|"The mess you made of me" by spacedementchen|
Loneliness is hell. Not belonging is hell. Feeling unloved is hell. Feeling misunderstood is hell. Feeling despised, disliked or disapproved of is hell. Today that all became a little clearer for me after spending my day volunteering at a youth refuge. The centre deals with teens who have been removed from their abusive parents by court order and for whom foster care has not worked out. These are people who have felt lonely, unloved, misunderstood, despised, disliked and/or disapproved of by their parents, by their foster carers, by their teachers and sometimes by their fellow students, who might otherwise have been their friends. They understand what hell is and somehow that made me feel better about my own wobbly mental health over the past couple of days, because being able to have a glimpse of their suffering helps me to understand that I am not alone as a suffering being. There is no middle class gloating in this — this is just about not feeling alone. It is not about realising how good I actually have it. That would be a very materialistic way to look at things. Realising one is wealthier than someone else can never provoke happiness, except in a superficial and rather meaningless way. But to feel connected to others, to lose that sense of shame one has about one's own suffering, to understand how much one has in common with others, and that the posturing smiles of Facebook are only a slice of the truth of human experience — that is really therapeutic.