Thoughts with Richard Bleil
The mind is a strange thing. We have memories, but how do we know what we remember is accurate? It’s been said that we always remember the past as better than it was, and I have friends who have repressed memories towards that effect.
An old, long-lost friend of mine decided it was time for her to give therapy a try. Therapy is an interesting process. I was told that about a third of people don’t respond to therapy at all, a third improve, and a third get worse. She got worse. As she went through the processes, memories began arising of her father abusing her, memories she had long-since repressed completely. As the memories began to surface, she reached a point where she just couldn’t stand it anymore and had to stop.
It’s fascinating to me how our mind is so strong that it can sometimes simply decide, and entirely in the background, that some things are far too painful for recollection. It makes me wonder if there are things that are in my mind that have simply been erased. And what we do remember is remarkable.
I was talking with another old friend of mine, and we were comparing memories with one another. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall some of the stories he was telling me of how he remembered me, and he couldn’t recall any of mine. What was an important memory for one of us was lost to the other.
It’s also been shown that some of our memories are not real at all. When I was in therapy, I asked my counselor about this. She told me that it really didn’t remember if the memory was real or not. They’re real to us, and important either way. Early on in my blog I wrote of one of the more important memories to me, symbolic of my life as a clown. How much of this was real, and how much a figment of my imagination? I remember it distinctly, but could it be a complete fabrication? I don’t think so, but whether it was real or imagined, or how correct some of the details might be, it’s a story of ostracization, symbolic of my exclusion even by my friends and family. It’s a story of how I was expected to act in a way that others expected, in a manner that would make my family proud, and want to show me off as if I were some form of trophy. Was it real? Either way, it’s a painful memory for me, and a story that reflects the way I was raised and treated even if the memory isn’t real.
Today I struggle with memories associated with the summer. I’ve had a lot of bad things happen in the summer. My separation, my divorce, my mother’s death, my father’s death all occurred in the summer. I was also married in the summer, which should be a happy marriage, but sadly because of how it ended even that memory has been tainted. I don’t dwell on these memories, but I often find myself depressed in the summer, especially around June and July, often without even realizing why this should be until I think about it and realize how difficult my summers have been. Today I’m surrounded in my house with garbage, dirty dishes and a desperate need to clean, all put off, no doubt, because I’m feeling blue. Sadly, my surroundings tend to reflect the state of my emotions, and right now I’m struggling.
I desperately need to replace many of my memories. My then-wife and I used to go to ren fairs in the summer, and she would often fight with me, over trivial issues, when we did. A week from today I’ll be traveling to my “home fair” in Sioux Falls, which is always fun, and good for me to make new memories. I’ve started doing summer adventures, such as last summer when I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. This summer I want my adventure to be ziplining. Sadly, many of the memories I wish to replace were created with a woman who I thought loved me, but today I am very much alone. I find that trying to replace those memories with new ones when I’m without a love, it’s not terribly effective. But I’ll continue. The reality is that we cannot consciously choose which memories our minds keep, and which to delete. If we could, I have a lot of emotional and mental baggage I would unload, but as it is, I guess I’ll end up carrying these heavy memories with me for the rest of my life.