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would you erase the memory of past relationships?Not too long ago one of my gal pals came over with a bottle of wine and we plugged Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind into the Netflix queue.  The theme of the movie, if you haven’t seen it, revolves around the consequences of erasing memories, particularly those about relationships, from your mind.  That’s all I say about the movie, except that if you haven’t watched it, you really should.  A few Chardonnays later I couldn’t help mull over my past relationships and whether or not I would choose to erase the memory of them, and if I did, what would be lost along with the memory.

In chronological order of my most significant relationships here goes:

First True Love:  The breakup memory of this one was particularly bad.  So bad, in fact, that I hopped a trans-Atlantic flight and called my mother once I landed at the airport, asking her to pick me up and not ask questions.  Would I erase the memory of the relationship?  Not sure.  It’s fun to reminisce about the thrills, but perhaps because so many years have passed, the memories leave me a bit flat.  We’re still friends and talk regularly (yes, it took a while before we reconnected) which is nice –history is always a good thing–and he’s rather famous now so it’s nice to pull out the “I knew him when” card, but I guess I could go either way on this one.  Although I suppose it’s rather sacrilegious to erase the memory of your first love…

College Boyfriend:  I’ll keep those.  He was fun, and I frequently refer to a couple of valuable life lessons that I learned from him.  I had dinner with him not too long ago and was delighted with the ease at which we were able to converse as if scarcely any time had passed.

First Husband:  Doesn’t show up on my emotional radar screen.  Go ahead and erase.  But the value in those memories is in the lessons learned, and karmic law states that if you erase one set of hard-learned lessons the universe will find a way to make sure you show up to class…and take notes…

Father of my Children:  Wow.  There’s a tough one.  The wounds have not entirely healed, and there are certainly moments when I wish I had a re-do button, but if you erase the memories you erase all of them–the good and the bad–and with that of course presumably go the shared memories of parenting and being with the children.  Besides, it’s important to have a baseline to measure all subsequent relationships, and what better ruler than a relationship that produces children. Moreover, those incidental moments that happen when there is only one person in the world who “gets it” – those are priceless, and fun to share–even over a mug of acrimony.  I’ll keep those memories, even the ones I choose to forget or bury.

My most recent relationship, referred to last week as My Secret Affair:  Another tough one.  There are hours, days even, when I long to get concussed and have amnesia.  Or to wake up and realize that it was all a dream and that none of it–the good or the bad–ever happened.  Then there are the days when I  hang on every memory and nuance, and wish I could replay and relive them in vivid technicolor–or better yet in real life.

My biggest fear in erasing those memories is the possibility of re-meeting or re-connecting, and having no memory to draw on and having no history to connect us.  (Sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel…)  My story is hardly Notebook worthy, but it is a nice future reflection to think about the tenderness of retelling a story to your loved one.  Ask me today and I say keep the memories, because within them lies not only the fulfillment of a heart’s desire, but also the promise of the future.  But ask me on the days when it feels like my heart is being ripped out and I say erase them all and let me be…

I guess the real value of memories is to expand your heart and emotional capabilities.  Indeed, remembering is easy and forgetting is hard.  But, if the saying, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is true, we should all be super human based on the vault of memories that we all carry through life…

Remembering Is Easy–Forgetting Is Hard was last modified: by

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