Wednesday, August 6, 2014

An elephant never forgets

I used to think having a great memory was a blessing. In the blink of an eye I could recall information about something that happened long ago. I could even describe the scene, often times including what we were wearing, eating, drinking, smoking, etc. 
And when people would ask me how I remember those things I would smile, rub my rotund belly and say, "An elephant never forgets."
How could that be bad? All that information at my fingertips! It's great! 
Or not. Maybe it's not so great. Not only can I recall all the fun times but I can also recall the bad ones. The ones I don't want to recall, but there they are, hidden away in that part of my brain that I have tried multiple times to lock away, delete, or expunge. Doesn't always happen. 
A time of day will come along and BAM it hits me. That dark moment in my past I tried to forget washes over me, reminding me, filling me with not only the memories of the event but the memory of how deeply it cut me then. 
Some people say I need to learn to let go. Some folks say I need to learn to "forgive and forget." I nod and smile my surface agreement but know that's not entirely possible. 
See, just because I forgave, doesn't mean I forgot. If there is something in my mind that has affected me deeply enough that I can't forget it, why should I? Because it is a cancer? No, I don't think so. These are the things that shape us and make us who we are. 
Telling me to forget something, no matter how painful, is like telling me to forget a part of me. I can't do that. That memory, that event is encoded into me, hardwired if you will, and I can't simply go in and remove it. I have tried! Oh yes, I have tried! But it doesn't go away. 
Yes, I may have forgiven you but it doesn't mean the pain is any less real. Yes, I may have moved on from it, but it doesn't mean I don't remember what you were wearing, they way you looked, or even whether or not it was raining that day. And just because a smell, a sound, a song, an article of clothing, a piece of material, reminds me of it, doesn't mean I haven't let go. 
We hurt. All of us do. We all have something, some of you more so than others, that is forever a part of us no matter how hard we try to delete it. Don't ask me to let it go. I can't. 

I can forgive, though. I can move forward, albeit a little more cautiously than last time.