The Pursuer you cannot outrun
There’s this idea that hell is a bottomless pit, and that’s because no matter how bad it is, some stupid son of a bitch like you can figure out a way to make it a lot worse. J. B. Peterson
The grim reality of the package deal of meaning in life
Approximately two and half years ago I spent the darkest fall of my life. I had lost one of my very best friends to a series of very unfortunate, ultimately lethal, accidents and misfortunes. In that moment something I had, for better part of my life, taken for granted, taken away from me forever. Up until that moment, from since I was no more than fourteen, I had this one friend I knew I could count on no matter what.
We had faced some really dangerous, crazy adventures together. We had seen a lot, and always joked about how it was a miracle we were both even alive and made it past twenty. Our teachers never believed in us, and we never gave them any reason to. It was just us, a bunch of misfits who people avoided, against the world. To be honest, we never expected to live past twenty and never had any plans for an actual future to begin with, but then something changed. We both finished our schools, got our first actual professions and got somewhere in life. Just when things were starting to look pretty bright for both for the first time ever one of the two lifelines was cut short in the middle of a vacation trip. And my world got a whole lot darker and lonelier.
Hours like days, weeks feel like years, decades of tears – yet somehow everything seems so worthwhile for a moment. Sentenced – Brief is the light
At this point I had spent my fair share of time and thoughts studying psychology, everything my high school had to offer and a whole lot more of whatever I could get my hands on and felt worth studying. I have always been most interested in coping with dark times, surviving the waves of chaos in the most desperate moments. I guess not just out of curiosity, but to prepare so I won’t be completely paralyzed when I find myself in one hell or another sooner or later. Still there is no underestimating the consequences of a major loss in one’s life.
In that state of chaos, when the realization slowly sets in and one still tries to fight it, thinking it must be a nightmare to wake from, maybe it’s a misunderstanding, somehow someone will figure it out and undo the damage, everything else will just volume down and melt into the backdrop behind the stage. Line crossed, no way back, nothing that could undo what has happened. Past the point of no return, only to face a future nobody asked for. The kind of future with dramatically increased sense of death anxiety, and decreased hope and will to continue. How, and more importantly why do we continue?
Brace yourself for the inevitable & survive
There is going to be a lot of pain in everyone’s lives, make no mistake. There is going to be a lot of suffering, and a lot of it is going to be unfair. Not only are you going to die, but everyone you have ever loved will as well, and some of them probably way before you do.
Who are you going to be in your father’s funeral?
There is nothing that can prevent life from happening. We can but fortify ourselves so when the chaos gets us off guard we know how to act and can make sure it’s only a tragedy and not complete hell. There is nothing worse than siblings fighting in their parent’s funeral, and that kind of thing happens all the time.
My most recent big loss is the sudden death of my beloved feline friend Sirius. I got to live two wonderful years with him. We hugged daily, spent every waking minute home together, specially during the pandemic when the only times I even left home were for the store once a week to get supplies and food for us. He spent his nights sleeping on my chest or on a little platform I had made for him next to my bed. Every morning he would wait for me to wake up, and we would walk out of the room together. And no, he wasn’t after food, he was already fed at that point my by brother’s girlfriend. He just wanted the company and hugs. He spent his days sleeping on my computer next to me (I had to disable the power button so he wouldn’t accidentally turn off my computer all the time) and his evenings watching movies next to me or playing with me. The death was unexpected, he was no more than five years old. Just started coughing one morning and refused to eat, so we took him to the vet right away, and they thought it was just some constipation and gave him some basic medicine, told us to wait for fifteen minutes until we could take him home to recover after pooping on the vet table. After 45 minutes of waiting we were given the hard news nobody wants to hear.
All three of us (me, my brother and her girlfriend) were devastated by the news. The most adorable beautiful loyal friendly furry part of our home, of our lives, had been taken away. It felt unfair, it was unfair. We took the best possible care we could. We gave him the best home anyone could hope for, and showed him our affection every waking moment, and still something like this could happen. The emotional spiral of those acute couple of days was just as brutal as it was in numerous big losses in my life before, but one thing was different this time.
We realized the effect it had on us, and stayed somewhat calm and reasonable. I refused to drive, because I knew there was no way I could stay on the road and not endanger others in that state of mind. I saw it beforehand how it could end up with me or others bloody in a ditch crawling from a car wreck – much like it was back in the summer of 2009 in a similar situation. We didn’t storm out on each other, we didn’t fight, we stuck together and took the pain, shared it, carried it together. It was by no means easy, and I’m still in tears thinking about it, but there were a lot of elements that made it more bearable than I know it could have been in the worst case scenario.
What mattered most was that I knew I had always done my best to make that silly cats life the best possible. There was no regrets, nothing I would have wanted to change in the past. He was loved, and his life was good. He returned the favor tenfold, making our lives happier. Nothing was taken for granted, and I’ve had pets in the past enough to have no illusions of their immortality at this age. I knew this day would come, I just hoped it would be ten or even twenty years later. The good times that live on in memories make me still hopeful for the future, and wishful that maybe I can after all apply this approach in other parts of my life as well, and feel the same bitterness and joy on my own deathbed when the time comes.
Life has given me much – maybe taken more, but those good times were always worth waiting for. When it’s time for goodbyes I’ll leave grieving, and yet so relieved, with bitterness and joy. Sentenced – Bitterness and joy
Don’t give up
Best case scenario is preparation, clarity, courage and facing the tragedy with head held high and back straight, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes no matter how hard one prepares and tries, something so horrible happens it could not have been imagined. In those times try to concentrate on the things that are still beautiful in life. Shorten your timeframe as much as need be. If planning the next week seems impossible, try the next day or even the next hour.
If you catch yourself thinking of yourself as a burden to people around you, get professional help immediately. Try anti-depressants. Some of them work for some people, and even though many of them have side-effects, the side-effects aren’t fatal.
If you are feeling suicidal, remember that it isn’t just you that kind of decision impacts. People that take their own life leave behind loved ones that might never recover. Specially if they never had a chance to help, if they never knew. I spent a big part of my life wondering why my godmother took her own life in her twenties, and if there was something a 4-5 year old me could have done about it, even though logically it’s very clear I had little to no impact on her bipolar disorder and other troubles in life. My late grandmother blocked her from her mind completely. She looked at old photos and saw her granddaughter in there instead of her own daughter, even though those photos were taken 30 years prior to her birth. Suicide is probably one of the hardest things for a human mind to comprehend and to deal with, and there’s no underestimating the consequences.
A Wise man once told me that suicide is something you can only do once, but you can always do it tomorrow. It’s a very powerful thing to remember. So put it off, and then put it off some more. Reach out, seek help, and give the loved ones a chance. They deserve it, you deserve it.
Hear these words I say: “Make the most out of your day for brief is the light on our way on this momentary trail.” Hear these words awake: “Make the most out of your day, for brief is the time, so brief is the time that we’re allowed to stay.” Life passes by, melts away like snow in the spring. We all are blind to the running of time. Sentenced – Brief is the light
Sentenced, the grim band that kept me sane through the teenage years
Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street, from the book 12 rules for life by Jordan Peterson Maps of Meaning, Jordan Peterson