Thursday, April 30, 2020
I forgot what I don't remember?
Memories, light the corners of my mind, misty water colored memories... of the way we werrrrre. I have always been intrigued by our memories. In my late teens I began to notice how people could experience the same event but have completely different versions of that event. Of course I noticed more issues regarding memory as mom's dementia began to progress but it really began to show up after my father passed away. My dad was raised in a large family, sometimes I would ask an uncle or aunt about a story that my father repeatedly told us, only to discover that they had a completely different version. There are also huge differences between the older brothers and sisters compared to the younger ones, which would make sense.
Makes me wonder what is true and what is me wanting something to be true. I was watching a program last night about our memories and how they shape us. They did an interesting study of people who were close to the twin towers on 911. They asked them about where they were and what they were doing at the time of the attack. I would think something like that should be stuck in your mind. They then asked people the same questions a year after the attack, then two years later, five years later etc, etc. Around 60% of the people were somewhat consistent with their stories; however 40% of the people had completely different stories and believed the latest version to be absolutely true. As an example, a person may have originally described quickly leaving their office and trying to outrun the dust and smoke, where ten years later they said that they were on holidays visiting parents and watching it on tv.
I have often said that I'm glad I didn't delete my old posts. Many times I imagine an event happening in the fall for example or maybe a story regarding a neighbor, only to look back and see the timeline was completely wrong or that the neighbor had already moved away two years before the event. Makes me wonder what past memories I have are false. I do know that my sister and I have very different memories of childhood events. I used to wonder what was wrong with her, now I wonder how many times was she right about something and I was wrong.
They also talked about how mood and emotions cloud our memories. For example if a couple met for lunch and they were newly dating, they remembered things as being really good, the restaurant had a friendly atmosphere, the food was fantastic, the other person was charming, funny and dressed really well. If on the other hand, the couple was coming to the end of a relationship. They remembered the restaurant as an uncomfortable place, that the other person was rude, that the food was not good etc. Our little brains add things in.
That's sometimes why I want to document what is happening around me and also include my emotions and feelings regarding this frustrating situation. I don't want to think it was nothing in the future but I don't want to think I was hiding in the basement either.
It's also why I don't hold grudges against people for past mistakes, or at least I try not to. If they are good to me now then let's live in the now, why be upset with someone when my memory of some past incident, has me as a perfect angel and them as a terrible villain. With the exception of course of something serious. I remember in my late teens someone classifying me as a friend to someone. I remarked that he used to be such a bully to me (actually "the" bully in my younger life) he answered by saying yes, that he remembered how stuck up I was to him, that I thought I was so much better than him. I was shocked to hear for the first time what was going through his mind at the time. To be honest I was afraid of him but I also wouldn't doubt that I (without realizing it)... was snobby to him.
Same right now with a high school friend, his version of high school emotionally has completely taken me by surprise. I always thought he was one of the people getting through unscathed at the time, his version has him being treated horribly. Some of our memories are the same but the versions are often completely different. Enter in a third friend and his version is also completely different... so what is real?
Finally last night they spoke about healing people mentally, that people who unfortunately have PTSD for example, may have their memories worked over, meaning adding in positive feelings with a traumatic experience to lessen the impact. If they succeed that would be great, at least they wouldn't have to relive the experience over and over.
If our memories shape us into the person who we have become... but we are making them up as we go, then who are we really?