There is a direct correlation between the open ended, uncontrollable event of death and the manifestation of self-destructive thoughts and/or behaviors. The frustratration of grappling with death is complicated by finding one's mind gravitating to old thought patterns that are unrelated, unhelpful and terribly distracting.
Death has been kind to me, as I've been relatively unscathed. My parents were not young when they had me, and even as a child, I played mind games to prepare myself for their inevitable deaths. The one thing I tried to prepare for has so far been unnecessary. They live on, active in their eighties.
My mental calesthenics did nothing for me when four-year-old Faye died from a massive cancerous tumour. Her body grew increasingly smaller, as the visible blue and black growth grew ever larger. I was sixteen, and her naive and ill-prepared baby-sitter.
Most recently was the sudden death of my brother Ken. The news of terminal cancer reached us on the last day of the school year. Two weeks into the following term, we attended his memorial service.
There were other funerals between the parentheses of Faye and Ken. Mostly elderly aunties and uncles, my grandmother who lived happily until the age of niney-five, and some friends' mothers or fathers. My part in those deaths was mostly thinking of the people who were close to the deceased. It didn't seem to have a direct impact on my day to day living.
There were also the less measurable deaths of friendships. Some were dark and ugly. Like my best friend deciding to give her virginity to my very recently EX boyfriend. That was a death to me. Our shared group of friends died along with her and him. They were frightened of my pain, and hid away. It seems that to them, it was me who had passed away. I limped away, alone, and my disloyal brain simultaneously turned on me, engaging full time in detrimental patterns of thought and belief.
Mental illness maimed another friendship. My legs felt amputated at the knee. My lungs lost half their capacity. My heart constricted and expanded wildly. My entire body was filled top to bottom with fear and nervous energy. I was propelled into completely foreign territory without so much as a moments notice.
So why dwell on the sadness of the past?
What good can come of it?
What can we learn from the patterns observed?
It appears that the blobby grey mass that lies beneath my tresses requires some reprogramming. It is wired to a default switch that is tripped when the uncontrollable agony of death is forced upon it. It instantly suits up in lycra and hits the track, hard. At some psychological level, it has been indoctrinated to believe that if it cannot control the uncontrollable, then it must generate a substitute. Even if the substitute is one hundred percent unrelated to the actual brain pain. The brain is under strict order to spend at least eighty percent of its output on grappling with the chosen substitute.
The outcome? So much energy is diverted from questions that cannot be answered, that it would appear on paper that the original issue has been resolved. Except, that I don't think its working. I think that the substitute begins to grow its own tumours. The substitute appears to be larger than life. It seems that if the substitute could just be evicted, the brain would have complete peace, complete clarity.
But the brain doesn't really want to evict the substitute, because laying dormant underneath it is the original, agonizing, unresolvable horrer of death and betrayal.