Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Emotional memories

Lately, I've been thinking of going back through my files, journals, etc. etc. to find the evidence that supported my decision to spend those 5 years with x. Turns out, it was by far the worst relationship of my entire life. Yet I do remember a time when I felt, wrote, and believed that he was "my love, my life, my destiny".

How could my feelings have swung so extremely; from one end of the spectrum to the other in a mere 5 years? Am I bipolar? Is he? How could I have made such a bad decision? Maybe going back to the writings I made at the time we were getting together, would help me remember the reasons I made the decisions I did.

I don't do it though. The thought of reading my feelings from those days is exhausting and scary. I'm not ready to face that version of me, head on. I'm not ready to re-live some of those feelings; the memories are hard enough and they are fading.

Common wisdom maintains, and experience generally confirms, that ultimately we remember the good for longer and with better recollection than the bad. But does this remain true when the experience is REALLY bad? Do the biggest pains dull as quickly as the little ones? Do the good memories and feelings have enough power to overwhelm the really bad memories?

Here's a scary thought: What would happen if you had so few good memories that they just weren't enough to fill your mind, so the bad ones stayed with strength too?

So.... do we make decisions based on feeling good, and betting that if we make a decision in a particular direction we will continue to feel good tomorrow?

1 comment:

galpalval said...

I think whether one looks back and sees the positive or negative of a relationship can depend on the person. If I look at my mom, she has carried a grudge for 20 years against my father- my entire life I cannot remember a single, positive impression of their relationship or interaction. Any good memories (and I find it hard to believe there were any) were stomped dead. To contemplate that there were good memories that may drown out the bad may be your optimism and love of life.
However, I do think we often go into relationships with such a positive perspective, that we ignore any instinct of the problems- you want to think you are wrong or being overly sensitive, critical, etc. about our new love. Relationships and marriage represent our soceity's collective optimism.
In 1998, I copied the following in my journal from Diane Schoemperlen's book of short stories "Forms of Devotion": "Still I was not willing to concede that love is blind. Rather...I insisted that love makes you see things that aren't there. Things like honesty, integrity, wisdom, courage, the future, etcetera. Love is not blindness. Love is a halucination, the ultimate distortion of reality by which all those parallel lines you've believed in for so long become curves and all perpective is lost."
But, maybe that represents my pessimism!