I was originally going to write about Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” Berry Gordy’s first hit record (it was originally recorded for his Motown predecessor Tamla), since I have been having an especially difficult time financially for the past, oh, 20 years or so! But as I drove home from work today while listening to the first CD from Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection, 1959-1971 I was preoccupied with another drama (really, a series of related dramas) that I had just decided earlier in the day to end in a pretty passive-aggressive fashion. I wanted to get things off my chest, so I tried to think of the perfect song that would help me express myself.
The Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” came on, and at first it seemed appropriate. I have been holding on to situations and people who have long since forgotten about me or simply stopped caring, and I resolved to do the same. I wrote a few blogs over the past month or so in which I discussed my attachment to old dramas and how that has caused me to stay stuck where I am in certain aspects of my life. Hmm. Maybe this would be the song.
The next track on the CD is Martha & The Vandellas’ “Come and Get These Memories,” a song I have heard many times, though not as often as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.” The lyrics suddenly spoke to me. That was it.
Lover you’ve gone from me
And left behind so many memories
Come and get ‘em, come and get ‘em
I have not gone through a break-up recently, but I have decided to break up with the memories of lovers past. This is difficult for me because I’m a historian, so in my eyes the past is infinitely more interesting than the present! I also do not mean that I shall ever completely forget these people, because I would not be who I am right now without them. I do not give them most of the credit for creating the fabulousness that is me, of course, but each of them absolutely influenced me, positively and negatively. What I need to let go of is the fantasizing about what could be if, by some miracle, we were to meet again under different circumstances. I need to release the negative energy those old situations created, the fucked up shit that I did for so many years in their names, the way I disrespected myself and those closest to me. I feel ashamed. But no more. I am practicing non-attachment starting right now.
Here’s our old favorite record
I can’t stand to hear it anymore
Here’s some old lingering love
It’s in my heart and it’s tearing it apart
But here’s the thing. I write this blog about music, and a lot of the music I love is connected to these memories. There are some records that will always remind me of a certain person or place or experience, so I do sort of have to relive that shit when I write. But I can think of that as my way of dismissing the hold those memories have on me. I do have epiphanies as I write. Since I stopped drinking more than five years ago I have had quite a few epiphanies, many of which just spontaneously appeared to me. The ones I have as I write are equally valuable, and I guess you could say that I am recording them in words as they occur.
Here’s your old friendship ring
I can’t wear it no more
Here’s your old love letters
I can’t read them any more
I broke up with my best friend almost five years ago. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but I had no choice. I never looked back. Once I made the decision, that was that. These days I don’t even feel like we were ever friends. Sad. I will always remember him, but I have no desire to be his friend or speak to him at all. The last 18 months of our friendship were filled with horrible drama that each of us created, and I kept hoping things would change. When I stopped drinking, he couldn’t handle it and things just got worse. Since he was unable to be supportive as I got my shit together, I had to let him go.
The best friend I had for three years in my early twenties stopped talking to me when I was 24. There was a lot of drama there as well, but it was mainly stupid twenty-something shit. He reached out to me about a year later, and though I was angry at first we ended up talking for about four hours. But I had moved on, I had a new best friend (who I met through him) who was much healthier for me in every way, and I was just in a different place in my life. Every once in a while he would call me, and we even hung out once. He hadn’t changed one bit. I couldn’t deal with that. When I would see him out in the bars every so often we would chat and catch up, but I was just over it. I knew I no longer needed him in my life in any way. He was another one I never thought I could live without. But all these years later, I’m still here.
None of what I’m saying here is a judgment of these people. Everybody learns and grows in their own time; some never learn or grow. I have learned to accept that. And I know that if you cannot accept people as they are, then they shouldn’t be in your life. That may sound cruel, but I think it’s far better to let go of someone than to keep them around so you can criticize them and use them to make yourself feel better. And I think it’s also better for yourself to not get caught up in other people’s issues when they don’t want to do anything to fix them. I was surrounded by lots of dysfunctional people because I am a caretaker, as dysfunctional as I also am. But I was willing to set aside my shit to try to fix theirs. That never worked.
Because of these memories
I never think of anybody but you
So, come on and get ’em
‘Cause I found me somebody new
I haven’t found a new lover or a new best friend. But I have found out more about who I am. I let go of two best friends (three, if you count my BFF from junior high and high school) and feel perfectly right about it. But these stupid straight boys? Ugh. They’re much more difficult to give up, even though they’re not really in my life in any sort of tangible way. Two of them live out of state; one I have reached out to several times in the past year only to get no response, and the other, well, I’m not sure why he’s even a concern but he is. The third one, with whom the biggest and most damaging drama occurred, lives nearby but has a girlfriend, though that doesn’t stop him from flirting with me online.
There is much more work to be done on this issue. I have taken a few steps today, starting with the decision to actively work to move past this shit already. I doubt that anyone involved in my past drama is sitting around wasting energy thinking about me. So why continue giving them any of my energy? As an artist, I use these personal experiences to learn and create and teach. What I have to figure out is how to do these things without continuing to be consumed by them.
Come and get these memories
Since you’ve gone out of my life