How could a God exist? Why is God letting this happen to me? Why has God forgotten me? Have you ever asked these types of questions? I did, and still do at times. Growing up with all of the abuse and pain left me feeling forsaken. I can remember as a young boy lying in bed, feeling all alone and asking God for help. I was angry at God and did not even believe there was or could be a God with all of the things I was going through. After all, I was just a boy. What did I do to deserve this pain, this abuse?

I grew up Catholic and my mother was very religious. However, when I sought understanding from the priest who I attempted to confide in regarding the dysfunction at home, he replied with a stern, “honor thy father”, in this case referring to my Dad. It only resulted in more anger at God, since the church was supposed to be the House and Voice of God. The result was that I did not believe that a God could exist, and that religion was simply filled with hypocrites. Despite losing a belief in God or religion, something kept me going, and would keep me going. What was it?

This is where belief plays such a powerful part in our life. And the most powerful belief I believe exists is that of hope. It is accepting that there is a possibility, however slight it could be at that moment, that there is a chance for things to get better. While I was a young boy, this seemed to be natural and unconscious. I would cry from the pain of being beaten, feel anger and then an hour later find refuge in my toys or pets, being able to have fun once again. We were naturally resilient at that time. Hope seemed to be built into our operating system, just as you could kick a dog, have them howl, and within minutes wagging their tail again.

As I got older, hope seemed more difficult to attain. By that time I had given up on organized religion since it did not provide me with any comfort or answers. My intellectual ability had developed allowing me to more consciously think about things and form beliefs. Emotions played a stronger role in my life. By the time I was a teenager I was angry and depressed. I kept the secret within regarding what was happening at home. I really felt alone. Getting together with friends provided some needed distractions. Hope however took the form of looking forward to leaving home.

By the time I started life on my own, my life was riddled with personal issues based on the unhealthy beliefs I had formed during my childhood. Even though I had escaped the source of my issues, the damage had already occurred and lay deep within my psyche. Although I struggled in many aspects of my life, I had ambition now. I tried to excel in my job, enjoy competitive racquetball, and experiment with options to become wealthy. Hope at this time was largely represented by a belief that I would successful, at that time adopting the “American Dream” as my goal.

But the American Dream fell apart when another relationship ended. My fear of being abondoned, only suggesting once again that I was not good enough. Pain has a way of overshadowing any sense of hope. The loss of all hope is truly hell on earth. When combined with becoming depressed, the result can be fatal. We feel all alone and that no one else can relate or wants to be bothered. We lose hope. Only those that have reached this abyss can understand this feeling. I held onto the hope that my relationship would rekindle, but never did. Hope was crumbling. I was feeling alone once again and hitting bottom.

Fortunately I had started individual and group therapy months earlier based on a discovery process at work which had helped me realize that the issue lie with me, not others as I had initially presumed. I had others to share my pain, my despair with, which provided a cushion to my hitting bottom. Hope at this time took the form of the support groups I was attending, that there were indeed other people who could relate to being in so much emotional pain. Now as I look back, it was no surprise that I was guided to these resources in the months prior to my relationship ending. I was also learning a very different form of faith, that of a “higher power”.

The term, “higher power” really resonated with me during these times since I was so turned off with organized religion. I adopted the 12-steps as my belief which helped me through a very difficult time. The end of my relationship combined with my newfound awareness of what I had long buried about my past, seemed too much to grasp at this time. The “one-day-at-a-time” theme helped to give me the courage to keep going. My “hope” meter was slowly increasing.

Throughout my life I have dealt with considerable adversity. I was becoming well acquainted with the dark pit of depression. However, what was different was that I would not lose hope like I did before. I would reach out to others and not be afraid to seek counseling. I would fall, slowly getting back up, feel my wounds, and find ways to begin the healing process. Over time this developed as my faith, that there is indeed something always there, with the ability to take many forms. The key is being able to take that step, in any direction, while in the abyss. Surviving this develops an internal strength that becomes the basis for hope for years to come, maybe forever. I hope so (-: