Before The Beginning
You are probably feeling something like this:
Please get me out of this.
Please tell me what to do.
Please make this get better.
I can’t do this anymore.
I’m so lost.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to do.
Just help me, please.
YOUR DEEP CALL FOR HELP
Before you can begin to move forward, you need to be clear with where you are right now. Because this is your starting place, and you need to know what kind of ground you have beneath you before you’ll be able to take each next step.
If you’ve asked Help Me Please, then you have arrived at a serious personal limitation, due to some overwhelming situation in your life. You are at least in serious difficulty, and possibly in great pain, emotionally or physically or both.
The intensity will vary for each of you. You may be temporarily feeling a little overwhelmed by something that is rippling out to stress a few other areas of your life, and you want some options for right now, even though you feel that tomorrow or next week things will probably be better anyway;
Or you might be deeply despairing, empty, terrified, alone, dying, can’t take this anymore, beaten down and broken, and the many other words and phrases you use to describe what you’re going through. Your problems may be overwhelming to such a degree they’re rippling outward to affect every aspect of your life, it’s all crashing down, and you have no hope for escaping this or turning it around in the future.
You all have one thing in common, and it’s the crux this entire book is built around: the problems that flooded you along to this point may have entered your life as individual and specific, but now they have evolved–or devolved–to a state that is past being comprised of separate isolated circumstances.
If your difficulties were still specific, you would right now be looking for help on how to heal from abuse, how to dig yourself out of debt, how to make money, how to face dying, how to cope with loss, how to overcome addictions, how to manage or escape toxic relationships, or the thousands of other phrases that directly address your specific problems. Before your situation slid down to this present point, you probably did search for more specific help for your issues.
But you’re not searching for those right now. You’re here because your problems don’t seem so separate and isolated anymore. They feel like they’re clumping together into a lumpy mass that may be choking your forward movement, your ability to cope, your happiness, and perhaps this lumpy mass is threatening your health and your life. You may even be approaching, or already within, a state of personal crisis.
So this is not a vague ‘Hey, could use a little help here’ request. Whether you’re temporarily overwhelmed, or whether you’ve been in difficulty for a long time and it’s dragging down your life and health, you are now in a situation that almost everyone in the world has faced or will face at some point along their lives:
You are making a solid and forceful call, arising from deep within you. You are making YOUR DEEP CALL FOR HELP.
And anyone who makes their deep cry for help is not a focused person making a specific request to deal with an isolated problem;
Rather, you are overcome. A large part of you, or the whole of you, is overcome.
‘Overcome’ can be felt to different degrees, according to how much you are being affected. If much of your life is flowing ahead but there’s still something serious affecting you, you can feel generally normal but you also feel an ever-present undercurrent, a constant quiet engine of stress and worry running below your daily existence. It won’t seem to go away, because you don’t know how to solve this problem that’s stuck in your life like a burr.
At its worst, the whole of you can feel consumed, down to your marrow, your cells. All your forward flow can feel stopped, attacked, threatened. You can feel constant sickening dread, so awful it makes you feel hot, sweating, panicked, chilled, absolutely consumed with dread and despair, like a fox being chased by hunting hounds through a dark thick forest. It can bring you literally to your knees, crying, hopeless, challenge your sense of reality, make you feel violently sick inside, shut down every corner of your will to live. It can shut down your ability to look for the right kind of help, to know what the right kind of help is, and maybe even shut down your ability to recognize that help when it arrives.
And you will all show this in different ways. Some of us ‘wear our emotions on our skin’, they’re at the surface and anyone can see how we are feeling. Others of us, even if we’re in the worst possible condition emotionally, can present a stoic, even successful and well-coping outer face to the world, and do it so well that others would be truly surprised to learn that we are hiding such an awful state of feelings inside us.
Regardless of how you ‘show it’, you are overcome. By its very definition this means your mind and your resources are no longer capable of dealing with whatever is happening, you no longer know what to do or where to find help. How did this sneak up on you?
NOTHING HAS WORKED
How did this overcome state of being sneak up on you? Because there are all kinds of books and websites and help resources, written by people who have gone through much of what you are going through, and you have probably read many of them and tried what they suggested. But despite being written by people who truly did ‘go through something’, whatever you have read has still somehow… missed you, not really helped you.
And you will have tried everything you yourself can think of, to solve your issues. Which means that your past experience and your present life have not given you whatever tools you need to cope with, manage, or resolve your current issues.
And you have probably already reached out to some family, or friends, or professionals, even some strangers, or all of the above. But the people you talked to, even the professionals and your loved ones, could not say or give you what you needed to hear and receive. Or maybe some of the above are the very ones hurting you, driving you to seek help, so now you don’t know who to turn to, who to trust, who to ask.
No one, whether directly in your life or reaching you through their writing, has been able to reach deep enough into you, in the right way. Most people are at the level of telling you ‘See a counselor, see a therapist’, ‘Things will get better if you just change your attitude’, ‘Just deal with it and move on’, ‘Look on the bright side’, ‘Make lemonade out of lemons’, ‘Think positive’, ‘Everything happens for a reason’, and the hundreds of other knee-jerk repetitious things said by people who may sincerely mean well but… they haven’t been to the edge you’re at. They don’t understand that saying those things isn’t helping you. During my most difficult years I was literally screaming and crying inside for help, and despite all the kinds of help I was receiving from good people, I’d be looking silently at them and thinking, “You’re trying, but what you’re saying isn’t helping. It’s not your fault. You just haven’t been here. You don’t see what’s happening below my surface. You don’t see me.”
Most people don’t understand that what you need is someone who can grasp hold of your heart and brain and anger and terror and aloneness, really penetrate into your viscera rather than just your intellect and spirituality. You need someone who does more than just recycle all the spiritual and self-help catchphrases of the day, you need someone who really sees you, understands you, someone who can be very tough and brave, and also receptive and gentle, with you. There are people out there who can be that… but you haven’t met them. Or at least, they’re not around right now when you need them.
And right now you are also not looking for anything spiritual or religious. If you already belong to a religion, yet you are searching for help from an ‘outside’ source like this book, then your religion–at least for this one area of your life–does not seem to be answering your deep call for help. And spiritually, perhaps you just don’t want to meditate, or join a help group, or buy crystals or burn incense or learn about chakras or adopt some system of behavior and belief. These religious and spiritual avenues have their place, and may help many of you in many ways, but you aren’t searching for those ways of help right now.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR HERE?
You are looking for something different in the way of help, something not in the normal stream of what you’ve been trying. You’re looking for something you hope may trigger some ‘positive shock’, to get some new wheels turning inside you because the old wheels don’t seem to be rolling you toward any solution.
In a help-book, you’re looking for something so… true to your suffering, for lack of a better phrase, that you know as you’re reading it that someone has heard you. You’re looking for a book that is very exposing emotionally, with stark truths about what you are going through and what to do about it.
This is about facing everything. This is your big sit-down with yourself, your big facing of yourself in the mirror. This is not a quick-fix or a feel-good book. This book is a process, a journey, and it must unfold in a progressive order for you.
Because you cannot just jump to ‘the answer’ and have everything get better. First, if you’re in a pretty bad spot, you need to survive. You need survival tools for whatever crisis you’re in, to give you some breathing room. Survival is just a lifeline, something temporary to keep you around and going, however weak or lost you are.
But survival is a corrosive state, it takes its toll on your mind, body, life. Being in survival mode is intense and, if prolonged, can break you down further. So once you have a little breathing room, can cope a little, can shrug off a little of your burden, you’ll need to move beyond survival and into resolving what is corroding you. You work with it, manage it, go down new paths with it.
And you need to go beyond resolving, where you can. Some of your issues, you’ll have to resign yourself to managing them as best you can because some issues will always be there with you; but you’ll also want to transcend parts of your issues, whatever can be transcended.
That’s what you’re looking for right now; some help to immediately survive what is happening, then some help to work with resolving and managing it, and then to transcend whatever parts of your problems can be transcended.
WHAT ARE YOU GETTING HERE?
The people around you can help in different ways. But almost no one can say what you truly need to hear until they themselves have entered this state of making their deep call for help. But to do more than just commiserate with you, they had to have gone further: they had to have survived their circumstances, and then be transformed by the whole process, and then they somehow had to have clarified it all to themselves, in order for them to have the insight to help clarify it for you, too.
Then they know. They know how to be around you, they know what to say. They know it’s not a collection of rote sayings, a prepared list of shallow recycled phrases to match each of your circumstances. They know how to be more authentic that that. They hear you in the moment, they see you in the moment, they feel you, they’re there with you. And you feel all that from them. And their validation of you and all you are going through, their ability to hear and see you… gives you strength. It adds some essence to you, it helps remind you of what you have inside you. It helps remind you that you are worthy, you matter, all your issues matter, and that you perhaps have more inside you than you thought you did, hidden resources you can open to and apply.
I can’t free you from problems, or save you. But what I say here can help free certain parts of you, save certain parts of you. And when you begin to realize those parts are there, and are strong, then you’ll begin to trust in those parts of you. And you’ll begin to consider that this little bit of new self-trust is all you ever needed, in order to begin solving your life.
You may wish to read this while you are alone. This book is an intense sit-down with yourself, with your issues and problems and what caused them to appear. You may be facing and releasing more than you ever faced and released before. We’re not avoiding or glossing over anything, we’re going straight through it all.
And you will feel what you’re passing through. This is a survival book, a truth book, which means we’re diving deep into the tough stuff of your life, and you will definitely feel it. But I will carry you through this book gently; I have had enough harshness and ugliness along my own journey through, so how could I wish this book, if not to contribute whatever gift of gentleness and compassion I can toward your own difficulties? Even the harshest of truths can be delivered in the gentlest of ways.
This book is for layperson and expert alike, for believers and non-believers, for you who are with or without hope. Please give each chapter a chance. Your lifestyles and problems are widely varied, so my words in one chapter may seem of sparse help to you, while they may perhaps be of huge help to someone else. And then the next chapter may hit deeply home to you, while not making noticeable impact on someone else. You are all different and each thing I write will have a different impact on you, from very low all the way up to life-changing.
But every chapter offers you another rung to step on, helping you climb the ladder up to a place that will help you survive, resolve, and transcend things better. And if you don’t need one chapter’s help at the moment, you may remember it if, years in the future, you do need that kind of help later.
I do not send you to another book or website or to any author or counselor. Some of those may help you, there are resources out there that may help you a lot more than I can. But at some point, someone has to accept the burden and the honor of doing their best to help you, without ‘sending you somewhere else’. You can go somewhere else whenever you like, but I won’t send you there. Whatever I can say to help, I’m saying it all right here.
Finally, you don’t need to ‘do’ anything in this book. There is nothing you need to buy, no exercises or tests to undertake, no new spiritual or religious words to learn, no new beliefs to adopt. You just sit, just read, and something starts to move inside you.
This is a journey book, not a thinking book
You may not understand it in the beginning
But you’ll pick it up as you go along
Just like you did in life.
Take your deepest breath, and look around you
You are breathing, and you are where you are now
And that is everything you have, and everything I have, to begin with.
You and I will be walking a path shared.
WHO ARE YOU WALKING WITH?
I am just like you, in the important ways: I have hopes for my life. At best, I hope it will be wonderful, deeply fulfilling, I even dream and strive for some form of beautiful transcendence. And I also still suffer through my own pains, ordeals, obstacles, disappointments. When things are at their worst, I am humbled into letting go of ‘wonderful’ and I just ask for even the least in life, I am reduced to hoping that things can please climb up to some level I can call ‘okay’, some level where I know I will survive and to know things will be okay.
So I haven’t figured it all out, I’m not your teacher. I’m not a doctor or certified professional, I don’t have advice for your problems. I’m not writing from some exalted, successful, spiritual place, showing how you can reach the stars and attain this too. I’m still on the ground with you, I’m real, I’m human, I love, I suffer.
But I can write all this now, because I’ve gone through something, and I’ve survived and come out on the life side of it. I used to be a mess. I used to be in a terrifying, dark, lonely and dying place, for years. For decades. And now I have reached a place where I’m mostly at peace, even when the shit hits the fan and is blown directly at me. I can still be tipped off-balance into fear and feeling awful–but I’ve become stable and strong enough so the ‘ordeals’ are now very rare, and when they do happen I respond as a very different person, a much more advanced person.
To save me, I had to open to what was inside me. And what I found there, you have inside you also. I don’t know if you can be reached by much of what I say here, I don’t know if anything I say can save you or help you substantially, and I certainly cannot guide you or shoulder your burdens, or give you the secrets to success and happiness.
But I’m going to trust, and write this book. Because I realize I can achieve one thing for certain:
By the end of this book, you will know what you have inside you, and you will know what it can do. And that realization is so powerful, so world-shaking, it’s worth writing an entire book for. After that, how soon you open to trusting what’s inside you, how purely you free it to work its perfect actions into your life and your problems, and how completely you allow it to carry you where you’re going, will be up to you.
FIRST STEP TAKEN
Before we dive much, much deeper, this next step–your first step–is one you’ve already taken: you’re asking. Let’s talk a little about that, because we don’t want to miss a single step. Part of any problem is the inability to speak about it clearly, so part of what I’m doing is giving you the words so you can speak clearly about what you are feeling, thinking, doing, and going through. Asking for help is a huge step, so let’s be clear about what is happening within your act of ASKING.