In my last article about those dear to us and their memories, I tried to explain why funerals are ceremonies I do not like to partake in. that article had a very poetic end so to speak. But there is more to it.
The journey to come to accept that stance despite what I believed would be disdain from friends and relatives started way before that, in a place most unusual.
So allow me to take your hand and walk into my past again. Don’t worry it’s not anything as sad and traumatic as the last.
So for the longest time I grew up the youngest of a family of four children. As most lastborns I was sort of dotted on and spoiled. Then one day, suddenly and, in hind sight, traumatically all that changed.
In the same day we moved away from the home we knew to a new one, my mother did not come with us, we were introduced to a new mother and a new set of siblings. Overnight a family was torn apart and a new one made. I shall not bore you with all the details but we had all the drama that a mixed family would have. I was part of a blended family. But that’s not important.
What important is that for the first time I felt alone to deal with the issues that came my way and I was grossly unprepared, I was seven years old after all. And so what I lacked in maternal care I found in books. Reading gave me a space away from space, into a world full of wonder and with it my imagination grew.
It also allowed me to get closer to my mom. She had always been a prolific reader and each after noon you would find her in her room, ciggy in one hand and book in the other reading. So my new found love for books allowed us to share something we now both enjoyed.
Books were my reprieve. And so I read every chance I get. I was that child who had a book on their lap in class and would sneak peeks during lessons. I consumed all written material I could find including a massively huge unabridged volumes of 20,000 leagues under the sea. I loved and collected books since then and read almost a book a week, sometimes in fewer days, depending. Many hours meant for sleep were spent on reading books.
So you can imagine my shock when books no longer held the same level of excitement. Books created much more anxiety than excitement. Thrillers would leave me tired and drained and I did not know why. It was like my heart and mind could no longer handle the thrills. Imagine a sprinter suddenly developing a weak heart valve and every exertion left them weak and breathless.
It was the same with movies. The tension was too much for me. I did not know it at that time but I had had a long time issue with anxiety but that in another post. So I gave up horrors and dramas, then certain thrillers and now I scroll through movies so I don’t have to deal with the tension. Weird right, because that the whole point of the movie is to enjoy that build up. I noticed it first with movies because well its in your face most of the time. Where I thrived on dramas and thrillers and fantasy, I had to first make sure I knew how it ended before I committed because the final reveal, especially if it was bad, was becoming too much for me.
Then I noticed it in books. And you know with books you have to actually read to be able to grasp the story and now reading was causing me palpitations. So I gave up and switched to more matter of fact books. Books on more practical stuff. No more wild rides down the lane with the lions of Narnia or the pirates of the high seas.
But then something strange started happening with the matter of fact books. If a concept was oh so exciting or complex it’s like my brain would over heat and I would have to put the book down and come back later. And If I really needed to understand concepts it felt like I had to read word by word with a pencil and paper to help me keep my thoughts in order or else they would blend into this mess of word and I would be 2 pages down and realise I hadn’t understood shit. Like I was day dreaming.
Of course around this time I was deep in the throes of my first major depressive episode though my Christian upbringing christened it an as attack of the devil. That again, is a story for another day. I was too young and too ignorant and a tad bit self-assured to know what I was doing let alone know what was going on. So I powered through it and somehow finished university.
Which bring me to today, this moment in time, writing this and bearing my soul to strangers and the potential back lash that could happen if people don’t like what one says. I can sit here and type this out because I have learned or rather I am learning to take the journey into self, to slowly unpack and identify, without bias, the aspects of my life that need attention and take responsibility of them. To know where I was the victim or the aggressor, to know where I could have done more or should have done less, to recognise when I was powerless and what my actual powers are and take stock but More than that to know where I can and should take action.
Taking responsibility is hard. It’s hard because it forces us to confront the fact that our failures might have entirely been our fault and doing. It reveals to us that perhaps the success we are so proud of was not entirely because we are amazing but sometimes luck and chance. Both realisations are terrifying and shake our sense of self to the core.
It allows us to walk back into time and apportion blame and assign responsibility on those who have earned it. But more than that it allows us a door back into the present also where, empowered and unburdened of unnecessary baggage we can take the steps we need to finally fulfil that potential we always felt we had but never realised.
So what does that have to do with not burying my friends? Well if I never visited that first day with faith I would have never known why or investigated it enough to be at peace with my choices now. I am not perfect but it has become my modus operandi. I will always ask why and where and who and how?
The revelations we find there may not all be pleasant but they most definitely are not bad. Taking responsibility or at least being honest with yourself, For me, has always been the first step in correcting a situation. It might mean recognising the root of your insecurities lies in a past hurt or trauma, but know that you can do things to alter that trajectory and create new futures. It might also mean accepting that you are not yet willing or ready to make a needed move. That too is progress.
Sometimes the long way is the only way home…