Dear Mrs. Bluth,
About seven months ago I started having strange and intrusive thoughts. Please don’t throw this away after just reading the first sentence! I know I need help! That’s why I’m reaching out to you, because I trust and truly believe that you will not betray me. First, let me explain what I’m going through – if my thoughts don’t exactly come out in an orderly way, try to piece them together so they make sense, because I’m living in this strange bubble that I have no control over.
First, I am a forty six year old woman, married (for how much longer???) with two teenage children. I held down a responsible job and had a seemingly normal family life until seven months ago when I realized there was something wrong with me. Something I could not control, but which seemed to be controlling me. I was never a terribly happy person, although there was no reason for me not to be. I had a happy childhood. I was the only child of older parents, spoiled and pampered, bright and beautiful. However, as I got older, there were some signs that led people, and myself, to wonder about me and my thought processes.
I was a very bright student and graduated with honors, the envy of many of my classmates because of my fair looks, my scholastic prowess and my good fortune at being the apple of my parents’ eyes and lacking nothing. Whatever I wanted, I got! So, I really didn’t have any friends. Those who did show me any attention did so simply to benefit from my largesse. In the back of my mind I knew this and I guess I must have felt the loneliness and lack of inclusion by these girls. When I was eleven, my parents grudgingly allowed me to go to sleep-away camp. I don’t recall much about that summer, except that it was full of loneliness and my heart is heavy when I try to recall why. The only thing I do remember is one kindly caretaker who befriended me. He always brought me sweets and little funny things to try to make me feel better. He would sit me on his lap near the lake when he saw me by myself, and hug me and made me feel really loved and special. I remember being sad to come home because I would not see him again.
Life went on with my experiencing the same loneliness and feeling like I was always on the fringe of things.
I could have had any boy I wanted, but I chose a nerdy, simple guy, who in a strange way felt very familiar. It took me a long time to make the connection, but he reminded me of that caretaker in camp who always made me feel so special. My parents were heartbroken as I turned away doctors, lawyers and successful business progenies. People thought me and “Stan” were an odd couple.
Sadly, Stan did not turn out to be the “caretaker.” It’s not really his fault. There was no way for him to fill my unreasonable need for love. That we have two children is miraculous.
I loved my children in a very over-protective way. I hovered over them and needed to know what they were doing and who they were doing it with. They slowly began to resent me. I refused to allow them to go to sleep-away camps with their friends, which surprised me more than it angered them, because my one experience at camp was what got me through the next years of my life.
The most painful moment happened seven months ago just before my nineteen-year-old daughter left to go to college in another state. We had a massive argument because I didn’t want her to go and she called me a crazy, neurotic, woman vastly in need of psychiatric help, who has been the source of everything painful in her and her brother’s life.
That is when I began hearing the voices in my head.
At the start it seemed to be just me thinking loudly inside my brain and I was able to push the thoughts away. As time has passed, it has gotten harder to do this. Then, six weeks ago, I caught myself holding a fistful of pills, about to put them in my mouth, because the voice instructed me that doing this would make everything better. It took every ounce of strength in me to throw the pills into the toilet before I broke down in helpless tears. That is how my husband found me sometime later. He threatened that if I didn’t go and see a psychiatrist, he too would leave.
Mrs, Bluth, I have nothing left because I had nothing to start with! Maybe it would be better if I listen to the voices next time and take the pills, go to sleep and never wake up again to this horrible emptiness and bitterness. I am enclosing a phone number to call and explain to my children, should you read in the papers that they found my lifeless body.
I received this letter two years ago and have been involved as a concerned party throughout her journey back from the cusp of destruction. It is only now that she has allowed me to go public with her story, because the issues that sent her spiraling downward are even more prevalent today and her message is vital for all parents, teachers and caretakers of young children.
In spite of all the blessing she was born with, “Lana” experienced a unique form of bullying in the form of isolation from her peers and being used by them only when they stood to benefit from her good fortune. Children feel that isolation very keenly and, at a very young age, Lana felt like an outsider in her world – and no one caught on. Not her elderly parents who assisted in that isolation by being detrimentally over protective, not her teachers who looked away as she stood alone in the play yard and did nothing to encourage their charges to be friendly. No one taught her social skills or that there is a difference between being used and being appreciated for who you are. Lana was left to flounder without a sense of self and, trying to buy acceptance and affection, respect and appreciation by giving away pieces of herself. So, when she went away to camp, she was like a lamb between wolves, and one “wolf” took advantage of her in the most heinous way, making her think that this was what she needed to do to be accepted, to be appreciated, loved and valued.
Lana’s perception of love, her sense of worthlessness and her understanding of how to be recognized and appreciated were irreparably damaged and her life became a downward spiral that allowed her to birth the inner voices of her despair. She was finally listening to the false conscience that offered her what seemed to be the only way out.
When I received Lana’s letter, the first thing I did was get in touch with someone I knew in her city. Upon hearing that she had become quite a respected clinician dealing primarily with substance abuse, I asked her to take on Lana’s case, should I be successful in convincing Lana to go for treatment. The next thing I did was call Lana’s cell phone number, the one she gave to notify those near and dear upon her demise. She was so shocked to hear from me that she agreed to see Dr. F.
It has been a long road with many twists and turns, but Lana has come light-years forward from where she started. We have a connection that allows me to keep up with her progress, while re-enforcing her corrected perceptions of who she is and how important she is to herself and to all those in her life. She has also learned to understand that she doesn’t have to sell herself in order to find and receive love, respect, appreciation and happiness. She has learned that everyone is born with the right to those things and it is up to adults to foster and instill these concepts into the precious, innocent and trusting children we bring into the world.
Love cannot and should not be bought; it should be freely given from parent to child without any expectation. Respect must be earned by teaching the child that he or she can achieve great heights with a good moral character, good heartedness and a willingness to improve the environment around him or her individually and as part of a group. Most importantly, a child must receive praise for achievements and support for failures, so he or she can understand the very important and vital role he or she plays in the world.
No one should be judged by a test score. No child should be labeled because of a low grade point average. No human being should be abused to benefit someone else.
Lana still has a way to go, but she’s determined to get there, with the amazing support of a truly loving husband, two (now fully aware) devoted children and a caring, empathetic group of friends who re-enforce her sense of self worth and appreciate her presence in their lives.