“Your memory is a monster; you forget — it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you — and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!” -John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
Isn’t that true? I’ve felt this more in the last six months of my life than ever before. Memories sneak up on us…they hurt, they pierce and stab, and sometimes – through a shining glimmer of light- they brighten up our lives because some memories are just so good.
I remember standing on the beach beside my family and watching sunsets. I remember laughing so hard I cried. I remember tender moments that I needed, usually with people who I will never forget and (hopefully) will never lose touch with. I remember standing in a giant onesie with my twin sister.
I remember crying not out of laughter, but out of sorrow. I remember being so mad because of a wrong done to me.
I remember feeling so guilty and horrible because of a way I wronged someone else.
These memories will never go away. They are monsters, to be sure, but they are with me and I’ll be damned if I’m not learning to accept them and welcome them as part of who I am.
Since I’ve been away from Hey Lou Writes and other various aspects of my life, I’ve done soul searching. It’s the memories that have aided me, guided me, hindered me, and eventually have healed me. Today I’d like to propose a toast… that we face our monsters. It’s similar to children, once they reach the age that they realize, “Maybe there isn’t actually a monster under my bed. But I’ll still keep my eyes closed in the dark, just in case.” (which, ahem, is what I do)
Our pasts help define who we are. I have a friend who has proclaimed in her (infinite) wisdom that the past does not exist. Neither does the future. She has easily come to a point in her life where she can truly live in the moment. She knows these moments are fleeting. She feels the sun on her skin. She knows she will cry again. She doesn’t seem to mind in the least. Anyone reading this who knows me personally knows that I simply cannot live this way. Though I’m getting better at living in the moment, I’m far too sentimental for such a way of thinking all the time.
“Cried all night till there was nothing more. / What use am I as a heap on the floor?
Heaving devotion but it’s just no good. / Taking it hard just like you knew I would.
Old habits die hard when you’ve got / when you’ve got a sentimental heart.
Piece of the puzzle and I’m your missing part. / Oh, what can you do with a sentimental heart?”
-She and Him, Sentimental Heart
I wish this wasn’t quite so apt to “be my song” but alas, what can a person do?
I have another friend who laughs and cries and gets angry and loves hard… and she also lives in the moment. She feels things as intensely as humanly possible and thrives off of that – more than that, she is proud to be that way.
Both types of friends inspire me to find my own way.
Let this be the blog where I talk about not one, not two, but three amazing gal pals.
I was talking to another friend (friends can get us through just about anything) and I told her, through what was probably sobs, “I think I’m having an identity crisis.” IDENTITY. CRISIS. Never had one before. Experienced one. Thought it was the end of my days. Thought I’d never quite feel human again.
……… and then this friend said, cool and calm and collectedly……… “Melinda, what’s so bad about that?”
This stopped me in my tracks. Because she was right. So dead on — right. Isn’t life one big identity crisis?
Crisis definition: (n) 1. a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. 2. a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. 3. the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
As long as we choose to recover and make our important decisions, a crisis will never break us entirely. I’ve learned this. And my memories will always be a part of me, helping me further along in something like an identity crisis.
In the end (okay, this isn’t even close to THE END for me, but it feels like the end of what was an immensely difficult time in my life) I know who I am. I can literally feel myself being put back together. Every time I wake up, I am happier. I smile wider. I have new friends, people who will create more memories for me in my life and just might lead me in a direction I’m not even aware of yet.
I can finally sit down, face my laptop screen, and write out a cohesive blog. (Thought that would never happen again! and look at me go! WOO!) I’ve had more alone time than I thought possible and guess what? I’m starting to cherish it. I’ve taken a deep and dark and scary look at my own identity and have found that I like who I am, even with the mistakes… the memory monsters… and what I no longer have. It doesn’t mean I have nothing. In fact, I have more than any person could hope for. How could I, with a roof over my head and a friend to pick up when I call and a warm meal to make just across the room from me, not appreciate life for what it is?
Lou’s back. Memory monsters, identity crisis, happiness, tears, joy, laughter… the WHOLE BIT.
I won’t leave anything out. Oh, and I won’t judge you either. I promise. If life can teach a person one thing I hope for it to be this, “Throw all preconceived notions out the window. Don’t judge. Everyone has their own story.”
Even if it feels like your memory has you, remember, the bright light will come back to your soul. It might take six months. It might take years. It might take until tomorrow morning. No one else can find it for you (sorry). But that’s the beauty of our identities…. we are the only person who makes up US. You are the only person who is YOU. :)
So much love, and I’m happy to be back,