The thing about memories is, we all remember things differently. So one person could experience the exact same event, but their perception of the event, the details, the feelings, even the outcome of the event could be vastly different.
We remember the things that we want to remember and some times we remember the things we want to forget.
Like the heated argument that brought out the worst in us, the coldness that crept into the relationship because of the differing views on decisions.
The feeling of being polar opposites with someone you once felt so close to…even called friend. And had memories with…so many memories.
But memories are funny little creatures.
We can try to suppress, depress, repress and digest them, but they can pop up all over the place reminding us of a happier time or revealing a little unburied hurt that we thought was forgotten long ago.
Especially around the holiday season when families gather around, expectations are high and the memories start to flow.
We don’t get to choose which ones that our brain will commandeer for us to re-live, they just start playing over and over like an old frame by frame projector on the big screen.
Waking us from a deep slumber with sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat because the pain felt so real.
This Christmas season in particular has been more difficult for me because I know that two of our children won’t be with us (we are a blended family, so if you are in this camp, you understand the fragile nature of these circumstances we find ourselves in every holiday). Even though they are grown children, it is still so hard to let that go.
While I am thrilled to be with our oldest son and other relatives, there will be two empty spots at the table…along with all the of the loved ones that have passed on.
Thankfully, and hopefully, next Christmas our two youngest will be able to be with us to celebrate Christmas, but there is a chance at least one of them won’t due to career choices and other choices as well.
That’s another thing about memories, we can go back into our vault and pick out the times that we remember how close we were to someone and try to figure out when it all went wrong.
The dialogue in our head can sometimes look a little like this…
Was it something I said?
Should I have shown them more attention?
Did I overwhelm them with my opinions?
Did I not say enough?
How did I fail them?
Why don’t they want a relationship with me anymore? Well, I guess that is that and its over…
But here’s the thing about relationships and memories, our own personal narratives color how we see others.
We see it all through a lens of our own hurts, private pain and regrets.
We sometimes put or project our choices or words onto the other person without even realizing that we are doing this.
Thus in effect creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.
She never calls me anymore so she must be mad at me.
He didn’t text me back after I sent him a nice text, he must not be interested in me any more.
Why didn’t she email me back after she asked me to send her that invitation?
I knew they didn’t really like me, but were just using me…and the narrative in our brain goes on.
Meanwhile the other person missed your call, didn’t see the text, the email is lost in cyberspace and they do like you…
Or maybe all the things that we dream up in our brains are true, but there is more to the stories and we are afraid to face truth.
Maybe just maybe we build walls so we won’t be hurt, so as soon as someone gets close to us, we start planning out all the ways the relationship will cause us pain and decide its just not worth the effort.
I am personally making a declaration of sorts, a taking back of my own decision of which memories I get to dwell upon and while I can’t just pick out the bad apples of memories and toss those in the garbage, I CAN choose my reaction to the way those hard and painful memories make me feel.
I CAN also choose to remember the good, like a highlight reel of sorts so when the hard ones come on strong, I CAN sift and sort through it all looking for the gems of truth and happiness that bring the JOY that can settle deep into the heart of what really matters.
If you are dealing with pain, loss and a relationship that is strained, I challenge you to try this with me.
Let’s try to focus on the good and try to find something that is redeeming about that relationship. I am not suggesting to become a doormat and let people who are abusive walk all over you, that’s a whole different and delicate issue.
I am talking about every day hurts and pain…
Even if that person is no longer on this earth and caused you a painful memory, maybe you can choose to try to find something good, maybe the memory is just that you are no longer hurt by them and can walk in freedom.
Every person is different as our memories are different. So your story is complex and filled with so many variables.
It’s not a magic formula or a one size fits all recipe for dealing with painful memories, but it is worth a shot…we can be hopeful when we put our HOPE into something far greater than our own flesh and blood.
This scripture has helped me so much lately,
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal”.
So while my own personal circumstances might never change, relationships that once were strong might be weak or even non-existent, one thing never changes…the ROCK.
I am choosing to cling to the memory of all memories.
August 2, 1991 when I gave my heart to the Rock for eternity.
Because of Him.