life as i know it

"...everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -Sylvia Plath

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Earliest Memory

It’s Sunday and that means it’s time for scribblings, time to focus on the topic chosen for this week, time to crawl back into the recesses of my life and dredge up memories of times when youth and innocence overwhelmed the world of reality. I must admit that initially I did not want to write on this week’s topic. I know my earliest memory and it really isn’t all that fascinating to read about. Additionally, as I’ve just spent the past semester intently studying psychoanalysis, I personally have no desires left to reach back into a period of my history and reminisce about a Christmas when I was three years old. Talking about earliest memories is not such a simple task for those in the field of psychotherapy. Along with the memories come analyses of every possible meaning of those memories. Why was that particular memory the first one I was able to recall? What is the significance of the people that played a role in the making of that memory? How was I feeling during the time of that memory, and what was it that evoked those emotions? You see…earliest memories are a dangerous territory in my field. Consequently, my initial response to this week’s prompt was not one of enthusiasm. I honestly considered just letting this Sunday pass me by. I then considered writing a post of a completely different subject. Only after several hours and repeated deliberation did I decide to truly explore the irritation and hesitation I was feeling rather than ignoring it. Instead of allowing the negative emotions to block my words, I have decided to share a bit of my earliest memory and a bit of the present emotions that this memory evokes.

The year was 1983. Technically it was winter, though true winters rarely grace the South with their presence. It was the first house I ever lived in, a brick house with white columns on the front porch and a black metal mailbox at the end of the driveway. The interior décor still sung with melodies of the 70’s, with shag carpeting, a plush orange chair, and splashes of retro green and yellow scattered about. The Christmas tree was decorated and positioned in its sacred spot, though I have only vague memories of where that spot actually was. I am quite sure there was the usual abundance of gifts for my sister and me, though my memory involved only one gift. This gift was thoughtful and fun, but apparently not what my three-year-old self was wanting. To my mother’s great dismay, I told the gift-giver that I wanted something different. And indeed, sweet giver that she was, she exchanged my original gift and let me pick out the gift I had wanted.

The irony is that this memory shaped much of my life in the years to come. Openly speaking my mind (or heart) was sacrificed at the expense of being a “polite and well-behaved” child in my early years. But my silence ceased with the arrival of adolescence, when my voice knew no limits and every thought was freed in utter opposition of my childhood.

My inherent nature has always been to speak the truth, even when that truth doesn’t quite seem appropriate. Of course, I’ve learned as the years have passed when I can embrace my true nature and allow my words the freedom to fly. Certainly, there are times when such behavior is just not a viable option. But I also have learned that my original boundaries regarding speaking my feelings versus keeping my mouth shut began a bit blurred. Though my mother’s efforts to teach me proper manners were very well-intentioned, my three-year-old mind got somewhat muddled. Even now, I question myself at times. There are times when I openly voice my opinion, times when truth flows from my lips with such vivacity that only later do I stop to think that perhaps I should have turned on my inner censor before speaking. But there are also many times that I have kept my mouth tightly shut, rigidly holding in every ounce of feeling and life in the fears that my words will result in harm to others or myself. With those moments, I find myself later wondering what suffering has occurred at the expense of silence.

Ultimately, it is all a matter of balance. But balance is quite a complicated concept for a three-year-old.

Though my earliest memory is not itself heavily laden with emotions or drama, the lessons learned from this memory have both haunted and enlightened me. And maybe my own controversy with allowing myself the freedom to speak has nothing to do with this memory. But certainly now, in retrospect, my earliest memory holds a life-long lesson. A lesson of balance, of the importance of honesty, of the beauty of innocence, and of the origins of my inherent nature to let my words flow freely.


At 9:53 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

wonderful the lesson learned from your earliest memory!

At 11:13 PM, Blogger GoGo said...

What I love about reading your blog is that it always gives me a sense of comfort when I need to do things hard in my life.

Thanks for the memory!

By the way, even though the Sunday Scribbles list grows longer and longer, I always try to read yours!

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Tammy said...

This post resonates with my own memories of "children should be seen and not heard." I have grown since those years, but finding the balance was not pretty. My greatest practice was in raising very sensitive adolescent girls. Now I'm a pro. LOL Time and being tested never squashed my voice. My sweet lady, use your beautiful voice! Much love

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Kim G. said...

This was so interesting with your professional insights on early memories. It makes me wonder what my children's earliest memories are. I'm a bit afraid to ask in case it is me chewing them out for not acting like a grown-up at the ripe old age of three!

At 12:59 PM, Blogger baylor said...

Brilliant, as always!

I love you!

At 2:36 PM, Blogger la vie en rose said...

i think many of us, including myself can relate to this post. many of us have had that same experience--that moment when we knew it wasn't okay to speak our truth, to ask for what we really want, to be honest and expressive. and the balance--it's so hard and i'm not sure it's something to ever master but to keep least for myself.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Colorsonmymind said...

Tara-I am so tired at this moment that I cannot analyze my first memories, but you have me very curious and somewhat afraid of the analysis.

Anyway- I am glad you shared the memory, and how you felt about the prompt. That was very interesting too.

Love getting to know you as much as I love to read your writing.


At 7:36 PM, Blogger Alexandra G said...

I can very much relate. I was resistant too Tara to participating this week for the same reasons. In the end, I decided to write a post too but it did hurt. I did cry a bit in the writing process of it, and then, because of our shared field, there are all the buzzing analytical questions humming about as we write, and that gets a little exhausting! I did enjoy reading this post very much-insightful and vivid. We have to be able to speak our truths, or the silence does become suffering.

At 3:48 AM, Blogger TJ said...

never a disappointemt..never. One smart sounhern chicka!
Lessons come to young ...youth should be motre playful experiences, learning and not knowing.
Like I asked 6 year old MEG " can't ya wait until your at least 15 years to figure that one out, trust me there are jsut some things that are not important yet others that are.?"
love TJ

At 7:06 AM, Blogger HoBess said...

I'm glad you were persistent with yourself. As always, you offer so much here to think about.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Sky said...

Well, a post mortem here on the gift - I brought it home and kept it, the famous padded exercise/tumbling/yoga mat. I kept it for 20 years and used it for many different things. Once I even folded it to lay on while gardening! It got discarded during the move to Seattle - and looked exactly like it did the day you received it! :)


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