Every once in a while, I come across someone who shares something that encapsulates what I’m experiencing in a way I could probably never articulate. Tonight, someone shared his experience as one of being a “forgetful pretender.” He talked about how he doesn’t have a lot of good memories or bad memories from his past — he simply doesn’t remember much period. He shared how part of that probably comes from the fact that for so long, he wore masks, keeping others at a distance and avoiding experiencing much in life period. In a sense, he was going through the motions. And, since he really wasn’t “present” — since he was more pretending to be someone else to fit in, or to please others, or to live up to some other set of expectations — he was a shell of who he really is…and as such, has little to remember about being there, about feeling, about experiencing life.
For much of my life experiences, this resonates. I have these great experiences and situations, but don’t remember much about how I felt at the time. I often have friends or family tell stories about events in our lives together, and I’m reminded of the facts — remember physically being there – but that’s about it.
I used to wonder if there was some mental block – some “shield of protection” because of some deep emotional scars.
I used to wonder if my brain cells were so fried from my using that I had little left of my long-term memory.
I used to wonder if the lack of storytelling in my life slowly eroded my memories. Without family get-togethers where we tell stories; without friends in my life from decades of time who help keep stories alive – did the memories just whither away?
And now, I can see that while some or all of that may be true — unresolved losses, physical damage to cells and lack of oral traditions — another explanation is my lack of connection to life, to my feelings, etc. could also explain my lack of memory.
Like B., I too am a bit of a forgetful pretender.
Because now, I have the desire to experience life – to be present – to connect with others – to feel feelings. I have tools to help me cope with feelings and live through them.
It takes time and effort to retrain my patterns of thinking and living to not drift back into old routines. But, I know it’s possible.
And I know it’s worthwhile.
So I’m transforming slowly from a forgetful pretender to an authentic feeler for whom memories will build and last.
What another amazing gift of recovery.
Thanks B. for your sharing and insight. You’re an expressive poet…