What If You Have Totally Ruined Your Life?

I had a gal write me awhile back. She outlined the state of her life in just a couple sentences. It was overwhelmingly sad.  She was standing at the end of a line of very bad decisions she had made over the last two decades, holding herself accountable.

The note read like this:

“I did this, this, this, this and this, that were very bad.  I am now capping it all off with this (failure).”

Her mail was stark, heavy and haunting. I didn’t offer any advice, because she did not ask for any. I guess she just wanted to tell someone safe? A stranger? I was struck by this and I asked a number people what they thought of it.

We all agreed her situation was grim. Surprisingly, we also all agreed as to her best course of action. I want to ask you the same question.

How can a person in mid-life, redeem themselves when they wake up and realize they are completely bereft? Exactly what would you advise to help this person onto a path of healing?

102 thoughts on “What If You Have Totally Ruined Your Life?”

  1. Ay elsa, all I could tell them is it took them 30 something years to mess up, it’s gonna take another 30 to fix, but just like she started messing up things one by one, she gotta start doing right one by one, one day at the time. to set goals, a strategy, a plan of action and to enforce it. that’s all there is to be done. Oh, and sincerely apologizing to those she hurt along the way.

  2. This sounds like soul contract work and karma going on here. the fact she’s conscious of her acts but seems to repeat the pattern tells me this.
    I’m working with an extremely successful person right now who possesses this exact trait.
    Now, go figure on that one.
    Rises super high on totem, then goes and does the stupidest thing one could do to damage position and risk losing it all, only to go back up.
    The redemption thing with a lot of ego in there. Also addiction to victimhood and heroism.
    At least the person who wrote to Elsa seems to be humble about making a mess of it all.
    However, she didn’t ask for advice ( that’s why were just commenting on the particularity of a case in general :°))

    God I’d love to compare their two charts to see what makes one bounce back after f-ing it up all the time, and what makes the other just repeat the failure cycle.

  3. Volunteering and mentoring others would go a long way to redemption.

    Mentors are like local guides to the Path of Life. They let you know where the potholes and dead ends are. Provided their advice is asked for of course.

  4. I am surprised at the seeming resistance to the use of redemption/redeeming in this context. [but maybe that’s my Catholic peeking through?] I do not automatically associate a soley religious or spiritual context to the word…

    re·deem/riˈdēm/Verb: 1.Compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something): “a disappointing debate redeemed by an outstanding speech”.
    2.Do something that compensates for poor past performance or behavior.
    Synonyms: ransom – rescue – save – deliver

  5. I like CArRiE’s comment. The line in the song, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” comes to mind.

    As for not giving advice when not asked, I agree with Elsa. IMO, if you want people to advise you but you’re not asking for it, you’re wanting them to read your mind and that’s just not fair. (Also, there are probably other situations where you definitely do NOT want them to read your mind and would be deeply annoyed if they did.) I’ve also been the (random) receiver of heavy news. I’m pretty sure it’s because even though I’m fiery-tempered, people sense/know I can ‘handle’ shocking/heavy things. Sometimes people just need a place to lay their burden and appreciate someone being strong enough to ‘just’ receive it.

  6. Rebuild. Start over.

    Those are my first thoughts.

    I’ve spent years beating myself up over the fact that I left college–twice–and stayed in my current job instead of leaving like everyone else for something better. I can tell you this: Elsa’s right. Beating yourself up does no good.

  7. “I used to think that there was something insidious about the way Neptune worked but now I see that his deceptions are unintentional; he leads us on because he doesn’t know any better either. How could he? It’s all the same to him. And even when he drags us through an experience that beats us raw, that too, is all the same to him – because where he lives, love flows through everything – every experience is filled with it. If we blame him for leading us on what we forget is that Neptune can’t draw the line between good and bad.
    This Oneness with all things is a state that only the saints and the Mother Teresa’s of the world truly understand. Christ and Buddha knew it, and somewhere in our cellular memory all of us remember Unity. If Neptune is the planet that takes us home what we find on the road can either enlighten us or drive us insane. Unfortunately the spiritual urge gets twisted here and more often than not our response to it leads us to exalt all kinds of bad behavior.”– cal garrison

  8. Our souls can be slow in learning our lessons and we may possibly spend a lifetime (or more) grappling and struggling until we are ready to see our own cause in a matter.

    Better sooner than later.

    Better later than never.

    At least she did it.

  9. I can only offer my personal experience. I crashed in my mid-30s, and was left with almost nothing apart from most of my health (apart from depression and chronic fatigue). It was my choice to turn it around and search for help, and only then did I listen to advice. It’s funny, but even at my lowest ebb, I always had a spark of self-belief, and more importantly, I have always liked myself. That might sound funny, but I cannot imagine that I would have healed myself without that inherent self-belief, or if I had suffered from self-loathing. The fate of the poor woman who wrote you, Elsa, could well depend on where she stands in that respect.

  10. Well, without anything to go on how can WE give advice? I mean “this, this, this and this and now I am a failure” etc. I wish you would be more specific. Now we, the readers are left to help this woman who originally wrote to you Elsa for advice she may not have said “help me” but this is what she wanted. I mean no disrespect but I feel that you don’t want to give FREE advice. Some have posted to “see a therapist” “join the peace corps” but you must understand that if she is in the depths of despair she may be 100 percent broke, and when a person is broke you can’t “see a therapist” only people with money can do that. Joining the peace corps you must have a good college education, maybe she does not have this. In my opinion if you have money you can solve all your problems. but if you have nothing and are on the streets you are screwed. This may be where this woman is and if so, what is wrong with giving her free advice? boosting her a little? for gods sake is everything about money? what if she commits suicide? If that happens you will never know and never care. Just my opinion. Money is the root of all evil but the only thing that matters on this earth. if you have it, people think you are great and you get respect and a good life, if you don’t you are a piece of shxt and no one will help you. You may as well be dead. To see a therapist you need money or insurance that will cover it, well, 52 million people have no health insurance!! don’t you think most of them NEED a therapist?? I mean, this poor woman wrote to you for help and you ignored her! talked about her but ignored her pleas for help, this is just an example of selfishness you got money? great! you don’t? DIE! I don’t know if I’ll read you any more. just my opinion

  11. You don’t seem to understand what you have done here, you have titled this “Advice For Someone Who Has Truly Obliterated Their Life” I am focusing on the word “Obliterated” I mean, someone has come to you in despair, and instead of privately helping her with compassion, you exploit her for your blog. shame on you Elsa! SHAME ON YOU!

    She will read your unkind word, “Obliterated” and she will feel worse. Yes, this has hit a nerve with me, I too have reached out for help before and been kicked in the face. This is what you have done to her, kicked her in the face. Then she gets to come here and read your selfish blog using her pain as your subject. You know, your 150 bucks an hour is great and I am so happy that you are so great you can get that but honestly? Do you really think that someone who can afford to call you and throw away that much in 1 hours time really needs your help? You have no compassion. My rose colored glasses literally fell off reading your selfish blog, using your readers to help this person because your time is so precious, you are narcissistic. Just the fact that you can’t help someone who is desperate pro-bono really says a lot about you. You may think I am her, I am not but if I knew who she was I’d help her. I’ve been there, I climbed out of the gutter of terrible circumstances and made it out but not after serious contemplation of suicide. I am grateful and I am compassionate and I would help her without a second thought. But then I guess that kind of empathy comes from my earlier struggles, I have a feeling that you Elsa, have yet to have a harsh time of it.

    1. You don’t seem to understand, vahina, the woman did not ask for help. She distinctly DID NOT ASK for help.
      Your projecting onto me is wrong and it’s tiresome.

      1. @kash, most people understood what I was I was doing. Maybe vahina can help this woman who did not ask for help (and who would not even recognize herself based on what I wrote), by telling her what a horror I am, as that seems to be vahina’s main agenda here.

        Those who are truly compassionate offered their general advice for anyone in circumstances like this which is what I had hoped for.

  12. Vahina obviously didn’t read this blog when it was the Advice Blog and Elsa gave free advice every single day.

    I like when you ask the Collective, Elsa. Thank you. I remember, too, how back when you wrote advice posts, people in the comments loved chipping in and trying to help, too. Obviously this is still the case.

  13. …I’ve been there, I climbed out of the gutter of terrible circumstances and made it out but not after serious contemplation of suicide. I am grateful and I am compassionate and I would help her without a second thought. But then I guess that kind of empathy comes from my earlier struggles, I have a feeling that you Elsa, have yet to have a harsh time of it….

    Elsa, I don’t know about the rest of what she said but this part infuriates me, especially knowing some of what you’ve been through.
    A bit of the holier than thou victim song but I guess your used to that

  14. Agree with Joie73

    And I’m going to make a recommendation that is gonna seem strange if you know me, but just roll with it for a minute. (And actually, by writing you, the person in question may have already done her variation of this)

    Go to confession. Get it all out there, ask for forgiveness.

    And then accept it by forgiving yourself, which you do by taking whatever size steps you’re comfortable with, to make the future better.

    One of the things I learned in therapy is that most of my craziness in my brain? I did it, with my reactions to the situation that got me twisted up in the first place. (Granted, I couldn’t have known differently at the time but that doesn’t change the fact – I DID IT.) The thing that offsets the pain of that is knowing that if I screwed up, I own it so I can fix it.

    So can you!

    Also? Sending some love out. Sounds like a little happy vibe could be useful here. <3

  15. @vahina
    I would help you for free if you would ever need a “therapist”….
    Just because we all deserve someone to care for free….

  16. interesting one…friend of mine who is a top level now retired psychologist was talking to me yesterday about the importance of taking time alone, to stop and be with your “self”.. and about how much serenity that gradually brings..maybe whatever the circumstances, that’s the only thing left, to go back to the core of self.
    Funny person that one who just ranted on, clearly using the blog as therapy..all free, too 😉 The “Elsa” described doesn’t resemble anyone we know around here…but hopefully the person concerned feels freed of all that anger now!!! Next thing will be an apology a few months down the line..

  17. Elsa, if this of any comfort to you, I had not replied to this thread precisely because of your post. Now I feel I must. As I understand it:

    1. The woman DID NOT ASK FOR HELP, and
    2. All the replies and responses here are little pieces of life force that she may, at will, read and apply to her own life.

    Here’s my little piece of life-force to add to the mix. One more time: THE WOMAN DID NOT ASK FOR HELP. What she wanted, I’ll wager, was for another human being to HEAR her. That is all. She didn’t want to BE FIXED. She wanted to BE HEARD.

    There is a difference. Please, helpers and fixers, use your discernment. Surely there must be someone your brick-and-mortar world who can benefit from your, umm, “help”.

    Have a nice day, everyone 🙂

  18. @CancerAGoGo
    Quotting Elsa-
    “Those who are truly compassionate offered their general advice for anyone in circumstances like this which is what I had hoped for”.
    I find your comment about my brick and mortar world and so called “help” offensive….

  19. “Exactly what would you advise to help this person onto a path of healing?”

    That was Elsa’s question…we answered as a Collective. This is getting funny. Can we not have a philosophical conversation here without people getting it twisted?

    I’m not buying the ‘have a nice day’, sorry!

  20. For the last time, this person’s identity is concealed. I truly don’t think she even reads this blog.

    The advice I asked people to give was not for her, but for anyone as I meant to suggest in the title:
    “Advice For Someone Who Has Truly Obliterated Their Life”

    The mail I got was a DRIVE BY. It was like spray painting on a wall, to get something a person was carrying, out of their being.

    It moved me, so I asked my inner circle what they thought. I decided to ask the same question here to see what people around the world thought…and yes, so that someone who felt like this, might get some ideas.

    I stated early on, I was not comfortable sharing my ideas and why. There is really no more I can say.

  21. ah people….and their misinterpretations.

    Anyone…if I was asked for advice in this type of situation, I for one would applaud them. To look at oneself that deeply and own up to mistakes and failures is such a positive step forward. I’d then recommend making amends or offering apologies to those that had been hurt by their actions (if it applies in this case). If they still feel the need make amends…volunteering at a soup kitchen or something of that nature would get their life moving in a forward motion.

  22. @phoenixrising: Did I mention you specifically? I checked my comment very carefully and your name isn’t there.

    Were you offering help? Were you trying to fix? Is that what you do in your world? How would I know this?

    Take as much offense as you like. It’s free, and you don’t need permission. Have a ball 🙂 Just take responsibility for your feeling it.

    @kashmiri: Collective? So, no individual thought allowed?

  23. Wow! Amazing thread. Elsa, you are a blessing. Now, what advice would I give to a person who had obliterated their life. The last time Saturn left Libra. (Asc.) I turned a tremendous corner. I had obliterated my life by being extremely social. I was always on the go. I was also empty and alone is a crowded room. I picked up a book on meditation. I read the book and tried the meditation. The deep breathing and the stillness opened a flood of profound emotion, (something I never allowed in my interactions). I realized at that moment that my life was not about the next party. My life was about my spiritual evolution. A new beginning, my friends were amazed. Drastic wardrobe changes, authentic communication, stillness. I started practicing yoga and went on to fulfill many long term goals. I have continued in this vein, I am a loving generous authentic being. So, my advice based on my experience would be to try meditation. There is benefit in trying…

  24. Lol, Elsa you must have a good sense of humor to monitor these boards and mind the egos. (I stopped visiting spiritual/esoteric forums for this kind of self righteous, someone always looking for a reason to be offended crap)

    Anyway I, in a way, obliterated things. I started building momentum in my career and social life then hid in a shell and got distracted with things and people that didn’t matter or were holding me back and now I’m paying for it painfully. It’s hard to stand there and know you only have yourself to blame and it’s like lifting boulders to rebuild things especially reaching 40. I think the only thing is learn from mistakes and swallow the consequences and only focus on this moment.
    Being right here, right now helps.

  25. My apologies, Canceragogo, that I have somehow infringed upon your right to express individual thought. Uranus in my 11th; nothing could be further from my intention. I will not engage with you further. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

  26. You know…I was going to take on this Vahina lady but it’s just too ridiculous to confront.

    Projection doesn’t even cover this.

  27. Exactly what I had to do..at a time I thought I’d be able to rest on my laurels a bit, about the same sort of economic events hit…and I had to start over…again. Thing is, whatever we go thru, when we get thru to the other side of it, we can use our experience, strength and hope to help someone else..if they “Ask” us..yes, asking is important; because they don’t need to have anyone to blame anything on, but themselves. The fact that we may not know what else to do, makes no difference…whatever we’ve done, or left undone, leaves a debt of some sort to be repaid. Make a gratitude list…take inventory..we all have more to be thankful for, than we realize, usually. Reach out and help someone…however you can and find a support group..the 12-step program was and is the biggest blessing most of us will ever have. It works if we work it..and when we don’t, we can still fall back on it, til it becomes automatic. We may be human beings instead of human doings, but yet, Faith w/o works, is dead. Shake it off, Smile..get Norman V. Peale’s lst book..The Power of Positive Thinking…and read it everytime you falter. My dtr’s been thru many trials…personal, health, family..and she goes back to that book..and puts it back to work in her life. Try it. It does work and there’s lots of folks who wouldn’t be around, if it didn’t. I count myself as one of those miracles, also. And if I wasn’t at bottom, at the end of my rope, at 28 or 56, maybe I can push past 84, too..like my Capricorn granny did. Everyone else seems to have had a fatal sinking spell, but as one poster said..Capricorn’s get younger with age..and she learned to laugh and lived to nearly 100. Find joy in something, every day..it’s a top priority, for life itself..& find a way to share that joy, with others…right where you are, wherever you find youself, today.

  28. I know that the “process” of this blog is usually the Socratic method of dialogue; of back and forth between teachers/students hoping to distill truth or at least answers to the questions.
    For me, it would help to have some synthesis at the end of all these entries. I find they go on and on, but because they are generally so long and there is so much personal information, I lose any idea of solutions to these questions. The blog bogs down in detail, and fades away before anyone mediates and arrives at some sort of answers. I don’t really think anyone in this much pain or addiction or despair would have the time or energy or focus to wade through so much dialogue. It’s as when the medical/rehab community expects the addict or alcoholic to pick up the phone and call for help. Finding a number, a phone or being able to speak to a real person on the other end is often something they are incapable of at that point. I’m only halfway there and not in as much pain, but have been unable to figure out any common threads in these posts for help. Is there someway, as it is Elsa’s blog board, that there can be some wrap up to the posts of all concerned info offered? thank you.

  29. I remember thinking, I wonder what it’s like to hit the bottom. I wanted to know where the floor was. I thought it would help me, or ground me. And I thought when I found it, it would be easier to rise up from it.

    I still haven’t found it,it just goes on and on. It just shows us what infinity feels like.

  30. “for gods sake is everything about money? what if she commits suicide? If that happens you will never know and never care. Just my opinion.”

    For a start, ‘just my opinion’ with it’s oh-so-false humility is a red rag to a bull, for me 🙂 And this loony said it twice!

    I do wish people would READ what Elsa actually WRITES and make some effort to understand it, before they sound off insulting her for something she didn’t write, didn’t ask, didn’t do and didn’t even think.

    She made it clear several times in the thread as well as in her blog post, that the woman’s own and particular circumstances and identity are not at issue here: the question is GENERIC. We were asked what advice we might give to ‘someone who’ – not to THIS woman

    Secondly, Elizabeth, this is not a class. Elsa writes a blog, and she usually asks a question at the end to stimulate discussion. Why on earth should she bother to go through all the stuff people choose to spew out to find an ‘answer’? All our circumstances are different: we can take what answers we want from the comments. Some will resonate with one person, some with another

    If we can’t synthesise them ourselves to learn what we need to, from them, we’d hardly be any more likely to learn anything from her synthesis. People are not here to be spoonfed, and told what to think. And the ‘answer’ for one person may not work for another

    As for some of the bad manners on display here, I can’t imagine what goes through anyone’s mind (mind, ha!) who comes onto someone’s blog to attack and denigrate. Astrology like any other interest attracts its share of sad, embittered and destructive people. I just wish they’d take their sour selves off somewhere else

  31. Scorpioandproud

    You know, your 150 bucks an hour is great and I am so happy that you are so great you can get that but honestly? Do you really think that someone who can afford to call you and throw away that much in 1 hours time really needs your help?

    I can’t address this right now.
    It makes me want to smoke a ciggarette! :/

  32. Actually what I thought was fascinating about this episode was the insistence, really, that Elsa, in response to this email, should set about instantly working for free on this person’s behalf, just because they were upset and “obliterated their life.”

    Note the whole financial angle here which had absolutely *nothing* to do with any of the concepts in the entire post, or thread.

    Note the plaintive attack — YOU make 150 dollars an hour ( er, really? Has Elsa published her income somewhere? ) — THE STARVING WRITHING MASSES CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY YOU, SUPPLY IT FOR FREE RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

    The thing that’s really interesting about this whole line of reasoning is that suddenly this woman’s advertised anguish is worth 150 dollars an hour, and Elsa’s input, skills or services are worth *nothing*.

    Apparently two people should be poor because one person is crying.

    I foresee a continuation of this kind of argument — it’s an argument about money. Saturn in Scorpio? Oh, yeah, people want to fight about money. And their argument is going to be about what you’re worth.

  33. I was thinking of my request for structure, Saturn (structure, lessons), on this blog for answers to deep,(Scorpio) questions. It is all learning or at least looking for answers. If that it considered a “class”, so be it. Elsa has studied astrology for some time. She has certain strengths and weaknesses in her approach to readings, interpretations, posts and, yes, classes, that she has offered.

    I don’t think that I attacked Elsa or anyone, and of course one tries to be aware of how email, texts, or written exchange can be taken the wrong way. Beyond our bloggers initial anger, we are all reading this and looking for knowledge.

  34. elizabeth2, if you’d like to see synthesis, why don’t you give it a shot, yourself? You seem capable. I don’t understand why you are requesting it just be given to you. Why not just go get it? The knowledge is there for anyone and everyone to distill.

  35. I honestly do not understand showing up on someone’s free blog and requesting it be written the way you’d like, so you understand better. This just doesn’t compute. It’s like asking someone to change the colour of their drapes when you visit their home.

  36. How can a person in mid-life, redeem themselves when they wake up and realize they are completely bereft? Exactly what would you advise to help this person onto a path of healing?

    Go help other people. Volunteer. Help the chronically homeless, help those with mental health issues or addictions, work in a food bank, deliver Meals on wheels to seniors confined to their homes. Don’t accept money for your work. Offer your time, your ear, your heart as a volunteer.

  37. As I have read these posts, I’ve noticed that a topic is started, then the attacks begin, then fewer and fewer people comment, as two or three are screaming at each other, until the thread dwindles away or another topic is posted. I’m not sure why my requests for synthesis met with such anger. I am trying to learn. I did not attack anyone, unlike several commentators. Neither did I suggest Elsa change the color of her drapes. Neither am I looking for free information. I have paid Elsa for her time and teaching. It was an attempt to clarify information for my own understanding, and for a shy person like me, braving an open forum, it took quite a bit of courage to post. It was just a request to have the posts be moderated to avoid disintegration. Personally, yes, I have volunteered, yes, given back when I could, whenever possible, my entire life. That is a different path of healing than I am on right now, but thank you for that advice. I suppose I will go back to reading without comment or find another site.
    thank you.

  38. I hope that whoever this person is, she is able to let go of any regret that she may have over her past, knowing that we are all human and all make mistakes. I hope that, as so many people here have mentioned, she will treat herself gently and with compassion. I hope she realizes that her past needn’t define her or her future and most of all, I hope she finds peace.

  39. I think the first step forward on the path to healing is forgiveness. Carrying shame into the future negates chances for positive growth. Forgiving one’s self for their own errors will help lighten the load and allow them to build a better life.

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