Sometimes, I get the memories of my ex boyfriends confused. Which one of them took me on that date? And said that thing? And laughed that way?
I’m not telling you this to make you think they were insignificant. The opposite, in fact. These were men who, at the time, felt very important to me. I thought, at one point, I might marry them. They were the ones who taught me just how broken a breakup could make you feel. Who made me wonder, months later, if my heart would ever stop feeling the dull ache that had become my new normal.
The other day, when a memory popped into my brain, I realized it used to be one that felt vivid and important to the relationship. Yet last week, I couldn’t remember which relationship it was.
It hit me, then, that this could be important for someone who is in the thick of heartache to hear. The memories that feel so (so) painful right now, might someday feel more like a t-shirt you find in the back of your drawer. It used to flood you with emotion, bringing you to your knees with the scent of his cologne. But now it’s just an old Cubs t-shirt and you’re not totally sure if it was Jack or Mike’s.
Just like that shirt, there is a season of life when the memories will keep you warm. You will savor them as you heal; they will confirm that the relationship was significant. They will sting a little, too. It was once so good; where did we go wrong? Will be a question that haunts you.
But as you heal, gaining distance from them, they’ll get smaller and smaller, less and less significant. Both the joy and pain of them will lessen. And someday, they’ll be a little blurry. You’ll recognize, then, that these memories shrunk in order to make room for new, truer ones. The beautiful, lifelong memories that won’t fade or change, because they were made with the right person. Not Jack or Mike or that guy you met at the Halloween party and thought you’d marry because your name went oh-so well with his last name. No, these memories are your forever-ones. Never to be confused or forgotten or abandoned like an old shirt.
So let those memories wash over you when you need to. Laugh. Cry. Let your mind wander through the past, like a meandering tourist in a foreign city, sometimes seeing only the romance, sometimes asking the hard questions. Revel in them. But trust me when I say: the ones ahead will be brighter than anything left behind.