Delving deeper into memories

My post yesterday sent me off on a tangent about memory.

I wrote about what I do remember on the day of my first confession, but there is a lot missing that I do not remember about that event.

I have no memory of my actual first confession, at least not one that stands out from other confessions I made during my childhood. I have lumped all my experiences of Catholic penance into one image of kneeling in a small dark room, hearing a small window-sized barrier slide open and a priest’s voice. I can’t remember what the various priests said over the course of my confessions.

“Forgive me Father for I have sinned,” I seem to have successfully retained as my appropriate response. I don’t remember the multitude of offenses I confessed to. I do remember there were big sins and smaller sins which fell into the two categories of venial and another name I can’t recall. I also didn’t remember if venial referred to the bigger sins like murder and theft until I Googled it. “According to Roman Catholicism, a venial sin (meaning “forgivable” sin) is a lesser sin that does not result in a complete separation from God and eternal damnation,” (Wikipedia). Maybe that’s why I don’t recall the name for the really big sins. I only committed smaller sins like fighting with a sibling or telling a white lie. If there is such a thing.

I also remember sitting on a hard pew and praying the Our Fathers and Hail Marys I was assigned as penance.

On the day of my first confession, I have no idea what happened afterwards. Did I go back to my own school? Did I go home? How did I get there? It’s a complete black hole. I don’t remember telling my mother what had happened, although I’m sure I did. And most importantly, I don’t remember her response. I wish I could.

I read recently that we can delve deeper into our memories and bring back details. I’ve never made a conscious effort to do so, and don’t exactly know how. Although I have to admit that I had to concentrate to bring back details for the scenes in my memoirs. But most of those were easily accessible. I suspect a little Googling might lend some guidance.

I get a little scared when I think about uncovering memories I haven’t sifted and sorted through as an adult. I don’t really know if it’s possible. If I tried, either I would discover things I had forgotten, taking me back to a time and place that no longer exists, or I would resurface empty-handed. Either way, it is a little unsettling to think about.

You’ll be the first to know.






5 thoughts on “Delving deeper into memories”

  1. Hi Christine,
    I found your blog via Joss’ post.
    I often wonder what the priests thought of young sinners. Truly, most of the sins were nonsense. “I told a lie to my mother.” or “I hit my brother…” (though he probably deserved it!) and other mindless everyday activities. The priests probably longed for the ‘juicy’ confessions from young teenagers or cheating fathers – something they could take back and share in the rectory.
    Good luck on writing, editing and most of all remembering. I often wonder where all those moments went to – they will probably surface when we are old and in a nursing home!

  2. heh heh. You had me chuckling. I’ve always thought that if I don’t remember it’s because I have no need to have that memory as part of my awareness. However, there are times whens someone tells a story which then reminds you of something you forgot and that always feels like excavating riches.

    1. Your comment has me chuckling. I can’t imagine how some of the memories I have fill any need as part of my awareness. I don’t know why some memories make it to long-term storage and some don’t. Maybe they’re all there, but we just can’t access them. I may have to research this topic.


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