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My very dear friend: I beg of you, don't do it! Don't pull back! I know you've been hurt because what you've wanted to give has not been wanted by others. You feel betrayed and humiliated. You want to pull back, lick your wounds -- and show the world what it's missing by not wanting you.

Oh, yes! You'll show them! They'll be sorry for this affront! They'll regret this rejection! But you won't care because you'll be beyond such things by then, you'll be invulnerable and self-contained behind your barricade.

Let them come to you then when you no loner want them. Let them beg for just a little of what you want so desperately to give them now.Let them suffer your rejection as you now suffer theirs.

But will it happen that way, dear friend? Are you so sure that your resolution not to care won't harm you much more than it will them? Aren't you falling into the trap of selfpity, and won't that distort the very thing you want so badly to share?

I'm afraid you've already begun to enjoy the sweet acid of feeling sorry for yourself. You know you are hurting yourself and you delight in how this delicious feeling of rejection, and your planned revenge for it, washes over you. You want to go somewhere private and cry your eyes out for this sweet, lovable person who has been so terribly treated by the world and everyone in it.

But first you must shut all the windows and slam all the doors between you and the world. You must isolate yourself, consolidate your resources, focus your energies, and tremble in the burning delight of being totally misunderstood and totally alone. Ah, the wonderful feeling of the self-dramatized "I"! Carved out of determination and will and detached from all dependency upon others! Im will do this and that, Im will become powerful and strong and great! Im will show them!

My dear friend, how can I reach you? How can I show you how every wrong you are?

I know this year has been awful for you, that you feel you can no longer buck the system, that you must retreat and withdraw. But to what? A stark, lonely, and totally selfcentered existence?

I wish I could stop you. I wish I could convince you that I've only had your best interests at heart. Even when I hurt you most.

I know I did, I knew I would hurt you when you asked me what I thought about your plans. You turned to me as your last resort, and I cut the pinnings out from under you. I had no choice. You must see that. You must see that the time has come for you to face up to and to act in line with who you are.

I've been watching you. You're no longer open to yourself. After last year's setback you started to build your shell, and with every disappointment since then you've added to it. You are now almost fully isolated within your rages, and frustrations.

You look for rejection. You delight in setting outrageous traps for people, demanding so much of them that they are bewildered and don't know what to do. But youm do, don't you? You know how to spring the trap with impossible demands! You know how to force us to play your game! And When we do you smile your knowing smile and retreat further into your warm and cozy shell.

Well, I won't play your game! I am the one friend you thought would always stand by you, would always agree with you. You got rid of all your other friends and delight in their betrayal. I was the only one still in your way between you and total self-pity.

I will stand by you, but I refuse to go along with you in this conspiracy against yourself. I would rather lose your friendship entirely than support you in this. You must see that! You must hear what you are saying: your friend, your very best friend, has betrayed you! Now you are safe and secure within yourself. Nobody loves you and so you don't have to love anybody back.

I hope you have read this far. If you have, I thank you from the bottom of my heart because it means you have not totally rejected me, still have some modicum of trust in me and some faith in yourself.

Because trust and faith are the clues to the path out of your dilemma. They, and the knowledge that love is a two-way proposition which exists for its own sake and not because of a hoped-for reward.

Please stop this erosion of yourself. This self-hate. Isn't that what it is? Would self- love lead you down this path?

It will be a hard fight because you must overcome the habits of a lifetime. Even one small step outward toward the world terrifies you because it signifies the beginning of the loss of your hard-earned and precious self- pity.

But you must take that step and you must make it without anticipating or invinting rejection. Make it a tiny step, but make it! But expect nothing in return for your gesture, for you make it for yourself and not for others. Don't force others to punish you by rejecting you. And don't punish yourself.

I am here at any hour of the day or night. If you are still reading this, know that I care deeply for you. If you can accept that you give me your greatest gift: your first step back to our friendship! Yours, Ted (Wolff)

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