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December 28, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need



This is for all the other Tims out there. Remember, these are shoutouts, not official Breakup Girl Advice. But I do hope they bring some cheer for this season and beyond.

I was just reading the letter that Tim wrote. It deeply saddened me, because on Thanksgiving my brother killed himself. Although we have never been close, his death has affected me in ways I will never fully comprehend. My brother never knew that I wanted him to be a bigger part of my life, and now it's too late. I want Tim to know that you never know who cares. People are horrible at showing it, but there are people out there whom you have affected. But more importantly, it sounds like Tim should be more worried about how he feels nabout himself, not how others perceive him. All the friends in the world won't help him if he doesn't think of himself as a worthy person. Please let Tim know that I'll be thinking of him this Christmas.

Tim, you mentioned that you have no family, nor friends in West Virginia. I bet you feel like you're in exile. You crave love and approval, and naturally you focus on the opposite sex and (or lack thereof) intimate relationship. You mention in passing the fact that you have no family and friends, but actually that IS where you really need to turn your focus and energies, and all else will follow. I know this because I too had to move twice, across the ocean and across the US. After my second move my ex husband and I broke up, and believe me, that was no fun. To top it all of, my mother, not approving with my life decisions, severed all contact with me, and my only brother followed, blaming me for her misery and his (since now he has all the burden of taking care of her, 5000 miles away...). So here I am, with no family and no friends to speak of, and although I was exteremly lucky to have found a soulmate, and have 2 girls, believe me when I say this; this is not where you get your emotional strengtgh from. In a twisted way, you got to be strong first in order to make it in a good healthy relationship, of ANY kind, friendships and family not excluded. What I did was to first realize this, and understand that I needed to get strong, and be there for myself first and foremost. I did go see a psychologist to get started, it is an easy and safe way to start trusting yourself again. And even to start liking yourself again. ( I know it doesn't sound plausible right now, but believe you me -- it will happen). Then, I started working on expending my circle of friends. Although my friends are all somewhere else, I made the effort to call, write, email. I didn't get too many responses, but you know what, I have already by then learned to find the positive side in all this; whether my friends found the time to match my initiative or not, I needed to write to them, to open up to them, even to see myself and hear myself say the things I said. And finally I have found social forums that are open to anyone who wants to participate -- book clubs, women activity groups, hobby related activities. We do things that are not personal in nature, but get me out of the house,and into a circle of other human beings that just like me, seek company and friendship of others, to various degrees. I finally (after 3 years, so not quick fixes, only safe and permanent ones.. ) I interact. And so will you. Trust me. And you will find that thru those forums you will make new friends, learn about yourself, expand your life and be much much happier. And guess what -- there is nothing more attractive than a happy person. So, Tim, my heart goes to you, been there , still there, still fighting the good fight, and am determined to win it! And so can you !! Satisfaction guaranteed, just don't you give up !!

No question, just some words for Tim, the 31-yr-old SWM with the neatly trimmed mustache who has difficulty making it through the holidays and has even thought of harming himself. I volunteer at a 24-hour suicide hotline, the Samaritans of Boston, and I strongly suggest that Tim give us or a hotline in his area a call. Our teen line is toll-free -- 800-252-TEEN -- and our teens are lovely, they will transfer you to the adult line if you ask. Our hotline isn't designed to solve anyone's problems, but simply to allow a caller to be heard in a confidential and non-judgemental fashion. Big deal, you may be saying, we can't hook up Tim with a companion. True. But we can provide Tim and anyone else who chooses to call the opportunity to talk to a person who really does care and who truly understands how difficult it can be for us humans to muddle through this swampy morass we call life. And it's not just for folks with suicidal feelings, it's for anyone who needs to talk to someone.

First a bit of background. My nickname, Terminally Single Guy (TSG), is fitting. I'm 23, and have had 2 relationships in my life, only have had sex with one of them. Both lasted about 4 months. While I am seeking relationships, I seem to repel women. I have several women friends who say I'm a great guy, blah, blah, blah, but getting one to go on a date with me is a totally different story. There was a time when that really bothered me, and I see where Tim is coming from, I had the same thoughts, but fortunately suicide is something I am just completely opposed to in every way just because it makes no sense to me personally. Why kill yourself and deny yourself ANY chance at being happy? Anyway, so when I was at my bottom, I had a good friend who handed me a book. I was complaining about being alone, I need someone to make me happy and such. He handed me Shel Silverstein's "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O,"and he said "Read this, it changed my life." I offer the same advice, go to your local bookstore's children section. At least take the time to read it (5 minutes if you're a slow reader). This book made me have an epiphany. I realized I needed to make changes, and that everything began with me. So here's what I did: (1) I sought professional help. I got lucky here. I jumped on the web, did a search for psychologists in my area and hit on a person who has proven over the past year to be perfect for me. It may take a try or two, but having someone to help point you in the right direction and remind you when you've strayed off your path is a great help. As for cost, some offer sliding scale services, where they charge according to what you earn. Your health plan at work may also cover it, check your policy. (2 ) I bought a copy of The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. Everytime I lose my personal focus, I re-read it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. (3) I got a new job. Part of my unhappiness was I hated my job. So I went out and found something I wouldn't hate. Sit down and figure out what makes you unhappies in your life besides being alone. Then fix what you can. Don't like your clothes? Buy some new ones (I did this, too). Figure out what will make you happy and go after it. Basically, if you're upset being alone, at least try to be happ in the rest of your life. Those are the main things I did. Anything else I can say is vague advice, at best, and none of it may work for you. Being happy is a totally personal thing that you have to figure out for yourself. In my opinion, anyone who offers to tell you how to be happy in 10 easy steps, meet someone now, or anything of the ilk is full of it and is just leeching off your loneliness. I hate being alone, too. I REALLY hate being alone this time of year, but I'm happy with myself, and that is what counts because at the end of the day we are only accountable to one person: ourselves. That same friend asked me once this question: "Do you love yourself?" "No," I replied. "Then how can you expect anyone else to do it for you?" he said. That about nails it on the head. I hope this helps a bit.

Goodness, that sounded familiar. I was deep in the throes of a somewhat similar depression last week. I've been taking the last couple of years off from the dating scene in order to figure out what I actually want from other humans. And I've discovered that most of my needs are satisfied quite handily by friends. I go out motorcycling with them on weekends. I had to invest in a motorcycle, safety equipment, and safety classes, but I finally found a place where people liked to spend large amounts of time being alone together. I know, it sounds stupid. But, when you're on your bike, you're alone and there's nobody else to interact with so you think (and enjoy the adrenaline). And when you stop, you act like a flock of birds (noticing each others bikes, preening your hair out of the helmet shape, etc.) And these are people who will stop for anyone they see on the side of the road broken down to make sure they've got help coming. Or will drive for 2 hours to help you out of a jam if you call them I understand motorcycling isn't for everyone. But neither is the gym scene where you've been trying. Hell, the gyms out here tend to be full of image-conscious posers who care nothing about what's inside a person's head, but only about what kind of figure they present as they strut across the mirrored room for a small plastic step. My point being mostly, if what you're trying isn't working, try something else. Eventually, I swear, you'll find the place that's got more people like you. Whoever _you_ really are. Oh yeah, and I got over the empty house problem by getting a pet. Bird for me because I don't have the space for a dog or a cat. If you're not into small creatures like that, maybe an aquarium? There are some truly cool sponges and corals out there.

I'm worried about Tim... he clearly has severe self-esteem problems which are creating a vicious circle. He doesn't *want* a girlfriend... he *needs* one or else he can't feel good about himself. Dating such a needy person is very rough on the datee! I noticed that the only positive things he said about himself were all in reference to external things -- his appearance, his financial position, etc. He didn't give much clue into what he likes about himself on the inside, and what he wants from a relationship (besides validation). A support group could help him with this. Tim needs a support group that will help him learn to love himself. People who are just waiting to be rejected are hard to love. Everything you do or say around them turns into a booby trap.

Tim, Please what ever you do, try to step back from that ledge. I am a single (28) well educated mom working a demeaning underpaid job in a state where I have few friends. I've been through what you are talking about. I know no one. I work and take care of my son and have little time for sleep let alone anything else. I've tried short, meanigless relationships so as not to be alone, and find that I end up worse than before. I don't know if there is an easy answer. I consider life a sort of balancing act, trying to balance the lonliness (downs for whatever reason), with ups. I wonder sometimes if I will always be alone, if my son would be better off with someone with more money etc. When all of that really starts eating at me (believe me it really does) I go to the movies or a new restaurant. Sure, by myself, but it beats sitting at home and letting whatever happens be bothering me to continue to roll around in my head. Do you ever go away on vacations? How about little weekend trips to PA or Washington D.C.? I'm certainly no expert at meeting Mr. or Ms. Right, but maybe a little time away will give you a fresh perspective, or at least get you out of the house.

This is for Tim, on the ledge at Christmas, because I have SO been there, having been chronically depressed for years. The last time was just after my divorce four years ago. It was final at the end of that November, and even though I was the one who sought the divorce and fought so hard to get out of my marriage, once it ended I was completely devastated. I was convinced that this man had been my one and only true love and chance at real happiness and I had blown it. I couldn't be what he wanted me to be, no matter how hard I tried, so after 12 years I had to end it. But once it was over I felt like I couldn't go on. No one would ever love me like that again, I was convinced of it. I spent a lot of time collecting examples of how I was stupid, inadequate, unattractive, etc. etc. Finally, I began to make out a will. I told my best friend where to find it "just in case something ever happened to me" and she was worried and told another faraway friend who called me that evening and talked some sense into me. I knew what I had to do. I had to seek counseling. I had done so years before but thought I should be "done with that", that I had failed at even that. My friend assured me that no one was keeping score, and that if I wouldn't do it for myself, just go the one time for him, because he loved me and didn't want to lose me. "What's worse, ONE trip to the therapists office, or killing yourself?" He had a point. The very next day I called and got hooked up with an "Adult Children of Alcoholics" group. (I was lucky in that at least I knew where to start). I went to meetings religiously, even though it didn't seem to help much at first, it WAS a relief to talk to others who were feeling or had felt the same things. The BEST is when you hear someone describe some awful, horrible pit they were in, and you get to see they are o.k. now, even doing well! You think, if he could do it, maybe I could too! Well, I did. It took a while, and let me tell you, parts of it weren't easy. But I learned to ask for help and support. I left my house more, involved myself more, read a lot, tried to learn more about myself (which I had so long subverted in my marriage). I came to terms with my responsibility in the marriage and subsequent divorce and let myself see my husband's failings also. I began to actually LIKE myself! All these things happened slowly, like adding one block, then another and another, until one day you look up and there's a huge wall of them and they spell out, "TIM IS GREAT!" I began to get the courage to do more, try more, LIVE more. I missed being with someone (A LOT!) but began to feel like maybe I wasn't ready. And maybe when I was, someone would come along... So here I am, four years later, a different career, a different city, lots of great friends and interests, and just a few months ago, um, A NEW BOYFRIEND! Yeah, I still have bad days, but even those aren't so bad anymore, 'cuz I know IT WILL PASS. In fact, I've felt pretty damn good most of the last year and a half, and have so many new coping skills I feel on pretty solid ground. I am able to ask for what I need, and when I make a mistake, I know it is just that, a mistake, and not some further proof of what an awful human being I am. I feel on pretty solid ground. Let me tell you though, if things ever started to spiral again I wouldn't even hesitate to contact a therapist. Hey! Generations past had elders to go to, the man on the mountain, the clergy, etc. etc. I believe seeing a counselor is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It's HARD to ask for help! So please, please, PLEASE get yourself hooked up. You sound like you have so many things going for you, it seems like all you need to do is get a little help sorting the other stuff out. We all need a little help sometimes. Take BG's advice. Start slow, give yourself credit for all the good stuff, and, oh, be as nice to YOURSELF when you make a mistake as you would be to someone you love.

I've been there too. Worse than being alone -- alone would be just not havin anyone. I felt like I had been rejected by everyone. It was bad, Nobody needs the details. I cried when I got home, I cried before bed, I cried at lunch, I cried before work.... I had no reason to go on. Everything hurt. I was on medication for clinical depression. I lost 20 lbs. I found myself a puppy. Now, a puppy is a lot of work, a lot of responsibilty, it takes a commitment of 8-15 years depending on the size and breed. A puppy, a dog, is not a casual decision. But she gave me a reason to get up every day - -in fact, she is very insistent about it. She's silly and she loves me and she makes me laugh, and if I cry she growls & sheds the kleenex and licks the tears off my face. And she made me responsible for something other than myself - put me outside of my miserable self, and back into life. And besides, I've met some terrific people out at the park walking my dog -- at obedience classes, even at the vet...

Hey, NY locals, don't forget:

1. to make reservations for the oft-sold-out Breakup Girl Live January 7th!

2. that BG is still trawling for another intern!



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