Dearest Dr. T,I hope you are in good health and that you are doing well in every single aspect of your life. A compassionate person like you deserves only the best in the whole world. You are truly one of a kind, please don’t ever change!I have some questions to ask you and I really hope you can answer them. . . I have noticed that I have such a hard time accepting myself as I am. Not only physically, but also psychologically and my personally too. . .People often tell me that I am too sensitive and that I should train my heart to be’tougher ‘. I am often told that I am very naive, that I should go out more and meet new friends. . .I am currently dating a married man whom I see only about once a week or even less; and I always find myself making up exciting stories (lies) about how and where and with who I spent my day. I feel like I might sound boring to him if I told him the truth which is that I curled up in bed with a romance novel.I’ve always felt different than everyone, less-normal than them. . . I truly don’t seem to accept myself and I find it sad because I know that deep down I am a person with a good heart.Also, there is something else I’d like to ask you, Dr. T. . . This married man that I’m with now, is confusing the hell out of me. . . He’s made it clear that he won’t leave his wife because of the kids and I’m ok with that (also I’m only 22 and he’s 46, so I don’t really think it could ever work out to fully commit to him). I’m not sure how he truly feels about me. . .He says that he likes me very much yet he only calls once a week and he comes over so rarely. . . And if I dare mention how neglected I feel, he will say that this is all the time he can afford to give me. I don’t want to give him the joy of knowing that I desperately love him and miss him, when he doesn’t seem to care about me as much.When we make love, I feel how much he cares about me, but then he will leave my appartment and I will feel so terribly sad and even a little used. . . I don’t know what to think anymore or what to do. . . A few days ago, I took out a pad of paper and a pen and I was about to begin writing good-bye letters to the people I love. . . I was ready to take away my own life. Suicidal thoughts seem to be frequently happening recently. . .I am struggling financially and my parents are unavailable to help me, exams and midterms are also coming up, and my depression seems to be getting worse, inspite of the medication. A doctor mentioned to me that he feels like I’m not allowing or giving myself permission to be happy. . . I think he’s right but it was so embarassing to hear a handsome doctor tell me that. . .I thought about it, and truly, there is a feeling of guilt inside me at the thought of being happy while the rest of my sisters, brother and mother are still suffering at the hand of my disturbed father. . .Please help. . . If there is anything you can help me with, any advice is greatly and critically needed. . . Everything is blurry for me right now. . . I hope my letter did not disturb you. . . I’m sorry if it did. . . I’m embarassed about my sad situation, but it is the sad reality.Be well.
I am upset to hear about how sad you’re feeling. First and foremost we need to address your suicidal thoughts. You need to promise me that you will call 911 or go to your emergency room if you feel that you aren’t able to control your urge to hurt yourself. Promise me!Now let’s address your suicidal thoughts. Did you know that suicidal urges are caused by buried anger? When anger goes underground it resurfaces in various ways, which include self-destructive thoughts or actions, depression, guilt, anxiety, confusion, playing the victim role, and even physical symptoms.If you read over your letter to me, you will see that all your symptoms can be traced back to misdirected rage. I am sure that you aren’t even aware of how angry you are because you learned to cut off from your anger when you were little.Let’s break this down. When you were young, you thought (as all kids do) that angry feelings are synonymous with angry outcomes (this is called magical thinking). When you were angry at mom or dad, you believed that your rageful thoughts were powerful enough to kill.Since you needed your parents to survive, you learned to stuff your anger. This is called the narcissistic defense of childhood and for many people this defense continues into adulthood and prevents people from feeling their angry feelings.To make matters more complicated, all kids think that whatever goes wrong is their own fault. If they are abused, it’s because they are bad and deserve the mistreatment. As a consequence, abused kids try harder and harder to be good, hoping to finally be loved. At the same time, abused kids think that they have the power to fix their parents’ problems. This is called the omnipotent fantasies of childhood.So, when dad was abusive, you thought that it was within your power to get him to change his ways. Then when you continued to be mistreated, you felt like you failed and blamed yourself for not being able to help your dad treat you better.Do you see how your omnipotent fantasies still rule. You blame yourself for having left your mother and siblings behind to live with your abusive father. You think that you should stay and still keep trying to fix dad and save your family from him. You feel guilty for having bailed on them and you punish yourself with guilt over this.Your self punishment extends to the point that you won’t allow yourself to feel any joy in life. You must live your life as a suffering victim who is living out a life sentence. Why do you deserve this sentence? Because you are still punishing yourself for all your rage.The only way out of this misery is to find your rage. You aren’t going to be able to find your anger on your own. You need to join a therapy group right away. Group will become your second chance family who will understand and love you, rage and all; this love will blanket your fragile and eroded self (your self has been eroded from years of rage being directed back at your own psyche).As you are blanketed by the groups’ love and helped to find your anger anger, your ego will become stronger, you will become tougher and less sensitive and all your symptoms of suffering, self-attack, guilt, suicidal thoughts, and depression will fade away.Don’t put it off. Your life depends on it. You can find a group by calling your local department of mental hygiene. I am sure that you will be able to find a low or no cost group, so do it today.I want you to write me back and let me know that you’ve started.