Tonight I had a chance to listen to a young man speak about his life. He reminded me so much of me that it actually sent chills up my spine. The similarities are remarkable.
We had a chance to speak after the meeting. This is what he said as near as I can remember it.
We talked about a "normal" life. I asked him to define "normal." This is what he said. "I want to be peaceful and happy. I want to be involved in a relationship where both parties love themselves before they attempt to love another. I want operating instructions that work so that when I run into problems and things that baffle me in life, I can quickly resolve them without causing anyone or myself any emotional damage. I just want to be happy, like I said."
I was in a state of awe. This guy is me. I didn't say a word to him.
You see, I have a problem. I can't help anyone. Why? Because this is what I would have had to tell him.
Initially, your life must get so miserable, terrible, lonely and depressed, that it forces you to capitulate. If you cannot find that place- you will not be given the motivation to get well. Secondly, you must be unflinchingly honest with yourself, admitting every character flaw that you possess and become willing to work on and eliminate all of them. You must become willing to throw out every belief system that you have acquired. You can no longer behave like a victim or wallow in self pity. Every time you feel emotionally distraught- you are the problem and you must find the solution from within. Very often that is simply acceptance. You must unconditionally attempt to love anyone and everyone- even child sexual predators, murderers. The people you resent the most. You must let people be who they are. And perhaps most importantly...
You must become aware of your false sense of self- ego- and be willing to destroy those pieces of your ego which damage and injure others.
These are all choices. These were the choices I made in order to become calm and peaceful. Happy. Had I done anything less, the recipe would not have worked. It is an all or nothing proposition. You cannot cling to fear. Or any negative emotions. They are processed and eliminated quickly. The hardest thing I have had to deal with is intermittent bouts of depression. I am aware of it, I process it and eliminate it, and sometimes it comes back. No wonder people people see shrinks, get prescriptions, drink and drug. They want to alter how they feel. They do not have any way of doing that- and certainly nothing as quick and effective as swallowing some Xanax or drinking some whiskey. Or whining to a shrink that nods and enables them to keep on making the same mistakes over and over again.
The problem with the quick and easy way is that it is only temporary. The underlying illness remains. Sometimes forever. Sometimes it kills you.
So how am I going to explain any of that to some guy I just met? How I am going to explain that I have found a healthy way to process all of those emotions, including depression, without sedatives? I have a very normal and happy life. Not perfect, but pretty damn close- sans a depression here or there.
The sad truth is, I can't. If someone had told me that they had- I wouldn't believe them. I'd think they were some deluded and ego driven maniac. This is what I think will happen one day.
There will be another renaissance in this country. People have quit smoking. They are eating healthier, living longer. They are exercising. The last frontier to be conquered will be the one that we are all still clinging to. The mood altering, I want to feel better now mentality, facilitated by mind and mood altering substances happily supplied by six figure doctors, shrinks, and big pharma. Sometimes drug dealers. Big business in the form of beer, wine, and alcohol makers and distributors. There will come a day when people examine the damage that these things cause and they will seek better, healthier ways of processing emotions. There will be a cultural shift and it will take all of the work I have described above. People will begin to alter their moods through positive lifestyle changes and they will begin to process emotions internally and rapidly- arriving at logical conclusions that include not taking things personally. Or not making assumptions, judgments, or conclusions until they have heard every side of the issue. No more contempt prior to investigation. Acceptance when alternatives are non existent.
I believe this conscious shift, the last emotional (and physical) health conscious renaissance will occur one day- just not any day soon. One day we may all be handing our children entirely new operating instructions and tools, teaching them how to behave responsibly and emotionally correct. No booze or drugs. Resolving issues quickly and internally- finding a happy and normal life.