This morning I heard a friend had died.
The four year old girl inside me wails, she can’t understand the loss of her father. A separation she experienced before she had words to understand or memory to remember. Her wordless pain and confusion tear at my soul. I’m unable to distinguish the feelings of my inner child from my adult self. My eleven year old self, distraught by trauma and death, she doesn’t know how to deal with the rampaging destruction she lives through. As a child I learned what excruciating emotional pain felt like. I learned to wail and weep until I could barely breath, then wail more, until I was so exhausted I became quiet; eventually I got on with life again.
As an adult I find my early formed strategies when faced with separation or death come swiftly into play again; I cry until I have no energy left, eyes puffy, nose streaming, I feel horrible but familiar pain. A confused child in an adult body, I cry until I’m exhausted, then, after some time, I get on with life again.
‘When I recovery I will have the courage to admit that I did indeed struggle, that there was a real problem, that I fought for my life and conquered the mountain.’
It has taken years for me to understand that death and separation were triggering such deep wounds in my heart. I now understand this is what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); traumas that have not been processed and instead got stuck in my psyche. These unprocessed memories sit like sleeping snakes in the grass, a snake that suddenly bites when a similar situation triggers the wound again. Eastern philosophy understands this phenomenon as energy that doesn’t pass through us as it should, instead remaining unprocessed and creating whirlpools, or blockages in our energy system; they call these whirlpools ‘Samskaras’. The ‘Samskaras’ block the energy from flowing freely as it should; when a similar type of energy hits that blockage next time it literally sucks us down into the whirlpool of past pain again.
I’ve spent years now unravelling and getting to know the pain of my early traumas, losses and separations; getting to know those small vulnerable girls inside me, my inner children who still hurt. I can now often manage to distinguish between the pain that is actually caused by the current situation and the pain that comes from the past, if by no other way than by my logic; I ask myself if the level of pain actually seems reasonable for the current situation. If I’m in anguished floods of tears over a more distant friends death then I conclude that, although I held this friend in high regard, I think the pain I’m feeling is more than just for her. I think old ‘Samskaras’ are being triggered. These triggers can show up in many guises, although I’m getting better at recognising them they can still find many back doors to get in and sneak up on me unawares.
Today I heard a friend had died. A friend I’ve known for seven years, a colleague, someone who I’ve had a beautiful connection with, albeit from afar. We had a bond, an understanding that we were sharing a small part of our journeys with one another. Her death sent my energy in the direction of an emotional whirlpool, but the whirlpool hasn’t won this time:
My initial reaction was a flood of tears, but amidst those tears I managed to keep my awareness, to stay present, conscious that a whirlpool had opened and was trying to suck me in. I refused to get sucked in. I allowed myself to cry a while, to give my inner child the chance to mourn what she has not completely mourned. I wrote in my journal, about the real relationship I had with my friend. The beauty of our acquaintance and what it had meant to me. Distinguishing this death from the pain of the past it was triggering. As I wrote I had a chance to express my thanks to my friend and to draw a closure on her memory. I then made a decision to stop crying, to find support in a friend, to acknowledge that my old pain had been triggered. Today I’ve felt tired, drained. I’m still not quite sure what it means to mourn a friends death, or how I should go about it, but perhaps there are no rules for that.
One way I have come to understand the pain I have been through as a child is through the teachings of Karma. Karma says that we all come into this world with a unique set of lessons we need to learn for our soul to reach enlightenment. In order to learn these lessons we need the right teachers in life. The fact that I was born to the parents I have and the society I live in is so the conditions are just right for me to be given the lessons I need in order to learn what I need to learn. This has brought me a lot of peace, it has given me a way to understand what I’ve been through. To know that through the tragedies I’ve lived I have learned some very important things in life. For many years I wished my life had been different, I felt helpless, desperate for a way to erase the past. Now, despite some ongoing pain, I would not wish to be without the wisdom and depth my life has cultivated in me, thus, I would not wish to be without the traumas I went through.
In my journey to heal and come to terms with my past I have found a strong belief in a higher power, in a world of energy that we cannot see or fathom, a world that has depths far beyond the material matrix we see. Some call this God.
As I read this tribute to my friend (written on her Facebook page) I see death in a new light.
‘Beautiful friend… May you rest in peace. Or actually, I wish that you will continue to dance in another place, a beautiful and better place than our little world. Love to your husband and children.’
I do believe there is something beyond this life. What it is I have no idea and believe we probably can’t comprehend it from the limited world in which we live. My friend has moved on, her lessons in this life have come to an end. She must leave this world, as we all must one day.
As she dies her death becomes a lesson in the lives of those she has left behind. For me a mild encounter with death, mild enough for me not to have got entirely swept away in my own past, so helping to heal some of my wounds. For her children, like me when I was young, it will be a much more intense lesson; pain is nearly always the path to growth.
In memory of Denise Krosness. A beautiful soul.
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