  In addition to consuming alcohol excessively everyday, I began over-indulging in painkillers (I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but cancer patients get just about anything they ask for).  This went on for some time.  I was cancer-free but my real disease was slowly and steadily progressing.  My wife of almost 12 years had finally had enough.  I was asked to move out of the house.  After the divorce my life quickly spiraled down the toilet bowl.  Funny thing though, I never thought I was the problem.  I really couldn’t see how my drinking was ruining my life and the lives of those closest to me.  Alcoholism is cunning – it’s the only disease that constantly tries to convince you that you don’t have it.

I hit my bottom.  Once again I found myself overwhelmed with fear and hopelessness.  I was desperate.  I realized that living this way would eventually kill me.  I didn’t want to die, not like this.  I wanted to live.  I mustered what little courage I had left and I asked for help.  I found comfort and hope in a group of people who’ve lived through similar experiences.   I learned how to love myself, and how to be helpful to others simply by sharing my story.  I had my last drink in April of 2007, and I’ve never looked back.  Only through sobriety have I really learned how to live.

I’m still passionate about running today.  Running has become a very important ingredient in my new healthy, happy life recipe.  I ran two marathons this year, and most days you’ll find me out on the roads training for the next one.  I’m lucky, I get to train with an incredible group of people who encourage and inspire me in more ways than they’ll ever know.

Today when I look in that mirror, I find myself in the best shape of my life – physically, mentally, even spiritually.  I’m lean, healthy, and for the first time in my life, truly happy.  I believe that now when people look at me, who they see on the outside matches who I really am on the inside.

It’s far from over, but this is my story so far.  I made a conscious decision to change, to start living my life in an extremely different way.  I decided to be the person I always knew I was meant to be.  I made my choice: I want to live.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    November 8, 2010 11:50 am


  2. November 8, 2010 12:51 pm

    Good for you Pat. That’s fantastic. You see a lot of overweight people around and doing NOTHING about it. I’m not overweight, some call me slim, but I work out 3 times a week and play hockey as well.

    You’re an excellent role model for your boys. Keep up the good work.

  3. November 8, 2010 2:15 pm

    That’s amazing! Many people would just give up living, so you’re an inspiration to everyone!

  4. November 8, 2010 2:50 pm

    Dude, this is awesome. I just turned 40 and am suddenly sick to death of feeling old/slow. Not that I’m in awful shape, but things could be better. You’re an inspiration!

    Go you!

  5. November 8, 2010 5:07 pm

    Very inspiring. I have been reading blogs for the past hour on drinking sobriety etc. Most of them very funny making light of it I was just starting to think that I am the biggest downer blog writer when I read yours. It just made me feel better for some reason. Congrats to you on your new found hard worked health. I hope to be on my way.

  6. November 8, 2010 7:34 pm

    Yikes! Looking at that photo on the left up there is a bit like looking in the mirror for me, being your brother and all. I’m going out right now to take a good walk…

  7. November 8, 2010 7:49 pm

    Amazing. You look great. But you are the same person. I can tell from the photos. The before you has a wry smile that also wants to explain what’s happened, if only you could articulate it. But assuredly, you’re the same person. The “after” you says you articulated it in no uncertain terms–to yourself first. That’s the most important first step. You’ll be a happier person for all you’ve endured to get to this point and continue on that path. Sorry to poke my nose in your blog. Happy birthday.

  8. November 8, 2010 7:50 pm

    Pat, you rock! There are so many people who say “I want to… ” but who never do set out to achieve their goal. I often find that many people are all talk and/or they sit and wait for things to come to them rather then act. Kudos to you for making it happen! You look great!

  9. November 9, 2010 1:07 am

    Great blog you have started here. I am so excited to keep reading your posts 🙂

  10. November 9, 2010 2:50 am

    I just found your blog – so I missed your birthday – Happy Birthday! Will be back to read more.

  11. November 9, 2010 7:26 am

    I am doing a similar thing. Made a spreadsheet with goals and bench marks. Every time you gym, run / play sport, drink too much etc. gets recorded. Also works!

    Been training for 6 months, lost about 10 kg’s of fat, put on 5 kgs of muscle and have given up booze.

    Well done my man, inspirational.

  12. transplantednorth permalink
    November 9, 2010 8:25 am

    very inspirational, I agree with you. I will keep adding on candles to my birthday cake, but I don’t EVER want to get old. I exercise not to slim my hips, but just because I want to still walk around on my own when I’m 85! Keep writing!

  13. November 9, 2010 11:13 am

    WOW! I am so impressed! You are an inspiration for all of us – especially those of us living with cancer. I look forward to following your blog. And Happy Birthday! I hope that you have a wonderful day!

  14. November 9, 2010 12:45 pm

    Definitely inspiring!

  15. November 15, 2010 9:41 am

    Inspiring. It always motivates me when I see people that have been to the abyss and not only recover but then begin to live their dreams.

    Thanks for the story.

  16. Jayde permalink
    November 15, 2010 11:25 am

    Thanks for sharing. Its really good for me to read stuff like this right now. Its NOT over!

  17. Becky Edmonds permalink
    November 15, 2010 11:55 am

    Wow Patrick! That was inspiring!! My husband is recovering from Alocholism and it was quite a road to travel with him. Thanks for sharing!! Keep on running 🙂

  18. walkincolleen permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. Good luck with your ongoing journey through life.

  19. Chip Logan permalink
    November 19, 2010 2:39 pm

    Very inspirational story! You’re a great role model not only for your kids but for everyone.


  1. King of Pain « a life relived.
  2. Forks Over Knives « a life relived.
  3. Forks Over Knives « The Vegan Road

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: