In my last post, I spoke about a very heart-wrenching email I received last week. Today, I share with you the contents of that message, and my response. In order to protect the writer’s identity, I have re-written the letter in my own words. I’ve also left some information out that I’ve deemed too personal and could also risk the writer’s identity.
I hate myself so completely. I want to die. I’ve suffered from mental illness since I was a child in addition to the fact that I was molested at a very young age. Doctors have diagnosed me with mental retardation despite the fact that I have an elevated IQ. I’ve attempted suicide several times. I’ve been to prison, I’ve been homeless, and now I am with someone who I once thought I loved, but have since decided otherwise. This person has betrayed me, and taken advantage of me financially. My life is worth nothing.
I’m sorry to hear you are in so much pain. This is admittedly beyond the scope of my expertise or lack thereof. I would suggest intensive professional help, but it sounds like you have been through that already.
What I can say is that I, too, have experienced my fair share of emotional and mental hang-ups. While I do not wish to go into specifics I can tell you that they have been hell to overcome, and to reorganize in a healthy way. I am still working on it.
That said, I know what it’s like to feel alone, and angry, and full of hatred for others and for myself especially. We come into this world so innocently with only one desire: to live. After that if we’re lucky we may have a fairly normal upbringing free of any major incident. If we’re not so lucky, we often end up having very painful upbringings and lives.
The things that are done or not done to us when we are children are not our faults. How could they be? A child knows no better and wants only one thing, the love and attention of his/her guardians. If that love is withheld or lorded over us or twisted to some unnatural extreme, its impact stays with us for a lifetime.
When we get old enough, it is then up to us to sort through all the emotional and mental filth. It is painful and heart breaking, but at a certain point we must accept the fact that only we have the power to change ourselves. No one else can do it for us.
One final thought, and you can take it or leave it. No matter who we are or what our problems may be, there is a deeper presence beneath it all. Our financial, relationship, familial and physical problems define our life situation. But they do not define us as individuals.
It can be difficult, almost impossible, to see past those life situations especially when they are so painful and so negative. The mind becomes very familiar with it. But underneath that there is always our beingness, our consciousness which is pure and boundless. If we learn to quiet our mind, and take a step back from all of that pain, we will (slowly) begin to see the cogs turning and thereby gain the opportunity to adjust and even remove some things if necessary.
Maybe this will help, or maybe you’ve heard it all before. I don’t know, but it is the best I can do. I will keep you in my thoughts as a part of my daily meditation practice. You can be sure of that.
Wishing you boundless, impenetrable, and unshakeable peace of mind and spirit.
***Disclaimer: Any advice offered within this email is strictly the opinion of the writer. By opening and reading this email, you are acknowledging that the writer is neither licensed or professionally qualified to administer psychological or medical advice or treatment in any form.
Not an easy message to respond to. In fact, I was so emotionally disturbed by it at first, I thought it impossible to respond. More than anything, it seems as though the writer simply needed a temporary outlet for all of this pain. I do not know that he expected or even particularly wanted a response. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I knew I wasn’t qualified to give him any instructional advice, so I sat with my feelings and thoughts around the matter. The specific issues he lists are things with which I do not have personal experience, and indeed my own emotional issues pale in objective comparison. So what could I say? How could I relate?
The notion came to me that this person must feel very lonely, and full of immeasurable fear. Well, I know what desperate loneliness feels like, and I certainly understand what intense fear is like. So, I went with that. I thought the least I could do was to attempt to reassure this person that they are not alone in their suffering. None of us are. Suffering is part of life. The challenge is how we choose to let that suffering inform our existence.
I did not receive any response to my message, so I cannot know if this individual read it, discarded it, or both. Perhaps my response was more for my benefit than anything else; to articulate the things I’ve come to believe surrounding my own suffering.
What do you think? How would you have responded differently, if at all?
By Terence Stone
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.