My response to my friend:
I have finally gotten some time to reply to your last reply. Instead of trying to make excuses about how busy I have been, I’ll spare you the sob story and just dive right into responding.
First, I am so sorry you have to deal with all this. I wish I could take this pain and struggle away from you so you can enjoy your life. I am thankful, though, that you were willing to reach out to me. I feel honored, really, that you chose me to talk to and I sincerely hope our talking makes a difference.
I don’t know how many yet, but I have a few favors to ask of you throughout this process. By favors, I’m mainly going to be asking you to shift your thought patterns ever-so-slightly to see if it makes any difference. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with you—I love you right where you’re at and just the way you are—I’m simply going to offer a different perspective perhaps. By the way, if I make some assumptions about your thought processes and I’m wrong, I apologize. Just disregard what doesn’t suit you and try to use what does.
My first favor to ask of you is this: would it be possible to shift your thinking from judgment to curiosity? My assumption is you have a constant recording playing in your mind on repeat that is full of judgment. Over and over again you’re telling yourself you’re unworthy, not good enough, a failure, etc. This continuous judgment goes on day after day and it comes in many voices (some you may recognize and some you may not).
The reason why this is my number one favor I’m asking of you is because I believe curiosity was the biggest thing that helped me. I’ll explain how: I decided to go on a journey to figure myself out. I obviously had been telling myself a story about my experience up to that point. I carried around so much judgment of myself, of family and friends, of everything really. It wasn’t until I truly was curious that I slowly sensed some relief.
I’ve heard it said we can only connect the dots of our lives by looking backwards. In order to do this, we have to give ourselves permission to be curious and then stubbornly give ourselves self-love throughout the process. I believe that going on a journey of the heart that is full of curiosity and free from judgment takes boatloads of courage. It’s a journey that requires vulnerability because we may have memories we would rather leave in the past.
Here’s a good question to ask yourself often about your thinking: Am I being curious or am I being judgmental?
Just the initial question, “I wonder what that’s about,” instantly shifts your perspective from judgment to curiosity. Think of it this way; your son throws a temper tantrum and your gut instinct is judgment (“he shouldn’t be acting that way!”). But instead of judgment you try being curious (“I wonder what he’s going through right now? What could he be struggling with?”). Can you see how the two different perspectives make a huge difference? One way is sharp, cold, and dismissive while the other is warm and caring.
I use a child in the example because most times we are dealing with our own inner child. Even though we are all grown up and expected to act like adults, our inner child is the one driving the bus most days of our adult life. Offer your inner child the same amount of curiosity and warmth and I promise you she will start to offer you warmth and kindness back. As much as possible, turn down the volume of your judgment and turn up the volume of your curiosity.
I believe your statement in your short response about feeling very alone and completely irretrievably broken is a wonderful place to start being curious. I think it’s wonderful and beautiful that you’re willing to be open and honest about your story. And, trust me; your story has so much hope and power behind it. I understand you have been working through real deep matters of shame, abandonment, heartbreak, blame, abuse, forgiveness, resentment, and many more I’m sure.
You may not feel strong, but the reality is you are amazing and strong. You have endured a past that most couldn’t comprehend and yet you’re still here, still trying, still putting one foot in front of the other. Is it easy? No! Is it perfect? No! Is it understandable that you’re struggling? Absolutely!
So please, my number one favor I’m asking of you is that you move away from judgment and move towards curiosity.
Along with being curious, and along the same lines of losing the judgment, I’m wondering if you could increase the dosage of empathy and compassion you give yourself every day. You have done the best you can! You have endured so much and have come so far. Offer yourself the same empathy and compassion you may give to a child who comes to you in need. You may struggle to see your own worth. Give yourself empathy and compassion. I know, I know, easier said than done. But can you see how it all starts with moving away from judgment?
You have done the first hard reality-check. You have taken account of your situation and it’s not a good place to be in. But here’s the thing, at least you can better orient yourself now that you know where you are. You have done the brave thing; you risked being vulnerable and told someone that life isn’t perfect and you’re sick of it. What a beautifully brave thing to do!
I’m not sure why, but there’s something written in our DNA that wants us to be happy and healthy. We are born perfect and whole and then our conditioning and upbringing causes us pain and heartache. We are constantly trying to get back to that place of perfection. You instinctively reached out to me because deep down you know things aren’t right. You also have a tiny glimmer of hope that things can get better. Trust this instinct you have. Stay curious about it. How did it get there? Where does it come from?
One last favor and I’ll leave you alone (for now). Can you please not give up? Can you trust me enough to believe me when I say you ARE worth it?!? I would be a complete fool to try and explain why life allowed the pain you experienced over the years. I don’t have the first clue why these things happen to some and not to others. But the main reason I don’t want you to give up is because I’m eager to understand why you have endured all you have. Only you can find a purpose and a meaning behind your pain. Only you can rewrite the story of your life from one of tragedy to a story of triumph. Only you can share your authentic story with others and create a better world for those who have endured similar heartache as you have. Only you can take away the judgment and shame you hear in your head every day and shift it to genuine curiosity and eventually loving acceptance. Only you can offer all these insights about yourself to me. I am intrigued and I am interested to hear what your curiosity discovers. So please don’t give up and know that even though you may feel alone at times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
I’m eager to hear back from you and I hope you have a great rest of your week!
My friend’s response back to me:
I like what you wrote. I do believe questioning, trying to understand instead of just seeing the surface is MUCH more beneficial.
That being said, the truth is, I don’t blame or judge myself for where I am. And I have asked myself many questions, and it’s actually in finding the answers to those questions that I’ve gotten angry. I’m angry at my past, and I’m angry at the people who have damaged me.
And I ask myself, why did it have to happen to ME?
Why was I born to such a shitty mother?
And why did I have to get a shitty replacement mother?
I know I deserved so much better and there was nothing I did that made that happen. I care deeper, try harder, and understand more clearly than most people in this world, and yet here I am. There are millions and millions of people who have such a better quality life even though they don’t deserve it at all! Even some of the shittiest of the shitty have awesome lives.
I know it doesn’t help me at all to compare, but it’s VERY hard not to notice. And I know it’s because of the shitty people in my life that I struggle so much with depression. If I didn’t have to deal with this god awful depression, I would be so much further in my life. So it ends up making me angry.
But I also know my life could be so much worse. I know I could have been born in a third world country or in a country where women are treated as property, I know I could have been born with a truly severe handicap and so could have my children. And knowing that does help me a little bit…. I guess I’m just mainly frustrated at knowing how much potential I have and yet because of the depression, I haven’t even come close to reaching it. But also knowing I do have potential does give me hope for a better life once the depression subsides. I do have some hope. But it seems like every time I get close to a chance at reaching my potential, depression rears its ugly head once again and flings me back to where I was. It’s extremely frustrating!
I will say though, I am very thankful for my potential. I realize many people really don’t have much, and It’s knowing that I actually do that has kept me from giving up. I know the only thing that has stopped me so far is the depression and I remind myself of that often.
I also try to tell myself that every shitty thing I’ve been through helps me to understand and have compassion for others who struggle and it will eventually help me be stronger which will actually add to my potential.
I know I sound like I’m going back and forth between being angry and being understanding, but I guess that’s exactly what the depression is. It’s my damaged brain arguing with my inner self. I just somehow have to make sure that my inner self keeps winning the argument against my brain!
And then, a half hour later my friend replied again….
If you didn’t notice, the first half of what I wrote was written in anger. The second half was written in realizing that my life really isn’t that bad and it’s because I’m depressed that I think so negatively.
So thank you. Responding to you helped me see that. Actually seeing my thoughts written out helps me make sense of them more. 😀
As our conversation continues to unfold, I hope to add more. I’m so excited for the “aha moment” my friend had.
What a wonderful reminder for us all; by putting our thoughts on paper we can sort through them and make great strides in our self-discovery.
Give it a try!
If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone! Reaching out can make all the difference.
Peace my Friends!