Memories Are Closer Than They Appear

Do you hang on to those negative memories a little too long? Wishing they had been different. Maybe wishing you had been different—said something different? I do. I try not to but there I go…remembering stuff again. Sometimes these memories pop up at the weirdest times, lurking and waiting to own my mind once again.

While on our recent road trip, I read the warning in my side view mirror. I couldn’t help but compare it to our memories. Stay with me here. I know this is a stretch and I’m getting all philosophical on you but I think I’m going somewhere with it.

memories are closer than they appear

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Can we substitute the word ‘objects’ with ‘memories’?  Sometimes I remember things like they happened yesterday and yet ten or more years have passed.  So, memories are closer than they appear. Shouldn’t we heed the warning? Because those memories are long gone and we have no reason to dwell on them. But…

We do. We will. We’re human.

The thing is, when we’re divorced for example, we never really leave our ex behind—if we’ve had children with them. It’s more like we’ve left them somewhere along the road of life only to be revisited time and again.

Co-parenting?  You won’t be saying a final good bye anytime soon. In fact your ex will seemingly always be in the side mirror, closer than they appear at first last glance. They aren’t in the rear view mirror yet because with our constant connection with our children, it’s hard not to feel our ex following us along side our moving vehicle spirit.

When the memories pop up, we need to remember it’s only a trick of the mind mirror. They’re actually far away, farther each day. But just like in that mirror, at times they may seem slightly distorted and further away than they really are. Ever look at your face in your side view mirror? Your lips look like a gold fish, your face distorted into a large round, moon shape. Why do we look so weird in our side mirror? I suppose it’s designed to help reduce our ‘blind spot’. The blind spot could be a separate post altogether, no?  The point is, it’s not exactly a true reflection of you. It’s the same with some of our memories.

objects in mirror are closer pink

But our memories really are our truth. Perhaps they get confused, mixed up, skewed over time but they are our only connection to our past and even recent events. I remember a therapist said to me once, “Lisa, that’s only your perception of events.” This had to be one of the most condescending things anyone has ever said to me. Isn’t my perception my reality? Isn’t the chain of events, the facts surrounding it—reality? If it isn’t reality then I don’t know what the f***k is. Who’s perception could I possibly possess besides my own?

I sat and stared into space trying to absorb the idea that my perception isn’t reality. It wasn’t going to happen.

As offensive as his comment was, it got me to thinking. How our perceptions of the same events can be so markedly different compared to others who were experiencing the same event. What we interpret from our experience and facts is very different from someone else sharing that exact same moment. It’s kind of mind boggling when you think about it. However, that does not change the fact that your memory is your reality. It is your experience. It is your truth.

With that disparity in mind, know that our memories cause events and feeling to be closer than they appear and sometimes different, too. But we can put them in their place…the past. Behind. Smaller.  No need for them to take up so much space. We’re moving forward so let’s watch those memories get smaller with that distance.

What does this all mean during divorce? Although we will always have that connection through our children, it doesn’t mean we have to hang on to those negative memories nor allow our ex to run ‘shot gun’ in the side mirror of our new life.

Memories should appear smaller than they actually are—unless they’re good ones.

I hope the good memories are closer than they appear. I do. In the meantime, some will feel closer no matter how far away I actually am from them. I still am my experience. If I haven’t my memories good and bad, then who am I? Until my life can be viewed from the rear view mirror—and I hope that isn’t until I’m somewhere in my 90’s—I’ll have to accept that some memories will stick. They’ll ride along until I’m ready to let them go and watch them get smaller and smaller until they disappear into the passing years.

Are your memories closer than they appear? Or do you let them go right out your rear view?


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22 Replies to “Memories Are Closer Than They Appear”

  1. Lisa,
    What an awesome post. This is so true. I find the memories get up close and personal when I’m triggered (usually out of the blue, le sigh, why can’t i be prepared, i’ve had plenty of practice!) by some recent bs, which i’m still mulling over how to write it out…

    And it’s not so much a memory that’s visual, it’s visceral, my body tenses, my heart speeds up, can we say PTSD? Aarrggh (yes, i’m in therapy still…in fact, today! ha ha ha).

    Most of the time the mirror has plenty of positive and happy images, thank goodness. Just…when I have to suddenly deal with a clear and present issue, it does connect to the awfulness of the past and brings it a little closer. As time has gone by, it’s gotten easier. Most of the time.

    🙂 Sorry to be such a downer. I just loved this article and it really does resonate. We are moving forward with our lives! Let those memories ride in the way way way back (esp because they come along when co-parenting), but NOT shotgun in the side mirror. <3

    1. You’re not a downer, Jane. What you’ve been through? There’s bound to be PTSD. A real thing…It really is a physical thing, too. Especially where there’s been physical abuse. Yes, we ARE moving forward. WE just have some days that don’t feel that way. Yet, one day we wake up and feel so light.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    This post took me down the memory lane…searching and running away, swimming and floundering, basking in the glory of some of them…memories! They are truly very near and they come back at the most unexpected times, the trigger could be very trivial but we can relate at once.

    However hard we may try to push our negative memories under the carpet, they are more powerful than the happier ones. Sometimes when I try to shake them off they return in dreams, in a more horrid and distorted form. It is better to let them come, talk to them and tell them they are just not welcome. They will still keep visiting as our mind is very strange, it keeps a video of each experience and plays it at will!

    I can understand Lisa, memories that children bring along after divorce are unforgettable and it is better to accept the truth that these memories are going to be with you forever. Try to convert them into sadly fond ones and be happy.
    Thank you for sharing a very meaningful and poignant post.

    1. Hi Balroop, Insightful comment! Your words are like a poem 🙂
      ” It is better to let them come, talk to them and tell them they are just not welcome”
      I like this idea as we can’t erase our memories so might as well accept that they’re going to intrude at unforeseen moments.
      I agree that children of divorce have indelible memories and that’s why we need to be so careful about both our actions and words….

  3. Hi Lisa,

    What a great post! I’m sitting here evaluating my memories of my ex husband. Now it has been a very long time since my divorce, and he was an abusive man. But we had a child together and like it or not, we are bound for life.

    I still have a relationship with him, even though his is a nut but he is who he is. My memories of the past with him are not good ones, if I think back, but they have faded away.

    My daughter is grown and we both are still concerned parents. So we do text each other. The recent memories are those of growth and harmony that didn’t come easy. But it is sure better than the bitter ones.

    Thanks for taking me down memory lane! Something to look inside myself and give a self check up.


    1. Hi Donna, it sounds like you and your ex have finally reached an amicable state in spite of the bad memories. I believe we have an inherent ability to forget the bad and remember only the good—but I guess it depends on the variables. I’m happy for you that your recent memories are all positive. 🙂

  4. Memories are closer than they appear….that’s smart! Bad memories especially. My sister and I had a blow out last month and after talking to my other sister about it I realized how different what I said was from what she said although I didn’t lie or leave anything out. It’s just that we see and perceive things differently. Our feelings and emotions can often impact that. And that’s why we may not remember exactly how things went down or everything that was said.

    I’m still haunted by some memories from my childhood and when I often describe it to my siblings, they say they don’t remember that, and I’m shocked. How can they not remember that? By we all remember different things that impact us, and we remember it differently from others around.

    Good stuff here! It really got me thinking.

    1. Hi Chrys, Exactly true about our different perceptions. What impacts us greatly may not even touch our sibling(s). I think birth order and age at the time of events may have some bearing on that. Great example with your sister and your disagreement with her. I hope you are able to resolve the issue.
      This: “we see and perceive things differently. Our feelings and emotions can often impact that.” Bang on, Chrys.

  5. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, and usually not until your children are grown, the context of those memories changes. As an example a few weeks ago my mother and I were reminiscing about the camping trips her and my dad used to take my children on. Then one of us mentioned the time my ex took them to an amusement park. I commented that it must have been one hell of a trip, because he never repeated it. Now honestly 10 or even 5 years ago, we would have laughed at him and both said “serves him right” with acrimony and bitterness.

    We both knew that it was probably exhausting and not very pleasant for him because my boys could bicker and squabble like no others. But this time the emotion behind the chuckles was different. There was no “serves him right” in the memory. Just an acknowledgement that the two young men we share were a handful to raise, and yeah they may have enjoyed the trip but it was probably a pretty shitty vacation for their dad.

  6. I do love the analogy. What your therapist said was.. offensive, but my mom said something simpler and kinder once, and it maybe similar. I was so horrified over something (probably a boy) and she said, “Don’t worry. All of this trauma exists only in your head. It’s not a physical trauma or pain. It’s something you have the power to squash.”

    1. Hi Tamara, your mom really is a wise woman! We all have the power to squash things in our head…hmmm, I think she’s right. It may take time but it is possible. Thanks for weighing in 🙂

  7. I agree with this because here lately even though my daughter is gone I have been wondering more and more about my Ex and if he is OK. Although I am remarried and have a son. My ex is in the back of my head and will not go away.

    1. Hi Glenda, welcome to the Great Escape…Aw, that’s interesting and it sounds like your ex is in that side mirror 🙂 Maybe there is something going on in his life that you are worried about. Or it could be simply, memories that you’ve suppressed coming back.

  8. Hard to let ex and memories go, especially when you have kids with the person you’d like to forget. I agree with you Lisa.
    But I think it’s up to us to decide whether we want to keep these memories aside or whether we are ready to let them in the past.

    Take care and thanks for this interesting exchange.

    1. I agree, Marie. We can choose to leave some memories behind but there are still some triggers that may arise 😉 I believe we have the inherent ability to remember only the good.

  9. “Only” your perception. I hope you didn’t see him again after that. I find that my memories are fading after eight years. I hopefully only have another eight (or less) to go – but I totally get what you mean.

  10. Hi Lisa,

    Good to be back 🙂

    Wonderful post indeed, and I think it address a very common issue for all – memories. Nothing comes easy in life and with it, the memories remain, whether they are the good or bad.

    Those who have gone through divorce surely cannot get over their past, especially if they have kids, as Donna also mentioned. That remains a common link in most cases, but if you have to, hold on to the pleasant and good memories, instead of the bitter past. There is already so much of bitterness if you want to look at that, why ask for more!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

  11. Oh, man…. Lisa, this post really got me in the feels today. This part especially: “I’ll have to accept that some memories will stick. They’ll ride along until I’m ready to let them go and watch them get smaller and smaller until they disappear into the passing years.”

    I hate that I still cling on to old memories. And that I harbor resentment for words unspoken, actions not taken earlier. But I realize that these events unfolded in my life in a way I don’t have to understand in the present. Maybe one day I’ll unfold my journey and it’ll explain every detail in a way that will make sense.

    I don’t have children with my ex. But again over the weekend, I bumped into him. And on the day that his wife gave birth, I woke up and knew immediately. It’s weird. I dunno why, I just had this feeling and I wish I could have better psychic abilities (like lottery, lol) but you know maybe I don’t have to understand the “Why” so much; and I have to learn to make peace that my perception is just that. MINE. And I can make good of that information in whatever way I see fit.

    Sorry off on a tangent again 🙂 Anyway, this was delicious. I love the metaphors and the lesson that you share that we can cast those memories aside whenever we like until they appear smaller and smaller in our rearview mirrors.


    1. Hi Charlotte, I love when you go on a tangent 🙂 This: “Maybe one day I’ll unfold my journey and it’ll explain every detail in a way that will make sense.” What a profound way of considering our memories and events that are unpleasant. One day they’ll make sense. So nice to have your input, Charlotte.

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