When we think of loss, most people think of death. My mind drifted to my beloved father and my dear friend Liz, both going before their time, if we can assume that any of us are entitled to an allotted time. For a lot of us death, is the ultimate loss, perhaps we fear dying, or nothingness, we may be filled with regrets for opportunities missed or not taken, for me the thought of never holding or touching another human being is overwhelming, of leaving loved ones behind. But I believe our spirit goes on, probably not in the same sense as someone with strong religious beliefs, but I believe in a greater spiritual force than just our corporeal form, and I’ve taken strength from that.
Perhaps though there are greater losses than death, I allowed my mind to wander and I came to a younger me, of 13-14, of a train journey taking me home after school. To a loss of innocence, a feeling of powerlessness and anger, and a loss of faith in human kindness. I was witnessing bullying for the first time.
As I sat in the carriage, silent tears rolled down my cheeks and feeling of anger, helplessness, fear of being next and even stirrings of hatred directed at this group of girls, built up in me. And I wondered why those adults present did nothing to stop this girls’ tormentors, for they were loud and unrelenting, impossible to ignore. The two other things I remember most about that episode, was the delight and enjoyment that group of girls took, no qualms, no conscience, just uninhibited glee. Did any of them regret later their actions, were they haunted in any way, is it carved in their memories, like it is in mine. And as the bullying endured, that young girls face withered, her whole body appeared to shrink, and tears rolled down her face. Her isolation and devastating sadness was palpable. Those same physical and emotional symptoms came back to haunt me, just a short while later at the hands of a so called friend of mine. Was this my penance, but no, I no more deserved this than that little girl on the train.
The loss of innocence, is my own, an outcome born of the cognitive, volitional and emotional choices I made that day, and a regret in having done nothing, has plagued me most of my life. So much so, that when it came time to do my thesis for my clinical hypnotherapy qualification, I thought of her and chose bullying. Perhaps it was a subconscious desire to exorcise my demons, to try and find a greater understanding of why people can inflict some much pain on others, and to why others turn a blind eye. Perhaps even in helping others to overcome the devastation of bullying I can make amends to that little girl, not much older than me, for having failed her.
Some may say I was young, and that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, the forgiveness of others is but a salve, that moment in time helped to form me into the adult I am today. That moment and all the other moments, of joy, loss, pain or love shaped me. We all have our own story, we all have our own way of making sense of this world, the good and the bad. Loss is devastating in any form, every loss is a little bit more gone of us, but it can also be a powerfully positive force, if we choose to learn from it.