Conflicting memories

There is this feature on Facebook called “On this day.” It is a collection of posts you made on the date through the years, I usually see things I am happy to be reminded of, even the less than pleasant moments show I have survived.

I used to be a photographer, and one of my influences was Henri Cartier-Bresson. Cartier-Bresson conceived the photographic concept of “decisive moment,” as he said “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” I took this to the mechanics of film photography, where an exposure could be 1/1000 of a second. There are nine hundred ninety nine thousandths in the second which are not captured in the photograph, along with the countless seconds, minutes, etc. in which no camera was present. A story can be told in 1/1000 of a second, and it may be a completely different story 1/1000 of a second later.

Some days I posted several times on Facebook, there was usually a mood I could get from reviewing the posts, a pattern which gave me some insight into that day. Some days I wonder what I was thinking, how those seconds reflected my mood.

On this particular day, three years ago, at 1003, I posted a video from the concert I had attended the night before (Beck). I remember how much fun we had, how we were dancing so much the video is hard to follow. At 1740 I posted “If anyone needs a roommate, or would like to share a nice place in Princeton, it looks like I’m single.” About an hour later I posted video of a song by the Cars I had taught my step-granddaughter to play on her toy xylophone fifteen years earlier, I commented she was in college by then (2014).

I looked through the comments on the “looks like I’m single” post, and realized again how abrupt it had been. A month earlier I had thrown a lawn party to celebrate Lieve’s American citizenship. We had met not quite four years earlier, and now three years afterwards we don’t speak at all. Somewhere along the line I should have gotten angry with her, I’m sure there were moments, but I had kept my happy memories, and continued to care for the belongings she left in America until she returned. She swept into my life, found what she wanted, and swept out.

Yes, there is insight from this. I am a doormat. I look only slightly deeper and see more similar behavior on my part, my next girlfriend moved in, spent most of her time in Florida, and abruptly moved out, then claimed she couldn’t trust me with her belongings after complaining about how I took care of Lieve’s things (her opinion had been I should throw it all out, we actually argued about it). That entire relationship took only six months, I had become a more efficient doormat. I still collected the things she missed when she left, and brought them to her door, delaying only to avoid leaving them in the rain. Looking farther back, through the lens of a brain injury which has left me even more peaceful, I can see that with the exception of Emma, my third wife, I have always been a doormat. Probably with Emma as well, she just didn’t take advantage of it. I see it as my quality, and find myself doing it even now; thankfully Sam does all she can to avoid treating me in the manner I fall so easily into.

I know I was miserable for months when Lieve left, but I don’t remember it. I know there were signs we were drifting apart, and although I have no memory of purposefully ignoring them I must have. It seems obvious to everyone I talk to about it, yet somehow I missed it. I remember a woman pretending to slap me across the face and calling me a doormat, people told me but I thought I was being a better person, turning the other cheek and not reacting to betrayal. I still believe this to be true, I appreciate the lessons I have learned from being walked upon, and although I have volunteered for a repeat performances, I now know how to avoid them. The surreal quality of all of this puts me in a peaceful state of mind, which may seem incongruous. I am comfortable in knowing I responded with grace despite the (sometimes literal) attacks.

The artist Rene Magritte said “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”

This is not a pipe

This is an image of a pipe, it cannot be smoked, the first step in seeing what is hiding behind what we see is recognizing what it is we do see. I see a happy carefree life, and while I desire to see the reality of the moments I remember as happy, I don’t wish to enhance my existing depression. Fortunately, I am able to see it all as a path, I am happy now so this was one path to happiness, clearly there are others.

I let go. I let go of the pain, but not the memories. Not that such an approach has assisted me in avoiding repeats. I have started to let go of the memories, largely because they suggest to me some friendship or relationship remains possible, and that moment has passed. When I see a day such as the one represented by Facebook, I realize I must leave those kind thoughts behind, I do not wish for anyone to be hurt, including me.


8 comments on “Conflicting memories

  1. mreith2017 says:

    Reading your posts is a bittersweet experience, at times, Blake. Perhaps it is just a faint shadow of what you describe–sifting through memories and recognizing both the pain and the joy.

    And what of life as a doormat? Being an old Texas boy, I remember cattle guards–those trenches covered by gapped steel bars in the that cattle won’t walk over, but which allow humans and vehicles to pass. I suppose you could have been a cattle guard rather than a doormat. Of the two, I think I would rather be a doormat. Maybe some of us rather like cows, or don’t wish to live our lives selectively allowing or denying the passage of others through our lives.

    Is there beauty in that old doormat? Beaten between the fibers are layers of dust that tell many stories. Perhaps it lives for that occasional passerby that stops for a moment and sees the beauty of the faded colors and worn yarns, and even picks it up to shake the dust out. But I’ve pushed this analogy too far, I suspect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      I’m liking your words more than mine. I am struggling, right now I can’t be certain which memories are accurate.


      • mreith2017 says:

        You mentioned the depression. As one who has traveled that road for a lot of my life, I understand at least to the degree that it affects my memories. And with the brain injury, I’m sure that you have come to question memories. We all should. One of the things that strikes me is the fact that humans are prone to the phenomenon of “gestalt”. We fill in missing gaps to make sense of the whole, be it in the present time, or with memories. I have come to think this is why human relationships can be so challenging. It would be fascinating to study if some personalities are more prone to this than others. I don’t think you would fall into that category in the sense that you are very observant of others and your environment, and you tend to question yourself, and leave room for the unknown.

        For now I will dwell on the comment “I let go of the pain, but not the memories.” Of course, we all know folks that do the opposite–forever clinging to the pain, seemingly unable or unwilling to get past it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mari Collier says:

    I don’t believe you should let go the memories. They are part of you. Write down the ones that give joy. Your basic struggle is with the healing. Some memories may never return, but you are still you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      I’m not really letting go, it is exceptionally complicated. Right now, 11 August, my mind is overwhelmed with the possibility of a nuclear conflict in Southeast Asia,and I just don’t know what to accept as “real.” I do not feel I am handling reality well.


      • Mari Collier says:

        I leave things like the wars up to God. We cannot do anything about them and it is needless worry. If it happens, it happens. The world is already in the throes of war in the Mideast, in African, and there is enough killing in the Philippines and Mexico to register as a small war. Just let yourself heal and worry about your on day to day events.

        Liked by 1 person

      • mreith2017 says:

        I’m with you in that concern. Most people have no idea how close we are to a nuclear conflict. It’s been heavy on my mind, as well, made worse as I consider how insane it all is.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Alice says:

    Blake, I am glad you started writing again. As one who has been a doormat, I finally woke up to it; however one thing I take note of is no one can see a situation while they are in it; or perhaps they refuse to see it as it really is. We look through rose-colored glasses.

    I do not trust my memories because most of the time I have kidded myself into believing it wasn’t like that and I have lied to myself. Do you actually trust your memories?

    I do not think anyone would suspect you had a brain injury by your writing. since you sound as rationale as before the injury.

    I hope we have learned our lesson of allowing people to run over us. I think Sam is good for you because she doesn’t take advantage of your vulnerabilities when that happens. She is a real friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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