They still haunt me during lonely moments: those times when I really messed up. I can’t find a secret spot in the recesses of my memory to hide them. Maybe I shouldn’t try.

I have made amends for the major blotches and blights in my life and I have since worked to cultivate better decisions and habits. And yet, I can’t shake the mental pictures that portray those painful moments.

My memories play out like a photo album with page after page of chronological snapshots. When I close my eyes at night, I can turn the pages like an old-fashioned Disney storyboard, taking me from infant to toddler to kid to teenager and onward. Most of my photos show serenity and serendipity.

Then I hit the ugly pages. I see photos of places where no one would choose to be, action shots authenticating poor choices that led to serious consequences. Each photo’s dark hues starkly contrast the other pages. I continue flipping and return to bright colors, warm smiles and more recent treasures.

Do others have a photo album depicting their lives? Have they attempted to extract their bad photographs and painful memories from their albums, leaving only the good ones?

This is what I have come to believe: I’m a fortunate fellow. I have created a life album rich in content and color. It continues to get better with age.

And those old photos that still give me the creeps? They belong in there as part of the total me. They provide a truthful contrast that allows me to better appreciate all the moments of contentment and happiness.

They also remind me that I’m the one who determines what pictures get put into the remaining pages.