“Is that really how it went or just how you want to remember it?” via mindset therapy. Earlier this year I talked about one of my relationships and how this person always seemed to remember things differently than I did—or anyone else who was there. It drove me insane. For a long period of time, I had a really good memory to the point it was nearly eidetic—pregnancy hormones took that ability away 6 years ago (still waiting for that to go away, doc). I would literally remember what you were wearing and where you were sitting when you told me something and I could replay the conversation in my head, verbatim. After pregnancy I still remembered a lot but it wasn’t quite as clear but I really struggled retaining new information. So I started holding on desperately to what I could remember. When the pattern this person created used to come up I would become irate because what they said verged on outright lies. We talked recently and my perspective shifted.
There was a long chunk of this person’s life where they weren’t themselves. As we discussed that time period, more and more of my part in it was left out. That was when it hit me: this person isn’t being malicious, they have completely blocked out this portion of their lives. They weren’t cutting me out—they were trying to cut out what happened. That took away the pain of believing they wanted me out of their lives but a new pain erupted. I started to realize that as traumatic as this time was for her, it was just as traumatic for me. You can’t negate what happened in my life because you wiped it out of yours.
I’ve had other relationships to similar effect, and the table has been reversed. There are people who will tell me what I did and I will have no recollection whatsoever of the event. It makes me feel like a different person because how can I have done these things and have no memory? It doesn’t feel like it’s my life when people tell me what happened from their perspective. It’s like watching a video of myself: I can see it’s me, but I don’t have ANY recollection of it. Then I started thinking of my emotions surrounding the actual memories and the perceived memories: In reality, are we all living in a cycle of self-induced trauma? Are we torturing ourselves by telling a story over and over again? One that may not have even happened?
I’ve also learned that the conviction of my youth was often mis-spent. I need my memory now more than ever, especially in this society, so I feel like I wasted a lot of years filling my mind with junk. I spoke the other day of carrying the memories with me and how I always had to make room to continue to carry it with me. I realize now that I did that, I held onto the things of my past because I was so afraid of not remembering what happened. So, on the opposite end of the spectrum is romanticizing what happened and living in a world of imagined perfection, a world of bliss that didn’t exist—at least it may not have played out like that for those around you.
We are so caught up in the day to day, in the race of what we are told to do that we have lost the ability to remain connected with our bodies and our souls. We have dampened the ability to hear what our mind is truly telling us. We live in a state of strain and emotional stress to the point that we can’t tolerate reality. In order to stop that and get some semblance of what we need, of our bearings, we need to stop. We need to slow down the stimulation and learn to be with ourselves. We have great capacity to do things—we just need to listen to how it’s done. Not everything is as it seems—even if we “know” it was. But if we learn to quiet the rush of our minds, we just might be able to connect with more of what IS.