Successive losses that wear away at the Self. Eroding the familiar "I" slowly, over time, like water on soft stone until, later, little is recognisable. Misshapen, only the careful attention of an archaeologist can piece together the original form. There is no escaping the relentlessness of the grief. It is an invisible grief... there is no funeral, no wake (though occasionally there are flowers). Largely nothing to signify the extent of the decimation of a life that once was. Only rubble. Ego death.
The loss of roles, skills, abilities. Each quietly slips away, unheralded. Try holding on to them, they slip through the fingers. A sense of inevitability... powerless to halt the erosion.
Often there is a new identity, that is unwelcome: disabled, welfare recipient, sick, dependent, unemployed, pitied. These jar... the ego rejects them, they're not "me", not "I". There was a time when the "I" was other things, and maybe there will be a time when a new "I" forms. In this in-between, there are only these labels, not adopted but imposed from outside... these are the new "I". Try them on... they don't fit well. "Not me! Not "I"!" the ego cries.
In a world that idolises the ego, serves its vanity, where status is god, to lose identity is to lose status, and to lose status is to lose identity. Ego death is terrifying, painful, traumatic and invisible to most. The potential for liberation, of finding a new "I", is there; the death and loss of the Self a prerequisite.
Relentless erosion, until there is nothing. Until, perhaps, a new.
This piece was first published on Sally K Burch's Just ME blog in October 2015.