For many years of my life I have been haunted by the fact that every time I have neared the pinnacle of success in my life, something has occurred, whether through my own fault or circumstances beyond my control, which takes my hopes, dreams, and goals and shatters them to tiny pieces each and every time.
Having recently finished reading “Waterways,” and hearing certain music from FA artist Nevirwolf, I have found myself questioning my life as a whole. Why am I around? Have I only validated myself by the fact of being in relationships with friends and my recent boyfriend? Am I living a lie by hypocritizing my own advice? Where am I going with my life? Who am I truly inside?
When I was a young child many people in the town I was growing up in hated my existence. I was hunted, beaten down, physically broken, shot, stabbed, and many other forms of mental torture. Eventually they broke my will to live and I tried to commit suicide 7 times.
I moved away from there, but the pain and torture have left mental scars. Once I had gotten out of my depression, I swore on my life that I would do all in my power to stop what happened to me from happening to others. Since that day I have thrown myself into harm’s way more than once for the sake of strangers. But WHY?
I am so confused within my already perplexing mind, and this self questioning is tearing me up. My fears of loss validated hundreds of times in my life. Last year I had to watch as 12 years of work shattered, and this sent me back to suicidal thoughts. Did I keep myself alive for the sole sake of my mother's wish to not feel the pain of loss once more? My real name is in memory of a good friend of hers who had committed suicide.
My main question is, how can I face my fear of losing everything I work for when all my life it has come to fruition time and time again?
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Your question might seem simple on the surface, but your letter asks some very deep and difficult questions that are hard to address in an advice column, yet Papabear will try his best.
To give you truly relevant advice that would be specific to you, I would have to know more about all the things that you have tried, how they failed, and why you feel they failed. But dealing in generalities can still be of help to you, as well as to all furry readers, with luck.
Taiku, you have had an extremely difficult young life that has, as you said, scarred you deeply. One possibilities for your later problems in life may be that your wounds have left you at a disadvantage to begin with, which makes you less likely to succeed in your adult life. You have probably heard the quote “What does not kill us makes us stronger.” Not all people believe this, including psychologist Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., who wrote this article in Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201008/what-doesnt-kill-you-makes-you-weaker.
But you managed to survive and embarked on the highly admirable goal to help others who are also suffering. You ask why you do this, and the answer could simply be that you do it because you have a good heart. But you also say you have thrown yourself into harm’s way repeatedly to help people, which could be an extension of your desire to commit suicide.
Again, as I have said in my column before, I am not a trained psychologist or therapist of any sort, so these are just guesses on my part. You would probably benefit from professional help, given your traumatic background, whether or not you have sought out any as yet.
As for your fear of losing things you work for, the fear itself might be causing a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you are so afraid that it causes you to mess things up, in a way self-sabotaging your plans. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, very wisely, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
So, one thing you can do is try to stop fearing failure. This is not easy, and it is a topic that cannot be thoroughly addressed in a column like this one (again, therapy could be beneficial). One thing to try is behavior modification in which you do everything you can to surround yourself with good feelings—go do things you enjoy, surround yourself with happy people, even ACTING happy and confident can actually CAUSE you to feel that way.
Just because you have failed in some things that you have wanted to do does not mean that you yourself are a failure, only the things you have tried are failures. Let me give you an example from my own life: I dreamed of being a successful author and worked very hard on it for many years, the result being a couple published books and no money (they only sold a few hundred copies). I eventually realized I wasn’t really suited to be an author and I moved on to other things. I do believe I may have found something I am good at with this column you are now reading.
So, it could just be that you haven’t found the right thing for you yet and, difficult as it may be, you need to keep trying.
Now, you also say you are afraid of “losing everything I work for.” Well, what are you working for? If you are working for money and material gain, then don’t worry about it; those things are meaningless. If you are working for prestige and power, then those are misguided goals you should not be working toward anyway. But if you are working for family and friends, then if they are really family and friends to you, you have nothing to fear. True family and friends never leave your side, and they appreciate what you do for them.
Taiku, when you realize that things like money, careers, material goods are really not so important in the scheme of things and focus on the things that DO matter—love friendship, and spirituality—you will have gone a long way toward finding yourself and your happiness. You’re asking the big questions in life: “Why am I around? ... Where am I going with my life? Who am I truly inside?” These questions can be answered only when you observe what the Buddhists call right mindfulness. In fact, come to think of it, I think you would benefit greatly from a little study in the Noble Eightfold Path (http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html).
It is Papabear’s belief that there is only one correct goal in life (enlightenment), but that we each may take a different path towards it (various religious, spiritual, and philosophical pursuits). While Papabear has been pursuing some study in Wicca and Shamanism, for you, I believe that Buddhism might hold a strong appeal. I’m not saying you need to be a Buddhist, but I believe that the way that Buddha put things into perspective may appeal to you in your case.
I hope that helps you some. I wish you much love and happiness in your future endeavors.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.