Memory is a tricky thing. Sometimes we know at the exact moment an event happens that we will remember it forever. I have some of those. And sometimes we forget before it’s even over. I have lots of those.
When I was about twelve, I said something smart to my mother – no surprise there – and just happened to infuriate my father. He flew out of their bedroom with a belt in his hand, trapped me in the doorway of my room and started whaling on me with the belt.
I have no memory of that.
My sister JR remembers it. She was about sixteen and she told me that I was so pissed that I refused to cry. She said that part of her was cheering me on for standing up to him and taking it, but that the other half of her wanted me to break down and cry so that he would stop. That memory stuck with her forever – and it is completely gone from my mind. I have no doubt that it was gone before he put the belt away.
I only told you that so that I could tell you this: It is still my M.O. I bury the bad, the hurt, and the pain before it can take root in my head – or in my heart. It is part of the reason I am a forgiving person. We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but if I can’t even remember it, how can I possibly hold a grudge?
On the other hand, that M.O. has also caused me to live my life in such a way that I don’t really have a lot of good memories, either. It all kind of blends together. The last few years have been so much better in that regard because I have finally cut through some of that fog and found ways to be there – really be fully present – in the moment.
Some of those moments are things like the graduation – I won’t forget that. I won’t forget MoC cheerfully putting a bag over her head and waving like a beauty queen. I will always remember my brother telling me he was proud of me. I can’t forget Leslie laughing until she damn near peed her pants while she was distracting me while MoC was in ICU. And no, I don’t really remember what we were laughing at but it doesn’t matter, either. I will always remember Bridget standing in my kitchen watching me and then giving me a blinding smile and kissing me for no reason at all. I’ll never forget the way the whole world tilted just a little in that moment. I won’t forget that an old high school friend asked me to be there for her during her cancer treatment, because 25 years later she still trusted me to share her darkest fears.
About a month ago I put my face in my header picture. I have never done that – and I’ve been pretty stingy about posting any pictures of myself here. In fact, I never referred to myself by my actual name until yesterday. That was just another way of hiding from the world, of keeping some part of myself private so that you could read and read and learn all kinds of trivial stuff about me, but you couldn’t ever touch me or know me in any real way.
So here I am.
And hopeful, in my own cranky way, because when I take the time to look around, to be present, I know that I am truly blessed – and finally, I am comfortable in my own skin.
That’s all I could have asked for.