This is to the people who woke up this morning feeling utter despair.
To those who didn’t go to sleep last night because sleep is a cypher that escapes them, who lay awake thinking and thinking in endless circles.
To those who spent the night crying. To those who wish they had not opened their eyes on a new day—to those whom the sunlight pains and the world overwhelms and to those who can’t remember it being any other way.
I used to live beside the ocean. Every day, I ran on the beach. Every morning, I looked outside at the glorious colors rising into the sky, and I was empty.
I watched seals swim by. I sat outside at night and there were an embarrassment of stars, the kind of sky that bowls people over with its magnitude and enormity, but I was blind to it.
I could not, for the life of me, see the loveliness of the sky.
I felt nothing. I couldn’t imagine feeling anything. I couldn’t imagine connecting with anybody or anything. I couldn’t imagine loving an animal, let alone a person.
This is to the struggling parent who just yelled at their child and now feels terrible.
To the person with great monetary wealth who feels hollow, always.
To the person with so much debt that they feel they are trying to climb out of an endless pit of hopelessness.
To the women and the men that are stuck in an abusive relationship.
To the people that are stuck, period.
In dead-end jobs. In cities they hate. In work that is drowning them. In lives that they feel belong to someone else.
To the people that are stuck in guilt, in shame, in fear, in grief.
To the people that are waiting for their next fix, their next drink, their next chocolate bar, their next f*ck. To the people that woke up in a jail cell this morning and the people who will never see the outside of one again.
To the people who are ill, dying or love someone who is dying.
To the person that woke up today hating their body, their hair, their nose. To the child who is failing at school. To the person who is failing at work. To anyone that has ever tried to describe what is going on with them to someone else and had it brushed off. To the people that feel something that “cheering up” doesn’t fix.
To the person with a secret that they are afraid to tell, whether it is a secret love, a secret shame, a secret lie or a secret that is eating them up inside.
To you who cannot find a way out of this mess that is your life.
This is to the people who the positive quotes on Facebook don’t uplift. This is for the person that is doing something terribly wrong and they don’t know how to stop. To the people who are sad, who are scared, who are desperate, who are completely, and utterly hopeless.
To the person that just slammed their door, the wall, their fist.
This is to you.
I do not know your unique brand of pain. Not one iota of it. I do not presume to know what one single second of your life, your struggle, your darkness (or your light) is like. I don’t know if your struggle comes and goes, if today is just a bad day, if you are mentally suffering or physically ill.
I have no idea.
I’m not going to tell you what will help you. Not what book to read, or what particular type of therapy. Nor will I tell you to try medication, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, a 12-step group or a combination of the above.
What I will tell you is this fact:
You are not alone.
I recognize you.
My heart recognizes your heart. If only through words, this is my heart reaching out to you.
No matter where are you, who you are, what time of night or day it is—you are not alone.
Others have known a pain similar to yours—there are others awake in the middle of the night, wanting to crawl out of their skin, swimming so deep down they don’t know how to get to the surface again. I know because I have been one of these people.
I don’t care what you have done. I don’t care how beautiful or ugly you are. I don’t care if you are sentenced to life in prison or you are trapped in a prison your mind has imposed on you.
There is help. There is hope. No matter the circumstances of your life, your loss, it can get better.
You can get better. You can get through. You can be alive again.
I don’t believe we just start again every day but that we start again every single second. I believe our human spirits, like plants, will always strive to turn towards the light even when we are beaten down, starved, hurting, or suffering unbelievable pain.
I know what it is to wake up in the morning and be oh so selfishly disappointed that you woke up, alive, to suffer again.
There is an “after” the pain waiting for you. I promise you this.
I know that one evening—after time, work, a lot of help and many, many struggles—I walked outside and I could see the stars. Every single brilliant one of them. I was blown away by the ridiculous beauty of the sky.
You are not alone.
There is hope.
There is help.
My hand is reaching for your hand.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Keeley Milne
Apprentice Editor: Melissa Tamura/ Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: courtesy of the author