This I Believe

Viola - The Woodlands, Texas
Entered on September 13, 2007

I have given much thought to the events that took place at Virginia Tech, and why a human being would allow himself to get to such a dark place – assuming he was not mentally ill.

When I heard about this young man’s feelings of isolation and extreme loneliness, I could not help but reflect on my own sense of aloneness that I experienced all of my childhood and young adulthood. Having been placed in an orphanage between the ages of 1-2, and then having had a different social worker every 2 years as I grew up, had brought into my life a sense of uncertainty and lack of security.

During my years in the orphanage, I lost my brother. Also, I had numerous other challenges to deal with while living in a group dynamic. When I was 14 years old, I came to the United States not knowing how to speak English, and was placed in a strange home where I did not know anyone. The family I lived with had many problems, and I became a threat upon which others would vent their hate and anger. It was not a home at all but simply a place where I lived.

My pain went beyond words, and my loneliness was beyond description. There was no way for me to escape. I felt trapped in an environment that was truly poisonous. I did not fit in at school because I could not even communicate. Once I was able to communicate at some level, I still felt isolated and different from the rest. When I was 15, I began to work – in addition to going to school, and I had to deal with many of the same issues in the workplace.

I moved away when I was 19, and began my own life. I have suffered extreme depression and a sense of isolation and disconnection from the world. Because I was not familiar enough with the health field or where to get information for help, I lived with my pain alone and dealt with my depression alone. I did not even fully understand that I was suffering from depression. I often would have deep sobbing periods, and I always thought it was simply because I did not have anyone in my own life. At work, no one ever knew what my interior make-up was like. For the most part, I suffered in silence.

I married my husband at 26 years old and had my first child at age 36. My husband and I have been married 18 years now, and at times I reflect on all that I have come through. I have been asked -“How did you do it?” The only answer that I could possibly give is God. My isolation and aloneness brought me to a place to seek meaning in my life. I sought God because I believed there was a God. I chose to follow a higher calling of love and mercy because that is what I desired most in my life.

I chose to seek ways to rid myself of the internalized anger which had expressed itself in depression and times of deep sorrow and sobbing. I chose to find ways of wholeness for my troubled mind and my broken heart. It takes a lot of self-honesty to go that route.

I am 45 years old now with two wonderful children in my life that challenge my way of thinking and being in this world. They draw me out when often I would prefer to stay within myself. My children bring laughter to my heart when at times I simply feel alone and melancholy. My husband and I can talk about any subject under the sun, which is a gift that I have learned to cherish more and more as the years go on. We deal with real life issues as all couples do, and look at our relationship in the most honest and realistic way possible. It is good to be in a relationship where there is nothing to hide. We both feel fortunate for that and our love has deepened because of it.

It is because of these and many other positive events and relationships that I’ve been able to look at life in a new way and in a much more positive light. These have strengthened me, challenged me, and helped me to stretch and grow.

It is clear that we as human beings have a choice to make while on this earth. We can choose with what ideals we want to identify. What principles speak loudest to us in the deepest parts of ourselves? This can be made most clear to us when there are times of extreme pressure and pain in our lives.

Blaming society and circumstances because of our perceived lack is only a “joining together” of a very negative belief system which will then set forth a systematic discourse of how we choose to live our lives. Where does this blaming take us? What light or insight is there in groveling in the filth of disparity and fear? What positive and creative potential could possibly lie in such a self-abhorring mentality? It only will lead to an unhealthy projection outward of that which so troubles the heart and mind within oneself.

It is so unfortunate –again assuming that he was able to make a healthy choice — that this young man chose to kill and take away life instead of contributing to life in some form or fashion. It is so unfortunate that he never was able to find a meaningful way to grow and express himself. It is so unfortunate that he allowed the unjust teasing and embarrassment he received to eat away at him on such a deep level. It is so profoundly sad for all those who stood in his way. How much better would it have been had he only been willing to change and make a life of his own without blaming everyone around him.

While it is true that ultimately we are truly responsible for our own lives, let us take an active part in developing a sharp and focused eye that we might find those lonely hearts and touch them in some meaningful way. A small act of kindness can motivate a human being to find a higher and more meaningful way to live.

I know from experience that those who have been most thoughtful with me have also been the ones who have inspired me to be the very best that I could be.