“Reaching the desired area,
The blade hesitates, quivering,
Then slicing slowly, meticulously
Into the soft, awaiting flesh.
The wound gapes,
Smiling at how it has relaxed the skin.”
This was the poem I wrote when I was your age, going through something like what you are going through now. I know it feels like nobody can understand. I know it feels like nobody has ever felt that much pain; nobody has ever felt so restricted and constricted and constrained; nobody can possibly know how dark the darkness gets. But I have been to the bottom of those unchartered depths; I have cried the disregarded tears that never seem to end; I have etched out the pain onto my wrists and thighs and screamed it into the darkness. I know how you feel.
And I know that it ends. It isn’t a permanent ending like the one you are contemplating; I’ll admit that it is a temporary one. That darkness can creep back in at any time, but it can come as a dreaded enemy or as a familiar friend. It doesn’t have to consume you. I have found a way to walk through it now, and it feels more like a stroll through a misty forest than a desperate flee through a dark tunnel. You can learn to do this too. You can find that inner light that will guide you through the blackest night. It is there already, it’s just hidden.
For you to be feeling this bad, you must have been misunderstood by the people around you. It isn’t that they don’t care, it’s that they’re not capable. They’re trying to see you through the filters of their own beliefs and mental structures that aren’t flexible enough to see you for who you are. They love you, they just don’t know you. That’s OK. It is enough to know yourself, to find yourself, to peel off those layers of expectation from everyone around you and allow that inner light to shine. I know you have it – of that I am absolutely certain. Every one of the seven billion people on this planet has a place in this world. Every single one has something to contribute. Including you. You may not even know what your own thing is yet, you may not know for some time to come, but it is there, waiting to be discovered.
So when you’re sitting at the bottom of the bottomless pit, ask yourself one thing: “If I could make one contribution to this world before I go, what would that be?” We all have an innate desire to make a difference, to change things in some way, to impact the world with our existence. And a lot of the time this desire gets squashed by the well-meaning people around us trying to tell us what is important to do with our lives instead of allowing us to push our way up through the soil and blossom into whatever it is that WE were here to do; instead of allowing us to give off our own unique scent that is quite different from what everyone thought it would be.
Don’t get me wrong here – there is struggle and challenge and difficulty as we push our way up through the soil. Life was not meant to be an easy ride. It is those very struggles that shape us and strengthen us and give us the tools we need to blast out into the light.
This very difficulty that you are going through right now is part of this bigger plan. You are in the struggle phase of growth, but it won’t last forever. You can push through, you need to push through, there is such beauty awaiting you on the other side that you cannot see now while you are still trapped in the darkness. Trust me, because I know. Trust me, because I have been there. Trust me, because you are worth it and the gift that you have for this world is still to be discovered. If you give up now we will all lose out on that.
So please, when it feels like the going is just too tough to bear, when it feels like your options have run out, when it feels like one more night will be one night too many, tell someone. Anyone. And if they’re not able to help or they don’t take you seriously or they don’t understand – tell someone else. And someone else. There is somebody out there in your world like me, someone who is familiar with that darkness; who knows it by name. They can guide you to the other side, they can hold your hand as you familiarise yourself with the darker parts of human nature, your own nature, our nature.
Whatever the darkness is in yourself that you find unbearable, there is another side. Every one of us has both the dark and the light, and there is nothing so bad that you can’t navigate your way to the other side of it, but sometime we all need some help. Sometimes it takes someone who isn’t afraid of the dark to help you to find the light. Sometimes it takes time to find the right person. But you will. Keep asking, keep reaching out, keep calling out into the dark until somebody hears you. We are out there, we are listening, we are waiting for your call.
Image – A group of teenagers practice break dance moves under an overpass by the East River on a sweltering hot afternoon on July 28, 2015 in New York City. (AFP)