Hi. I’m sure you recognize the writing, so you know it’s me. I know. This is not something you want to be reading. But I’ve done all I can do. The rest is up to you.
I know that you’re respectful enough to read it all the way through. And the more resistance to reading it you have, the more you need to just keep reading. You know that. Otherwise you’re more likely to miss me for even longer.
First off, let’s stop and meditate on what’s happened for a moment. What’s the problem when someone’s feeling suicidal? It’s the feeling. We’re in that painful, suicidal state of mind that makes us want to end it all. There is a list of insurmountable obstacles in our path. You know because you’ve been thinking about them a lot.
But if we feel emotions that are that huge and dark, then we won’t see the world super-clearly from that perspective from there. You know that. That’s why I’m writing to you from this calm, loving, compassionate state of mind, instead of from a state of anguish.
I know from experience that you’ll appreciate something to hold on to in the darkness. And you know you can trust me. I understand how your mind works.
First off, I’m not stupid. Of course this is terrible. It is not what we wanted. But we have to accept that. But just like every other time in your life, you won’t feel bad for forever.
Every person alive knows that no one ever got stuck on one single emotion that never wavered for the rest of their lives. No matter how bad their life was.
That’s the only reason I wrote this. It’s like a life-raft, for you to ride on until you feel better. And it was written from a loving state of mind, while everything was nice and clear in my world.
Out of love and respect for you, when I wrote this, it wasn’t long after I felt something like you feel now. I thought that would help me with the empathy part. But…
…but I wrote this after that; after I felt better. I wrote this on a beautiful day, in the sunshine. When I wrote this I am/was feeling really great, I want you to be confident about that.
I’ve got a pretty good perspective on life and it does not look bad at all from here. I’m obviously far more detached. But from this state of mind I can be useful to you while you’re in pain.
This is to help you understand that, from this healthy perspective, I can see that I will feel terrible, sad feelings for the rest of my life. But that doesn’t seem as scary from this vantage point.
A week ago all I wanted was to escape those feelings, just like you probably do right now. But they are a necessary part of life. We just don’t want too much of them.
But remember, the natural change of emotions that I’m experiencing as I write this –and as you read it– eventually kicks in. Even with no action at all, our minds eventually get distracted by something that helps us to take our thoughts away from what’s missing and they return home to what is present.
It’s true, I may not be present and filled with joy, but I am with you in spirit.
The process you’re in just takes patience. You don’t need to end this ugly feeling permanently. You just need to wait until it wanes. It’s like weather. It’s a storm. But you’re the sky. It will pass.
In the end, if you’re not going to trust me, then who will you trust?
We both know this was written in a really healthy state of mind. We both know it’s being entirely reasonable and honest. Think of it this way: would you rather trust someone who loves you, who is feeling great and confident and self-assured and happy, or someone profoundly depressed?
Which one is more likely to give good advice? Seriously?
We both know the answer to that. You are better to trust where I’m at right now, than where you’re at right now. Even though we can’t touch each other, through you reading these words, I’m alive in your consciousness. So this is like a Premeditated Meditation for you to follow.
Following it will lead you to feel better. I obviously have no desire to feel better, I already feel great right now. This letter exists to help you feel better.
I’ll be honest, it’s actually hard to imagine how bad you might feel right now. But however that is, better is better. And what we’re discussing in this letter is important, so let’s calm you down another level okay?
I know you’ll feel huge resistance to this, but trust me. Do it out of respect for me. Let’s take five super-slow breaths together, okay? Seriously, do it. If we’re going to face something big, let’s do it in a good frame of mind. Again: out of respect for me, okay?
From here to the end of this paragraph, repeat this sequence five times: Breathe in slowly. One, two, three, four. Hold it in. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Exhale slowly. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Hold. One, two, three, four. One! (Repeat four more times.)
I know you can feel that. Notice how much your brain chemistry has changed from the moment you started reading this? By reading along, you had to stop thinking about death. And that’s good. It’s a painful course of thought.
We’re better whenever our consciousness is filled with loving words. Even when they’re from a surprising source like this one. Don’t feel guilty or silly about feeling better. That does not invalidate how badly you’ve felt before that.
Okay. Step One was you were smart enough to read this. My job was to make sure that reading it made you feel better, that’s why it’s been reassuring. Step Two was to help you logically understand why this was even worth reading; why it makes sense to do this.
And I know it’s tough. So Step Three used the bit of calmness and logic conjured up by Steps One and Two, to get you to do that last breathing meditation.
I am pained by the idea that I’m in a peaceful place while you’re in suffering needlessly. Which is why this letter is important. I love the idea that I will have left you something truly useful.
And admit it. Even as terrible as the situation is, you have felt better reading this. Maybe not good, but you don’t need to feel great right away. But as long as you’re going the right direction… You. Can. Feel. Better.
This letter’s words exist as a conceptual bridge across time, from me to you. You did not want to read this. I wish I never felt the need to write it. But I also knew right from the moment I started it, that you would be in a dark and ugly place in your consciousness when you read it.
But I am communicating from somewhere bright and light. Yes, I feel distant today. And you will feel slashes of thought that tear though you suddenly, and they’ll leave you wracked. But those are to be anticipated. It’s all part of going through this.
Those feelings hit hard, but you don’t need to voluntarily entertain those painful thoughts by continuing to think them. Don’t do it. That won’t help either of us. That is not some form of respect for me.
Obviously today really sucked. But it’s just day by day. We don’t need to solve your whole life. A life is 20,000+ days. We just have to get you through a tiny percentage of those. So I want to thank you for reading this to here.
If you still don’t feel great, please try reading it again. It’s filled with love for you that you’ve deserved since birth. And it’s very practical love.
Revel in that. It’ll give you good brain chemistry. Don’t let these events make you feel like you aren’t worthy. Seeing you from here, it’s easy to see how amazing you are. From this perspective you’re always a beautiful soul.
Oh, and, by the way, speaking of practical love: if this bout of experience taught you anything about how you go into, and get out of, these terribly sad states of mind, then please feel free to edit this letter. I wrote this right after the last time I recovered. That’s when I thought to add this paragraph.
If the letter keeps improving, and if you earnestly re-read it every time you’re angry or depressed or lonely, eventually you won’t need to read it at all. You’ll have internalized your ability to change to better feelings, even from a really dark place.
If we can accomplish that together, that will give value to the darkness we’ve felt and are feeling. That way ugly experiences end being like some kind of school, where the lesson is resiliency.
None of us wants to die early. But all of us feel the need for some peace. I sincerely hope this gave you some because I love you dearly. You’ve done many beautiful things in your life and you will do many more. I look forward to witnessing them from where I’m at now.
Until then, take good care, okay? Remember, I’m always alive within you. We will meet again soon. Look forward to that. And know that I’d hug you if I could.
Much love, me
This is the first installment of the Premeditated Meditation series that I announced during my CBC column yesterday. These are loving letters, to ourselves, written for when we are feeling extreme emotions.
These are written when we are wiser, when we feel better. Because we will always feel better. We simply have to see our psychological experience for what it really is; a storm of thought. And letters like this one are our lifelines from our past and for our future.
These letters remind us that we have felt badly before and that we have gone on to better days. And as we move into the future, we will feel better again. Our job is not so much to overcome, as to create a loving space for patience. Time heals everything, eventually.
Ultimately, these are really love letters designed to keep us company until the darkness passes. Consider writing one or more to yourself when you feel great, and you’re in a loving state of mind. For more examples, future installments will feature jealousy and grief etc. They should help you appreciate all of the forms these letters can take.
And one final note: if we’re going to take the time to write one of these to ourselves, it’s also not a bad idea to write one for someone else we love. It wouldn’t hurt to have more than one source of comfort during life’s inevitably bad times.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.