Relationship: What to do With Memories When it is Over

Empty chairs Love Relationship Memories. Photo: Kazad/Artcentron

Empty chairs are reminders of love, relationship, painful memories. Photo: Kazad/Artcentron

LIFESTYLE: Love, relationship, and how to deal with painful memories.


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND— Several days ago, I was going through my collections of photographs when I came across some memorable photographs. Some of them brought back fond memories with someone I loved with all my heart.

I vividly remember when my relationship ended. I was devastated I was distraught and could not understand where I went wrong.  Simply put, it was a traumatic experience that left me with painful memories.  It developed anxiety, and whenever I tried getting close to anyone, panic attack sets in.  I became very suspicious of people.

My suspicions and bad memories had deeper consequences that I could imagine.  I had nightmare, insomnia and apprehension. Someone told me that they are physical symptoms of emotional trauma.  According to her, painful memories can affect you both neurologically and physically. “They leave traces on your mind and body,” she said.

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As I looked through my collection of the photographs, one question kept coming to my mind: “What do I do with all these images that are filled with good memories and painful past?  This is one question I continue to struggle to find answers to.

For several days now, I have wondered how those who have gone through the same situation I was going through dealt with painful memories of broken relationships. To find answers, I walked through Baltimore streets to share the experiences of others who have painful memories from their past relations. I wondered how they dealt with the memories. The question was “What do you do with memories after your relationship is over”?  Here are some of the edited excepts from the comments.

Aaren: When my wife died, I was devastated. What helps me remember her are those cheery memories that we had together. Many of those happy moments are still well-engrained in my brain. I still have many of the photographs we took together many years ago. From when we got married to the trips we took and parties we attended together, I have them all. If you come to my house, you will see many of those photographs on our wall.  You cannot discard such amazing moments.

I suppose I still carry those memories with me because we had a great relationship.  I doubt if I would have kept many of the photographs if we had a bad relationship.  She was my friend.  But how do you erase bad memories from your brain? Do you just forget them? Are you going to pretend that they never happened?  No matter how your relationship went, you will always carry some of the experiences with you, good or bad. You may destroy photos, greeting cards and clothes, but that will not change anything. But you brain has a way of remembering.  The good the bad and the ugly will continue to reside within you even after a relationship is over. You will forever carry these memories with you.

Halley. If you had a good relationship, there is nothing wrong with keeping the good memories: Photo, mementos, objects everything!  Many of the memories will always be part of you and keep you happy when you are sad.  But if it was a bad relationship, you must do everything to get rid of all the bad memories. I have been a victim of such bad memories.  I was married to a woman who just took me for my money. I took care of her, her children and grandchildren as they if were mine.  I did everything that a husband and father should do. When she wanted a car, I made sure she got one. I even paid the insurance on the car.  Guess what? I was treated so badly that I still carry the awful experience with me.

I came home one day, and all her things were gone. Apparently, whenever I was at work trying to make our lives better, she was busy packing her things. Why should you retain such memories?  The problem is that you cannot forget. Even if you destroy photos, objects and other things that can rekindle those bad experiences, you still have them stored in your brain, and they will always come to the surface. My therapist told me that the best way to deal with painful memories is to build new and good ones. That is what I have been doing: Building new and good memories.  I have form new joyful habits and I am focused on the future.  I am still struggling to deal with my anxiety.  I am trying to understand how the painful memories are affecting me.  I am confronting them and finding better ways of dealing with my anxieties.

GABY. When a relationship ends, you do not have to destroy the memories. Good or bad, you must own your memories. These experiences are part of your life, and you have to hold on to them.  They help you evaluate how you did and what you could have done better. Even if the relationship did not go the way you wanted, you still have to hold on to some of those memories. The good memories are reminders that you did not totally waste your time.

DAMICKE. What memories? If your relationship was marred by bad experiences, you cannot hold on to such memories. They will ruin your life.

When you carry memories of a bad relationship, they will hunt you and make it impossible for you to cultivate new relationships. Here is an example: My former boyfriend left me with terrible experiences. He was always cheating, and I caught him many times with other girls. He knew I loved him but he did not care. Now, I am left with all the bitter memories of pain and anguish. Although I destroyed all the physical things that reminded me of him, I still carry the intangible memories. What is helping me move on are new memories that I am growing. I am meeting new people and creating new memories. When those painful memories crop up, I block them with new and good memories. Bad memories will only bring fear and they will keep you from moving forward.

TABARI. Relationships can be very tough. Many people, especially young people, go into relationships thinking all will be rosy. That is not always the case. Yes, relationships can be bitter and filled with painful memories. Those memories and experience are important for us as human beings. When we have bad experiences, we learn: we learn from the mistakes we made. The important thing is not to let bad memories destroy our psyche. We must overlay Painful memories with good experiences. That is the only way to deal with painful memories. You cannot let bad memories destroy you or hold you down. You have to build new memories that are good and make you understand that there are good people in this world.

What do you do with memories after your relationship is over?

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