To Be Or Not To Be
I have written many entries for this blog and not posted them because I was afraid they were too negative or too depressing. The last thing I want is for people to read my entries and think I am evidence that God doesn’t really help after all. I’m also mindful that I am a psychologist and I don’t want people to think psychological treatment is useless because I work in the profession and am so negative so I have tried to be careful about what I say in this blog.
The comments left on my previous entry made me rethink this decision to censor myself and I turned to God for some direction. Here is one of the unpublished entries, a particularly negative one, and I will follow it up with what I believe God said to me about this subject.
I haven’t been to church for a while now for various reasons. My son got a new job so some Sundays he was working and had my car so I had no transport. Other Sundays I was working the night before and didn’t wake up in time. Today I fully intended to go but my sleeping pattern is woeful. I woke up too early and was tired again almost three hours before it was time to go so I went back to bed for a snooze. I was sure I wouldn’t sleep for more than two hours and I actually didn’t expect to sleep even that long but I was wrong and when I woke up it was too late to go. I have lots of excuses I suppose but I think the main reason is lack of motivation. I should have set the alarm to be sure I would wake up in time but I didn’t.
It’s a common theme in my life lately. Lack of motivation. I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere or be with anyone. As a psychologist I know withdrawing from life is one of the signs of depression but I have had depression before and this doesn’t feel the same.
I’m not sad. I’m not crying. I’m not wishing life was better. If someone gave me a choice between death or a million dollars, a perfect body, true love and all that my heart desired I would choose death. The only thing that might tempt me would be the million dollars but only because I’d love to be able to leave my children enough money to give them an easy life after I’m gone.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suicidal in the usual sense of the word. I’m not planning to slit my wrists or overdose or throw myself off a tall building or anything like that. I’m just going to continue living in a way that will maximize my chances of a fatal heart attack. I guess you could argue that I am suicidal given that I would prefer to die than live but there is a big difference between how I feel these days and how I used to feel before I cast out the demon of suicide (see article titled When I Was Suicidal for more about that).
Thoughts of death, before I cast out the demon, were impulses that came on me suddenly and they were always accompanied by a fierce, murderous, self-hatred. They were urgent and almost overwhelming desires to hurt myself for being me or to wipe myself out in a fit of self-loathing. They were about hate. Hating myself, hating the world, hating my life.
Thoughts of death, now, are not distressing episodes of self-hate. They are simply my heart turning towards heaven. It’s about a patient longing to go home not an urgent dash towards obliterating myself. It’s about wanting to go to Heaven where all is love rather than wanting to murder myself because of how much I hate myself.
I suppose it could be classified as depression but it doesn’t feel like depression. It feels like I have lived long enough and I am ready for it to be over now.
I took a train trip once and it took three days to get to my destination. It was exhausting and, by the end of it, I felt cramped and restless. I completely lost interest in looking at the passing scenery after the first day or so. I got progressively more grumpy and fed up as the trip continued. Towards the end of the journey I was no longer traveling – I was just enduring an unpleasant experience because there was no way to escape it.
That’s how I feel now. As if my life is a journey that has gone on for too long and I just want it to be over so I can go home. I don’t belong here, I never did, and I don’t want to be here any more. I want to go home!
Writing this blog is a struggle sometimes. I’m a psychologist so I am supposed to know how to stay mentally healthy. I’m also a Christian so I’m supposed to be filled with the joy of the Lord. I should be out in the world telling others how wonderful life is when you let God in so they can find salvation and be happy too.
I’m supposed to care about others because that is what a psychologist does for a living and that is what a Christian does for love of God.
I do care but it doesn’t come naturally. The first few years of my life trained me not to get attached to anyone. At five months old I was given to my maternal grandmother to raise so I spent the first couple of years of my life as the youngest of three children and the baby of the small community in which I lived. At two, or thereabouts, my mother took me away from them and I became the eldest of what eventually became five children.
Soon after she removed me from my grandmothers care, for some reason, my mother left me in the care of strangers for a while. Just as I was getting attached to the new family she came and took me back from them too. The next time she left me with strangers I didn’t even try to bond with them but, sadly, I couldn’t form much of an attachment to my mother either. She was emotionally cold towards me and rejected all my attempts to please her.
By the time I was old enough to go to school I had been passed around like an unwanted parcel and four different men, three of them family members, had sexually molested me.
The only way to survive was to stop caring so that’s what I did. I withdrew into myself and went through life expecting the worst. When my son came along I wanted better for him and discovered I wasn’t capable of giving him better. That’s when I turned to God.
God has worked miracles in me and in my life. He has changed me and enabled me to care about myself and others. He has given me a good life with loving children, a nice house to rent and what used to be an excellent job but there is one thing He hasn’t been able to do.
He could change me but He couldn’t change the world.
This is still a world where a mother will try to strangle her five month old baby to stop her from crying. Where children are taken from warm, loving homes to cold, rejecting ones. Where men molest children who look to them for love. Where teenagers are raped and young women are left to give birth and raise their children alone. Where husbands don’t love you, they want to change you, and they leave when you can’t change.
This is still a world where good jobs can turn into nightmares because of political power struggles. A world where police leave you to face five attackers alone because they think your call for help is just a woman’s hysterical imagination. Where neighbours ignore your screams and the shrilling of your house alarm because they think you’re having a domestic with a partner they have never seen, met or heard about.
This is still a world where animals are tortured, children starve, and horrible things happen every single day.
God has opened my heart and enabled me to care but now I go to work and I read emails telling me how much closer the new CEO is getting in her attempts to move the company to where she thinks it should be. The picture is forming of a company that will pressure me to deal with the trauma and distress of a suicidal person and get them off the phone within 20 to 30 minutes so the next caller won’t have to wait too long for me to pick up the phone. Her vision for the future seems to be a company that will not care how awful the job becomes as long as it can replace burnt out staff with newly qualified people looking to add experience to their resumes.
Meanwhile I pick up the phone and a never ending stream of misery, betrayal, frustration, anger, resentment, suicidal thoughts, grief and despair washes through me on every shift. Stories that would wring tears from a stone are poured into my ears but I am not allowed to cry because that would not help them.
For every person who calls because life has dealt them one too many blows there are a dozen who call because they are reaping the rewards of living a selfish life. They have used and abused everyone who ever cared about them or tried to help them to the point where there is nobody left to turn to but the people on the end of the help lines. If you think people don’t have to pay in this life for what they do to others you should spend a few weeks in my shoes. They definitely do pay and they pay dearly.
Shift after shift these people call looking for someone who cares and I have to tell them to call someone else because I am only allowed to talk to them if they are suicidal.
Often they respond by pretending to be suicidal or by telling me what a worthless piece of shit I am. People are willing to be far more nasty, vicious, cruel and obnoxious over the phone than they would ever dare to be in person.
Like a sponge I absorb their pain and despair, their anger and frustration, their insults and hatred and I go home, curl up in bed, and hand it all over to God and He takes it from me.
As a psychologist I know a good life is a balanced life and good mental health requires a support network. The ideal life is one that contains several supportive family members, a satisfying paid or unpaid job, some supportive friends, a supportive partner and activities that are fun. For maximum health a good diet and some exercise should also be included.
My life doesn’t fit that prescription at all.
I have two supportive family members but they are my children so I do my best not to lean on them at all because I want them to be able to lean on me. I have other family but I am not close to them and I don’t lean on them although I know I could if I chose to. It just seems wiser to keep my distance and avoid the risk of hurting them or being hurt.
I have a job but it is not satisfying, quite the reverse, it drains me.
I have no friends. That is my choice as plenty of people have indicated they would like to be friends with me but, once again, it seems wiser to keep my distance and avoid the risk of hurting or being hurt.
I have no partner. I have been celibate now for 13 years and the last man to touch me was a man I wasn’t even attracted to. I only slept with him to wipe the memory of my husband from my body. I have been attracted to two men since then but neither of them wanted me so the only intimacy I have had for the past 13 years is a single kiss on the cheek about 10 years ago.
If not for God I would not be able to go on but even He can’t make me want to go on any more. I will go on of course, I have to go on for as long as God wants me to, but I don’t want to.
I long for a world where people love each other and are kind and caring to each other. A world where no child ever goes hungry, no animal is ever harmed, no such thing as torture exists. A world where there is zero crime, zero victims of anything, no trauma for anyone and no misery. This is not that world and it will never be that world until God remakes it and Heaven takes its place.
Some people will say there is no God and there is no Heaven and when we die we will just cease to exist. If that is true I won’t exist therefore I won’t know I was wrong so I don’t care. All I know is this life, this journey, has gone on far too long for my taste. I’m tired and I have no interest in anything this world has to offer any more.
I just want to go home and nestle in the arms of the one who has loved me the longest and the best. The one who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, the one who has heard my every cry and responded with love each time, the one who never left me or betrayed me no matter what I did or where I went, the one who has always been faithful and trustworthy through thick and thin – my beloved Father in Heaven.
After I read the comments on the previous entry about how the reader finds my entries helpful I turned to God to talk to Him about my belief that such negativity, such a complete rejection of life, doesn’t belong in this blog because it could be harmful to others.
Here is what He said.
“You are not the only one of my children who feels this way. More and more people are finding life hard to cope with and depression and suicide are on the rise. Thousands of my children turn away from traditional religions because they view the joy and optimism as fake or because, like you, they can’t feel it themselves. They are lost in the darkness and they need help.
They need a God who can find them in the dark!
They need a God who will not turn away from them if they will not, or cannot, follow Him into the light. A God who can comfort them in their depression and despair.
I am that God. Nothing can defeat me, nothing can drive me away from them, nothing can stop me from loving them. I am there for them if only they will reach out for my hand.”
I know what He said is true. Nobody knows better than me how true those words are but I still had my doubts about the wisdom of letting people see that deep inside me.
The last thing I want to do is encourage people to accept being in a dark place or to reject life the way I do. I don’t want people to believe that God doesn’t have the power to bring joy, hope, happiness and life more abundant into their lives and I’m afraid they will look at me and say God has failed to do that for me if I let them see how I feel.
“I have not failed to do that for you”, God said gently after those thoughts formed, “you do not want that so you have resisted me.”
I was a bit startled by that so I asked Him for some clarification.
“You think you have surrendered everything to me but there is a small core of yourself that you will not surrender and that is what keeps your face turned away from life.
It was never part of my plan for you to prefer death to this world. If you would let me I would fill your heart with love, joy, laughter and you would be like a little child skipping through life under my watchful eye but you don’t want me to change the part of you that keeps you where you are.
Underneath all the changes I have wrought in you the essence of who you are remains the same. You are still you. I made you who you are but all the work I have done with you has revolved around setting free the person you were supposed to be. Things happened to you that changed you from who you were supposed to be into who you were when you let me into your life. I have mended wounds, wiped away scars, healed injuries, educated, loved and guided you but you are alive today because you had the strength to survive the things that happened to you back then.
It is that same strength that opposes me today.
You will not surrender your memories, the things you have learned, the realities you have been exposed to. You view that accumulated knowledge as a tool for protecting yourself but, in reality, it just encourages you to avoid taking chances or trusting anyone. You are simply not willing to risk being hurt ever again. You are not even prepared to accept small or accidental hurts from life any more You have isolated yourself from others and rejected life in an attempt to prevent any, and all, future suffering.
I understand why you are like that. It doesn’t have to be this way but I accept you as you are and I won’t force change on you now any more than I have ever forced it on you in the past. When you are ready to hand it over I will take it from you but, until then, you can be a witness to the fact that I will not desert my children no matter what path they choose to walk and they don’t ever have to be alone in their darkness.”
As soon as He spoke I knew it was true. I don’t want any more pain. I’d rather live out the rest of my days alone and friendless than risk being hurt again but I continued to be uncertain about the wisdom of sharing my dark and lifeless inner self.
Then I watched an old movie. At the end of the movie the characters joined together to sing an old song I have always loved. As the characters sang and danced I felt life lift its head inside me. I felt myself responding to the music with a desire to get up and sing with the characters. I wanted to dance alongside them. I felt alive and it reminded me of all the things I don’t do any more that used to make me feel good. I realised all the little things I used to do that made me happy or brought joy into my life have all fallen by the wayside.
I used to love dancing, listening to music, reading, writing and so on and I used to do those things all the time but I hardly ever do them any more. I have put life away and am focused on the time when it will be over.
“You see?” God said gently to me as I rewound the movie and played the song again. “I have not failed to give you life and life more abundant. You are refusing to accept even the smallest taste of life any more. If you refuse to live your life there is no way I can help you learn to love it!”
This one’s for you Kim!
Thank’s Shiela, that was lovely! 🙂