Dear Dr. Norquist:
Many years ago, there was a ME. Now, there is a me that creeps around in a depressing environment, in pain, having lost the gusto, the ambition, the vivre de livre. I have lost any idea of what matters to me. Should I be staying here, so near to New York City, which is where I find myself practically every day.Staying here is the anchor that has kept and keeps me withering and stuck. At my age, every change is a hard adjustment. Finally, I realize I am not that "teenager" anymore. Will New York be the answer for me? Will it fulfill me, will it nourish the inner me? And what is this sudden crisis with age? I never felt old before, feeling that chronological age was not important. I prided myself in my youthfulness, my personality, always looking young and feeling that I would always be this way.
But now, admitting to myself who I am, I find this sadness, depression this feeling of unending emptiness all around me. I cannot find fulfillment my family, even though I have two grown daughters and two twin 2 month-old grand-daughters, there is a lack of family harmony. How do I fill this emptiness? Sadness bellows deep, deep down inside me, like an erupting volcano. My smile covered my sadness. The yearnings are still alive, but it’s too late to start over again.
I tell myself to forget about who I was, now I am who I am. The love I always yearned for just didn’t happen. I have been punishing myself since then. I have to stop admonishing myself for my big mistake (college love and impending marriages). I realize I didn’t do everything right then. The realization hit me that the time has gone, that there isn’t time to right the things I did wrong. That it’s too late. So what nourishment lies in the now? CRISIS. Why have I fooled myself into thinking there is the future to make my life right. What future?
Dr. Norquist responds:
The regrets that you have been keeping so close in your life all these years are robbing you of your life force. I strongly encourage you to forgive yourself (and everyone else involved) and withdraw your mental and emotional energy from the past. It’s like your life has been passing while you were "on hold". Your consciousness has been focused on the past (regrets) or the future (the time to make things right) – yet life occurs in the present only. You ask "what nourishment lies in the now?" yet, nourishment can only be found in the now. Your spirit is withering on the vine. The single most important thing you can do right now for your emotional, mental, and physical health is to let go of the past and breathe life into the present. Focus on gratitude. Do things that feed your heart and help you to feel more connected with the life force that is so palpable in nature, in beauty, in the senses, in connections with others, in laughter, in experiencing the divine. In addition, it may be healing for you to find a medium for giving of your time, energy and talents in a way that is helpful to others. It is definitely not too late. It does not have to take a long time to shift into a more satisfying and enjoyable life. The future is now. Now is the time to "make things right" by embracing the present and working to make it overflowing with life.
This appears to be a time of spiritual crisis for you. You are questioning what you used to hold as so important, wondering what would give meaning to your life, feeling an aching ("erupting volcano") of inner emptiness that you can no longer cover with a false smile. A spiritual crisis is an opportunity, a call to wake up to the role of spirit or soul in your life. It is a cry of the soul that demands that you listen inside. Changing outer circumstances will not quiet this inner restlessness, this deep unhappiness. You must focus on inner change, not outer changes. You state "the love I yearned for did not happen." You are correct in this. However, you believe the love was supposed to come from another ("college love and impending marriages"). Please recognize that the love you’ve been yearning for comes from the inside, not the outside. There is a fountain of love and contentment that springs from recognizing and embracing that your very essence, the fabric of who you are (along with everyone and everything else) is divine. I cannot tell you exactly how to access this experience, but I can tell you that this is the road you need to take. It is inside, not outside.
I know from a previous communication that you are seeking help from therapy and medication. I support you in this and encourage you to continue. Perhaps it would be helpful for you to work with your therapist on withdrawing your energy from past regrets, building a thriving garden of richness in your present, and traversing the inner path to experiencing love in your life. I hope this is helpful. Blessings for your travels!
Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding and treating physical symptoms and health-related concerns. Practitioners of the following techniques are available to answer your questions: psychology, acupuncture, therapeutic and neuromuscular massage, yoga, meditation, spiritual & transpersonal psychology, Reiki, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and Alexander Technique Ó 2002 Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center.