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After a Lot of Misfortune, How Can I Get a Foothold to Start Again?

heart to heart
I am 50 years old and once was an attractive woman who enjoyed an athletic life, and the vicissitudes of a troubled but existent family life. Today, after my sister's suicide, my brother's recent death from cancer, a mother who is addicted to gambling, a father who resents that I became a lawyer and ... fourteen surgeries, I am the shell of who I once was with humiliating scars over my body, no siblings left to talk me through this darkness and parents who need parents, which I am too tired to be.

I have withdrawn from people in general, after two friends who I thought cared, rejected me after I had a very bad bout of depression following my sister's death. I find that I am so filled with anger that I am afraid to reach out because what starts as reaching ends up as an angry strike at anything around me. I hate people and life but I don't have the strength of resolve to do what my sister did.

I have tried therapy but it all seems too elementary for me. I don't want to rehash the past and I don't want to talk about it - I know it was ugly. I just want to either get moving or stop. I am so talented artistically and I am intellectually able to dialogue with great minds, but I can't dialogue with my own anymore. I am so lazy now. My home is a mess, I am barely hanging on to my career and my hope is dwindling away faster each day.

How can I get a foothold anywhere so that I can try to start again - or do I? I just can't see the light anymore and I can't even imagine that it was once warm.

Wallace's reply
You have had a lot to contend with in recent times. However I want you to consider the importance of being a person of strong character. Life has many challenges for each of us. It is up to us to rise and meet the challenge of life head on. It is in having the courage to meet the challenge of life that our character is formed.

Difficulties and challenges encourage us to discern what is True and Lasting from what is transitory and ephemeral. Through such acts of discernment we are drawn toward the Timeless and Eternal - and a closer relationship with God. When we are in touch with the True, the Timeless and the Eternal we are able to draw on the strength they offer to face our difficult challenges.

Until these difficulties came your way, you were proud of your beauty, your athleticism and your achievements. This is where you sought your identity. You said to yourself - I am this beautiful body, I am this wonderfully athletic person, I am this successful career woman, I am a sister etc. Then these things changed or disappeared and your identity fell apart. This is known as attachment. Your identity arose from your attachment to things that were not your True Self, and were not Eternal. The main task for you now is to change your identity. This means the most important question for you now is: "Who am I?"

Who are you? Are you your body, which was once beautiful and is now scarred? Are you a successful career woman when you can just about hold down your job? Are you this athletic person when you can no longer run and jump? Are you a sister when your siblings have passed on? Who are you?

To effect this change from identifying with the ephemeral to the Eternal you need to grieve for the loss of the identity you once had. Are you letting your grief flow? You say you are a gifted artist. What would it be like to take all that anger and pour it into your art? Consider the possibility that by expressing your pain in all its rawness you could let it go. Once your anger and grief has been expressed it opens the possibility of dialoguing with your mind in a completely new and transformed way.

Then you may not only be able to dialogue with great minds but become one of them - by being a person of outstanding character!

If you want help with going beyond the hurt, grief and anger you feel and in finding your true identity I strongly recommend my book, Unfold Your Wings and Watch Life Take Off.

As someone who has experienced grief, anger and sadness in my own life, I empathize with your current predicament and I want you to know that I am holding you in my thoughts and prayers.

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