the gift of forgetting

subtitle–the curse of remembering

(Please note: Not to be confused with the curse of memory)

This is the bit from Delancey Place that got me started on this particular facet/rant:

In today’s excerpt – total recall, the ability of someone to remember every word they read or hear, has often been lauded as tantamount to a high level of intelligence. The opposite is more often the case. Those with total recall often have difficulty making decisions, and more readily miss understanding the overall point of a book or lecture – because they get enmeshed in an undistinguishable mass of irrelevant details. Forgetting, it turns out, has enormous value for concise understanding and for emotional health

“The act of forgetting crafts and hones data in the brain as if carving a statue from a block of marble. It enables us to make sense of the world by clearing a path to the thoughts that are truly valuable. It also aids emotional recovery. ‘You want to forget embarrassing things,’ says cognitive neuroscientist Zara Bergstrom of the University of Cambridge. ‘Or if you argue with your partner, you want to move on.’

This is returning back to the marriage theme, in case you needed some direction. I’m stating here for the record that the problem in marriage is not always a matter of forgiving and forgetting. Many of us have problems letting go of things. So we hold onto the grudges and the lists of all the injustices that have been done to us. We can’t just let go, that’s for sure. If there is nothing else taking the place of the hurts and the losses, then for sure we will hold onto that pain. But remembering everything? That’s just bad news.

So what should you do, if you only seem to be able to recall the hurt and the pain? You have to fill it up again with good.

And by good, I mean neutral. If you can’t even find the good, if you can’t go back to your beginning and remember what was so good, or that feeling has dissipated so much, then you have to make a new stand. Where you are now.

Ground zero.

And find something you can do together to build up something again.

I finished the book that I mentioned the other day here called  The secret lives of wives : women share what it really takes to stay married by Iris Krasnow. It is not an easy read, Carol. It’s not a manual. It’s a report on the state of marriages that last in America. I would say the most salient point, the take-away, is that women need independence, financial, emotional, and time. But here’s the bottom line, I think.

When I talk to psychologists and divorce lawyers, I ask them what the breaking points are that make it impossible to stay married. The majority of them agree that a long relationship requires these three elements: trust, respect, and intimacy, emotional and physical. (p. 209)

The case that she had just mentioned was one that lacked those elements. And yet, the woman held fast until the breaking point when she demanded that her husband change, but only because she realized that he had been as victimized by his lack of relationship as she was. And she gave him the opportunity to embrace change. And somehow, he did.

So memory gives you the link back to the beginning of the relationship, when hopefully it was open and loving. Remembering is the tool that keeps you bonded to the present. That’s why we have to be grateful to recall the memories, but lose the baggage of all the remembering.

If we can.

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