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Dear Dr. Robert Saltzman,

I am unhappy with my life. I would never attempt to end my own life, due to my fear of death. I believe that what happens after you die is eternal nothingness. That is not the reason i am writing you though, kind sir. I have always had the problem of making up lies for no good reason. Nothing huge that could really effect someone's personal life (other than my own). I will make up realistic stories to make conversation more smooth, or to create or make stronger my relationships with others. Sometimes I feel the true me is lost in oblivion and that all I have are all these characters I use for different people. For example, if someone had a bad day involving some jerk that did something rude or offensive to them; I would tell a story of "my own" similar to theirs and tell them that some people are just assholes. My friends tell me that my advice is helpful, and I make them feel better. That was just a small example though, Doctor.

I am a virgin, mainly due to the fact (not fear) that my penis is unusually small. 3.5 inches long (erect) and not very thick. I read through your advice to others on this and it made me realize that it is part of who I am, and I will have to accept it and be honest with future lovers up front.

I used to have a reputation as a party animal, and a drug dealer of sorts. (college drugs: Pot, Shrooms, LSD mainly - and I used to partake, but I am clean now, and have been.) Instead of being the only one of my friends that was a virgin I came up with a ridiculous lie about all these girls I had "slept" with back in my party days. The lie started with a couple of close friends and spread on to the whole group and people around it. The worst part is, they all believe it. I think one of my friends suspects it is an exaggeration, to say the least. I mean, I would find it hard to believe myself.

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I am a fat (not chubby) man in my early twenties. I am handsome in the face, and am told I have good wit. Now that this lie has infected everyone, I feel it would be impossible to have a relationship with anyone that has heard this.
I have recently moved far away, though. (Not because of this lie, but for other reasons.) My life is shit. So I moved in with the only person that is there for me. He is in the military and married. I need to get a job to not be such a mooch, which makes me feel bad. (not getting the job, but being a mooch). I want to lose weight so I can join the military and better myself. That seems impossible though. I am very fat. I am six foot even, and not sure what my weight is. My pant size is 54. I haven't been on a scale for a long time.

I have gotten better about telling lies, taking my new living situation as my opportunity at a second chance. I can't help but feel like a horrible person though, a failure. I am not good at anything. I play bass guitar, and my friends say I'm really good, but I see plenty of people that are way better than me (not professionals, that would be obvious that most of them have better skills than an amateur). I try to draw, and I'm just good enough to be "good", but not great. I try to write, but I guess I don't have that magic something. I literally don't have any skills that I excel in. I don't know what to do with my life, and I am lost. I don't think I can lose the weight to join the military, and I fear I will end up working at McDonald's for the rest of my pathetic life. I realize this sounds like an incoherent rant, but I can't help it. It may be me venting, or just me being a babbling fool.
In the end my main problems, I think, reside in the fact that I fear I will end up alone. I've never had a girlfriend. I am a virgin with women, I had experimented when I was younger with a male friend and did not like it. Women definitely arouse me. I have came close to being sexual with women before but bailed out before anything beyond making out happened.

I am afraid I will end up dying an unsuccessful loser. I am afraid that I am stupid and unintelligent. I am afraid that no one will ever understand me, mainly because I fear letting anyone inside my brain. Even now, I've probably subconsciously tried to cover up my true feelings and thought processes in this email. I don't know that for a fact, but its a possibility. UGH! I don't know what is wrong with me. You seem to be a very enlightened individual, and I have come to respect your work through my research on your site. Do you think you can help me, Doc?


ask dr-robert

Dear Confused--

Yes, I think I can help you, but mostly by urging you to get some personalized help from a wise and kind therapist in your own part of the world, because a reply from me, although it might help a bit, cannot do for you what really needs to be done, and that is to guide you, step-by-step-by-step, towards a way out of your pain and confusion.

When someone hurts as much as you do, and when ones entire life seems senseless, confused, and devoid of any sense of accomplishment or enjoyment, it may seem impossible to believe that things could ever improve. It is as if a giant ball of yarn was all tangled up and spread out on the floor, so that even trying to find out where to begin untangling it seems unfeasible. There is so much yarn, and so many kinks and tangles: "Where do I even start?" That is why I recommend therapy for you as a practical necessity. First you need help in getting started, and then you will need help in remaining motivated while you make the necessary changes in attitude and action. The getting started part will entail finding a loose end of the yarn on which you can begin working (you don't have to solve all the problems at once) and the remaining motivated part will involve the therapist's knowing and believing that you can get this mess untangled even if, at present, you do not believe that yourself. In other words, the therapist will be both a guide, and an advocate.

ask dr-robert

If you were my client, here is what I would try to help you to accomplish:

  1. Begin to eat healthy food in a proper quantity, as well as beginning a program of daily exercise. Gradually, this will bring your physical body into proper form which certainly will give you much more confidence.

  2. Begin to understand that you do not have to be "great" at anything to find enjoyment in life. If your friends tell you that you are a good bass player, it's probably true. Are there better bassists? Of course; there is always a faster gun. I'm no Vladimir Nabokov . . .

    ask dr-robert

    . . . but that doesn't stop me from writing about life, love, and psychotherapy here on my website. If you can play the bass, do it! Music is good for the soul. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. This is your life. The other bassists, the ones to whom you have been comparing yourself, are out there making music. Now it is your turn. As in the old advertisement for Nike running shoes, "Just Do It."

  3. Begin to investigate your sexuality in a kind and accepting way so that eventually you will be able to form a sexual friendship with another human being.

  4. Begin a journey towards real self-esteem, removing the notion of a "loser" entirely from your way of thinking, and replacing it with the understanding that you, along with everyone else, have a perfect right to be here in this world and a perfect right to seek ways of being which will make you happy no matter what you may need to do to earn a living.

You may be thinking that this is just pie-in-the-sky, and that such changes are beyond you, but that would be incorrect. The understanding that you have brought to the small penis issue shows me that you can hear a useful point of view, understand it, and begin to work with it. That is what you will be doing in therapy, and I urge you to begin as soon as possible. If money is a problem, inquire at a local hospital about low-cost psychotherapy in your area.

I understand that in your present state of mind—a sense of defeat and failure--the idea of therapy might seem daunting, but please don't let that stop you. You are still young, and things can change in ways which at present you cannot imagine. A few years from now you could be feeling just fine. I have seen this happen countless times, and although I have not met you, I can begin to picture you having lost weight and regained your bodily health, playing your bass in a band on the weekends (even if a job at MacDonald's has to pay the rent), and hanging out with your girlfriend after your gigs. A dream? At present, yes, but dreams can come true when effort is applied in the right direction.

Don't let your present doubts and fears stop you from getting the help you need. Do not give up. Find a helping hand somewhere, and "Just Do It."

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