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A Life Not Yet Lived

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From the U.S.: Sometime before I was five, my dad left my mom and my mom passed me off on my grandparents. Since I was a child, my grandpa always screamed at me, beat me and told me how I’d always be a loser, a nobody, a ditch digger in prison and a druggie like my dad. I still see his face yelling those things to me till this day.

I’d work hard to accomplish something, only to sabotage it when the payoff was coming. One example when I was around twenty one, the studio I was recording at got a call from the Van’s Warped Tour about our music. We had an opportunity for an up-and-coming stage position, and after hearing the message in the studio, I grabbed all of our recordings, destroyed them and burned all my guitar equipment of about 10k in value at the time. This been the story of my life, and every time, I see his face.

After so many experiences of sabotage, I gave up and started abusing alcohol and found myself in the hospital at the age of 25 with liver and kidney failure. Then came the panic attacks, which I’d have them nearly everyday, all throughout the day. I tried working, but I’d have a panic attack on the way to work, several while at work and while coming home. I’d often find myself laid out in the yard unable to move because my whole body would be numb.

Eventually I started having feelings of being disconnected from myself while witnessing something else controlling me. I started to isolate myself, staying in my room rarely coming out. I built an in-closed cubicle box, moved it into my room, entered it, locked the door and drank till I passed out nearly every day.

I haven’t had a girlfriend, or any interaction with a woman, in twelve years. I’ve isolated myself in my room for as long, if not longer. I often have an image appear in my mind at random, where I’m drowning, fighting to stay above the water. I tire out and sink.

I have these weird emotional dreams that happen throughout the year, that leaves me waking up in tears. Because of the word count limit, I don’t have the opportunity to talk about that. Perhaps I can post another question regarding those dreams.

In closing, I haven’t lived.

A Life Not Yet Lived

Answered by on -


You are right. You haven’t lived. Your grandfather is still in control of your life because you haven’t found a way to metabolize the traumatic experiences of your childhood. It sounds to me like you internalized his messages to the point that you have no confidence or even respect for yourself. I want you to know that this is not an unusual reaction to being traumatized repeatedly. All the symptoms you described, including the emotional dreams, are consistent with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As you already do know, you can’t drink or drug this away. Isolating yourself doesn’t get the pain out. In fact, it only helps to lock it up inside you. You need therapy from a therapist who has experience working with repeated trauma. As frightening as it may seem to dig deeply into your issues and talk about them, I don’t think it will be any more painful than what you’ve been doing. Further, the pain of going through it is what will get it out. You will then be helped to build your severely damaged self-esteem as well as your coping skills for managing stress.

With some changes toward a more healthy way of living and therapy to change your self-esteem, you have every reason to believe you have a good 50 or more years of life to live. With a real effort in therapy, you can look forward to having a successful life that includes good friends, good work and perhaps a good partner. I hope you will find the courage to do your therapeutic work. You deserve it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

A Life Not Yet Lived

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). A Life Not Yet Lived. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 19 Nov 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.