Facing Death and Learning to Live
Story from a PsychAlive member.
A close friend died recently and I felt the pain of loss in a way that I did not know existed. I have never experienced the death of someone who I felt really close to before. It brought the reality of death to my consciousness and I became frighteningly aware of how fragile we all are. I became aware of how fragile my body is and of how indiscriminate death is. With this realization I felt how precious my life is, and how each moment and each exchange with a loved one is meaningful and extremely fulfilling.
However, slowly as time has gone by, I have realized that I have been losing that precious feeling about my life and the pain of death, replacing it with an old familiar feeling from my childhood. I grew up feeling unloved and unlovable. Those feelings have been creeping back into my thoughts, and I have been taking any little event and twisting it to prove my point. I had come to the point where rather then feel the pain of death I was almost relieved to revert back to a familiar pain that, while not exactly pleasant, was easier for me to deal with. Instead of feeling the joy and sadness of a touching moment with my partner or a loved one, I was hearing an old voice in my head telling me, “You know he doesn’t really care about you, don’t you? It’s all just a pretense.” Or “You aren’t someone people really like to be around, are you?”
My self-attacks would have me re-write my own history, wipe out friendships and loving feelings that have lasted for years, rather then face the fact that it will end. The end will be final and there is nothing that can save me from it, or save those that I love. The only way that I have found to feel myself again is to savagely attack those voices in my head. I would rather live a life of reality and feel love, friendship, pain and loss, than live in a world of self-hate where death does not have that much importance. If you don’t love your life and those in it, you don’t have much to lose, but you have missed the opportunity to gain so much. I don’t want to let life pass me by, I value it too much, and I am discovering that by staying vulnerable, I am better able to deal with those painful feelings.
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