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The Process of Un-Making Memories

I will admit it. Ever since I watched a documentary called “Addicted to Sheep” I have been, well, addicted to sheep. This is probably as close as I will ever get to having a baby sheep of my own, but I’ll take it!

I caught myself un-making a memory the other morning.

I was just coming out of what had proven to be a very dissatisfactory meditation session (on account of how, instead of meditating, I went right back to sleep).

At the very moment I woke back up again, a random memory presented itself. It wasn’t a happy one.

But then, before my mind even had time to start something with the memory, I found myself breathing in, breathing out, watching it rise up within me….and then OUT of me….after which it proceeded to gently float away.

Wow! I thought. That was cool.

I decided to try it again. As I have no shortage of not-happy memories from decades’ worth of past mistakes in every area of life, there were plenty to choose from. I decided to stick with that first category (family matters).

More memories quickly came when called. I continued breathing in, breathing out, watching as each memory rose up, and out, and floated away….it was like counting sheep, only with lots of other species in the lineup too.

Speaking of which, I then moved to to topic of “work.” And then to “relationships.” And so forth.

All the while as I was breathing and watching and releasing, I was also repeating a statement a previous life coach had taught me:

That is your issue and I’m giving it back to you. Now it is time for me to go on with my life. I am ready to be healthy. I am ready to be happy. I really want to live. The people in my life love, accept, respect, honor and support me exactly the way that I am. I love, accept, respect, honor and support myself exactly the way that I am.

If you can picture a kind of ever-moving series of pictures (like a slideshow or a short film) going on inside me while these words are continually repeating over and over again, this is pretty much what it was like.

Even as I watched this whole process unfolding within me, and as I began to feel the heaviness of those memories lifting, I realized how I had been holding on to so many unhappy memories for so many years as an odd form of “self protection.” 

Similar to how I always get my keys out before approaching my car in a dark parking lot, I guess I had been keeping these not-happy memories close as reminders of what not to do – ever – again.

Only so many of those particular reminders aren’t really needed anymore. I am such a different person today than the person who made those mistakes and those memories. The friends, relationships, jobs, and general life choices “me-then” made are largely NOT the ones “me-now” would make.

So instead of being helpful, as keeping these memories close by was originally intended to be, it has instead devolved to feel like I’m just continually poking myself with something painfully sharp.

In other words, I don’t need to remember those painful memories anymore. Mentoring finished. Lessons learned, memorized, and catalogued. Check.

Meanwhile, the more I looked within myself for not-happy memories, the more I found. I was surprised by the sheer quantity. I was also surprised by how ready they all seemed to be to come up and out. Maybe they were as eager to finally get away from me as I was to finally get away from them!

As an aside, sometimes I think that the healing process is quite cumbersome – at least for me. Before I can forget, I must remember. Before I can move forward, I must first go backward.

There are no flashy “Dr. Phil” on-camera interventions in my world. There is just the giant unauthorized hole I dug and the subsequent hours of community service I now must complete to fill it back up again.

Although at this point in my life, I must say I’m pretty much game for whatever works. 46 years is already too long to carry around some of these memories, and even five minutes feels like too long for others.

So if I have to first manually un-make each memory before we can finally part ways, so be it.

Bring ’em on.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you found anything that works well to help you let go of your own not-happy memories? Are there still some memories you are not ready to let go of, since they serve a protective function in your present-day life? 

The Process of Un-Making Memories

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2017). The Process of Un-Making Memories. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 May 2017
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