By Daniel Scharpenburg
The loss of my parents will always be a part of who I am.
I always had anxiety problems as a kid. I worried about things. I didn’t know how to make friends. I actually had a fear, even as a very young child, that girls would never like me. (And even as a very young child I liked girls a lot).
There are a lot of kids with anxiety problems who outgrow them. Plenty of people are shy as children and become outgoing as adults. But that wasn’t what happened to me.
When my dad got sick my anxiety exploded.
At the beginning of my teenage years I became the most withdrawn I have ever been. And then a few years later my mother became sick. At the age of 19, I was alone—an orphan.
My parents were in their 50s when they passed and it has always been in the back of my mind—the knowledge of how old my kids will be when I’m in my 50s. That being said, I hate it when people feel sorry for me, so please don’t.
This isn’t a story about how things got bad, but about how they got better.
I was lost and broken and I made my fair share of bad choices. I didn’t deal with their deaths very well and I ended up suffering from terrible anxiety and depression.
I withdrew into myself and started avoiding social situations. I just wanted to be alone and feel sorry for myself so I pushed away everyone that cared about me. This is something that a lot of people do when they’re dealing with a loss, I think.
I drifted through life like a cloud. I was in college and I couldn’t choose a major. I didn’t have any direction in my life. I wasn’t sad, I was numb. I felt emptiness.
Now, I don’t wanted to suggest that I conquered my anxiety problems. That would be untrue. I still have anxiety problems.
I’m an introvert. I don’t do small talk. I don’t really start conversations. I try to avoid crowded places and I’ve been told that getting to know me isn’t easy.
But, all of that being said, I’ve come very far. I’ve grown a lot as a person in my adult life and I learned how to manage it.
It was meditation practice that helped me. It’s the only thing that’s really ever helped me.
Why does it help?
Meditation is a practice of mental and spiritual development.
Meditation practice expects us to turn inward; to understand ourselves and our interconnectedness to the world around us. It helps us see the truth—that there’s no reason to be anxious because the truth is we are all one, not nearly as separate as we think we are.
It could help you too.
Losing my parents broke me, but it’s through meditation and serious spiritual development that I put myself back together.
Editor: Dana Gornall
He was trained and certified as a meditation teacher at the Rime Buddhist Center, where he also spent four years teaching kids about Buddhism and meditation practice. He received additional training in the Zen tradition, both as a Monk in the Korean Zen tradition and as a lay teacher in the Caodong Chan tradition.
He has taken Bodhisattva Vows and the precepts of a lay zen teacher.
His work is dedicated to both sharing his own story and presenting a variety of Buddhist teachings in a way that shows how they are applicable to real life.
Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook, Youtube,andTwitter
Latest posts by Daniel Scharpenburg (see all)
- The First Buddhist Teaching: The Four Noble Truths - October 11, 2017
- Equanimity in Adversity: A Zen Story about Wild Horses - October 4, 2017
- Awake in the City - September 3, 2017