The Battle Inside Your Skull

I’ve been writing all these letters to myself and I can’t help but wonder about the other misfits out there.  I know you are there. I have met some of you.  Others I see when I walk down the city street.  You are standing off to the side, leaning against a wall, staring out into nothing… a warrior who fights a non-stop battle on the inside of your skull.  The pain leaves wounds that others can’t see and so they think you have an “attitude problem”.  You struggle between giving up and letting the river of pain-killers wash you away into an ocean of numbness… and lashing out at everyone and everything around you that had a hand in building this pit of hatred that poisons you.

I remember when I held my anger and hate up as a righteous banner.  It drove me forward instead of succumbing to the escape of unfeeling.  I used it so often that I began to see it as a powerful tool and the thought of giving it up was absurd.  Why would I give up the power that keeps me alive?

Then I came to realize that I was alive… but I wasn’t living.

The comprehension of that sentence didn’t really sink in until I had kids.  I saw what I missed out on… that untainted innocence where life seems full of exciting possibilities and the safety of being loved no matter what encourages growth and allows for mistakes.

I know for a fact that I have messed up as a parent… what parent hasn’t?  But I worked (and continue to work) almost obsessively to overcome my own childhood while raising my kids.  Ideally, I would have done most of that work before having kids.  But it was my children who showed me what was possible and it was my love for them that pushed me to get help.

If only I could have taken what I saw in them and show this to my younger self in such a way that my younger self could actually see and understand it… and not push it away as an impossible objective.  Impossible because I wasn’t ready to give up the power of my hatred and anger.

I don’t expect that these words will matter much to those who are where I was at that time.  But perhaps there are some of you who have stepped down the path towards your potential and are more open to this concept than I was then:  Your hatred and anger are NOTHING compared to the power you will hold when you know and give love and compassion.

This kind of power isn’t the kind you use to manipulate people.  And it doesn’t protect you from being hurt.

What it does is create a deep core of certainty within yourself that you are bigger and stronger than anything that can hurt you.  Not that it won’t hurt you… only that it won’t stop you.  It won’t destroy you.  And this knowledge isn’t a dark pit that swallows joy because it doesn’t trust the impermanency of positive feelings.  It’s a deep well of still water that holds on to every beautiful moment and quenches your pain when you are hurt.  It shares and receives love through the act of compassion and connection.  It allows room for feeling sadness, anger, and fear.  But it tempers these feelings with the knowledge that these feelings are temporary as well.  Beauty and love are still possible.

However, here’s the catch to all of this:  You have to trust yourself to be able to handle the full range of feelings… and survive the pain that seems unbearable… the pains of abandonment, broken trust, guilt, a sense of worthlessness, and more.  You have to be able to dig into these feelings and face them.  But you don’t have to do it alone.  I know you think you do.  Being alone protects you from betrayal.  And yet being alone also keeps you from connecting with others and growing the love that can replace your hate.

If you are in school, there are counselors available.  Depending on the size of the school, there may be more than one to choose from.  If you are afraid of talking to someone who might report to your parent(s), then talk to your doctor or pediatrician.  They are required to keep what you say private.

If you are an adult, there are many professionals in the field of therapy for you to consider.

I’m not going to tell you that all therapists are alike.  They certainly are not.  I feel utterly fortunate that I found one who knew how to work with me.  But until you push yourself to try and meet a few and see if there is one you can start the (very) long trek with, your fear of betrayal will keep you from throwing light into that dark pit and facing whatever comes out.

If anything I have described here touches a chord in you and you want to take the first, hardest step of the journey, here is a database of Therapists that can get you started.  Look through and find a few that are local and send them an email.  Many of them either accept insurance or have sliding fee scales if you are on limited income and almost all offer a free initial consultation so you can see if there is a fit.

Don’t get caught up in the details.  Your brain will only use that as a reason to delay your act of reaching out.  Just click on the Email button and send out a line or two.

Here’s a start for you:  Hi, {name of Therapist}.  I found your contact information online.  Are you accepting new clients?  If so, do you offer a complimentary initial visit so that I can see if we can work together?  Thank you, {your name}

It’s literally as easy as that.  Then, when they email back, they might ask to talk to you on the phone.  It’s okay.  They want to be sure that they feel qualified to help you.  And at the first visit, feel free to ask tons of questions.  Although if you ask a probing question about their personal life, they may explain to you that it’s best to focus on you.  This is not just normal, it’s an important part of the process.  They are not there for a friendship.  They are there to be your mirror… your consultant… and your champion.  They don’t want you to focus on them.  They want 100% of the focus to be on you and your journey.

So give it a go and put your hiking boots on.  Put down the banner of hate and anger.  And start your journey away from the battle that doesn’t belong to you.

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