Childhood memories can be sweet or bitter. They can warm our heart and make us stronger or sadden us and remind us of insecurity and pain. Either way they are part of who we are and the story we tell ourselves and others about our lives.  Expanding the view of how we remember ourselves allows us to reconnect and rediscover a variety of qualities and abilities we had to begin with.

But what do we forget? There are endless moments that we don’t remember from one reason or another. I always considered my memory of my childhood quite good. I remember lots of situations, also those that were painful and shaped my self-image and my life following them, but lately I was reminded of a situation I just didn’t remember at all and I am still surprised how much emotional intensity it contained.

In my last visit in Israel, a few weeks ago I reconnected with a childhood friend that I didn’t see for over 30 years. You know, Facebook does these things… We chatted a bit online and decided to meet. She hinted that remembering our friendship brought up some emotions and sadness in her. I remembered her as my best friend for quite some years, but when I was trying to remember how our friendship ended, I just couldn’t remember anything. Frankly, I suspected that I did something mean or thoughtless that my mind didn’t want to remember and I went to this meeting prepared to face it and apologize if I can.

The moment of our meeting was so warm and touching. It was amazing to discover that after all those years we can immediately connect and communicate on a very deep level. I was so touched from how her heart was open to me. She didn’t come with any grudge, the opposite, she talked about me as a child in such heartfelt way, describing how much I was giving and present and deep, how close we were and how important I was for her, maybe too much. But what happened then?

Her memory of that time was quite precise; we were best friends and when we were twelve and moved to a new school we chose each other to be in the same class. After the summer holidays, when she came into the new class in the first day, she saw me sitting at the table and there was a free place next to me for her. And in a brief moment, she decided to cut this tie between us and went to sit in another place and since then she stepped away from me. Nothing really happened prior to that event. She offered her adult observation to the situation; that she just couldn’t maintain the closeness, the intimacy and her insecurity at the time. She called it “friends-in-love”.  So in her girl mind, she decided to break free of it though it was obviously painful. Her story opened a vague feeling in me; feeling of not understanding what is going on, being confused and lonely but accepting the situation as if I can’t influence it. I didn’t question her choice and I didn’t fight it though I felt alone in this class. I think I somehow got it that this is what she wants and went away.

So why didn’t I remember this situation? This whole period was as if erased from my memory, though I remember quite accurately the time following it. It seems to me that the fact that I couldn’t understand what is happening and didn’t allow the strong feeling to come up is part of it. I also didn’t have words for it (I don’t think I talked about it with anyone at all), so somehow it was not included in my life’s story. I ignored it in my memory. Later on, I found another friend and just went on.

And still, I am amazed that I can’t remember her after that incident though we stayed in the same class for the following 3 years. Maybe I didn’t want to look at her direction and feel what has happened and understand the situation in depth.Meeting her and talking about these times and events in such an open and even brave way, from her side, gave me back a piece of my heart. I felt happier and “at home”, like a girl that is singing and shouting funny youth songs with her best friend.

We continued talking for almost 5 hours. After all we had 40 years of catching up…

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