‘Changing Times’ Column 2006 – 2007

I used to be a ‘toxic boy’. What a buzz. I loved it! I used to be a workaholic. On the edge, deadlines, clients, meetings, staff, planning, being ‘the star’, leaping around like a mad monkey on heat and being adored for it. But too much adrenaline wears out the adrenal – fight or flight – gland. Computer games, action movies and thrillers didn’t help. Adrenaline addiction.

Then as a man, I discovered endorphins. The creative feel-good factor that got things done with peace, not panic.

I used to eat a ‘normal’ toxic diet. Processed food, meat, alcohol, diary products, on the go, no time for digestion or boring greens. I guess I initially stopped eating meat when I realised that the animals secreted all sorts of terror hormones before they were killed; and that was the energy I was putting into my system.

I used to ‘take the Mick’. I still have the best time with my best friends, total strangers and especially in my head, whether I’m alone or with company. I am less aggressive, passive-aggressive. I don’t need approval as much as I used to, therefore I don’t need to show off as much; and certainly not at the expense of others. I have a much better time, now I’m not on my own case so much. I love being my own man.

I used to have a best friend. He’s moved back to Sydney. I miss him. He still lives in my head where we meet when I give us attention, in sharp and honest places where we laugh ‘til it hurts. He was very toxic. A bad, bullying attitude that he used to dump on me and everyone else. We all loved it, until it was our turn to be picked on.

Shock often stops us standing up for ourselves there and then. Old, sometimes traditional scripts kick in, where elders, women or those from whatever ‘higher’ status should not be challenged. Pass it on. That’s the way it works, isn’t it? Bullying from the partner, boss, establishment, road rage, basic disrespect taken on board and passed on down the line to someone who won’t, or can’t stand up for themselves. The children? Staff? Whoever answers the phone from a call centre or crosses my path next. What about our old friend fear? I guess I don’t easily stand up to the people and things that I fear the most.

My girlfriend and I recently went for live blood analysis to see how healthy we are and how acidic our blood is. I’m twelve years older than her, have been much more of a party animal and ‘naughty boy’ in my time and recently returned from a five week trip in Kenya where my diet could have been a lot healthier! My blood showed that I was significantly less toxic than my girlfriend. We were shocked.

She felt cheated, after all the care and hard work she had put into her diet. She had recently given up working after fifteen years and was finding her feet before taking the next step on her pathway – who can blame her blood for showing up that way? It seems that no matter how clean living we are, what really matters is where we are coming from. Attitude. Calm, rather than panic. Endorphins, rather than adrenaline. Trust, rather than control. Love, rather than fear.

The moral of this story is that toxic waste begins at home. In the mind, body and spirit from which I live. No way am I dishonouring the good work done by those on the front line, campaigning to eliminate toxic waste, but I do hope that they are taking care of themselves too.

I had a toxic childhood. Old habits die hard. But they (eventually) die.

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