I’ve had those really negative people come through my life before…you know, the ones who spend most of their breaths complaining? I mean, during 2020 we’re all that person a little bit, but you know the type…just constant complaining. I’ve never had close relationship with people like that, but I’ve had circumstantial proximity where I just find myself thinking, Man…I am too depressed to hang out with this person for too long.
But there’s a different variation of that negative person I want to talk about. It’s the one that seems to have a perfect memory for someone’s failures, but not for their successes. That variation of negativity is one that I have had closer and extended proximity to and it is rough. Like…if you talk about something good someone they know did, they’ll bring up something bad. I recently had to do some boundary setting with someone who actually did this to me. Like, if you still bring up stuff I did wrong – even 20 years later – you are not good for me.
The process of analyzing that relationship and setting that boundary had me realize something. That person was not the worse culprit at that in my life.
I was going over old blog posts, formatting them as I’ve been trying to do over the last many many months, and I kept reading references to times I helped a friend who moved her by letting her kids stay with us when she traveled on business. Now, this is not a big deal our kids were basically siblings, but I have no recollection of every doing that. And you know what? That’s a nice thing to do for someone. Why don’t I remember it?
You know what I do remember? Every bad thing I ever did in that friendship.
So…what does that mean?
I am being a really shitty friend to myself. Like…the more I thought about it the more I realized I do this a lot. My brain does an excellent job preserving and reminding me of all of the negative shit I’ve done in my life, mistakes I’ve made, etc…but where is the bookkeeping for all of the good stuff? NOT THERE.
Can you imagine having a friend that was constantly bringing up your past mistakes and never bothered to remind you of the good things you had done? YOU WOULD NOT BE THAT PERSON’S FRIEND. And yet…I do it to myself all of the time.
I AM A TERRIBLE FRIEND. (To myself.)
I do this in my parenting, in my wife-ing, in my friend-ing, my sister-ing and daughter-ing. I am constantly thinking about all of the ways I’m failing people and barely even cataloging the ways I might be good for them. When I’m deciding what to log into long-term memory, my brain decides to really carve in the mistakes I make and just kinda brushes off the memories of the successes.
I WOULD NOT PUT UP WITH THAT FROM A REAL HUMAN. Hell, I didn’t. I have been working on boundary setting for that specific reason and yet…YET…I do it to myself every day.
So I’m really going to try to work on that. I don’t know how to convince myself that I’m allowed to forget mistakes and savor successes…BUT DAMMIT I WANT TO BE A BETTER FRIEND TO MYSELF. I have learned that I deserve it when it comes to the way other people treat me, but when it comes to how I treat myself? Evidently not.
Anyone else out there find themselves doing the same thing? Remembering their mistakes in vivid detail but not doing as good of a job cataloging their successes? LET US WORK ON THAT TOGETHER.