How many of you check your Facebook “On This Day” feature on a regular or even daily basis? I know I do. Sometimes there’s a fun memory. Mostly it’s mildly interesting to see what I was up to in years past. But occasionally I’m faced with a dive back into the bad old days. The bad old days are those where I was drinking to numb my depression and medicate my anxiety. This isn’t to say that there weren’t times when I had fun and enjoyed myself when I was drinking. In college I had a lot of fun and made some really good friends. My friends threw me a really great 30th birthday party around a speakeasy theme. It was great. The problem I had (still have I guess) is that I was drinking pretty much everyday and getting drunk on most of those occasions. I couldn’t go to the party and have a cocktail and switch to something else. I kept a bottle under my bed so I could secretly drink more on nights I felt like I didn’t have enough. The good memories are tied to the bad ones.
So when I see some of the pictures that pop up on Facebook when I look at my On This Day I see pictures from a Halloween party that was fun until I got sick. I see the picture of me in the bar, face bloated and swollen, eyes blurry, smile a little crooked. I see my location check-ins when I can watch the progress of an evening, from bar to bar to bar. I see the string of posts written late at night as I drunk-Facebooked. It can be a little painful and embarrassing.
But there are also a lot of good memories. Trips to Alaska, Germany, and Scotland. Weddings. Days on the boat. Family reunions. Picking up Bogey from the ASPCA. Meeting and holding my nephew for the first time. Posts where I say to myself “Was that really ten years ago!?” I really like seeing that stuff.
Recent changes by Facebook give you the option to filter out some of these posts- either by date or people who may be tagged in these old updates. Bad memories of an ex? Filtered. Don’t want old Christmas pictures to show up? Filtered. But I don’t think there’s a way to filter out all of the bad memories, all of the painful memories without getting rid of some of the good ones. What am I willing to lose to avoid a painful feeling? I thought about this and decided there’s nothing I’d be willing to lose. I’ll keep my bad memories. It can hurt a little to see them, but at the same time, what’s really being hurt? My pride? While I’m not always proud of how I acted or how I looked, I can put that into context. In a lot of ways I’m no longer that person. That was someone who wasn’t in control. It was someone who was sick and not getting the help that they needed. Well, I’m more in control now than I ever was then. I may be sick, but I’m working towards recovery and making progress. Those are things I can be proud of.
Looking back at these memories can be instructive. It can help you see that as you go through life you’re capable of positive change and that you don’t have to be limited to who you were yesterday, last year or ten years ago.