Realized I have a problem today.
I always thought that I was happier than most people, but today I realized I have a problem. I have a thought go through my head very often. If I knew my wife and kids would be ok, I would like to just die. I don't want to kill myself, but if somehow I knew their lives would be ok I would like for mine to just be over. I love my family, but I have given up on myself. Looking back on things, I know I gave up on myself years ago. How do I get back my will to live?
I think you just described very succinctly what many people feel but never admit. Not to say it is not a problem. It certainly is. But it is a wide-spread problem. Loss of meaning. Loss of purpose. Loss of passion and aliveness.
What I have come to realize is that those who experience this level of disillusionment - this sort of existential level despair - are actually far closer to self-realization or "spiritual awakening" than those who blindly go through life seeking sensual pleasures of every kind while calling that "happiness and fulfillment."
The greatest and wisest teachers and guides that I have met in my life have been those who have experienced great suffering, and have transcended their attachments to worldly pursuits. People who have experienced disillusionment and reached a level of detachment - not apathy - but rather dis-passion.
My own spiritual teacher describes 3 stages of growth: first passion... then dispassion... and finally compassion. Passion alone is not enough to evolve as a spiritual being. Passion is wonderful and fun and certainly feels better than depression and hopelessness. But it is completely dependent of experiences and stimulation from outside the Self. Passion is shallow, materialistic and limited. You cannot have true peace or real joy when passion is the goal.
Those who appear to be able to maintain a level of intense passion are usually those that actually have elevated to compassion, where they are serving a cause or a purpose higher than themselves. Living a life of service in some capacity.
The despair and emptiness that leads to giving up on life, or having thoughts of wishing to not be alive is sometimes closer to a breakthrough than you would think.
In his now famous book The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle says that he spent the first 30 years of his life terribly depressed and anxious, and had become very suicidal. On the verge of giving up, it dawned on him one morning that the battle raging inside was between two parts of himself. Somehow he out-thought his own mind and realized that there could not be two selves - that his consciousness was One, and that his real Self was not the thinking mind. From that one realization, his depression and anxiety disappeared never to return, he entered into a state of bliss, peace and inspiration that gave rise to many best selling books and a deeply meaningful life as a spiritual teacher and speaker.
The only direction to go when all possibilities seem closed, is within.
The only thing left to do when life loses its luster, is to seek the truth of your own existence - from within.
We cannot continue to go through life as robots, just going through the daily grind and doing what we think others expect of us. We are here to awaken. Looking for Truth in our own inner Consciousness, is a radical move in today's world. Turning off the evening news is a radical move. Questioning reality is a radical move. But these are the only things that get us beyond our emptiness and awaken us to the infinite. You don't have to die to find that.
Meditation, prayer, contemplation, solitude in nature, yoga, beauty, art, music, poetry, taking a risk, energy healing, EFT Tapping... all of these things can lead us deeper if you make it a high priority.
It may not be enough to love your family. You have to learn to love yourself and feed your own soul as well.
If you don't know what else to do, start by simply meditating on the image of light in your heart. Stay out of your head and focus on the heart as often as possible.
Seek and ye shall find, as the saying goes.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
P.S. A father's love is the greatest gift you can give, even in the midst of your own despair.