We often define ourselves by the sum total of our memories. Our sense of self seems tied to a weighty accumulation of remembered moments that we continually add to.
Examined closely, those memories most often function as snapshot collections, doing little more than inaccurately recording events as we imagined they happened.
Although we like to believe otherwise, few of us experience life’s events in their fullness. Instead we filter our experiences through a complex array of personal neuroses, wants, fears, and fantasies. The resulting memories inevitably become nothing more than a collection of skewed impressions around which we build our lives.
Memories come in a vast assortment of flavors. Some are constant and keep us company for years. Others, more fleeting, fade away shortly after their birth. Still others might remain dormant for decades, only surfacing during periods of intense stress or challenge.
And then there are the heartbreak memories. Our heart and existence were suddenly shattered, and we suffered intensely. While life certainly continued, it took us an eternity to find the courage to step back into its flow.
But while healing can and does take place, heartbreak memories seldom completely fade. A lilting melody, the aroma of food, or the touch of silky fabric might suddenly bring those memories back to life. And in that moment all logic flees before the sudden release of intense memories. The maelstrom of emotions we thought we had put to sleep all those years before again sweeps us up.
Feelings of utter loss and hopelessness return to overwhelm us.
While a part of us surely knows that none of this is real, that small voice quickly disappears in the emotional storm raging within.
There is nothing to do except hang on. The storm will eventually pass.
It’s these lingering memories, not the events, that cause the most pain.