“Champions are willing to do anything necessary to be a champion. You’re a champion; do what it’s going to take to make you better.”
I’ve been called a lot of things in my life…I mean, A LOT…but I can’t recall a time I’ve ever been called a champion. Ok, maybe once or twice, but it was definitely laced in heavy sarcasm. You know, like when you screw up and some jerk calls out in a mocking tone, “Way to go champ,” followed by snickers and laughter. But that changed this week.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook lately(and if not, fix that now!), you’ve probably seen I’m going through a bit of a rough patch again. Then again; when aren’t I going through a rough patch?
But, due to this current patch of roughness, and probably because of the wear and tear of all the other ones, and because I seem to be a walking ball of stress; I landed in the hospital recently with, what I thought was a heart-attack, or at the very least – mother of all panic attacks.
Turns out, it was neither, but instead somewhere in the middle. The doctors told me I have Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy, aka The Broken Heart Syndrome. I know, I know; even my diagnosis are over-dramatic and cliche. But hey, apparently it’s a real thing. And something; according to my doctor, it looks like I might have had before, and not known.
A real quick summery of the condition is, intense chest pains and other similar symptoms, that typically get misdiagnosed as a heart attack. The heart increases in size due to an increase of stress hormones. This is why 90% of reported cases are in women, with less than 10% (how is this possible??) being reported in men.
Yay for all the feels.
Once I got home from the hospital, I took to social media to talk with my peoples. Because, that’s exactly what the doctors meant when they said I needed to decrease stress in my life, ASAP! Truth be told – while it’s not the best idea, talking on social media has always been a way I feel supported and do actually de-stress. Well…sometimes that is.
A good friend of mine reached out to ask how I was doing. We chatted, and exchanged pleasantries via text for a few min, and then he did what he’s always done for me, and that’s provide me with a swift, direct kick in the rear end.
“Stop being so negative online. Stay positive! Being positive is a habit, and habits are a practice. Champions are willing to do whatever it do anything necessary to be a champion. You’re a champion; do what it takes to make you better.”
I nearly fell out from confusion. Champion…ME?!?! He must be joking. But, knowing this man as long as I have; sarcasm/joking in that kind of way, is not in his make up. In fact, this man knows all about champions, because he is one; multiple times over, in almost every facet of his life.
This man, who is nearly half my age, own’s his own (super successful) business; is a recognized member of the community we live in, and on top of all that – he’s a world class Muay Thai fighter, that has been competing, and winning, against top competition since he was in his teens.
See? Literally the definition of a champion, and he’s telling me I’m a champion. I see him almost as a father figure, and a mentor; that’s how powerful this man’s presence is…and I’m not the only one. So, how could he possibly see me this way??
When I was younger, finishing anything just wasn’t in me. In fact, it was probably said, “There’s a lot of quit in that boy.”
This is mainly because I was raised by someone who quit all the time, and eventually just stopped trying to better her life. She instead invested her energy in spotting others who were trying to grow; trying to put themselves out there, taking risks in the hopes of bettering themselves, and she would tear their ideas apart. Tell them their dreams were dumb, and a waste of time. She even did that to me…her own son…her only child.
The month before I graduated high school, my mother asked me what I was thinking about doing after summer. Surprisingly, I kind of wanted give Junior College a try. I say surprisingly, because I was a horrible student, and continuing to attend classes, especially ones I would be paying for, just didn’t make a ton of sense. But for some reason I wanted to try.
My mother’s response, “Are you kidding me!?! You aren’t college material! You barely survived high school. You aren’t going to college; it’d be a waste of time, and money. So, forget about that.” While not completely unexpected, it was still shocking and hurtful to hear. So, I didn’t go.
The behavior of quitting only grew as I got older. I tried to find a way out of the military for, no less than 2.5 years of my 4 year contract. And the same only continued in every job I had, or other life experience; if it was the slightest bit difficult, I quit. And like my teacher in the ways of all things negative; I blamed everyone else.
The last time I listened to my mother, about my shortcomings, and being told how bad I was going to fail, was the night before my wedding, back in 2009.
I had already pushed her out of my life, but even with me now on the other half of the country, she still found ways to find my cell number, and poke me. While celebrating with at the rehearsal dinner, my mother left me a message saying something that has stuck with me forever…”Enjoy this time Mike. Truly enjoy it, because it will be over before you know it. Those people don’t care about you. They see you for the loser you are, and when they throw you away; and they WILL throw you away like trash, I’ll be waiting.”
Yes, my marriage fell apart, and yes, I felt like a loser; like trash…like the way my mother described me. And I blamed everyone one else for those feelings. But the truth is, I played a role in that marriage failing. I accused my ex-wife of quitting numerous time; without ever owning that I quit too.
I had prided myself for many years of ditching that bad behavior of quitting when I finished my term in the military, but the truth is – I had become worse than ever. Just because I wasn’t quitting things, didn’t mean I wasn’t still quitting. I had instead just quit on myself.
For years I’ve complained about the raw hand life has dealt me. Constantly bemoaning my station in life. If I only had this one thing I would be happy. Why isn’t MY writing getting noticed, but that person is? Why can’t I be loved like I love others? Why not me? Why not me?
This negative frame of mind was my new quit. I had become my mother in a lot of ways. While I try to never tear others down; I certainly think negatively about their achievements, quietly to myself. When something goes wrong, or I don’t hear the support I thought I would get from others, I complain. I question their friendship, or love, and push them away. Sometimes rightfully so, but I guarantee it’s far less than I think.
So, with knowing all that, and knowing me as well as he does; how is it remotely possible this person could use the word *champion* to describe me? How could a person, who has dedicated his live to success look at me, and see something that others bestow onto him?
I don’t know, and for the first time in my life, I don’t want an explanation. Instead, I’m going to take the compliment, and do everything in my power, and then even a little more; to never lose that image. Because he’s right; being positive, and eventually living happiness, is a mindset. And mindsets are formed out of habits. Habits that start small, and grow when nurtured with daily practice. And that’s what I intend to do.
But, before I can do this, I have to quit one more time…I hope you all understand. I’m going to quit being negative. Quit complaining online, and while some of you may not like this; I’m going to quit sharing so much of my personal life. It worked for me for a time, but I never really saw how it hurt others. Friends, family, my ex-wife, other loved ones; it’s hurt a lot of people. But there are two people it hasn’t hurt yet, and I don’t want it to…ever. And those are my kids; my son and daughter.
As we all know, the internet is forever. And while there’s things on here they may not like, hopefully by the time they see this post, my life, their life, our life; will be in a place where the can see the growth I made.
Because it’s never too late to become a champion.