Happy Memories

I’ve been going to therapy for about six months now, and I really enjoy it.  I find it’s very cathartic to discuss events from my past with someone who isn’t quite so close to them as I am, and the objectivity can be very helpful in figuring out how to file things in my head.  The downside to therapy is that, many times you wind up talking only about the bad stuff, which doesn’t give the full picture of my experiences.

Case in point, my therapist and I recently had a heavy discussion about my father and how he wasn’t able to be there for me, emotionally (I blogged about that a few weeks back, in fact, so hard did it hit me).  That session was very hard to get through; for her, too.  It affected me so much that I felt fragile for a good couple days afterwards.  But my therapist made a comment that same day that struck me:  I hadn’t told her any happy memories of my father.

I was actually shocked to learn this, but she told me it was common, since most people come to therapy to vent about the “bad” stuff in hopes of untangling negative emotions.  But, as I said earlier, that doesn’t give the full picture.  So this week, I told her about some of the happy memories I have of my dad.

I told her of how much fun it was to go to the pool with him when I was a little kid.  He was such a big guy (6 foot, 7 inches), so he was easily able to toss us over his shoulder into the deeper end of the pool; and BOY, could he get us up high!

I mentioned how he instilled a love for the “oldies” music in me.  My mom had a hand in that, too, but I definitely attribute more of my knowledge of the pop music from the 50s and 60s to him, especially Ricky Nelson.

And I definitely told her about the love of aviation that runs through every single pore in my body and how that love came from my dad.  He would take my brother, David, and I to air shows ALL the time when we were younger.  We got to see all sorts of cool planes, and the aerial stunt shows that we watched were just amazing!  I’ve seen the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels & Snowbirds (Canada’s Air Force team) perform so many times, but I still love each time that I watch their performances.

Something else Dad would do was take David and I down to the end of an airport’s runway, park the car and we’d sit there, watching the planes and jets take off and land for hours at a time.  Sometimes we’d even bring lunch to eat there.  In fact, one of my earliest memories is of doing that, and each time I watch the movie Home for the Holidays I end up crying near the end, where they show a scene that could’ve been plucked right out of my childhood.  It’s the very first vignette shown here:

It was good to tell my therapist about these happy memories of my father, because now she was able to see why I had clung so hard to the hope and expectation that he somehow could’ve been there for me emotionally more than he was.  It also helped her to reassess him and to see that he wasn’t just the “horrible” person who’d done some “horrible” things to his daughter.  He, like everyone else in this world, was a complex human being who had some good points and some bad ones.  And every time I start to wallow too much in the bad memories, I can sit down and bring out these happier thoughts.

I think that’s a good lesson that we can all learn.  Because yes, bad things happen, but so do good things, and it’s important to remember those, too.

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