Life in Hindsight

“Why? Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths? Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years? Because such a situation makes it impossible to be happy? But we were happy! Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily. Because happiness is only real if it lasts forever? Because things always end painfully if they contained pain, conscious or unconscious, all along? But what is unconscious, unrecognized pain?”

An excerpt from The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

I’ve always wondered about this.

I was the kind of person who would opt for dwelling on the hurt for a while and then forgetting it and moving on, even if it was at the cost of losing the associated happy memories. But what good does it did it do to me to look back and only be able to see the pain, to have that overshadow the pleasant past?

So, in the past few years, I’ve been trying to make conscious effort on my part to remember failed relationships (of any kind) for the joy that it gave me instead of focusing on the pain that broke the bond. It’s not easy, I must admit…but I try…every time I think of a person that used to be a part of my life, I make sure I go through pages of my mind that is filled with happiness that the person brought along. Even though the ache creeps in one way or the other, I’m learning not to let it affect me adversely.

I don’t know / can’t say if this is good or bad. But, personally for me, this works better. Because this way when a whiff of fragrance or a song or a rainy day or a book or a place triggers memories of people who’ve crossed the path of my life, I am left with smiles (maybe a tear or two will appear alongside), and not just darkness.


  1. #1 by Krags R on May 4, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    in life, we learn with time and experiences and you ve chosen right and learnt well …
    matured perspective.

    🙂 if you say so, wise one 😀


    • #2 by Krags R on May 4, 2011 - 1:00 pm

      i might be wise (really ? :D), but u are the one practicing wisdom 🙂 …

      *trying* to practice 🙂


  2. #3 by celestialrays on May 4, 2011 - 12:42 pm

    Sounds mighty tough to me 🙂
    Good going Comfy!

    Comfy? 🙂


    • #4 by celestialrays on May 4, 2011 - 12:55 pm

      Tiny screen on tiny mobile… Tiny font on tiny reader… And the title of the post is the title of Comfy’s blog 😛
      It happens!
      I hope I gave all a Wednesday dose of laughter 😐

      😀 it’s ok…i know it happens 🙂


  3. #5 by anisnest on May 4, 2011 - 12:46 pm

    it is definitely a change for good. I try to do the same too…



  4. #6 by Saritha on May 4, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Time heals even the deepest wounds.And the way your are taking the things is appreciated,i don’t think i would have done that way.

    yupe, that’s true…with time the pain recedes 🙂


  5. #7 by Nilu on May 4, 2011 - 1:31 pm

    I have wondered about the same too. So many times. I think for the person who was not hurt by a betrayal, the memory of the happiness remains and for the one betrayed, that happy memories are lost or atleast tinged with sadness.

    Schlink has put it across so beautifully! And let me know if you succeed in your efforts…I am going to give it a shot too.



  6. #8 by Pixie on May 4, 2011 - 5:52 pm

    It is better I suppose…
    I am going to work on this, remembering the good times more rather than the bad…
    Time heals and we move on, but the painful memories are sometimes, just a thought away…
    I would like it better if the happy memories were just a thought away too! 🙂

    I know; too bad that most of the times the pain masks all the joyful memories.


  7. #9 by Chatterbox on May 4, 2011 - 9:19 pm

    A beautiful,positive and right approach to live life 😀
    Very hard too, but since you are putting in a conscious effort,it’ll definitely bring in lot of good memories for sure 😀 😀
    A wonderful inspiration for me too 😀 😀

    🙂 let me know how it goes for wishes


  8. #10 by ~G on May 4, 2011 - 10:33 pm

    Nice thought T. But what about all the anger and unfairness that you are reminded of while trying to remember good things? 😦

    That’s the hardest part..and hopefully time will heal that enough to make the happy memories more prominent…that’s the hope, at least.


  9. #11 by BlueMist on May 4, 2011 - 10:58 pm

    Anything that gives that tiny happiness is worth trying IMO. Sometimes I feel I should do something so that I will not have that twinge; but only if I can do something. Sometimes letting go is the only way it seems.

    Sure, sometimes letting go is the only way. It depends on the relationship, how it grew, how it ended, and what one wants to remember (if at all) in hindsight.

    I am going to take the ‘letting go’ way only when a relationship breaks because of betrayal or abuse or one of those adverse cases. Because in those cases, I don’t think I am strong enough to separate good memories from bad. Then, I will take with me the lessons learned and move forward.


  10. #12 by Psych Babbler on May 5, 2011 - 1:04 am

    It’s hard no doubt but better, eh? When we let the the negative take over the positives, what we are doing is engaging in an unhelpful thinking style called ‘mental filter’ that is, filtering out the positives. Every failed relationship has something good about it — even if it means we learn something from it. However, it’s easier said than done… :S

    For me, I feel it’s better, yes. 🙂 and there’s a term for that eh? thanks, PB..will do some reading on that


  11. #13 by Nuttie Natters on May 5, 2011 - 3:23 am

    I think every person in your life makes u the person you are…so i am grateful for everyone who came into my life. Some taught me to be strong, some taught me to hold back more, some taught me that it’s ok to walk away…and thats what makes me me.

    p.s. i also thought it was comfy’s post and was thoroughly confused by why the posted by titaxy was appearing 🙂

    Exactly. 🙂

    LOl @ P.S. The thought of the title crossed my mind only after I posted it. Makes it look like either Comfy is writing on my blog, or me on hers. 🙂


  12. #14 by HappyFeet on May 5, 2011 - 3:35 am

    I know what you mean!
    But for the part where the question comes as to “Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years?”, I’d say its because we realise everything was a lie then, so when the partner was with us, all happy earlier, later on we wonder if it was pretense and lies because we were kept in the dark. I guess, I would think like that.

    For relationships that don’t contain lies all through them, no matter how bad they end, I always hold the good memories close to my heart. and after a while, I am able to remember the good things whithout any pain associated. But depending on the reason and the relationship, the time I’d take could vary.

    Long comment! sorry! couldn’t stop myself, had been thinking on similar lines just a couple of days back. 🙂

    I am with you, HappyFeet. Any relationship based on betrayal or abuse of any kind – I don’t think I would be able to look back with smiles. No matter how much I try, in that case, I don’t think I am strong enough to hold on to happy memories…at least not for a long time.


  13. #15 by Bikram on May 5, 2011 - 9:38 am

    life teaches us a lot of things, maybe one day i will learn to do what you do, but till now i dont beleive time heals anything, in my case it has become a thorn and each time i rememebr it makes my blood boil and good job i am in uk else i would be in some jail on murder charge 🙂

    but lets see what time brings maybe what you said it true but not working with me at the moment..

    I beleive that why should one cheat or hurt anyone , if you are doing it and KNOW you are doing it then you are a BAD man/woman and dont deserve the goodness of the world simple … 🙂

    I don’t know yet how I would react in case of betrayal from someone in my life, Bikram. I think in that case, it will either take me very long time to be able to look at positives or I would just let go of it right away. I haven’t been in those situations, so I really don’t know how I would react. What I talked about here are about a few relationships in my life that turned rocky due to difference of opinions, not being able to get along, etc.


  14. #16 by Achu on May 5, 2011 - 10:41 am

    Wow!! your last line beautifully said it all… I’ll try too… 🙂



  15. #17 by Swaram on May 5, 2011 - 11:55 am

    How nice T! Wishing u the very best 🙂 Hugs!

    thanks 🙂


  16. #18 by Comfy on May 5, 2011 - 1:38 pm

    For me I think it is not only how the relationship ended but what went before to get me to the point of breaking off.
    If after giving myself so time I can look back and can understand the other persons point of view, then I do tend to focus on the good there was. But sometimes the malice and manipulations that occur have me too bitter to look back with any kind of good will.

    I am glad you are working things out in a way that brings you peace. Hugs.

    🙂 thanks Comfy


  17. #19 by Another Day In Paradise on May 10, 2011 - 11:33 am

    I absolutely agree with your way of moving on…with no bitterness…life is short…and it is tough to hold on to the bad memories….and if the paths ever cross I will give them a smile and wish them well….

    true 🙂


  18. #20 by Priya on May 11, 2011 - 2:00 am

    I’ve had similar thoughts T and I’ve always tried to look at n remember the positives rather than the negatives… definitely worth it!! But in some cases it just doesnt hold true… coz even the positives seem to have had the ulterior motive!

    agree 🙂


  19. #21 by Reema on May 16, 2011 - 6:39 am

    I am more of a blocking out person :)I don’t have the mental filter for positive things in a failed relationships.



  20. #22 by Deboshree on May 16, 2011 - 11:55 am

    That’s a great way to be 🙂 Thanks for the sunny-side-up tip. All the best and hope you have many cheery days ahead. 😀

    thanks 🙂


  21. #23 by blommer22 on May 20, 2011 - 1:45 am

    ideal things are so hard to do, seeing the positives rather than the negatives inside the aches. 😦

    true…hard, but no harm in trying 🙂


  22. #24 by Sonia on May 23, 2011 - 4:15 am

    So tough to practice !! I have tried and repeatedly failed, have spent more time in analyzing the hurt than to think of good things 😦

    😦 it’s ok…times like that, it’s better to let go


  23. #25 by Vidya on June 2, 2011 - 5:48 am

    That is the right thing to do and right way to be… Cheers!

    thank you!


  24. #26 by Matt on August 21, 2012 - 2:26 pm

    Easier said than done. I block out stuff. Letting go is so easy after a point of time.

    hmm 🙂


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