What I know about … Remembering

This post is part of the ‘What I know about …’ series my friend Sarah is running on her lovely blog ‘That Space In Between’

Given I am currently writing a memoir I can say I know a lot about remembering right now.

I can say that it is incredibly painful to remember sad events and this is why I generally go to great lengths not to remember them. When something sad happens in my life, I cry a lot at the time, and then I sequester the sadness somewhere it can’t hurt me – behind a very thick wall in my brain.

When I am forced to go behind that wall and access those memories and those times in my life – well it stings and it makes me highly emotional. The next thing I know I am crying a river of tears onto my keyboard. I hate being emotional because it makes me feel a little out of control!

But I have come to realise that writing down your memories and the way you feel about those sad times brings a great deal of clarity. Clarity that you just wouldn’t have been able to achieve back when the event actually happened. So while remembering can hurt, from that hurt can come great comfort and dare I say, a measure of closure.

Remembering also brings shame.

When I was writing about the lowest point in my life, the overriding emotion was shame. Shame that I let myself get that low. Shame that someone like me, who had spent an entire lifetime creating a façade of someone who ‘had it all going on’ was actually fighting such horrible demons.

Living a lie if you will.

Admitting that I did not in fact have it all going on was just about the hardest thing I have ever done and I nearly abandoned the whole project right there. But then I told myself that if, by making that admission, I can help just one other person who is in the same situation, it will be worth the shame.

And finally, there is the remembering of good stuff in life. Like the moment I walked down the aisle on my dad’s arm on my wedding day – revelling in the pride that radiated from him. Seeing Ant’s face and knowing that he was a hair’s breath away from fainting from sheer emotion. Remembering all the challenges we had faced and surmounted together to get to that point in our lives. It’s goose bump territory and memories like these, I will never tire of accessing them.

And this is what I love about writing – it can take those memories and immortalise them, preserving them not just for our lifetime, but many lifetimes to come. I know they say a picture says a thousand words. But pictures can fade, while words, I believe they gain in power over time.



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  1. says

    I know what you mean Kel. I sat down to start NaNo thinking I would write non fiction and I started writing a novel thats loosely base on some personal experience. When I got to the part where I wrote about the end of a relationship all I kept thinking was what a bloody idiot I was to stay for so long. I kept wanting to scream at my 28 year old self and tell her to get her shit together. Remembering has a rawness that makes you mentally exhausted but its a great yardstick to work out how far you are from that time. I understand you better after reading about Rory’s reflections – remembering in families is multi-layered. Hugs to you.

    • says

      Ha – I can’t wait till I get further along into my story … I am sure I am not going to believe just how ‘stupid’ I was to let things get as far as I did. But when you’re living it … not so easy hey?

      And yes – even for me reading Rory’s post was quite eye opening and interesting. It’s what I love about writing, the written words can reveal much about the things we never ever talk about (because I hate talking about Adam with my family as much now as I did then) …

  2. says

    Thank you. So lovely to know that someone else feels the same way I am right now. This writing about yourself is an exhausting process. Once again you are an answer to prayer. N x

  3. says

    Wow, this is so true. I can so relate to this, as you know. I wrote about it too tonight. I didn’t think I had it in my to blog anything, but turns out I did. It is really cathartic, but before you get to that catharsis you have to dredge up and re-experience those emotions again. Ultimately, I have found that writing about difficult life events also helps make sense of them and tie them into the overarching structure of a life, so that they become a more seamless part of our narratives. In the end, it’s all good. Getting there can be painful. x

    • says

      I definitely like the way that writing about difficult events helps make sense of them. It’s so bloody hard … but ultimately so worth the pain!

  4. says

    How amazing is retelling your story Kel? I just think of the place you are now and where you have come from and been through (from what I know) and am so inspired by your journey. Remembering the painful times, although tough, is cleansing for you too I am sure.

    • says

      Thank you lovely. It is definitely a very interesting exercise revisiting all these times … especially the dark and sad times I had buried nice and deep where they couldn’t hurt me. Very confronting to face them all again, but nice to also be able to make sense of them

  5. says

    Yes, Kelly! I can relate too. I have often described the fallout from losing my firstborn as leaving me with “nowhere to hide”. I could not be anything other than broken. So what did I do? Show them, warts and all. But many people don’t like that. Thankfully, many more do. And those are the true pearls to have risen to the surface in my life.

    Great post. xo

    • says

      I think if people feel confronted by raw. emotional truth, then that means there is a bit of them in that truth.

      But I think what you have shown K is that with truth comes a measure of freedom … and certainly a large helping of healing. Both very valuable big picture things!

      • says

        “I think if people feel confronted by raw. emotional truth, then that means there is a bit of them in that truth.”

        Very, very true, that! Yes.

  6. says

    Reflecting on experiences makes you understand them better and helps build confidence and resilience. This book of yours will be therapeutic for you, and hopefully save others from experiencing first hand what you have. Win:win. Don’t be afraid of what you will find. x

    • says

      Thank you lovely C. It’s definitely proving therapeutic! And I definitely hope it saves others from walking the same path. I wouldn’t change anything in my life for the world, but I do wish I wasn’t such a slow learner! Hopefully I can stop others being slow learners!

  7. says

    It’s difficult to balance the remembering – it can either give you closure or knock you completely sideways. Like you, I don’t like to lose control of my emotions, though sometimes it’s inevitable.

    When it comes to writing, there is always something of ourselves invested in the words. I’m struggling to edit my novel at the moment, because although it’s fiction, there are elements of truth in there that I find upsetting if I study them too closely x

  8. says

    It’s an interesting thing shame. We all experience it, in one, or several areas of our lives and yet we keep it hidden away, not wanting to face it or talk about it….yet that’s the only way that it loses it’s hold on us. By sharing with others we soon realise that it’s part of our collective experience.

    I’m really enjoying reading your book :)

    • says

      I think for me shame is interesting because I have worked hard my whole to ensure I never did anything I would be ashamed about later. So the feeling caught me by surprise when I was writing that intro! It’s a good thing I promised people to expect a book else those feelings may never have emerged. And you are 100% right – in talking about it, it really has lost its hold on me.

      Thank you Kirri :)

  9. says

    I love this Kel – words do indeed act to ensure our memories do not fade.

    I too struggle with dealing with painful memories and like them kept under lock and key so as to avoid the pain they bring. But I’ve found when I allow myself to write them down they are much like a bird being released. It is so cathartic, so freeing. God bless writing for that, if nothing else!