After war and 10 years in bed, I’m lost in the world

So after taking some time off I felt drawn to connect with others in the world who are suffering and so began again reading letters and writing. I am perplexed and moved by this letter, and as frequently has been the case, I wish I knew more, but the details, I decided, are for the letter writer to clarify for herself. We don’t need to know the details. Only she does.

Dear Cary,

I shouldn’t be writing you, I shouldn’t be complaining, but I have never been so unhappy in my life.

I went through war and came back: at age 31 I was diagnosed with an incurable illness, not fatal but chronic and incurable, I was mostly in a bed, drifting in and out of consciousness; I still don’t know with what strength, I managed to find relief in alternative therapies, and finally, after around 11 years, it seems like the war is over. In spite of a couple of relapses it seems that I have regained an average degree of health to allow me to have a life, to go out and spend time with friends, to work, even if only part time, all the things that I missed in the most important decade of my life when I was supposed to find a career, a family, some kind of position in society. I find myself old(er) and still in a sense it’s like I haven’t changed much since that November 2004 when my illness started. I learned a lot, especially to appreciate myself. For doing what needs to be done in spite of all feelings of helplessness, for trusting a higher power and trying the impossible to get better, for keeping a bit of good mood amidst the storm.  
It is such a irony that now I feel worse, emotionally, than in all the previous years. I find myself completely alone, different from most of those around me for my strange situation of single unemployed middle aged woman with no past for ten years, and I find it very difficult to make friends who can understand or even just tolerate my past and who I am. With regards to partners, I feel like damaged goods, I can’t have children, I would like to do so many things, travel the world, create art and music, help people, and yet I will always have strict limitations with my diet and environment. I stopped dating because I always feel like I fell from the moon and no one understands me. Where is everyone?

Can you give me any ideas about what to do next?


Dear SadWarrior,

Name your illness. Write down what happened to you. Write it in detail. Spend time on this. Tell your life story. Write it in a notebook or write it on a blog, tell it in the comments field here, or write it in a letter to a friend, but tell it all. Tell what happened and what led up to it and what happened afterwards. Spend time at it. Tell it all.

What war were you in? What happened to you in the war? Is your illness connected to the war? I assume it is. I assume something happened. Perhaps you were exposed to a substance that harmed your nervous system or your immune system, and/or perhaps you had experiences of trauma that compromised your psyche and your soul, from which you had to recover by being comatose or taking to bed, by having no energy. I don’t know that. But you need to find strength in the telling.

Are you a warrior? Then call upon your warrior self but ask, too: Who is your enemy? If you are a warrior, who is your enemy? What have you been fighting? What has injured you?

You are at the turning point. That is what this means, that you have written to me. You have reached a dark place, a low place, where you must make a choice. Writing out your story will be your way of illuminating what your choices are. Right now, you cannot know exactly what is your set of choices.

Your choices will have to do with the people in your life. Put those people in your story. Put the people closest to you in there. Analyze them. Try to understand who is helping you and who is your enemy. And how are you yourself the enemy? In what ways to you hate yourself or have undermined yourself? Who has injured you in the past? What wreckage are you crawling out of?

There will be much to do but it starts with constructing your narrative. Doing so will pull you back together. Do not expect great results and miracles right away. Do this as an act of faith. Do it as if instructed by your higher power. Do it to become visible to yourself.

Tell your story. Write it down.

You need to rejoin a community but in order to join a community and be known to others, you have to show yourself. If you have a trusted friend and advisor, or a sponsor, or a spiritual guide, cling to that person and make it a daily thing. You will have to work hard to make and sustain bonds. Work hard at it. Work hard at making and sustaining friendships. Go to any length to make this happen. Reach out to others. Be on your road. Tell your story. Trust that you will be shown the next right thing to do. Get enough rest. Eat well. Listen to your favorite music. Sleep well. Rest. Keep writing your story and telling it. A sign will come to you. It will start to make sense.

Be desperate. Do not be afraid to be desperate. We are all desperate. None of us knows the secret. We are all desperate cats, leaping on couches, staring out the window, arching our backs and hissing at the world, at the approaching cars, at the moon that hisses back. Be desperate. Be not content. Do not apologize for what has happened. You have landed here and are making sense of it, doing the best you can. Be desperate. Find what you need. Cling to your people. Don’t let go.