What I remember

I’m gonna use the word Remember…a lot.

I was thinking about what I remember about my life and why. I remember details about things people have said and done that don’t really make a difference but I remember them. Other things I’m fuzzy on and I don’t know why. It’s not a memory loss but I remember details about a person and how they treated me, what they said or didn’t say and how they treated my loved ones.

I remember being young and having people treat me with so much love that I can’t understand why they loved me like that, even when I was not their own child.

I remember a high school teacher, a coach, telling me that I wasn’t smart enough to take Advanced English and I remember him humiliating several girls in his class and I turned my back to him. I remember the parent-teacher conference where he stared me down in front of my mother because I was sitting with my feet in the chair, being as disrespectful to him as I could without saying a word because he was wrong to have treated me and talked to me the way he did. I remember my mother saying, “Well, nobody will ever run over her.”

I remember being baptized and people saying things like “I’m so proud of you” and “I thought you would’ve done that years ago.”

I remember being teased/bullied in high school and I remember the same leader of that group of bullies calling me to encourage my husband to come work for him. You can guess how that went.

I remember incidents in my life when family members have made bad choices and I remember who called me and who didn’t. I remember the hugs and I remember the silence from those who either didn’t know what to say or those who sat in judgement, feeling superior. I remember who called with genuine care about how I was or how my family members were and I remember who called just to be nosy, pretending to care.

I remember when people gossiped about me or my family members. I remember who talked negatively to my parents about an incident and I remember what they said. I remember how it made them feel and in turn, how I felt. I can see those people today and while I forgive them, I cannot forget it.

I remember the people who treated me with kindness, in college, when I wasn’t very kind to myself. I remember who treated me terribly and who just thought I was awful. I remember who loved me enough to say, “Stop what you’re doing” and I remember those who encouraged me to continue so they could make fun of me. I remember people who talked about me behind my back, instead of talking TO me.

I remember people who have, not so long ago, spoken negatively about me or family members. I remember the apology but I won’t forget thinking to myself, “Those who gossip to you, will gossip about you.” I remember how people treat you without saying a word, the level of respect they give by their actions.

I remember those who have encouraged me, even with just a smile or a huge conversation. I remember who has held my hand through the ugly because that’s what I needed. I remember being scolded by my best friends when I wouldn’t stop obsessing about how someone treated me and why they did that.

I remember when I told some people I now had a doctorate or when they “found out” I have a doctorate. I remember people saying, “YOU have a doctorate” when they should’ve just said, “I can’t believe you, the girl who made all the mistakes, and seemed really dumb, has a doctorate degree.” I remember those who told me they were proud of me and knew I could do it.

I’ve always been somewhat rebellious. If you told me I couldn’t do something, I would probably figure out a way to show you I could. If you told me I wouldn’t do something, you were probably right but if I could figure out how, I would do it. Tell me I’m not smart enough, I’ll show you how smart I really am. Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll show you in the most sarcastic, in your face way, how much I can do it. Didn’t really matter what it was. If I felt like doing it, I did. My rebellion has cooled some since those years, but I’m still somewhat rebellious when I feel like it. Somedays, I just don’t care what people think. Other days, I’m terrified of what they do think. I know who to keep at arms length and who to pull as close as possible.

See, I know some people keep me at arms length because I’ve been the person in their life who has hurt them or said something to them that I shouldn’t have. I know how they feel and why they keep their distance. I’ve not always been kind like I should’ve been. I’ve yelled at people in the middle of the street, I’ve made sure people knew exactly how I felt about them, even with just a look. I have been a liar, a person of questionable morals, a person who has encouraged others to do the wrong thing, a gossip. I’ve done it all. I’ve been as ugly of a person as I remember others being to me.

I want to forget. I do forgive but self-preservation (I guess) won’t allow me to forget. I would love to forget and just move on. I guess it’s my brain’s way of keeping the hurtful away. People I counted as friends of years have shown me who they truly are, even if they don’t think I know, and I keep my distance because I don’t want to be that person anymore.

I remember so many kindnesses (Is that a word?). I remember when people have said the nicest things about my mother and father. I remember how people hugged my sister and loved my nieces and nephews. I remember who has gone out of their way to do something nice for my family members or friends and those things I will also never forget.

I wrote this so I don’t forget. I don’t want to forget how I feel as I write this. I want people to read it because I feel like it’s important. We all want to be heard and seen and remembered. We all want to do better. Sometimes, we just don’t know how and by the time we figure it out, we’ve already burned the bridges we needed to ask that person to forgive us.

My point is I remember who has been kind, who hasn’t and I also remember who I’ve treated unkindly and why. Ego, attitude and being selfish are some of those reasons. I hope that I have apologized to everyone I can find, I’ve tried. There are some people who I just can’t speak to because of the hurt they’ve caused me or my family and also because I’m embarrassed of how I treated them.

Life goes on, though. Doesn’t stop for feelings. You just have to get up and keep making the effort. God knows your heart and how you really feel and as comforting as that is, it’s also terrifying. Thank goodness for God’s mercy and grace. I’d be completely lost without it.

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