April 14 2014 05:41 PM

Filling the existential hole where the factory of awesome Mexican meat logs should be

Ed Decker

Forty pounds. That's the amount of weight I've shaved off my torso, ass, thighs and chins. Forty bona-fide, USDA grade-A pounds since late January—just before W. said she was leaving. I also quit smoking and, for the most part, drinking.

Let me tell you something: In the beginning, those were some dark days. I ask you: When does a man need a bottle, a butt and a burrito more than when the woman he loves packs up her fluffy pillows and moves out? But as dark as those days were, it was the evenings that almost killed me. There's something about the night that crawls inside a sad man's soul and coils there like a rotting shadow.

As badly as I wanted to booze, butt and burrito my way through that despair, I knew I couldn't let myself spiral any further. I was more bloated and pale than ever and, as a direct result, depressed. It was clear that to further indulge myself would only make me more miserable in the long run. Not that this was a revelation—but when darkness swallows your house and there's nothing but the hum of the refrigerator and a black TV screen (black because every movie, show and commercial was about a wife who walks out with her fluffy pillows), knowing your vices are not solutions—and not succumbing to them—is like knowing to stand your ground during a bear encounter and not run away in a sheer, stark panic when he charges.

So, kudos to me for staring down the charging grizzly of my addictions. It's not easy to lose 40 pounds and quit smoking at the same time. Dare I say, the only things more difficult are things that are impossible, like time travel, air walking and finding trustworthy Malaysian pilots. And the next nearly impossible thing I must do is never go back to the way it was.

To this end—according to W., my mother and several of my close friends—I could benefit from seeing a counselor. My wife and mother have especially been pushing for this because they're convinced that my addictions are the symptom of some existential hole in my life that must be addressed if I hope to keep the weight off and the cigarettes unlit.

And while I admit to not knowing anything about psychology—other than what it says on the hinternet about being a process of self-discovery to help people confront such mental ailments as depression, addiction, stress, low self-esteem and relationship issues—I remain skeptical. I've done my fair share of self-evaluation over the years and honestly don't believe an underlying issue is fueling my vices. 

I was never the kind of person who (knowingly) smoked, drank or ate to escape troubles or replace something that was lacking. I'm the kind of person—or so I believe—who smokes, drinks and eats a lot because smoking, drinking and eating are the fucking funnest things to do on the planet!

I don't know about you, but I don't need a hole in my life to adore the all-shit out of a cold beer and a snort of tequila after a hard day of work. 

I don't need to have been neglected by my parents in order to immerse my brain into the endorphin dunk tank that is the first cigarette of the day.

And don't get me started about carne asada burritos. When I see the glowing yellow and orange beacon that is a fast-food Mexican joint, and I pull up and say, "Carne asada burrito, por favor," and I pull that little brown paper bag into the car—the steam piping from the opening like a smokestack on top of a factory of awesome—and I get home and dive into that half-pound log of meat-amole, all I'm saying is, if there's a hole in my life, it's a hole of not having a carne asada burrito to bite into at any given moment.

Indeed, over the years, I have pondered these questions, and I truly can't think of anything that would drive me to my cravings. My parents were loving and attentive yet mindful disciplinarians. My siblings love and respect me as much as can be expected for the siblings of an argumentative, controlling blowhard. My friends seem to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. My job doesn't suck nearly as much as most jobs suck. I don't hold grudges. I shrug off bullshit fairly easily. I'm quite satisfied with the girth of my, um, cerebrum. And the only time I'm depressed or suffer from low self-esteem is when I get fat and pale from eating, drinking and smoking too much. 

This is why I'm skeptical about counseling. Actually, let me rephrase: I'm skeptical about counseling for me. I have no doubt that it's helpful to others—I know people who swear by it. But those people, they do have underlying issues. They knew that going in, and they knew it even more afterward. 

That said, I'm going to give it a try. After all, what do I know about what there is to be known? Maybe there is an underlying issue and it will be uncovered during some new-age hydro-hypno transpersonal mud and cucumber aroma-memory therapy. Fine. I am not afraid. 

In the meantime, I'll just keep doing what I've been doing. I won't smoke any more cigarettes. And I'll only booze and burrito up on special occasions, such as when I finish a column. And willya look at that? This column is done. So, get ready Existential Hole in my Life Where the Mexican Factory Smokestack of Awesome Meat Logs Should Be, you're about to get filled.

Write to ed@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.

Make sure not to miss the Sordid Tales podcast!