Last night I was having dinner with an old friend when his 15 year old daughter called him. He had to walk away from the dinner table to be able to talk to her because the restaurant was crowded. It took quite long before he got back. Turned out that his daughter was desperately sad, she had told her father that she wanted to end her life. She did not want to live anymore.
Let’s call this girl Jill. What her father told me about her was that she was smart, healthy, good looking, had nice group of friends and was apt socially. Still, she was going through rough times. She had developed an eating disorder and was feeling depressed lately.
I don’t know Jill. I have never met her and she is unaware of my existence. But there are a couple things I can see, things that I feel important to acknowledge. Momentarily it is hard to be Jill. She is suffering. She is feeling lonely, she feels misunderstood. She is feeling insecure about her body, future, love, acceptance and if she can meet all the expectations she believes the world wants her to meet.
How do I know all this? Well because we all go through the same stuff. Not a single soul goes through puberty without getting scarred one way or the other, not even when childhood was relatively happy. The whole transformation-of-our-body-thing is a huge source of insecurity. We don’t have a clue where nature is taking us and whatever body is handed to us has to last us a life time. And let’s not forget about the hormones. I can vividly remember the agony caused by the impossibility of imagining a girl actually liking me. In our teens we become aware of our image. I can remember my constant battle for coolness, rebelliousness and popularity meanwhile also trying to meet expectations of teachers and family by getting good grades. An impossible task, when I look at it.
As adolescents we just want to fit in. In that process we hide aspects of ourselves we fear to be unacceptable. That is actually a quite violent way to treat ourselves, it is not so loving. It becomes painful to be. I think that is the message that Jill is sending out: momentarily it is painful to be me. I don’t want to live this way. That is her very true, very raw and very wise message to herself and to the world.
The solution doesn’t lie in ending her life literally. The solution is to gently change the life she is living by starting to add more love and understanding to it. Because when it comes to matters of the heart, love is always the answer.
Dear Jill, it is not easy to love yourself when you are in a dark place. I know. But I hope it helps to know that you are not alone. Many of us (if not all of us), men and women, went through the same pain. It sucks but it is part of growing up. I might be able to offer you friendship. Not mine but the friendship of a beautiful young woman I know very well, who I love, admire and trust. She has been to those dark places too, she understands. It will be very easy for her to see that you are a beautiful girl and it will be very easy for you to see that she is a beautiful woman. I trust you will have a wonderful time. I will be very happy to make the connection for you.