Life has a way of throwing some pretty vicious blows our way and sometimes we escape pretty well unscathed and unmarked. As a survivor of some life altering viciousness, I have to tell you about an unexpected side effect – my brain does not allow painful experiences, conflicting emotions and even anger, to remain at the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I even forget important dates, conversations and fragments of ideas! This can be humorous at times because it means that sometimes, my daughters escape any sort of extended period of discipline for acts that deserve such. If I tell them that they are on restriction for a week for one infraction or another, I’d better write it down or tell their dad. If I do not write it down – it will be forgotten!
It is one reason why I stick to a pretty regimented schedule of my days, the reason I write down my thoughts and feelings and use a daily calendar to manage my time. If I did not do so I would inevitably forget even the most important of tasks. Sometimes, I am lucky and the act of writing down a conversation or writing a date on the calendar means it will stick in my brain but this is not always the case. It’s a great aspect of my brain because painful experiences like childbirth, verbal unpleasantness with others and even the experience of running 100 miles only a month ago…..disappear from memory. The disappearance of pieces of my life can be an asset or a distinct disadvantage.
It means that although I KNOW I had particular experiences, I know I birthed seven babies; I know when and where I was married; I know the youngest boy graduated from high school etc., etc., I have very few specific or vivid recollections in my memory of these events or hundred of others. It means that if I have a disagreement today, I may or may not remember the specifics of that disagreement a day or a week from today. My brain chooses which nuggets of my life to hold onto and which to let go. It’s almost like amnesia but it’s very selective and there are times that happen out of the blue when I will have a flashback of something that was said or done – but just as quick it’s all gone again.
This aspect of my psyche can also be a bit of an aggravation because I do not remember what was said. Once words leave my mouth and the thought behind them is no longer at the forefront – I have virtually NO recollection of what was said. Especially if they were words spoken in a heated manner, as in an argument or disagreement. Ironically, as my brain forgets some words and deeds – it has a clear recollection of others and usually they are the painful ones created by others. Some words stick inside my head like a tape stuck on repeat so over and over….and over they play inside my brain. Rattling around inside my head like so much broken glass.
There is a biological explanation for this odd aspect of my brain. When the human psyche is placed under a stress load, over and over again in a fright, flight, or fight situation the brain pushes out several very specific chemicals. Now, if you have ONE traumatic experience these chemicals are essentially (usually) washed away down the drain and all is well. However, if this type of situation occurs repeatedly, the brain is continuously under the stress of the situation and added to that is this cascade of neuro-chemicals. The parts of the brain that regulate memories are eventually poisoned in a way from the chemicals that were produced to protect the psyche from further harm. Ironic isn’t it? The very mechanism used to protect it, with repeated dumping into the body, actually causes damage.
The good news for me is that it means I am an expert at letting go of garbage that occurs in my life. Stuff happens, I get angry, upset, hurt….etc and within a week or two have very little recollection of what was said or done. That’s not to say that I don’t KNOW on some level that some mess went down – only that it no longer sits at the forefront of my brain. Some people cannot let go. They allow their emotions to sit and stew, they continually stuff their emotions down and down until it all bubbles over like a volcano in a violent explosion, causing casualties all over the place. Yet, even then, even when they explode causing chaos and the situation is discussed ad nauseam this is not enough for them to say – the situation has been resolved.
This type of person hangs onto that anger or pain etc and allows it to stew and marinate even further, then adds any further perceived injury or insult to what has already occurred….in a perpetual cycle of hurt. I say – LET IT GO. This is an unhealthy cycle that needs severing like a diseased limb. When people hurt you, they apologize and attempt to resolve the issue with conversation and changing the behaviors that caused the issue to begin with – LET IT GO. The person you cause more injury to by holding onto noisiness in your own mind is Y-O-U.
If I held onto every perceived or real injury thrown my way by others, or even caused by my own human stupidity, I would be a mess. Forgiveness of the mistakes of others truly is NOT about making them feel better, rather it is a healthy response that is necessary to keep peace within your own heart and mind. Holding onto anger, disappointment and resentment causes health issues as well as more relationship issues than you already have. Forgive mistakes and move on. We all change and grow and forgiveness is part of this process.
While you are busy holding onto the hurt and using it as ammunition for future situations – imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and all of your mistakes and bad behaviors were thrown back at you…..I say LET IT GO
Until next time my friends….