Memory’s Relentless Undertow

I feel memory’s tug, like an undertow pulling me into the riptide of its dark and stormy seas, calling me to dive deep. To give myself over to its beguiling insistence I am powerless to resist.

I know resistance is futile.

I resist anyway. Gasping and struggling as I fight its relentless current pulling me under, away from the safe shores of what I know with certainty into those dark spaces of what I tell myself I do not need to revisit or explore or see or know.

I first noticed the undertow when I began painting the faces of one of my paper doll chains.

The critter hissed. “What a stupid idea. Don’t do it Louise.”

Curious, I turned to face its presence in my psyche. “Why not?” I ask.

“Because I said so.”

I know that voice. It is the one that carries childhood angst and fears.

“What are you afraid of?” I ask it.

The critter tosses her hair back behind her right shoulder, sticks her chin up into the air and says, vehemently, “I’m not afraid. I just think it’s stupid to be playing with paper dolls. You’re not a child anymore Louise. Grow up.”

It was the ‘grow up’ that triggered me.

I remember that phrase. I heard it a lot when I was a little girl growing into adolescence and then my teens.

Grow up. Cry-baby. Act your age. Don’t be such a spoiled brat.

Words flung carelessly onto the delicate fabric of my psyche weaving its way into adulthood. Words that stung. Confused me. Hurt me.

I smiled through them, pretending like I didn’t care.

The sting of those words has lessened with time and therapy and doing ‘my work’.

Yet still, they drift back into view in moments when I least expect them, reminding me that within me are still hidden pockets of history. Places where, I tell myself, to dive in means risking letting go of what I have in the here and now.

And the voice of wisdom deep within whispers. “Memory cannot hurt you. It lives in the ‘there and then’ in your head. It isn’t real but its impact is felt in the here and now. Diving into it can set you free to live completely free and authentic and present in the here and now. Be brave Louise. Be brave.”

It is the gift of creative exploration. I never know what will be revealed. I only know it will fill in the gaps of the tapestry of my life with the wisdom garnered from letting what is seeking to be revealed appear. In its appearance, I am free to paint it with all the colours of the rainbow. Free to dance in the lightness of being released from its muddy stories dissolving into vivid colours woven through all the threads of my life today.

I don’t get to pick and choose the threads that appear. I do get to choose whether I heed the invitation to explore their mystery. In heeding the call to explore the stories they reveal, I empower myself to weave their story into my tapestry today with threads of beauty, compassion, love, joy.

I began to paint the faces on a paper doll chain.

Memory beckoned. Come dive deep into the mystery, it whispered.

I resisted.

I balked.

I hesitated.

Memory is a relentless companion. It keeps pushing and tugging. Prodding and probing.

Memory cannot hurt me. Not diving in can.

I dive.

And fear is washed away as the mystery of more of me unfurls in the exquisite beauty of the here and now.

It is a beautiful mystery this life we live. It is a beautiful mystery worth exploring to our deepest depths.

Care to go for a swim?

17 thoughts on “Memory’s Relentless Undertow

  1. Louise, I truly appreciate how you open yourself up to what the universe offers, take what twangs for you, and run with it. Wonderful articulation on the healing powers of creative exploration.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, we should swim with our “children” and hold their hand as we glide through the waves of old uncertainty. We can now do something they couldn’t do then. We can love them, they can trust us. Thank you Louise. ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • So very true Lilli Ann. I think it is why those memories call. My inner child knows she is safe within me — which makes it safe for her to call me to remember and heal, remember and heal… ❀


  3. Louise, thank you for sharing this and writing so eloquently about the experience of working with memory. I’ve been looking for a minute all day to log in and read your writing. Synchronicity, most certainly. I love these powerful lines, ” Memory cannot hurt me. Not diving in can. I dive.” I wish more knew and could journey this powerful truth. πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

  4. aaawh Louise, still battling the childhood monsters? I got stuck at paper doll chains. Is that like the buntings I knew in England. Many of the same little flags of any kind you like, put on a string?
    Anyway, yes to it all – your conclusion of fear being washed away by the beauty of the NOW is spot on. Or as I like to say: I only keep the good things in life, and I manage truly to forget the bad stuff (up to the point where I couldn’t let the new doctor know details of my former life’s history).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paper doll chains are like making snowflake chains — you fold and fold the paper and then, without cutting the seams, cut out your subject.

      I am always grateful when, no matter how many childhood monsters I have soothed, something in the here and now can trigger some unruly bit of monster I didn’t realize was tugging at my peace of mind in the here and now. When I dive in, the joy is always in setting myself free to dance and laugh and play with abandon. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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