A client sent me an email about Bill Zeller’s suicide note before it had spread across the net. I opened the link and read the heart wrenching letter of person expressing so clearly the pain of past abuse, which so many of us have had to live through. I wanted to hide away, curl up, and cry. I know the emotions that Zeller explores… I have felt them deep within my being… I know the hurt feeling of being so alone with only terrible thoughts to comfort. I was touched to read such honesty, scared by the realness, and also sure that as a therapist, these words were important for others to read.
I’m not alone in this process… hundreds if not thousands have experienced this reaction after reading Zeller’s letter. And I think that Joel Johnson said it very well in his intro to reprinting the thoughts and feelings of Zeller.
But as someone who has had similar experiences in my own life, I want to say to anyone else who feels the way Zeller felt: You can’t escape your past. Not completely. But you can deal with it. You can contextualize it. You can learn how to prepare for the times when you feel like it’s not even on your radar and then it totally broadsides you.
And you can talk to people. You really can!
I don’t pretend to have all the answers nor have one right way to understand the choice to live or die. I honor that each person finds their own way. However, I will say that there is something hugely important about the idea that when you feel so lost, alone, and stuck within pain… it can feel nearly impossible to talk about it. There are so many fears of being judged as broken/bad/wrong/or sick. When you are inside yourself with suchanguish, the energy that is required to open up can be overwhelming.
Yet, that is just the point. We have the ability to deeply color our perception of the world around us. Our thoughts impact our emotions and when we focus so directly on the pain the context around us becomes dark. Hearing, seeing, and feeling other perceptions help our brains to take in alternative data points. We move beyond the creation of our self image and include perspectives. With this, it becomes possible to experience something other than the sadness.
Talking with another person isn’t going to be a magic “fix” to the pain. However, it does provide a crucial leverage piece to break the pattern that can keep us lost within it.
I encourage you to read Bill Zeller’s letter in full (as per his request) be aware that it could be triggering:
And remember that you really can talk to someone… anyone!