Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It’s all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.
— Chuck Palahniuk
"I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited." — Jorge Luis Borges
“When you have gone through all the layers of the self, its inmost nature, its essence, is nothing. You are nothing.”
— J. Krishnamurti, Public Talk 5, Madras (Chennai), 7 January 1978
People you love become part of you — not just metaphorically, but physically. You absorb people into your internal model of the world. Your brain refashions itself around the expectation of their presence. After the breakup with a lover, the death of a friend, or the loss of a parent, the sudden absence represents a major departure from homeostasis. As Kahlil Gibran put it in The Prophet, “And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
In this way, your brain is like the negative image of everyone you’ve come in contact with. Your lovers, friends, and parents fill in their expected shapes. Just like feeling the waves after you’ve departed the boat, or craving the drug when it’s absent, so your brain calls for the people in your life to be there. When someone moves away, rejects you, or dies, your brain struggles with its thwarted expectations. Slowly, through time, it has to readjust to a world without that person.