"Here's Why I'm Not Giving Up" by Don Cuerdon
It took me years to realize I’ve spent most of my life wishing I wasn’t alive. Actually, truthfully, it’s more like I just wanted the pain to end. Nah, that’s not it either. I just wished I could feel something other than fear and pain.
I saw my first counselor at age 19 when my live-in girlfriend (I was in college) had a “nervous breakdown” and had to go live with her family in Long Island and attend outpatient counseling. My fear was I’d caused her problem. The nice guy in the white coat at our local HMO convinced me otherwise.
At 23 I attended my second counseling session with my then-wife. She didn’t make to the following session. Neither did the marriage. But I continued to see this guy until the pain faded to a dull roar.
At 34 I got sober. At 35 I visited my next counselor because the program I was in that was helping me stay abstinent from alcohol wasn’t doing much for the crushing anxiety that was starting to prevent me from doing my work. The pain was excruciating, but we made it better.
Soon after I turned 56, the problem I’d been running from my whole life manifested in the form of a world-class case of PTSD that had remained hidden for 48 years. It was as much the cause of my fear and pain as it was the petri dish for the survival skills that got me this far.
And then I had my cliché experience. I discovered a concept of life beyond the human existence and I realized that all of my pain served a purpose and that I’ve been here on Earth as a human by my own choice. Or, rather, as the choice of whatever entity I am that’s beyond human. I am not a victim of someone else’s agenda or cruelty. I’m here on a specific mission, the details of which are not available to me. That became my core belief.
When that happened, suicide came off the table as a method of pain relief.
I have a full range of feelings now. Some are new. The new ones were painful at first. The old ones were familiar, so I held them closely. But with practice, I now feel them all. They pass through me like neutrino particles from the sun. Well, okay, they do affect me. It’s part of why I’m here. With this capacity, I feel like I’m more myself than I’ve ever been in my life. And, more importantly, I know how I got here and I’m being trained to help others to do the same.
And that’s why I’m not giving up.