For decades researchers have been struggling to find anything close to a cure for the crippling effects of Alzheimer’s disease. They’ve develop a few mildly effective medications, but nothing comes close to slowing the gradual decline in memory. Well I have a great idea for the various researchers, scientists, and/or neurologists working towards a cure … try breaking up with someone. If they can manufacturer that feeling into a pill, the Alzheimer’s problem will be solved.
Not to completely generalize, but most every adult has broken up with someone, been dumped, or had a relationship mercifully just fizzle out. I can rest assured that with those first two scenarios most everyone has countless images, words, sounds, and feelings permanently emblazoned into their memory. I can honestly still see the tear mark that an ex left on a gray set of sweat pants from ages ago. That sight is never going to leave me because it hurt so much to see, and every time I see that image all of the emotions of that day come roaring back. Obviously the intensity of such feelings lessens as time goes on, but we still never cease to remember in fine detail what happened.
The mixtape works every time … except for the times when it comes off as pathetic
Getting dumped of course produces even stronger lasting memories. The words a former lover used to end the relationship forever stick in one’s mind more than any of the SAT words a teacher would force feed during English class. No matter how diplomatically it was done, it’s hard to essentially hear “You’re not good enough.” Who doesn’t remember scrambling to make sense of that revelation, and second guessing countless scenarios in their mind? What about the failed attempts at reconciliation? The advent of texting has simplified this process, but before such technological advancement every attempt was memorable because it had to involve a face-to-face encounter, a very regrettable phone conversation, or production of the venerable mix tape. It’s fairly easy to forget a random, emotionally laced text sent to a former lover at midnight. A person never forgets walking or driving to an ex’s house late at night pleading for a second chance, only to get rebuffed and have to go all the way back home with no dignity, and most importantly, no girlfriend. Even well after the hoped reconciliatory period, we still maintain indelible memories about the situation. Songs are frequently a reminder of that person or a particular event with that person, passing a restaurant and remembering exactly what seat and entrée were ordered, and/or having a bewildered feeling when hearing an obscure word or phrase that only the ex would say. Most of the previous examples are fairly benign … what about traumatic breakup? Catching a lover cheating, relationship termination secondary to abuse, or unexpected death. All of those situations create a permanent memory even as we try various measures to forget or repress them.
I’m not a scientist, so I have no idea what chemicals, neurons, proteins, etc are synthesized when we break up, but I’m pretty certain they produce anti-Alzheimer’s disease properties. If they could somehow manufacturer the neurochemical state of breaking up with someone into a pill or vaccine, I think they’d have success ridding the world of this memory zapping illness. Like most people I have distinct, eternal memories of my relationship failures. While I acknowledge that many of these helped shape my social development and maturity, I’d be more than willing to donate some of them to science.