I wrote this a couple of weeks ago.
Bowl of Memories: Paper butterfly hairpins I made, the key to my old photo studio when I lived in Southern Maryland, “Heart” key made into a pin for a game, engagement ring from my first marriage, a fairy butterfly sculpture, antique glove clips, a golden rose for Marine wives that my mother used to wear, various buttons, pendants, a letter tile from my friend Mary’s wedding and a single star earring that belonged to my friend Jackie.
Tonight I had a moment where I was so overwhelmed with a sense of sadness and regret.
I was cleaning my bedroom and especially my dresser and all of its little boxes and compartments. As I was sorting through the treasures I came upon several things that evoked some negative and positive memories.
I was full of could-have-beens and thought-they-weres. I don’t usually linger in regret (even if I do wallow in self-pity from time to time) – I try to just imagine what my lesson is meant to be. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that enveloped me.
Among the treasures was an engagement ring from my first marriage. I will sell it because my daughters don’t want such a seemingly cursed object and I can’t blame them.
Another was a very personal artifact from an emotional time for one of my family members (not pictured here). It is not my place to share what it is but it caused me pause and made my heart ache a bit, but I cannot let it go. I tucked it back in its special spot.
And finally there was a tiny figurine – a fairy butterfly sculpture a one-time friend picked up at a craft faire for me. The evening went like this: I would tentatively sort it into the “get rid of” pile. Then, just as tentatively, remove it again and run my fingers over the glossy wings. I told my husband “I should get rid of this. I don’t know why I don’t.”
After some discussion we decided that I hold on to it because it is proof that I was thought of in kind regard. That such a thoughtful gesture would not be made, had I not been viewed in a positive light. That part, that was Will’s thought, “A thoughtful gesture that was proof you had been thought of in kind regard.” And it clicked. That was what made sense. It is a talisman of sorts. It’s tangible proof that I did not imagine that things were good. That things really had been going well, or at least were portrayed to me that way. And I wasn’t so bad as I would later be portrayed. This artifact is a lens to focus on the reality of the way things really were. Not the way they were viewed in the aftermath, distorted in the wake of emotion and the blurring of time.
Sometimes I think it would be better to get rid of all of the traces of things that remind me of a sad or hurtful time in my life. And truly, I have burned many a memento to ash in order to move on. However, I try to remind myself that difficulties in my life have been the catalyst for positive change. I suppose I could stop trying to learn from things. I don’t want to wallow in resentment – and I do feel resentful sometimes. But why should I stop meditating on these things when I can look at what has happened and grow from it? To think on these things (not wallow in them) means I can try to focus on gratitude and forgiveness, rather than judgement and revenge. Ya know what? That feels SO MUCH BETTER than just throwing things away before giving them honest consideration. AGH! Seriously, so much better.
One of my therapists a few years ago said that we are all dragged kicking and screaming into change. I realized – for the most part – he was right. But once the kicking and screaming is over, you’ve learned a few things. Then you feel better and wonder why the heck you fought it so hard. Why do we DO that to ourselves? It sounds so easy…just…let go. Let. Go. Yeah, it’s not that easy. But it IS possible.
I think the combination of objects that hold sense memory and the sentimental tunes playing from Spotify combined with the cool, dewy evening breezes blowing in the window set me up for this thoughtful mood. I also read the last quarter of The Red Tent today and I cannot stop feeling connected to the world and the sisterhood of women. I’m having a general sense of history and celebrating life. Now that I have finished that book I have decided to start having joyful “feasts” for all milestone events. I am already looking forward to them. And I will be more careful what meaning I imbue on objects henceforth forevermore.