Ask Annah: Am I a Lost Cause?

Annah ElizabethAsk Annah, Loss, Grief, and Healing, Mental Health2 Comments

Dearest Neighbor,

Oh, how I relate to your current struggle and remember well feeling like I was the only person on the planet who wasn’t “getting it.”

“I just can’t relate to my friends, my family, or my therapist because what they are saying just doesn’t make sense to me. Am I a lost cause?”

Let me assure you that you are not a lost cause. In fact, you may be more sane than you realize.

First, it is critical that you rule out clinical conditions that might be hindering your progress.

If you haven’t already, see a doctor for a routine physical screening and blood work to rule out depression or other medical problems.

If you are reading this and you have not or are not seeing a mental health professional, you may want to start there as she may be able to help you sort out the separation you are experiencing.

You’ve done these things. You are healthy. You sleep. You eat. You hydrate. You move.

Yet you are not relating to the ways others are telling you you can move on, or forward, “get over,” or [insert your whatever] your significant life loss event.

Changing one thing in your life sometimes necessitates making other changes, as well.

We humans tend to associate with like-minded people, but when you start to change your thinking or your behaviors, those relationships may no longer work for you, especially in the way they previously did.

This is true across all of your five facets, Neighbor.

Maybe you finally decided to go back and get that college degree and now your friends complain that you aren’t fun any more because you are not available to sit poolside every day or hit the bars every night.

Maybe you and your friends were more the chat-over-tea or manicure types but now you are driven to get in shape and to be in nature, but your associates say they hate the idea of hiking in the great outdoors with bugs and grime.

Maybe you have been working hard in therapy and are actively correcting those codependent behaviors but the people in your life are pissed off because you are no longer an enabler, a fixer, or a sort of puppet who jumps to take care of everyone else’s needs.

Those by-products of personal and soul growth can be hard, Neighbor, because with each you are probably experiencing some form of loss there, too, but if you believe the changes you are making are in your best interest and leading you to live a more passionate, productive, and purposeful life, you will navigate those changes, too.

Change often follows a sort of trial and error format.

You know you want something different, but trying to find the right balance is sometimes challenging.

Maybe you want to exercise more, but the current Cross-fit trend you tried is too rigorous, but you really love the cycling part.

Rent, buy, or dust off the one that has been hanging in your garage for ten years and start riding.

Maybe you want to feel a little more grounded but yoga leaves you feeling exhausted and hurting instead of glowing like all the other people in your class.

Try something like Tai Chi, where the movements and transitions are a little gentler.

It can be frustrating, yes, and you may very well feel like your are failing or lost, but when you land on the activity that lights up your soul, you will feel like you are finally home in your body.

In healing and growth, what is so right for one person can be so totally wrong for another.

Your friend or your therapist may be hailed by others as the best thing since sliced bread or Michael Jackson, but the simple truth is this: If you are not feeling connected, supported, or inspired in ways that work for you, then that person or methodology may not be right for you.

After my son died, I received sympathy cards from people I had never met.

In one of these well-intentioned letters, a woman enclosed a laminated poem that talked about how God sometimes chooses the youngest of roses to make heaven a more beautiful place.

I also received a pamphlet from an organization who wanted me to know that my son had been sacrificed for my sins.

Both of these correspondences caused me great grief, pain, and suffering in those early days and years.

Eventually, however, I learned to recognize that these things must have meant a great deal to the senders and that the words must have helped them heal their own heartaches. When I removed the “personal” from the equation, I was able to feel less lost and more hopeful.

The way to live your best, most empowered life, even in the face of extreme adversity is to weave your own life tapestry using the threads that resonate with you.

The reason we often feel like “a lost cause” is that we are not relating to what others are feeling, saying, doing, or telling us to do.

Much of your conflict across your academic, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual facets stems from differing frames of reference. You have different associations to, and understanding of, words and activities based on your previous experiences and your life preferences.

For example, the expression “Hit a home run” may well resonate in vastly different ways for the baseball enthusiast and a rape survivor.

If your therapist, family, or friends preach a gospel that no longer feels right to you, then seek out something different that does resonate, which could be a slight variation of what you currently know.

I no longer believe in a punitive God, but one who cries with me when I experience loss and who rejoices when I am celebrating.

Cull from the multitude of resources what fits your needs, put to use the elements that work for you, and discard the rest.

When you do this, Neighbor, you arm yourself with the tools that create your own personalized road map, one that helps you find yourself in the midst of those seemingly lost places of grief and despair.

I am not only honored to receive your queries, Neighbor, I LOVE answering them! As the saying goes, The only stupid question is the one not asked. Let us know your burning, nagging or curious thoughts! You can leave your question in the comments or email it to us. All questions are considered anonymous.

If you have tips or strategies that relate to this topic, please share in a comment below for, as I like to say, “Together we are helping heal worlds of hurt.”

As always, I’m here if you need me,




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