People from our past can linger for a long time, and resurface in unexpected ways, especially the more influential they were. Some can be a comfort to us, and bring a smile to the lips. Others can cause pain, and diminish joy. I came face to face with one of the latter this past Saturday.
It began benignly enough: a simple text conversation with a friend back home. They happened to mention they were experiencing some back pain. Without really thinking, I asked if they had seen a chiropractor, and began regaling them with my personal experiences in this area. After I realized what I’d done, all I could do was laugh, because it occurred to me I sounded just like my ex-girlfriend.
I injured my back a few years back, but didn’t go to a doctor because I knew what they would tell me to do, and decided to treat myself. When I told her of my back pain, my now ex suggested I go to a chiropractor. I scoffed, and said I’d handle it just fine. She suggested again, and I protested again. This back-and-forth continued via phone over the next couple days, until the pain became too much to bear, and I at last agreed to make an appointment with a friend who just happened to be a chiropractor. Best decision ever. My only regret was not going sooner. Unlike my treatment of ice and pain meds, one visit to the back doc got rid of 90% of the pain! and made me mobile again.
This one memory turned out to be a “rabbit hole,” for it caused me to remember another moment with my ex. Which led to another, and another, and another. All this then led me to dig into the plethora of photos in my phone. There she was, the woman I at one time thought I’d love forever. The picture from our first date. The picture from our night at the theater. Photo upon photo of our trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens, and various ArtPrize venues. The multitude of photos from her first ever trip to Kalamazoo. It was a start-to-finish chronology of our relationship, now seemingly a lifetime ago.
Yet, the more I thought about the pictures and, therefore, her, the more I realized I wasn’t remembering the time, nor her, fondly. When had this time in my life stopped being a good memory? I didn’t know but, somehow, it had. It was at that moment I knew what I had to do…
Delete them. Delete them all.
So long as they remained accessible, quite literally right there in the palm of my hand, they would continue to have a hold on me, and so would she. Even after all this time, she still had power over me, and I needed to take that power back. One by one at first, then in clumps, I began deleting the pictures from my device. In the end, nearly 600 photographs were deleted. Yes, this means there is now more space on my phone. More importantly this means there is more space in my soul as I let go of this chapter from the past, and make room for the future.