There’s no denying the difficulty of breaking free from mixed feelings of regret and sadness that the loss of a friendship, or what appeared to be a friendship, stirs up inside of us. We try once, maybe twice or even continuously, to convince ourselves that the past should stay exactly where it is, in the past. The past is history, gone with the winds of time. So we forget the past, and sometimes, the people who shaped memories of the past. We force all of the people associated with our past to fade away from our memory. And when we remember, we do so only to suppress the memories once again.
The question remains, “For how long can we continue to keep the past suppressed?” Remember, the wind blows back and forth. Someday, we’ll have to learn to make peace with our memories, no matter how troubling. In that moment of truth and recognition, we relive the past, we regret it and we deny it. Whether we choose to move on from the past by accepting it or rejecting it, it is important that we go on to make better memories.
Time goes by, and everyone moves on with their lives, paying no heed to the threat of suppressed memories. I am no different. Often, I live for today, suppressing the memories of yesterday. After all, the past is in the past and nothing can be done to change it. My past actions cannot be changed. Neither can the decisions that people made in the past. We are stuck with the results of our individual choices. More importantly, we have to live with the decisions that other people made in the past.
Recently, I’ve been feeling quite confident in my ability to make the most of today, without letting the past interfere with my present experiences. But still, I wonder if I’m only living in denial. Sometimes, it does feel like I am denying the losses that I have suffered in the past, by forgetting them or pretending to forget them. Friends lost and friendships discontinued, these losses are no easy burden. We may try to convince ourselves that we are coping well with the lost friendships that we once valued greatly. However, the real challenge lies in actually successfully dealing with lost relationships.
Only a few experiences hurt more than the loss of friendships with people that we chose to value. We try to forget. We want to forget that we lost such meaningful relationships. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, fragments of these hurriedly suppressed memories escape suppression and flash back into our memories from time to time. In these brief flashback moments, we remember everything. We relive the experiences all over again. The wounds become fresh and they don’t heal as quickly we would like them to.
Re-opening old wounds is never fun. So in order to prevent ourselves from experiencing fresh pain, we deny, over and over again, that there are fragments of unpleasant losses floating around in our heads, waiting to pop up at unexpected moments. We deny the fact that sometimes, we remember how terrible it felt to lose people we held, or even still hold, in high esteem. It is always easier to deny a feeling that makes us appear weak in even the slightest of ways, than it is to admit to it.
Everyday, we reassure ourselves that we are strong enough to accept our losses, and live with them. Indeed, we are strong enough. However, being able to do something does not always mean that we want to do it. We are capable of dealing with the sadness and not letting it overwhelm us completely. But we don’t want to have to deal with the sadness of lost relationships. Why should we have to walk past anyone and feel overwhelmed by the feeling of regret, wishing that the past had favored our friendship? The losses we suffer never really leave us. They stay with us. And they travel into the future with us. Sometimes, as suppressed memories and other times, sanctioned. Eventually, the day arrives when memories of friends lost, friendships ended and relationships severed, come flooding into our minds. We continue to hope for the strength to keep going.