Bryan opens up about opening up at this week's group therapy session.
This week was incredibly cathartic, emotional, rewarding, and life changing to say the very least. We had our second week of basic training at the gym with Jackie and it was extremely tough. Stacy had a fantastic breathing episode, which I found highly entertaining. I’ll admit I was worried at first, but twenty minutes later when she was shouting in the gym at the top of her lungs like Ethel Merman on closing night of Gypsy, I knew she would be fine (Yes, I made a Broadway reference – I’m a former show queen for god’s sake). Anyway, I am truly happy to see that Stacy’s degree in theatre is really paying off.
This week Jackie decided to pair us in groups of two to get to know each other and learn to lean on one another as a support system. I was paired with Kim who is slightly conservative and very religious. My initial fear was that Kim and I would get into a conversation about homosexuality, and it would turn deadly. I pictured her trying to dunk my head in holy water while shouting, “The power of Christ compels you,” over and over attempting to exorcise the devil out of me for my sinful lifestyle. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Kim is actually amazing, and very open-minded. She is a fighter and a survivor. A true inspiration on so many levels and I was honored to have been paired up with her and get to know her on a more personal level.
The next morning, Kim and I were tethered together, draped in weight vests and forced to hike up a mountainside as a team. We were told that this was not only a workout, but also a competition. Dinner at Jackie’s was the reward for the first team to reach the finish line. Now I am not trying to be cocky, but I knew that Kim and I had this in the bag. Kim fought cancer for god’s sake, and I once fought a flock of seagulls that were reeking havoc in a sleepy town called Bodega Bay in Northern California…oh wait, that was Tippi Hedren in The Birds, but I am sure I fought something, somewhere, somehow once…anyway, there was NO way we were going to lose this battle. Needless to say, Kim and I persevered and won the challenge. Hooray! Unfortunately, Kim had some medical issues with her hand swelling after the workout and had to go to the hospital, but I was once again amazed at her determination and hard work.
I ended up flying solo to Jackie’s house for the reward dinner. Jackie has an amazing crib and a foxy chef. And when I say chef, I mean someone that has actually gone to culinary school and knows the difference between say, a frying pan and a tomato, unlike someone else that might be employed as a “chef” in Orange County...I’m not naming names. But once again I digress. Dinner was great thanks to Jonathan Rollo of Greenleaf Chop Shop in Los Angeles, which has the best salads EVER! During dinner Jackie tried to get me drunk and flip me, but I would not let her use her “Jedi” mind tricks on me. I stood my ground. Thankfully Craig showed up and I got to listen to the two of them compliment each other on their various muscle groups and then we took turns guessing how many abs were actually visible on Jackie’s stomach. Good times. All in all, it was a lovely, informative evening. The next morning was therapy and weigh in.
We learned that due to medical reasons Kim would not be continuing on with the program and it broke my heart, but her health is much more important. I believe Kim now has the strength and tools to make a life style change in her own way and on her own terms. I already miss my newfound friend, and I wish her all the best. I am grateful, however that we at least have a little part of Kim still in this program – her daughter, Shay.
The big break through that I had this week in therapy was learning to open up and freeing myself from years of excess baggage, both emotionally and physically. I also realized that there is so much truth to the phrase, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” So, why did I feel the need to share my story of abuse? I am not quite sure. But perhaps by sharing I can set myself free, and hopefully help someone else along the way. I have never really had a healthy relationship with either of my parents. My father left when I was young and floated in and out of my life, throughout my childhood, on his terms. He was an alcoholic and battled with the bottle until it eventually took his life in 1995. Being the only son, I felt as though I was a major disappointment to my father. I know that he dreamed of having a son that he could take to baseball games or teach how to change a carburetor. I imagined that he secretly relished in the thought of one day giving me advice on how to approach a girl, or explain the difference between a cross-over dribble and a double dribble, but instead I was dying to know the secrets of Farrah’s perfectly feathered hair or just how “Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty” could possibly remember all those dance steps. We lived in two different worlds and unfortunately we were never able to make any type of connection, until it was much to late.
My mother, on the other hand, did the best that she could raising three children on her own. I cannot imagine the pressures and the struggles that she endured. I am grateful and appreciative for all that she gave me growing up. But I have held on to this guilt and blame for 36 years of not feeling protected enough and for growing up alone, and it is not fair to me, not fair to my mother, not fair to my father. I want to release this albatross around my neck once and for all. I cannot go on living with blaming others anymore. At the end of the day, no one made me gain this weight but myself. Yes, I was sexually abused. Yes, I felt alone and confused and afraid as a child. Yes, there are times where I find myself eating my pain. But if I truly want to take the pounds off, I have to stop this cycle of abuse. I have to hold myself accountable and I have to figure out how to truly love myself. I believe we are all dealt different cards in this life. Some are lucky enough to be dealt a royal flush while others spend their whole lives wishing for a better hand. Well I am tired of feeling sorry for myself. I am tired of living in the past. I want to live in the moment, in the here and now. From this day forward, I am letting go.