Saturday, August 9, 2014
Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
Memory is not what you think it is.
We think memory is like a video recording, collecting an exact record of what you saw and felt at the time the memory was created, but it is rarely just that. It's also a collection of feelings that have changed since then, say towards a person, or desires of when something happened and what you wish had been said, instead of what really happened.
This is why I always try to record my thoughts, somehow, of events as soon as they have happened, especially if they are important to me. And even getting them written down, hoping they are unmolested by memory's delusions, they already are before they even leave my fingertips.
I can say an ex treated me wrong, but there is just as likely a chance I mistreated him in much the same way I'm thinking he did me. Obvious projection brought on by guilt, with a touch of immaturity... basically, "No I didn't, you did!" And likely the same thing happens with my ex. Either of them.
Being part-OCD as well as depression didn't help. It made matters worse.
But still I look at old entries and I can at least recognize some truths. I wasn't blind to my own faults... I wanted the people I cared about to recognize there was something wrong with me. I think, maybe, if they just said, "You need help," rather than "Stop doing this," that would have maybe been the best medicine. Because "You need help" implies that they don't want to lose you... "Stop doing this" implies that they'd be glad to abandon you if you don't stop your behavior.
Well, not glad to, but willing to.
But that's important to remember about memories, especially with people you were once close to. Whatever drove you apart is likely shaping those memories. One example is a close friend from back home who suddenly one day asked why I would hang out with my cousin. At the time, I bristled at the question, and in fact stopped hanging out with that guy afterwards. It was like he was saying I could do better than my cousin for a friend, and I did not appreciate that at all (he had said the same thing about others in high school, although not to me).
I avoided this friend through the years, which was easy to do as we grew up and apart, although once I started going back home more often over the years, we'd see each other. One day I was talking about visiting my cousin and he asked how he'd been doing. We had a good talk about Dave's stint in the army, and how he'd gotten married a few times and had kids. This friend wasn't putting my cousin down, he just really didn't know anything about him.
Suddenly I realized that all those years I'd been harboring a grudge based on what I thought was a snide remark the guy made, but he hadn't, it was just curious about my cousin, whom he really didn't know. And my feelings tempered my memories of what he asked... I had been the asshole all along.
There are relationships I will never repair, partly because of my own stupidity and jealousy, but not just my own feelings. Our memories are tempered and shaped by other experiences and are an amalgamation of this... knowing this helps, but not always, especially if the relationships are beyond repair.