Existential Crisis and Despair: Loss of God and Friendship (dedicated to Richard)

…here i will stand to face your wrath…
while all the others are praying
calm down my heart… don’t beat so fast…
don’t be afraid just once in a lifetime

no rain can wash away my tears
no wind can soothe my pain
you made me doubt, you made me fear
but now i’m not the same

you took my wife, my unborn son…
torn into the deep of the ocean
i don’t pretend that i love you
’cause there is nothing left to lose

This song by Wolfsheim, “Once in a Lifetime,” is for anyone who has suffered loss and feels like shaking one’s fist at God.  I identify with it acutely because–replace “wife and unborn son” with “friendship which meant more to me than any other platonic/non-family friendship,” “friendship which I thought would last forever.”

I’ve always had trouble making friends because of an extreme shyness and quietness; I’ve always been the introverted kind, preferring a few close friends to a whole bunch of acquaintances.  Lose one, and that loss of the one is felt extremely, is mourned.

It’s hard to find a replacement, though you also think, Wouldn’t it be desecrating that former friendship to think that it could ever be “replaced” like a worn-out television?

Modern society doesn’t seem to quite “get it” so much, that friendship can be so close and dear to you that it’s devastating to lose it, that the grief is deep and long-lasting.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus still feels the pain of Judas’ betrayal, 2000 years later.  The Bible makes no mention of it, but David must have suffered when Jonathan was killed.

It does say that the bond between them went beyond the love of a woman; some have tried to make this somehow homosexual, but that’s just trying to make sex somehow have to be linked with love for it to be that deep and meaningful to you.

Anyone can have meaningless sex with a prostitute; love is not about satisfying your happy parts; that’s not necessary for love.  Modern society does not give platonic friendship the respect it deserves.

Pop music is full of songs about lost romances, but not so much about lost friends (though “Judas” by Imperative Reaction does fit).  So when you want to find comfort in song lyrics, love songs are pretty much all you’ve got.  Fortunately, I have the kind of imagination that can identify and associate familiar feelings no matter what the media, so I find them in all sorts of places and storylines….

Even when you try to Google for webpages and groups to help you deal with lost friends, or dealing with grief, most of what you get is about divorces and death.  People see Frodo and Sam in the movies and think they must be gay lovers to have that close of a bond.

No, there are friendships which are like that and have nothing to do with sex, friendships which, when lost to death or breakup, are at least as soul-searing as any romantic loss.  And you have to go through a whole grieving process which could take years, depending on how meaningful it was to you, and how sudden the loss.

My own loss of such a friendship–and discovering that my friend’s character was not at all what I thought it was, that it could all have been an act by a narcissist, or ruined by a successful smear campaign–to be again devastated a year later when I discovered the horrible violence he is capable of–

It made me want to shake my fist at God.  It made me doubt God’s very existence.  I wanted to scream at God: “I prayed for a friend.  And THIS is what you brought me?  What are you playing at?  Do you even exist?”

It has been so shattering that I still can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s all a lie, that there is no God, that when I die I will vanish into nonexistence, that there is nobody up there listening, or trying to help me, that I’m praying to people who are dead and gone and can’t do anything for me.

I do still love God, but do I love God or an illusion of God?  Are You real at all?  Mere humans are not supposed to strike bargains and ultimatums with God, but I want You to prove Yourself real….But I can’t base my faith on that.

But on what can I base it?  Is there anything reliable or is it like all the ghost hunter shows I watch, could be real or could be an illusion made up for the audience, or somebody’s schizophrenic hallucination made into a revelation from a deity.  How do I know any of this is true?

For many months (back in 2010 and early 2011) I wanted to die, for it all to end, though I would not dream of doing anything intentionally.  (I’ve been there a few times in the last 20 years or so.)

I was plunged into spiritual darkness and doubt.  Not only did my own religion bring back constant reminders of my pain because the friend’s connection to it permeated every single thing about it from the mysteries to the theology–but my friend was gone.

But now I fear death instead, driving me to start getting all of my experiences, dreams, stories, pictures, all down on paper and shared with the world before that unknown day does finally come.  Then I will still “exist” even if the atheists are proved correct.

It can’t all be for nothing!  My consciousness–what will happen to “me”?  Will I suddenly feel it slip away and then–nothing?  Where will “I” go?  Just blackness as if I had never been?  Who will remember my dreams now?

Every time I hear of a sudden death, the same wondering begins….They were alive, then killed in a car crash, or their last moments were horrid, or they were very young….Was that all they knew at the end and then nothing?  Or maybe caught in adultery and shot to death–was it one moment bliss, the next nothingness?

Other media on this theme:
Ingmar Bergman’s movie “The Seventh Seal“–I’d swear my words are coming out of the knight’s mouth

Dust in the Wind” by Kansas–hearing it a lot lately at the gym

Hamlet” by Shakespeare

Then comes “Find You’re Here/Find You’re Gone,” also by Wolfsheim.  Just transfer the feelings from romance to friendship, and there it is, that feeling that it’s all slipping away from you.  That so much crap has been done that you can no longer make it work, that you’re not sure how much you want it to, anymore.  When the infatuation of first friendship is gone and you know the true person and they’re not what you thought they were….

While love would mean that you still love that person, warts and all, there are some warts which cannot be borne, those of bullying/abuse, violence and narcissism.  I found this video and began watching it one night while we were on vacation with friends in the Dells back in June, and I sat in the room watching videos while the guys played some Magic-type game.

At the time, I had only just discovered my ex “friend” had been reading my blog, and instead of coming to me for forgiveness (as I had hoped, and had dearly hoped for for two years), he decided to twist the knife in even further and then stomp on it.  His true character became vivid, real to me.  I identified with the look in the singer’s eyes, the disgust, couldn’t help thinking,

If I would lose you now
I’d simply say: “It’s destiny!”

When I wake up I find you’re gone
There should be grief but I feel none
Trying to leave the night behind
I hardly get my thoughts in line
But there is one thing I could say
It seems I’m glad… I find you’re gone

And yet, there’s still,

You know it’s wrong… you know the way…
But do you really want to stay?
A sudden thought… a thing to mind…
It would be only wasting time…
No matter how hard you will try…
It’s just a feeling passing by

The process of grief begins anew…..The mourning process all over again…..

During the third season of “Being Human”–the UK version, not the copycat American one–the roommates and best friends of Mitchell, the vampire, discover (in Wolf-Shaped Bullet, season 3) that he was the one who murdered a score of people on the subway.  This was such a heinous, disturbing crime that when Nina found out the truth (before anyone else), she threw up in horror.

When I saw that scene on August 20, 2011 (in The Longest Day, season 3), I knew how she felt, having found out about the child abuse charges against Richard on 7/1/11.

I identified with her again as she did what she must–gave the police an anonymous tip, which I had had to do to CPS in March 2011.  There are times when you just can’t let friendship keep you from doing what is right.

Then when the other friends found out, including the ghost Annie who was in love with Mitchell, they felt forced to turn away from him.  Annie had been murdered by an abusive fiance, so she refused to help Mitchell, saying,

“Maybe you were happy to see those people bury their mums and their dads and their children. With no sense of–no justice. Maybe you thought that we were worth it. What the hell made you think I would?”

Then George, Mitchell’s best friend, said to him, “And you killed all those people. You don’t say my name now. You don’t even look at me now. You are not my friend. You better go. Your boss is waiting.”  He screamed at him, “You are dead to me!”

I discovered “Being Human” during the first several months of dealing with the loss of my best friend.  It was both comforting and painful to see a show about friendship, people bonded very closely together.  Then art began to imitate life as Mitchell’s actions led to this disruption.

But in the end, Mitchell redeemed himself with a sacrificial death by George’s hand, which Mitchell begged for, so that he would stop killing and not be the tool of their nemesis.

Oh if only Richard will redeem himself as well, in a way that’s not nearly so drastic of course, but in a spiritual manner of repentance and forgiveness.

From chronologies I’ve found online, I saw Wolf-Shaped Bullet around 9/10/11, which was also around the time I discovered through the newspaper, the details of Richard’s charges.  Richard had choked his daughter to unconsciousness, she told the police, he admitted it.  So those words kept echoing in my mind: “You are dead to me!”

For these songs, movies, plays and shows to be so powerful, the writers must have been in the same place in some way at some point.  I admire how well they polished these jewels.  Maybe one day, I’ll be able to turn this all into some work of art that’s just as meaningful, and evokes the same feelings in others…..

An existential crisis may result from:

  • The sense of being alone and isolated in the world;
  • A new-found grasp or appreciation of one’s mortality;
  • Believing that one’s life has no purpose or external meaning;
  • Awareness of one’s freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom;
  • An extremely pleasurable or hurtful experience that leaves one seeking meaning;

An existential crisis is often provoked by a significant event in the person’s life — marriage, separation, major loss, the death of a loved one, a life-threatening experience, a new love partner, psychoactive drug use, adult children leaving home, reaching a personally-significant age (turning 20, turning 30, turning 40, etc.), etc. Usually, it provokes the sufferer’s introspection about personal mortality, thus revealing the psychological repression of said awareness. —Existential Crisis