Many of us carry painful memories from the past which have a tendency to sneak into the forefront and make us sad or depressed. I have talked often here about overwriting memories and making new memories to replace those negative tapes that play in our heads. I wanted to share an example of that with you.
On a Saturday near the end of October in 2006 I hit a turning point in my relationship with my then husband. It was on that afternoon that push came to shove. His drug use and subsequent violent outbursts had been escalating for sometime, and I finally realized that if I stayed with him I was going to get hurt. I secretly made plans that day, and when he headed out the door to his band gig I waited an hour to make sure he didn't return for anything, then rounded up the cats, and put them in the car with the suitcase I'd already placed in the trunk. In the dead of night I headed down the highway toward my daughter's house six hours away.
By the time I reached Abilene a few hours later I was exhausted from the fear, stress, and sadness. I had cried most of the way, and the cats had responded with plaintive meows. I pulled into a small motel on the edge of Abilene and rented a room for the night, knowing that I needed some sleep before completing the trip in the morning. I was far enough away to be safe now, and I collapsed on the bed exhausted.
My husband got home after the bar closed, finding me gone with a note on the counter telling him I was going away for break, he called my cellphone at 2:30 in the morning asking "Where the hell are you?" I told him I was headed to spend a few days with my daughter. I didn't tell him that while I was away I'd be making arrangements to leave him for good, but I'm sure he knew something was up, since I had never just disappeared without warning before.
Ever since that fateful night, passing thru Abilene when driving down the Interstate has given me chills. I see that crappy little motel and it all comes flooding back... the fear, the sadness, the overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair that had overtaken my life at that point.
A few months ago I did something to change that "Abilene connection" in my brain. I arranged a weekend getaway there with my beloved Papa Bear. We stayed in a nice hotel, ate great food, and did some sightseeing, the highlight being a trip to the zoo. We had a wonderful time! Now, when Abilene crosses my mind, or we drive thru there on the Interstate, as we did at Christmas time, I smile, remembering the weekend he and I shared.
We can't erase the memories of our past, and we can't always revisit those places to make new ones, like I have in this instance, but we can add so many new happy memories to our lives that they crowd out the old dark ones and push them far away into their dusty attic boxes where they belong. You will often hear me say "Make good memories!" I mean that, be intentional about having fun moments in your life that you can look back on, and that you can replay when you need a bit of cheering up.
Oh, and you're probably wondering what's up with the photo of giraffes at the top of this post... Papa Bear took that photo, and many others, at the Abilene zoo. A bridge spanned the giraffe enclosure and you could stand up there and feed them from your hand. We did, and it was fun!
I'm sure we'll return to Abilene from time to time. It's a nice city and I'm looking forward to it. There will be no tears on the drive, and no sad memories of a night long, long ago. Just look at how far my life has come since then! I am truly blessed, and I am grateful!