“Is it better to hate somebody or to forget them?”

“You can let your memories control you, or you can forget everything that happened, and build new memories.

When you keep thinking about it – that’s when it’s hardest to forget. Every time you think about it, it comes back fresh in your mind and you experience it all over again, the memory becomes more permanent.”

I wrote this down with a pen on my notebook in my mid teens. It’s still hard to think about what happened, but I rarely think about it, unless I intentionally have to, like now.

Even good memories, I’ve found, can be painful to remember.

Like when two of my uni friends died within 2 years of one another in my early twenties, it can hurt to think about the promises we’ve made to go on trips together.

Omar, especially, that I made this promise to go to Kenya for his wedding.

I cried everyday for about 6 months when I heard of it. We weren’t particularly close, but had spent an enormous amount of time talking during the boring hours in between lab experiments.

I remember his how fond he was of his little sister. He would show me pictures of her. She had curly hair. She was six. I was twenty. How old is she now?

Six plus nine. She’s a teenager now.

Norman, whose mum came to collect his graduation certificate on posthumously on his behalf.

I don’t even know why I was so sad, and why I still cry when I think about these. Like I said earlier, we were not even that close.

To cope with their deaths, I learned to imagine that they were still alive in some way. It’s unhealthy, I’m aware. But it’s been the easiest thing to do.

On the contrary, with some people who are still alive, I cope by imagining that they’ve somehow left.

Left does not always mean death, but that they’ve left my spectrum of perception.

Obviously, memories end at bad ones with this category of people. It’s the reason why you’re not talking to one another anymore, or that the relationship has changed in a way that creates a space between you that neither of you feel comfortable stepping into anymore.

It could have a been a fight, a misunderstanding, having drifted apart… something.

Regardless of what it was, it ended badly, and neither of you have had the courage to try again. Or perhaps one of you tried, but the other gave up. The timing wasn’t right…

Everyone has these kinds of relationships.

How I deal with mine is by deleting memories with them every day. If a good memory comes up, I don’t smile, I don’t reminisce, I just let go. Then, if a bad one comes up, I don’t get angry, I don’t cry, I just let go.

Slowly, all conscious memory of that person vanishes. So when I meet them again, they become essentially strangers.

Until of course, they bring up a subconscious memory that I’ve failed to let go.

If that happens, I let that memory too.

Again, it is unhealthy to do this, I’m aware. 

But I’ve always asked myself: Is it better to hate somebody with the memories I have or to forget them and if we happen to cross paths again, meet each other as new people?

I choose the latter.

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