Introspection or The Art of Remembering

I’ve talked many times before about wanting to rediscover my creativity. That necessarily implies I need to go back and find where I left it.  For me, that seems to back in my childhood, back to the younger Judi.  One of my biggest laments, as a person with depression, is the tendency to forget.  A dark cloud descends, blanketing the mind and dulling the senses.  I can literally forget what I thought or wanted yesterday because all that exists today is the dark cloud.  Using my metaphor,Winston, all I can sense is him, nipping at my heels or sitting on my chest.  When the cloud lifts, a little bit remains, casting a hazy veil over whatever happened before. The past becomes indistinct, unfocused.

This haziness causes time to become vaguely disjointed, not consciously, but subsconsciously. That doesn’t mean I have memory gaps.  When goaded, I can generally describe what I did yesterday or  last week, but I have difficulty tracking the flow of subconsious thoughts: what are my goals, how do I feel about X, what do I like to do, what do I want for myself, what drives me – all of these questions with answers that lie right below conscious thought and propel our actions.  I imagine, Dear Reader, when you are questioned, you pause to collect your thoughts and call to the surface conclusions you decided yesterday, or last week, or last year.  For me, it’s as if I’m hearing the questions for the first time, every time.  Whenever, I’m asked one of these questions, I feel like a deer caught in the headlights, my mind frozen into a perfect blank and I reflexively think:  “I don’t know.”  Of course my mind goes into overdrive, reminding me I *do* know, like I knew and should have known when asked before and the time before that.  My mind leaps into the breach to stitch my thoughts back together into something plausible.  Then the moment passes and I’m left with that sinking feeling of having forgotten myself.  Again.

So each time I must ask myself the same questions so I can hopefully remember the same answers.  Some sessions are not as clear as others and all the navel gazing and introspection doesn’t help.  Then I take medication to keep Winston at bay and another drug induced wall rises.  I emailed a friend complaining of my woes and an inability to penetrate my blogger’s block.  She suggested, “write about what drives you.”  Over thousands of virtual miles, that question nailed me.  “I don’t know.”  I’d forgotten.   I have exchanged the dark cloud for a wall of placid blankness.  It’s simply a different haziness.

But lately, just before I drift off to sleep at night, memories come, unbidden. My mind plays it’s own home movies.   Here you are holding your squeaky giraffe as you grin up at your brother, waiting for him to take your picture.  He’s in his ROTC uniform.  You are four years old.  See, you do remember being small.  Here you are watching as you your family stands around a figure lying peaceful on the sofa.  You are two.  See, you do  remember your grandmother.  Images move across the placid blankness of my mind like movie shorts from an old projector.  I’m older, then younger, then older.  Some memories are sad, some are happy.

At first I resented this insistence in dredging up old memories, but now I suspect there is a purpose.  This is me, remembering, piecing half-forgotten memories back together, looking for myself.  I hope one day to actually find the younger Judi, the creative one, the authentic me and hold onto her tight.  She can help me remember myself.  Then I will be able to answer those questions.


20 thoughts on “Introspection or The Art of Remembering

  1. Hi Judi, I’m sorry that I haven’t read your Winston posts – I keep putting that off because I know some of what you’ve felt in the past or are feeling right now will really resonate with me. I know that makes me sound completely reprehensible but I’ve kidded myself that I’ve only been protecting “me”.  However, I intend to read those posts as soon as I’ve finished my comment.

    Like Angie K Long, I have fibromyalgia and this can make me very drepressed because nobody knows how to cure the disease – it’s not the greatest feeling in the world to know that I could be restricted (mentally and physically) by this bloody disease for the rest of my life (it’s already been almost 20 years in duration!).

    So, my dear, I can empathize with your pain.  However, I am greatly inspired by your courage and your creativity – you are so very talented. You have made some things already crystal clear to me in your words above – you seem to be well on your way to rediscovering the younger Judi.

    I wish you everything you could wish for yourself,


  2. I have the opposite problem: I’m tortured by bad memories I can’t seem to forget or leave behind. So there’s a part of me that envies the “spaced out” piece. Not for very long, because it would make it hard for me to work and I can imagine without any difficult at all that it makes life extremely difficult for you when it’s there.

    Memories are dangerous, I think, because they have so much power embedded in them. Power to affirm or change how we see ourselves. The most powerful memories are often the most painful ones and I can also imagine that unpacking painful memories doesn’t sound like a very attractive task if you’re depressed or recovering from it. Just, please, no more pain. But I have to affirm what you say here that ability to articulate what you want is integrally connected to developing your creativity. I kind of hope that you can just write about some of these memories — if you can describe yourself you’re acting creatively, and that might set off some kind of chain reaction. The more you write, the more you know about yourself. I also hope you have someone you can talk about the memories with because with all of that power, you want to have support for your own reaction if they frighten or scare you.

    Cheering for you!

    • I understand about the bad memories; they seem to pop up much easier and unbidden than the good ones. Being spacey doesn’t stop that. However, I am learning to react differently to them which is an eye opener in itself. The only annoying thing is the slow unpacking seems to be endless. For me, it’s been going on two decades. But the psyche works at its own pace.

      It’s been suggested that I write about these memories, and up until now I’ve not been ready. Maybe I can start small. I’ve never thought of it as a form of creativity, being writing, but about myself. Feels visceral just thinking about it.

      • you could try writing about objects, like the squeaky giraffe. It’s such an evocative image, the one that touched me most in the original post. It limits the number of things you can say but still may give access to the problematic feelings.

  3. I understand you only too well,several years ago,the overhelmig hopeless blackness was my everyday experience. Very much depends on you alone ,Judiang! Take care and hold on!

    • Thanks so much Joanna. I’m glad you were able to find the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s good to remember. 🙂

  4. Despite the frustration, the creativity remains. Confessions has contained so much of this. Winston will slink (run) off, tail between legs. It will resolve.

  5. Hi again.  I forgot why I was leaving a comment!

    I meant to say that fibromyalgia affects me in many ways – the most frustrating of which is how it affects my memory and my concentration.

    I keep telling myself that I need to start a journal/diary/blog… whatever….to help me remember and record details of my younger self…..much as you are, Judi.  I know that a huge percentage of what I will eventually come up with has the potential to be extremely painful but I’m hoping that some good memories will also surface – more than are currently held in my head! I can understand what Servetus is saying – the horrible memories are upper most and have been for years.  And maybe the fact that I will remember even more of the bad things helps explain why I procrastinate!

    But, today, the cockeyed optimist in me is now looking forward to some good things, too!

    We’ll see.

    • If it helps: the main thing I’ve figured out in the last 2-3 years, e.g., with relationship to my parents, is that I cannot let my memories control everything about my relationship with them. We are all a lot older now; there are things we all regret even if we can’t necessarily admit them to each other. We decide how we behave now (bad memories notwithstanding). It’s extremely hard, though.

    • When I first entered therapy, my counselor said, “you’re going to feel worse before you can feel better.” That’s because it’s necessary to dig down to the good and bad things, to lance the poison, as it were. But things *do* get better. You attitude towards the bad memories change. Instead of being hurtful, they become simply things that happened which you lived through and learned from. Listen to your optimist; she’s telling you right.

  6. Thanks.  I wish now that I had talked more with my mother while she was still alive.  Unfortunately, she died in Sep 1988 (she was 41 years older than I – I was the second youngest of 7 children).  If I had been braver, maybe I would have learned just why she seemed to resent my existence so much.  Maybe she didn’t – maybe, because I was so sensitive, I simply imagined that things were so very bad between us. I’m hopeful that that was so.

    Does everybody push aside his/her creative, imaginative younger self once adulthood is reached? So that, looking back, it’s almost as though it never existed? Is it because we are expected to “leave childish things behind”? I can’t remember exactly how it is put in the Bible but I know it’s there somewhere!

    And just why is that creativity seen as being childish anyway?

    • It’s 1 Cor 13 (when I was a child, I thought as a child … but when I became a man, I gave up childish things). For Paul it’s supposed to signal growing understanding and maturity as regards the correct definition of love.

      I think people tell you to be practical. There’s that Supertramp song, “The Logical Song,” which struck me even when I was a kid.

    • It does seem through our vocations and relationships that we are taught to put those things aside. It’s sad because creativity is like nourishment for the soul. I kind of envy those who managed to avoid the detour.

  7. Thank you once again!  I should have remembered that Paul said it – he is not my most favourite biblical writer! I think he wasn’t just a chauvinist but a damn misogynist!

    I consider myself a practical person because I’ve always had to be the “sensible” one – even during my marriage to a control freak, I was still the one who had to make the hard decisions!  And then as a single parent to an 11 year old boy and an 8 year old girl, I had to help my ex learn how to “parent” them as he insisted on having the children half the time.  They spent 1 week with me and the next with their father – it is possible to do that in Canberra as it is a city of about 400,000 people and no one’s far from anyone else.  We lived only a few minutes apart and they didn’t change schools.

    But I’ve always had this secret child in me – “the inner child” – but a child who wasn’t game to show herself for fear of ridicule and censure.  She’s about 19 or 20!  She’s such a happy person, so optimistic and energetic and loving.  I want her back!

    • Thanks for much for your supportive words. It looks like you and I are in the same boat. I highly recommend a journal/blog/diary for yourself. It’s actually been quite helpful for me. Let’s find our inner children together. 🙂

  8. When I started following Richard Armitage’s career about 12 years ago, I didn’t dream that there would ever be such a group of ladies out there to support him and one another so well! I’m in awe of you all! And I thank you.

    I think I should start off with a private journal for now – as soon as I have read a few of Judi’s past blog entries about Winston.  Love that idea of a Winston!

    As it’s already 9.15am Saturday in my neck-of-the-woods, I have all day in which to read and write.

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