Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Question from a Friend

But how do you keep on going? I just feel so damaged.

You go on because you still have joys in your life. You go on by finding people who love and value you -- good friends, a loving pet. By finding things that sustain you -- music, books, trees, whatever gives you strength. You go on by building yourself a story in which you get to survive and thrive. That gives you something positive to draw from.

You go on by looking yourself in the mirror and saying, “I love you, you’re beautiful and worthwhile,” every day until you believe it, even on the days you don’t believe it. You find ways to take care of yourself, which includes finding people who will take care of you when you can’t manage it yourself. You go on by working your ass off in therapy. You’re allowed to complain bitterly that you have to suffer through this stuff over and over, not just when you were a kid but now, as an adult. You go on with the help of a good antidepressant.

You go on because you’ve learned to handle pain -- though you might need to learn how not to handle pain, how to respond to the signal that something is wrong. You figure out the difference between what hurts and what harms you, and you learn to suffer through some pain to get to a new level of understanding and healing instead of escaping into the things that bring temporary forgetfulness but do long-range damage.

You go on by doing your best, though it isn’t perfect, because nothing is perfect. You learn to forgive yourself, because you don’t have to be perfect to be worth loving. You go on by praying or meditating or writing it down in a journal or doing all three. You go on by screaming your rage at God and your abuser. You go on by crying. By listening to the people who will comfort you. It was not your fault. This shame is not your shame.

You go on by learning to recognize the signals that mean you’re starting to slide into trouble and figuring out ways to short-circuit them. On the days you can’t, you go on by never ever having a gun in the house. You go on by making a promise not to kill yourself and by keeping that promise.

You go on by having a purpose in life -- something too important to abandon. By building bridges to this world that will keep your islanded self in touch with others and keep you from floating further into that misty grey sea.

You go on by living as well and as lovingly as you can. By listening to music, by doing art. You go on by loving people and animals and nature and the city and your home. And yourself. You’ve done what you had to do to survive. Now do what you can to live well.

You deserve it.

No comments: