At a dark and low point of time in my life, years ago, I pondered whether life was worth living. My then therapist suggested that I read Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl’s book is about the power of hope and the will to live no matter the circumstances.
Frankl a Jewish Austrian neuroscientist and psychiatrist during the Nazi persecution of 6 million Jews opted to go to the Theresienstadt concentration camp with his elderly parents.
Frankl, a prominent psychiatrist had been granted permission to immigrate to the United States with his wife. For some reason, the United States wouldn’t allow his parents the same right. Instead of saving himself Frankl accompanied his parents to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Frankl knew that his parents were likely to die in the concentration camp by one means or another, but he knew they had a better chance of survival with him being with them.
During his years in Theresienstadt Frankl worked with his fellow inmates urging them to never give up hope. Years after Frankl’s release from Theresienstadt he wrote and published his internationally renowned book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. The book inspired me then and still does today.
Oftentimes life events are staggering and we all try to sort out why horrendous acts of inhumanity occur. What I have learned is that the best in us as people make meaning from suffering by sharing the lessons learned from suffering.
I am no Viktor Frankl but the last year has brought me great joy as I share my experiences of childhood trauma as a means to create empathy for those suffering from addiction. I have created and earned the opportunity to share my story with policy makers in the areas of law, medicine and social services. I hope that sharing my story will provide insight and empathy for those suffering from addiction .
So, it will be with infinite gratitude that I will have the opportunity next month to speak with future Adolescent Counselors in the graduate program at Johns Hopkins University. With each such privilege I give meaning to my own suffering and hopefully relieve the suffering of family members, practioners and addicts.
Viktor Frankl reported that during his years at Theresienstadt the beauty of the sunrise eased his suffering and gave him hope. There is always a glimmer of light. It is never completely dark and the great resilience of mankind can find hope in the bleakest times. The sun always rises.