Janelle's Blog

The Woman Who Can’t Forget

She Could Never Forget

What if you could remember every day of your life, recalling exact dates and events? That sounds impossible, but it really did happen. Jill Price has been in the news lately on television shows like CNN and Oprah promoting her new book, The Woman Who Can’t Forget. She has a memory condition called “hyperthymestic syndrome,” which has caused her to recall memories of the details of what she has done every day since she was fourteen years old. With no effort on her part, she cannot stop the flood of memories.

My Early Childhood

I recalled my earliest childhood memory. I thought I was much older, but my mother told me I was almost three. In preparation for my birthday, without consulting each other, my parents each bought me identical dolls. Strangely, I could remember reasoning how I did not want to hurt either of their feelings by rejecting one of the dolls. So, I named them Sally and Sunday Sally. My everyday doll was Sally, who I dragged around everywhere. After a while she looked a little scuffed and crumpled, but she was always there when I needed her.

Sunday Sally got the royal treatment. She was kept in a box and was only taken out on Sunday morning when I went to church. Her pristine dress was pressed and crisp. Her curly hair hung in ringlets, like mine. I was proud of both of my dolls, not favoring one over the other.

These were happy memories for me that helped me block out the emotional distress of living in a dysfunctional home.

How Your Memory Affects You

Some research has shown that the way we process negative childhood experiences into our memory is to draw life lessons out of them.

Jill Price says that one of the most debilitating ways in which her memory has affected her is her regret over decisions and events in her life. She has gained some understanding of how to overcome this from Benedict Carey, reporter for New York Times who wrote, “It is partly from studies of lost selves that psychologists have come to a more complete understanding of how regret molds personality.”

As a breast cancer survivor, you can do nothing about what has already happened to you in your life. Everything bad or unpleasant that led up to the time of your breast cancer and your traumatic experience with breast cancer has left you with emotional scars.

When I faced breast cancer 28 years ago, I recall being overwhelmed with negative thoughts, most of which were not true. Then it occurred to me that my mind was like a memory card in a computer. I had the capability of choosing which things I would allow to remain in my mind and which things I would toss out. An old country saying I heard all my life was, “A bird may fly over your head, but you don’t have to let it build a nest in your hair.”

Replacement Parts

To live life with peace and happiness, you have to train your mind to live in the moment, to enjoy the essence of all good things that happen to you. I think that is why I enjoy reading so much. It is a way to replace negative experiences with things you enjoy. Think of it this way…every time you fill your mind with positive things, you crowd out those bad experiences. There is not room for both at the same time. Stuff your mind with everything good you can find.

Choose happiness. Choose life.

Quote for Today:

“Selection is the very keel on which our mental ship is built.”– William James, one of the founders of psychology

Live Life,

Janelle


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