Another brilliant read by Tim about anniversaries and the effect they can have upon our thoughts and emotions.
I sometimes wonder why we have anniversaries. A friend of mine always goes away at Christmas because her mother died on Christmas Day and she and her family do not want to celebrate in case it reminds them of her death.
I have a surprise for her. She remembers it anyway on that day and every so often when she mentions it to other people.
My father died on the 6th of August, in 1982. I was on a business trip to the USA and was flying home on that day. My mother was glad he had waited until the 6th because the 5th is my birthday. I was wholly ambivalent. ‘When you dead, you dead” is a thought that came to me through reading one of Guy Martin’s autobiographies. It was what I was thinking then and his Grandpa Kidals encapsulated it perfectly.
I know when my mother died, and my father in law. But none of these anniversaries have any meaning for me. I loved all my dogs and my cats to bits, but I cannot recall the dates of their deaths. SWMBO can. She sometimes mentions “Jessie died today.”
But these anniversaries are times when we think whatever thoughts we think towards those who are dead, if we remember. If.
I don’t remember them. Seriously, I do not remember them.
I know when my mother’s birthday was. It was the day I was to have a belated birthday party but was called into hospital when I was 6 years old for my tonsils and adenoids to be removed. That’s kind of like my friend whose mother died on Christmas Day, an awkward association.
Awkward associations have the power to entrap us.
I’ll try that again. We have the power to entrap ourselves with awkward associations.
I thought about this while writing a comment on Brenda Berg’s excellent piece “Six Ways Writing and Journaling Will Improve Your Mental Health” and now I’m giving it more thought. I mentioned an anniversary in it:
A boy I was hugely enamoured of when he and I were teenagers has his 62nd birthday today.
And I can remember with absolute clarity that Paul was born on 14 June 1956, and that I was hugely enamoured of him. The anniversary paints a picture of him in my mind, and one I no longer mind seeing, one that no longer distresses me. Another of my anniversaries is 25 November. John, the boy I obsessed over for much of my life from the age of 13 onwards was born on that day in 1951.
For years I spent that anniversary in tears when in private, and grumpy in public.
Both of these anniversaries are summed up in the song from the musical of Whistle Down The Wind, sung so well by Meatloaf, ‘A Kiss Is a Terrible Thing to Waste‘ and I commend the lyrics to you.
I have spent much of my life, and especially these anniversaries, and far more the November one, wailing “if only, if only it were so…” with tears streaming down my face. And the anniversaries catalyse it.
[You need to start picking me up on my choice of words here. Perhaps you are.]
Or, rather, I use the anniversaries to wallow in self-pity. Or I did, did until very recently, until I got the trick of working through my issues by writing them out and sharing them, by talking about them.
We can beat the tyranny of the anniversary, you see, but we must spot it first. John and Paul, I am nothing to them, nor are they truly anything to me, both then and now. Their birthdays are as meaningless to me now as they have always been to you. After all, unless there is a weird coincidence, you obsess over neither the 25th of November, nor the 14th of June, nor has anything significant happened in your life that gives those dates any meaning.
So, now, on those dates, instead of grieving, for it was grief, I raise a metaphorical glass to the men those two boys have become, celebrate their gilded youth, and move on.
It took me almost 50 years to be able to do that.
How about you? What anniversaries beset you? How do you cope with them? Do you even realise that there is a choice? Did you realise that you can make that choice yourself, without help?
It may have taken me almost 50 years, but you’ve been given the key to doing it now, today. So maybe experiment a little and start to work out what in your life is truly important? Is it an anniversary, good or bad, or is it now, today?
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of Conscious Living by Design™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).