Haunted By Memories

Lately, I have been really fatigued – so tired that I fell asleep in the afternoon twice this week, and my energy levels have been very low.

Last weekend, I had started re-reading old letters and emails, purely out of sentimentality. However, afterwards I found myself unable to let a couple of those memories go and put them to rest again. My head started spinning, and so I emailed my therapist after a couple of days, asking if we could talk about that in the next session. He suggested I treat them just like recent events and run them through a situational analysis, always in relation to what they mean to me today.
Doing so put me a great deal forward, because I realized that one situation was only stuck on my mind because of the emotional impact it had made on me, but that I was otherwise happy with how I had handled it. For another situation I realized that even though I’d handle it better today, I did the best I could back then. I managed to let both of them go after the situational analysis.
There was one incident, however, where I was rather upset with myself: a couple of years ago, someone very close to me revealed a serious health problem, which had stunned me literally speechless. Instead of expressing what I really felt and saying how sorry I was, I had started a bombardment with factual questions about treatment options and only expressed my feelings about two hours later. In retrospect, this struck me as rather cold and insensitive, even though I most definitely was neither; I just had handled the situation very poorly. Knowing I would do it better now was not enough, and so I wrote this person an email expressing and explaining my sentiments about this particular conversation, saying how sorry I was that I’d gone about it all wrong. The reply was favourable, and that was when I could move on from this as well.

Usually, it would have taken the whole session to discuss the situational analysis step by step, but today we managed to talk it through without even writing on the flip chart, and we were done after about 15 minutes, moving on to developing strategies for counteracting the fatigue that has recently plagued me.
According to my therapist, many people underestimate how much work psychotherapy actually is, and that it would have been unnatural to not get tired after all the mental sorting. He suggested that I take at least two days off before the next session and do something recreational, as if I was on holidays: go to a museum or visit a new place, for example. The weather forecast is rather bad for the next couple of days, so it’s probably going to be something indoors – plus, my finances don’t allow anything fancy.

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Never Gonna Give You Up…

… never gonna let you down / never gonna run around and desert you….

(Rickrolling oneself, on purpose, how pathetic is that?)

As I strive for a new way of living, there’s the unavoidable confrontation with myself in order to find out which personality parts might be a hindrance and which might be helpful. Of course, most characteristics tend to push towards the depressed side, else chances are I’d not have ended up there in the first place.

From a very young age, I have been a collector and chronicler, unable to let go of items that hold a personal significance to me. Everything is deemed either potentially useful in the future or emotionally important, and so I ended up with a flat full of bric-à-brac that I would like to drastically reduce but can’t let go of.
There are a little box containing two wisdom teeth I got surgically removed when I was thirteen; pieces of rope tied into boating knots from a sailing trip in 1996; seashells, stones and feathers I collected at the beach; a dusty box containing a pretty but materially worthless tea set that was a birthday present from my grandparents (I don’t drink tea); a computer keyboard I never used; a tray with slides of reversal film from a lecture I held in my second university year (the very end of the era when students were not expected to have a laptop for PowerPoint presentations yet); a collection of index cards from my Greek classes in school with vocabulary on it (we used to make up our own vocabulary and mix it with the legitimate cards – no matter how many our teacher found and destroyed, we simply outnumbered her in re-production)…
I could continue the list for a long time and most of it has nothing but sentimental worth. I look at the items and they make me smile, bring back memories; but at the same time, the masses of accumulated knickknacks weigh me down and clutter up my life both literally and metaphorically.

I know the tricks and advices: “put everything in a box and if you didn’t miss it after 6 months, throw it away without looking into the box again” – never worked for me because I can’t even bring myself to put a lot of that stuff into one of those boxes.
“Imagine you only have two years to live. What would you like to have around you during that time?” Doesn’t work for me either as it only reinforces the sentimentality.

It wouldn’t be such a problem if I didn’t wish I could throw a lot of the old baggage away and have a clean start. Room for something new, inside and outside.

Sometimes I wonder if my tendency for hording, collecting and cataloguing has created or at least contributed to my wish of becoming an archaeologist. The fear of loss is so deeply rooted inside me that even I would blame a personal trauma in infancy if there was any such event I could pinpoint it to. But I have always, all my life, tried to collect and preserve, in the most chaotic way possible, and I was always afraid of losing something or someone very precious to me.

Emptying my grandmother’s flat only makes it worse: how little remains after a long life…