"No memory is ever alone; at the end of a trail of memories,
a dozen trails that each have their own associations.”
Memories are interesting things. They can be elusive and we can make them intractable by constantly repeating them to ourselves and others. They can also be beautiful tools to help understand ourselves, and rarely are they factual or objective. Our memories tell us about our perspective of people, things, and events. We can get many people in a room and have them talk about their memories of the same event, and everyone will remember it differently.
With my father, he loved to repeat stories over and over again, and they become unchangeable in his mind. This happens with all of us. Yet these memories or stories help us to understand us and others. What we remember, how we remember, the words said that we remember, and our reactions to our story help us to understand our unconscious. I love it when I facilitate constellations for others in a workshop setting when the client talks about an important and impactful story in their lives, and we set up the important people involved as representatives to help them to see their story from a different and greater lens as well as to help them to see dynamics at play in that story between the people involved. The client most always has a set way of viewing people and events, and they are shown by the movements of the representatives a very different story. It can be very illuminating.
Images are helpful for us to take something so close to us that we can be blind to something important and to take it away from us so that we can see it more clearly. One of the stories of my father’s involves a hike up a mountain with two other siblings and myself. In his story, he is a hero and superhuman. In my story, he put us in danger and we were very lucky that nothing bad happened. The bigger truth is not so simple. My dad needed to be big and a hero and save others. I have written about this aspect of my father in earlier blogs. I didn’t have a very strong hold on myself at that time. Without going into the fuller details of this story, we both view this event differently. I finally had a chance to tell him my perception of what occurred on that mountain on a short trip back to Estes Park last year. He started to tell his version and I told him how that differs greatly from mine, and yet I can see why he sees it the way he does. Then I told him how I see the story, and he did hear me. It did make an impact and he understood how in my eyes, it was hurtful to my siblings and myself.
We all have situations like the one above, and we all don’t have an opportunity to tell our truths to the person involved. I was very grateful for that opportunity. A memory I have of him which gives me pleasure also involves us as young children. We had moved to a new city and lived in a suburb where we didn’t know many people yet. My mother was having great difficulty. My dad worked until late afternoon or early evening, and I remember as it was getting close to the time he would come home, we would sit on a cement wall at the entrance to our subdivision and wait for him to drive up and surprise him. He loved to drive convertibles at that time, and he would wear a baseball cap. He would stop his car and let us in and we would all go for a ride in the convertible feeling the air move all around us. Then we would come home and sit with him as he ate dinner, or we ate dinner together. He could still be the hero and we could enjoy him at his best.
Memories can be helpful, and they can also be hurtful in that by constantly repeating certain memory/stories to us, it can be harder for us to change perspectives in order for us to do our own inner, healing work. As we are learning, as we change our inner stories, we can change our lives. In using them as a tool to understand us better, they can be incredible helpers. What memories do you have that are enhancing your life, and what memories do you have that you keep repeating as internal stories that are keeping you back? They can be a great tool to live the vibrant, healthy lives we would all like to live!
Change Your Story/Change Your Life:
Again, get a sheet or two of paper and a writing utensil. As you sit down to prepare to write, first take a couple of deep breaths and calm your mind and come to a place of quiet. This may take a few minutes. If your mind doesn’t fully quiet, that is ok, just breathe deeply a few times to bring an interlude from your previous activity. Write down the first memory that comes to you….. doesn’t matter if it is a bad or difficult memory or a pleasant one. How does this memory make you feel? Is it a good feeling, a bad feeling, an uncomfortable or unsettling feeling, what? Ask yourself if this is a memory you come to often… a repeating one. Now, write down a memory that you don’t often think of. It might take awhile for one to come to you. How does this one make you feel? Next, write down the same memories from the point of view of another person in your memory. How would that other person view the same experience (of course this is from your own mind’s eye)? Looking at this memory from another perspective, how does it make you feel? Is there any difference or not?
Do this writing exercise for 3 days in a row. Afterward, re-read them and see what you gain from them?
Again, I would love to hear from you as to how this exercise works for you if you are so moved.