The last few years and, more specifically, the last few months I have gone through a period of trials and tribulations that have culminated twice with my being hospitalized for suicidal ideation. The major questions of identity have been: What is my purpose? What is my worth? Why am I alone?
These three questions have often been best answered by how other people see me. I have children, so my purpose is that of a father. My worth is dependent upon how the children grow up. I am alone because I am tied up in my children. Sometimes it hasn’t been about my kids. My best friend is a real go-getter and runs a non-profit organization and is, seemingly, the source of all adventure in my city. My purpose is that of best friend. My worth is dependent upon how I can keep up with him. I am alone because I can’t keep up with him. Let’s use one more example. I had a girlfriend whom I loved very deeply. My purpose was that of lover. My worth is dependent upon the amount of love she returned to me. I am alone because we are no longer together.
Intellectually I have always known that it is a strong flaw to tie my sense of Self to others. Emotionally I have done it anyway as I do not have the skillset to separate the two. Intellectually I have made major attempts at several stages in my life to forge my own sense of purpose, worth, and self-fulfillment. Emotionally I have always fallen short of that goal.
In the last few months I have known that a relationship I was involved in was going to end. Those details won’t be discussed here. But because I knew I wanted to be prepared for the emotional upheaval that would follow. I wanted to discover my purpose, accept my intrinsic worth, and lean on my support group. None of that happened as expected.
I discovered that any sense of purpose I thought was mine just didn’t give me the feeling of fulfillment I expected. The absolute best that I could come up with was that I wanted to have a positive impact on the people around me through deep connections. For an introvert like me this is a rather lofty goal. I truly wanted to channel that into something meaningful and could come up with nothing for the longest time. For a few weeks I despaired. I looked at the world surrounding me as I realized that my connection to it wasn’t only fading, but I had been completely disconnected from it. I didn’t have an interest in socializing with my closest friends. I didn’t have an interest in exercising. I didn’t have an interest in leaving my apartment anymore.
The funny thing is that I had a plethora of people telling me one thing and I just wasn’t listening. I ran into an old classmate and she said that she’d been quietly reading my blogs and told me to write. My ex-girlfriend told me that I was a gifted writer and told me to write. Friends from social media reached out to me and told me to write. My response was, “Yeah I just want to feel like I’m in the right place to write and I really am not!”
Two completely separate events happened yesterday that helped me open my eyes. Both of them happened nearly simultaneously so they will be mentioned in no particular order. My best friend, knowing that I was at the very end of my rope and rejecting all other attempts by him to help told me to think of three things that I could do habitually that are hopefully things I love. I could only come up with one thing that I love habitually — writing. I had posted a detailed explanation of my disconnection with my surrounding world on my depression support group’s page. One of the responses included an insight that I was not sharing everything. I really wasn’t because I did not have the permission to do so. Thus it dawned on me that all I had to do was ask for permission and bring the story to light in the most honorable way possible. I was blown away when I did receive the permission and support to tell the story from my point of view. I was told that it would be healing for me and any fear on the other person’s part would be dealt with in the appropriate timeframe.
At this moment an idea was born. As many writers understand, when an idea is born in the mind of the creator nothing can stop him from bringing it into creation. We are like mothers in this way. The idea tears forth in great mental and emotional labor pains but when, at last, it issues forth it is holy in its creation.
I started the work. I only got about two and a half pages in, but it is the work. Right now it is poised to be a semi-autobiographic short story, but as I consider what content needs to be included it may end up being much longer. It will be part memoir, part love story. I look forward to writing it and will continue to blog about the process without divulging too many details.