painful memories - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
I went back to where it happened. I wanted to take away the power of the painful memory for hurt, prove to myself that I could choose to move on. So I took the one I love the most, my best friend, and on that spot we made a great memory, a happy one. Now when my brain goes back there I divert it only to the good memory, the healing one. It's as if I wrote a good story over the top of a bad story, and in time the ink of the bad story fades away until only the good one remains.
"Yeah, I know he's in pain. So much so obvious. But those old scars are best left alone unless you've got the time to stick by him, to heal him after you've opened them up. I know it seems kind to ask and enquire, but in this situation it isn't. Every one of those scars is some terrible pain, that's why we do our best to accept people as they are and be compassionate. So that surface conversation we just had, it wasn't much, but it was something and actually the right balance in the moment."
Those painful memories are books with chapters, deep and horrible; and so I leave them on the shelf to gather dust. I can pick them up if I need to learn something, to gain a perspective that helps me to create my own good story. I can use them to re-see situations through the lens of their needs and traumas rather than mine. I want today, tomorrow and every tomorrow after to be wonderful; I want to choose what to write on those blank pages.
Your suffering, your memory of it, is like a teddybear fashioned from glass shards - the tighter you cling to it the deeper it will cut. So perhaps practice putting it down for longer periods of time, noticing when you have picked it up and it slices at your skin. You and it are separate. One day you'll notice that the bad teddybear is gone, you lost it sometime and never noticed. You will see that your good and noble choices made a better life, something positive, and now you hold a new teddybear, soft and warm, one that brings an inner glow and keeps you cosy under starlight and sunshine alike.
These painful memories, they're just the same as nightmares. They vanish when I'm awake, when I'm really right here in the present moment with you. Once I really open my eyes, let in daylight, they have no choice but to leave and I can let in all the wonderful things around me.
I take my painful memories and place them in a box; I put them there with photographs, rings and cufflinks. The box is their coffin and I set them to rest with the same reverence as a beloved one passed on. This funeral comes with tears and trauma no less than a real death and now that they have been buried, the wake comes next. It is the waking of my inner-self, the one with the power to heal and be the person I was always destined to be.
I recall how my body jarred with each blow, how the pain seared through my skin and took away every feeling of safety I ever had. My father put his all into each strike. His sinewy arm would recoil and snap back to my naked behind, the impact delivered by an object rather than his own hand. Maybe at first I shed tears, I don't recall. Crying wasn't allowed. If I buckled he would tell me to stop, or he'd give me something to cry about. He meant it too. And this is the man I loved most in the world, the one who bought me ice-cream and a snow white rabbit. He's the man who would lift me upon his shoulders or fling me around by an arm and a leg in the back yard while I grinned so much. I guess these things came from his own childhood, from alcoholic parents. I believe he did his best in his own way. He was my hero and my monster, but now I'm all grown up I can't live that way anymore. I can't take love from one who hurts me, I just can't.
A photograph, that was all it took for the tears to burst Alyssa’s dam of restraint. She clutched the solid wooden frame tight in her hand, able to see a ghostly reflection of her face in the thin sheen of glass that covered it. She looked past her own dreary eyes and stared upon his face that had been caught in a moment of perfection. It was the happiest memories that hurt the worst, they were the ones that cut her deepest. She focused in on his eyes, they were glistening with the twinkle of laughter that once she loved. Now, they laughed at her. They reminded her of what she had lost. She clutched the frame tight, pressing it hard to her breasts wishing to feel his head resting upon them one last time. It was in that moment Alyssa realised she no longer knew how she felt. She was numb, yet somehow in agony. She longed to be free of him, yet she wanted him back more than she’d ever wanted anything.
Apparently I can blame evolutionary biology for my painful memories. I wish I could put them in the garbage can where they belong and forget. Or better yet bury them deep underground. I'm told that our brains are hardwired from caveman times to remember the bad stuff more to help keep you alive. Which is ironic really, now what I need is the good stuff, the fun stuff, the uplifting and hopeful. So I mentally hold my hand up to those thoughts like a cop stopping traffic and go on with my day. I take pictures of every good and happy thing that happens and make an album. Then when my brain hands me that shit again I have something to fight it with, real ammunition, not some fake counsellor crap.
You turned every moment we spent together into painful memories. They are sharp, and cut right through me everytime I think about that time. Even the sweet good moments we had are now turned into a knife that kills my already broken heart. You pierced my soul; you made me skeptical about people and love. And I hate you. I fucking hate you for that. You turned me into this broken mess, and even if I won't see you again, your touch will be with me for years, or maybe for the rest of my life, who knows. You fucked up my confidence, and I remember every single word you said, I remember how you made me feel like a waste of space. And now the voice that puts me down inside it's not mine anymore, but your voice telling me again how I will never be enough for nothing.
The most beautiful of memories are the worst, cutting my insides as if they were shards of glass. This town was once my refuge, a place of guaranteed warmth even on the coldest of days. Just being here fills me a sadness I'll never fully shake, with every click of the Geiger counter it seals it deeper into my bones. The old store in which I bought sweet aduki bean treats falls into view, click, click, click. My eyes take in the tea house, perfect, perfectly empty. Without any need to close my eyes or force a memory I can hear Haru-san telling one of his crude jokes, a sparkle in his creased eyes as he checks to make sure the waitress is out of ear shot, click, click, click.
There should be a way to stop time when these things happen, when some human beings choose to wipe out another bunch of human beings, press a button, punch in a code, scan their retina or whatever it is they do. We should be able to just say, "No more; mo more suffering, time to throw the cards in the air and see where they fall." My feet stop moving on the street, the footfalls no longer ringing out for nobody to hear. On the sidewalk is a doll, and not just any doll, she was hand-crafted by Mana-san for her daughter. This memory is so different, so tangible that the street might as well have evaporated. A sweet voice comes to me, distant at first but growing stronger...
"Peter-san! Peter-san! Mama made me a doll. She's so pretty! Come see. Do you want some lunch? Sticky rice balls, mmmmm." It's Reiko-san, stepping over the sidewalk, her petite frame almost blown by the strong fall wind. The idea of lunch with Mana-san is too good to pass up, she's so strong in her opinions, so kind in her deeds. The doll is still being held aloft, waggling for approval before my face, a tiny smile stitched on.
A grin I didn't know was coming breaks out over my face and I nod. "She's beautiful just like you, Reiko-san, and I'm so hungry. How wonderful of you to invite me to lunch."
The Geiger counter never ceases to click, it is truly the only other sound other than my clumsy steps, noises that pronounce my intrusion on these dead friends of old. Yet when my gloved hand touches Mana-san's old radio I can hear that old song she used to sing to, always fabulously out of key, dancing as if she were the little girl instead of Reiko-san. I have only to close my eyes for a moment to see her as clearly as I did all those years ago.
Mana-san's moving around her small kitchen, her simple dress layered over a long sleeved shirt, the hues all chocolate and coffee like her skin and hair. Her limbs move in such graceful arcs, fingers flowing. The song stops with a crackle and she places a plate of sticky rice-balls and fish before me. "Eat, Peter-san. You are too thin, too thin." Before and after speaking she makes miniature bows and I return them before and after I thank her. She really is too kind. The aroma of the food permeates the air, saliva pools in my mouth. Once this food had no effect on me, it was something foreign to my palate. How quickly it became what I craved, so simple, homely, delicious. In moments Reiko-san is next to me tucking into hers, seven years old and already proficient with her chop-sticks.
It takes a moment to figure out where the pain is coming from. My fingers have gripped the old radio so hard I'm in danger of drawing blood on the sharp rim. The kitchen is bare once more, only the doll in my back-pack has a smile for the occasion. Her maker isn't coming home and neither is the girl that loved her. Click, click, click.
Memories were the soul torturer of the girl.
She couldn't escape them, or hide from them; they were the worst kind of monster.
She was scared of what her past held, all the memories that seemed to never escape her. They were pin point needles, piercing her skin. She couldn't scream or fight back, she had to just endure the pain as the picture of his face flashed through her mind.
She had experienced pain before.
But nothing amounted to this.
She could neither hide or run or fight them. Her memories were indeed her worst enemy and the thing that would most likely destroy her.
I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around my shins; if I could just curl up into a ball, I wouldn't have to face real life, I'd be protected from everything around me.
But I'd still have to live with myself, with the wretched memories swirling around in my head. My eyes, already red and puffy from crying, squeezed shut to push more tears out. I let my head fall down to my knees, and I pulled my legs closer to me.
No matter what I did, there was no where I could hide from the thoughts in my head.
I like to think back when the tender breath we shared was all but my own. What a stale mist it is within my mouth nowadays. You flourished in life with such a young heart. There was nothing ever to be changed. You had figured your heart long before I could ever set my own. I knew from the moment I met you my life would become a blur. No longer would I be able to count the days which I wasn’t happy. You would become my beacon, my love, my laughter, my life. How I long for your lips, the teasing chime of your laughter, the gentle breath of sweet nothings in my ear. Lavender, the scent of those wild flowers which you never failed to carry, something that would spur tears within my eyes long after your death. If only you knew how simply broken I am without you.
The yelling voices echoed down the hallway into my bedroom, waking me from my sleep. The thud-thud-thud of running feet, then heavier footfalls falling them. I could hear them sprinting down the stairs then a large crash. Do I go see what has happened? Someone is weeping softly, moaning in pain. I quietly crawl across the floor into my bedroom closet being careful to be as stealthy as possible. Curling up with my pillow and blanket in the dark, cozy cave of my own making, I drift off to sleep, the noises in the hall fading away as I fall back into my dream where everything is peaceful and happy.
When the guilt comes it takes me down the old familiar path. I want to refuse to walk it, pretend that I am the person I demand that I be. I want to see myself in sepia tones, not perfect colour. I want to scrub my head, but if I did I'd never learn from what happened. And it's true what they say, “Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And I couldn't bare that. So I keep my eyes on the horizon and my mind tuned to creating a positive future; because really, isn't that what everyone needs?
They keep telling me to forget, to let him go. How? It's all part of me, I can't let go of the pain without loosing something sacred. The good memories keep me going and the bad ones make me want to curl under the duvet and never come out again, but they are locked tight together like two sides of the same coin.
There's a part of me that's angry. It's an anger at my loneliness, cos you're not here. I would watch you drink, I would even drink and smoke with you. But I couldn't wave a magic wand and stop you, keep you even. So you wouldn't leave and you would live. Now all I have is your accent in my head and your smile. Now that there are moments I can't share with you, and I can only imagine what you would have made of them.
I remember when we didn't have a wheelchair, so used a wheel-barrow instead. And we'd run you across the field in it and joked as we passed the old graveyard, of shoving you in a hole. But its not funny any-more, I went into that graveyard with a bottle of wine and drank to you and other old soldiers that had gone before you. All I'm left with though is a hangover, and only memories lost in the ether that were you.
My thoughts of you are like ripples in a pond after I've thrown a stone in it, slowly they fade and dissolve. And I'm left alone unable to follow you. So now your gone, life extinguished, a bit like a candle that was blown out and its whispers of smoke elusive and untouchable, just as you were. You had a skin tougher then a rhinoceros could afford, yet vodka put the cracks in all your defences and you were still able to function until Vodka - your new friend - betrayed you.
They say that the strongest link to sparking a memory is through one of the six senses - not sight, taste or touch, not even sound, but smell. Walking passed Newman's Bakery always enticed me to recall my friend Clara, we'd always come here for nickel sweets.
When I open the mahogany box beneath my bed, I'd remember to touch the pearl earrings my grandmother had given me because it still smelt like the perfume she'd worn before it had gone out of stock.
And when I would walk about the house, I'd stare at my daughter's door. I will always be reminded of how she loved the smell of flowers, because they were everywhere. I had purposely put them there. I miss you, Emily, mommy hasn't forgotten you. And I never will. "Happy birthday..." I say, as I lay a lily down to the floor, and slide it under her door.
If a bad memory is like a bird, it is okay to know it is sitting on a branch nearby. It is okay to notice it fly and sing. Yet move in calmness with eyes only for the nature around you, with skin that feels the wind and eyes that open for the light. When your mind naturally moves back into the present, into the moment that is the gift of life, the bird will be gone.
Here, this precise moment, this exact second, memories that would haunt her forever were formed. She had seen and done things that made her sick to think of, they would follow her for the rest of her life and would only bring her pain. There would be no escape from these memories, it wasn't an illness that could be seen or fixed, the pain was to be her punishment for all she had done.
It was with bittersweet joy that I watched my dreams get shattered. It was done, it was over. But I had lost a part of me I’ll never regain. Memories began to flood me, washing over my heart, as I saw images of joy, sadness, patience, and love fly before my eyes. Memories can be so sweet, like the first budding flower in spring. But the emotions they awake, the remembrance of joyful times long ago, makes me feel hollow inside. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss that part of me I lost. Not a minute flies past without my heart crying softly for what was. I miss her, I do. I’ll sing and dance with joy, but it will never be the same joy, my smile will never hold the same completeness. I ache, my dear. I can’t tell you how loud my heart moans with every beat, how every day I try to move on but my memories refuse to let me forget.