As we take a moment to look back on our lives so far…we may pick out certain events, situations, or people that we’ve crossed paths with…that ultimately changed our lives and led us to become who we are today.

Sometimes these changes were for the better…and sometimes they’re for the worst.

But they happened. A fork in the road that led to fortunes and misfortunes along the way. The question, what were some of those ‘forks’ for you? They can be good memories or bad ones, depending on what you’re willing to share with us. What big choices have you made that had a major impact on your life? What friends or enemies have you met that helped to mold your perspective on life in general? A parent, a coach, a best friend? Maybe it was a job that you got, a class with an inspiring teacher, maybe it was a love that became a part of your life? Or maybe it was a tragedy that you had to face to become stronger?

Whatever those forks were, and the knives you may have had to face to get through it…let us know about it! And think what your life would be like if you had taken the other road instead of the one you chose.

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“One thing that changed me drastically from a trajectory I was on at the time, was getting a chest infection called pleurisy.

During the 2000s and early 10s, I had suffered a string of serious illnesses that culminated with pleurisy (although pleurisy wasn’t the worst one, it has been the last to date). In 2002, when I was 17, I got meningitis C, and a year or so later, I got pneumonia.

So I had meningitis and pneumonia in the span of a year.

And then finally, in 2012 I got pleurisy.

The first two nearly killed me, the last one was just horrible to endure, but it wasn’t deadly as far as I know.

Anyway, I need to mention that because it’s related to another thing, that lead me to change my life; namely my outlook on my own health.

Drugs have always been readily available to me, growing up, having several older brothers and cousins, I had my first smoke when I was about 8. My first pint of lager when I was 9, was trying hard liquor and weed not long after that.

The worst thing was my addiction to tobacco. I was going through two packs a day. Although I was still drinking every evening, and found it difficult to sleep if I was completely sober. I’d still say the smoking was more dangerous of the two.

Friends and family, at least the ones who cared, were often on at me to quit the smoking. And I always said I would, even to myself, when I reached 30. I’m not sure why I made that particular age a goal, or even if I was being serious with myself about quitting. A part of me knew I never would. After all, I really enjoyed smoking.

Then fast forward to Christmas 2012 and I got a nasty infection called pleurisy. It might not have anything to do with my smoking habit, but it did make it difficult to smoke while I had it. I can’t remember if I smoked while I had it, but if I could have, I would have been.

Funnily enough pleurisy didn’t affect my desire to smoke, but the medication I was taking for it did do something really weird, it took away my desire to drink alcohol, which I was also drinking regularly up until that time.

I threw out my stockpile; a crate of lager (24 cans) and half a bottle of vodka, and didn’t drink any alcohol for at least the rest of that year.

I did eventually drink again. Now I only drink occasionally. Maybe 3 or 4 occasions a year (birthdays, Crimbo, New year’s eve, etc). So nothing like the nightly booze up I was doing beforehand.

The fact that I had kicked the drink out of my life inspired me to stop smoking tobacco, about 4 months later. The last cigarette I ever smoked was on the 17th April, 2013. I did switch to e-cigs for a couple of months, then in December that year, I finally quit those too.

So I stopped smoking when I was 28, even sooner than the fake promise I made to myself and others, about quitting when I reached 30.

Since that year I have also dropped a lot of weight. I was close to 300 pounds at my heaviest, but I’m 6’5 tall and carried it well, so it’s not quite as much as it sounds, but it was still too much.

But now I’m hovering around 200 lbs (90KG / 14.5 stone), and I want to drop to 190 which is about where my healthy weight range is supposed to be.

I did it mostly through walking. I walk between 15-20,000 steps a day (that’s 7.5 to 10 miles 12-16km).

I workout a couple of times a week, but I wouldn’t call myself a gym rat. I go through months of gains and months of losses, but I am heading in the right direction.

I have this photo of me without a shirt on. It was taken when I was about 19, and that’s my motivation. I looked pretty ripped back then, if I do say so myself 😛
And I’d love to get to that build again.

I probably won’t get there because I’m nearly twice as old as I was back then.
But then again, if I really work hard for it, I might even surpass it. You hear about people who’ve never looked after themselves until they were in their 30s and even 40s, and all of a sudden, they end up being in the best shape of their lives. So who knows, right?” – Mike

“Forks in my life…

There have been many. SO many. I, sometimes, sit back and reflect on all of the things that I’ve done, the hard times that I’ve been through, and the amazing people that I’ve met throughout my life…and it baffles me to think that my life could have gone any other way than the way it has. It’s crazy, right? Hehehe! If there’s another reality somewhere, and there was another ‘me’ that had missed a single step along the way, he would be a complete STRANGER to me! Seriously.

So…forks in my life…

Definitely, the Shack is the first one that comes to mind. Creating this site, writing these stories, and being able to interact with everybody over the years has been such a defining part of who I am. I wish I had the words to say thank you in a way that truly conveys how much I appreciate the people who have been there for me from the beginning, and have stuck by me through the good times and the bad. It was the friends I made online that allowed me to finally accept myself, feel comfortable in my own skin, and reach out to make a difference and be that same influence in other people’s lives who really needed it. I hope I was able to be a positive ‘fork’ in someone else’s reality too. Hehehe!

Another one is meeting my best friend, Mike. We were both 14 years old at the time, and met in Summer school, actually. The strange thing is…as CUTE as he was…that wasn’t my initial reason for hanging out with him. It was a random meeting, in a random art class, and we just happened to click immediately on the first day. It’s almost scary to think that a tiny little clerical error like putting him in a different class at a different time that Summer could have deprived me of having one of the best friends that I ever could have dreamed of. He’s still the first person that I ever came out to. And that was AFTER the Shack had been online for a year or two! I wouldn’t have had the guts, otherwise. I can remember being sooooo in love with him for so long. LOL! Looking back at it now, I was so helpless! And at one point, we moved into a tiny apartment together, and he’s straight…but we’ve always been extremely close…so that sexual frustration is pretty much what led me to writing the stories you guys know and love today. So, thanks to Mike for that!

There are many other forks that I could go into detail about, like finding the beauty of comic books as a kid, working in a music store (Still the best and most fun job that I’ve EVER had in my life!), and some of the great loves of my life that transformed me in more ways than I can ever count or hope to explain…

But…if I had to be honest, the one other element in my life that I have to give credit for making me who I am…is my father. And it’s not often that you’ll ever hear me giving him ‘credit’ for much of anything, but despite the negative influence that he had on my life, it’s only appropriate. Because his abuse taught me how to have a heart and sympathy for other people. He taught me how to heal. He taught me how to fight. And he gave me all the evidence that I’d ever need to know, for certain, that I can get past the suffering and the self doubt and the hurt…to come out ok on the other end. So I couldn’t answer this question honestly without making him a part of it, because he really is a part of me. Maybe a part that I regret having to deal with growing up, but if it made me who I am today…someone who can look in the mirror and be proud of the person staring back at him…someone who actually has the urge to help others and do good things…then I thank him for that. And I’d do it all again as long as it promised me the same outcome.

Anyway, that’s my answer for this question. I know it was a bit of a complicated issue for some, but I hope it inspired some thought for you guys. And if you want to add anymore answers of your own and tell your story, please feel free! K? Seezya soon!” – Comicality

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If you guys want to add your two cents to any one of the ‘Q & A’ sessions for future issues of Imagine Magazine, we’d LOVE to hear your input and your personal stories on the forum! Feel free to attach your screen name, or do so anonymously! Drop by “The Shack Out Back” forum on the 1st and 15th of every month for a brand new topic of conversation! We look forward to hearing more from you! 🙂

 

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