Dear Annie: I’m so embarrassed!
Dear Annie: What do you do about embarrassing memories that pop into your head randomly and make you want to crawl in a hole?
It seems to keep happening to me lately. I’ll be washing my hair in the shower, or trying to drift off to sleep at night, when, suddenly, I remember a humiliating event from my past and feel a flush of heat through my whole body. This is especially a problem when I’m trying to sleep since it sends adrenaline rushing through me and keeps me awake for an hour or more.
I don’t know if there’s anything I can do about this. I guess I just needed to get this off my chest and share it with someone. I’m also curious to know if anyone else has experienced this. Am I crazy? — Mortified
Dear Mortified: No, you’re not crazy, and you’re not alone. To err is human; to dwell on the error, especially so. Everyone experiences these “cringe attacks” from time to time. It can help to let the memory come up, rather than trying to suppress it. What we resist persists. A 2015 study found that focusing on other details of such memories — such as what the room looked like or who you were with — can gradually reduce the emotional effect they have on you. (Melissa Dahl discusses this study in her book “Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness,” which is definitely worth a read.)
Still, if you notice that these thoughts are becoming more frequent and interrupting your daily life, consider seeing a therapist for guidance in managing anxiety.
Dear Annie: Recently, I turned 65. I’m a retired Navy pilot and author who has had multiple near-death experiences over the course of a very lucky and unlucky life (including plane and car crashes and terminal cancer caused by excessive exposure to radiation). I’m forever grateful for — and truly blessed to have — a wonderful wife and family and friends.
I’ve always been a huge nature lover, and that’s why I learned to fly. I wanted to fly like a bird, high above the earth, enjoying and at peace with Mother Nature.
In essence, Annie, this is what I’ve learned about life through the years: We’re not conquerors of Mother Earth or the universe. We’re too small, and the universe is too big. We’re too finite, and the Universe is too infinite. Instead, we’re merely temporary children — children who’ll sometimes think we’re in charge but never are really.
In the mere blink of an eye, we’ll all be gone. Eternity does matter, and love does matter. I can’t tell you exactly how or why, but — after what I’ve been through — I know in my heart, mind and soul that it does.
So, try to live a joyful and meaningful life with your family, friends and community. Please, just try… you’ll be forever glad you did. — Bill Goss, LCDR USN (Ret)
Dear Bill: Your letter touched my heart. Love is truly all that matters in the end. Everything else falls away. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, and I wish you and your family all the best.