In the name of being fully well rounded individuals we all struggle daily with our memories. We want to remember important personal information like where we parked our car in the mall parking lot and our social security number. We want and need to remember our children’s important school performances, due dates at work and at school, birthdays, anniversaries, holiday dates and so forth.
We want to remember people’s likes and dislikes so that we may continue to approach them in a way they feel comfortable with, so that we may deepen our friendships and relationships, so that we may fully know the people in our lives.
But sometimes forgetting things is important. For example, the last car accident you had was probably fairly traumatic. If you’ve never been in a car accident then just think of the last really big fight you had with your partner – it’s more or less the same thing without the insurance company.
You go through the hassle of reporting the incident, checking for injuries, dealing with the claim, collecting money or watching your insurance rates go up, having your car or the other person’s car repaired or, in the worst case scenario, having to get a new car altogether.
But then time moves on and, without our even really being aware of it, we begin to forget the little details of it; at least we forget how it felt to the smallest degree--which part of our shoulder touched the seat first, just exactly how it happened.
It’s exactly that way with relationships. Something that made you so upset 15 years ago may be just a little blip on the radar screen of your memory.
Brothers and uncles and cousins who are no longer on speaking terms because of a seemingly dire falling out years in the past are now unclear about exactly what made them so angry.
Selective amnesia is a defense mechanism, it protects us from constantly feeling and reliving the pain of each difficult moment over and over again.
A running joke among mothers is that if you could remember what it felt like, that is, really remember what it felt like to have your first baby, you’d never have anymore after that.