Memories Matter–Resist the Post Divorce Urge to Purge

memoriesMy ex-husband and I got engaged on Valentine’s Day. It may be a relationship cliché, but for me it was the perfect opening scene to what I thought would be our fairy tale movie ending.

My family has never done very much in honor of the Hallmark holiday, but his always goes all out. The children in the family receive special gift bags full of items designed to say, “I love you” in a way that is meaningful to a young heart. It’s a tradition, along with many others, that I continue to honor with our children.

One of their favorite stories is about me giving their Dad, a true fishing fanatic, a chocolate bass for Valentine’s Day one year. Unfortunately, by the time he got around to eating it there wasn’t much left but a fin wrapped in foil (Hi. My name is Theresa and I have a chocolate addiction).

What they love most about the story I think is it reminds them that their parents did have many wonderful moments that continue to be inside family jokes. Moments from the past woven into our current story remind all of us that the divorce wasn’t an ending—it was the beginning of a new family script.

My children have family pictures in their rooms that assure them they were created out of love. I still hang the personalized ornaments on the Christmas tree that show the 4 of us as sleigh riding penguins or happy little elves. I feel it’s important to remind them we are always going to be a family till death do us part; we just define it differently now.

After divorce, many feel the urge to purge (or at least hide) objects in the house that serve as reminders of the marriage. Not me. Continue reading

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Why You Should Tell Your Story–The Power of Remembering

journal“We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. Like the images the photographer plunges into a golden bath, our sentiments take on color; and only then, after that recoil and that transfiguration, do we understand their real meaning and enjoy them in all their tranquil splendor.” ~Georges Duhamel (The Heart’s Domain, 1919).

Three of my favorite movies of all time are The Notebook, The Story of Us, and Eat, Pray, Love. Though very different, they share a common, invisible thread that pulls viewers deep into the fabric of the journey–the inherent power in remembering.

Memories get pressed, exalted, twisted, tangled, made straight again as they evolve, inform and inspire. Readers and viewers then merge their own experience into the story and adopt it as their own. The writer becomes part of the family tapestry.

Continue reading