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There are memories that shape us, moulding us into who and what we become.
As the years go by, we realise we are nothing more than the experiences that build us.
I don’t know whether it’s the fatigue of lockdown, the loss of my beloved dog that I had to re-home, the recent death of my father-in-law, the finalisation of the end of my 25-year marriage, or the end of a relationship with its subsequent heartbreak and pain—but something has stopped me in my tracks.
Maybe it’s the daily reminder of Facebook memories flooding me as I am transported back to a time when I saw a different future for myself. A time when I trustingly put all my love and faith into the man who ultimately couldn’t keep his promises.
They are funny things, memories. They hold the key to so many emotions and when that amygdala of ours clicks in, we can be bombarded with reminders from another time. A song; a smell; something that we see that can move us back to that place, like we had never left.
As each Facebook memory has brightly lit up my screen in recent days, I smiled. I told myself they didn’t matter and got on with my day.
Until they did matter. Until they f*cking sat me on my ass and I had to be honest with myself and acknowledge that they did matter.
They all mattered because they were moments that I lived. Moments that I treasured. Moments of magic and pain. And these moments cannot be forgotten. There are a million feelings and a thousand thoughts attached to those memories.
I have made the mistake in the past of thinking I need to keep busy. I need to distract myself and that we move on and don’t look back. I mean, I’ve done the work; I’ve picked myself up out of the burning rubble, dusted myself off, and tended to my cuts and bruises. I’ve lovingly healed my wounds and I’m f*cking proud of myself.
But guess what? There are still a few scars. And it’s okay to touch those scars sometimes and still feel a tingle of pain. It’s okay to remember how those scars were formed and where they came from. It’s okay.
It’s in these moments when I’m hurtling toward my past with each memory slapping me in the face along the way. Each word heard, each action like a recording in my brain, every part of my being on notice that I let myself feel it all.
I don’t run away. I don’t busy myself. I don’t lie to myself.
I have learnt to be vulnerable takes enormous courage, which leads to authenticity and that’s how I choose to live my life. I can look at these Facebook memories and know exactly where I was and why I took that photo and right now it’s a tsunami of him. Moments of him.
I think it’s important to remember that our healing and growth is not linear. And in these memories, I can take the path of more growth. They are part of my life; they are gone forever and can never be reproduced, but I get to make new memories.
Things end, but we get to hold the memories. Some are beautiful and some will haunt us—and those are the ones we can learn from.
So I’ve let myself cry, I’ve let myself laugh, I’ve let myself get angry, and I’ve let myself embrace all of these feelings. I’ve reminded myself that letting go of the past doesn’t mean discarding the memories. My past has made me who I am, so those memories are forever part of me.
Tomorrow will be a new day and a new Facebook memory.
The mindf*ck of memories that I now welcome, because right here, right now, in this present moment, I am me because of my past and those memories.