Friday, January 02, 2009

I've known you a long time

The trouble with family is memory.

This is the brother who belittled me, 40 years ago.
This is the brother who bullied me, 30 years ago.
This is the sister-in-law who accused me, 25 years ago.
This is the me, who made a snide remark and hurt someone, 15 years ago.
This is the sister who made a threat, 10 years ago.
This is the niece who went through a morose period, 5 years ago.
This is the nephew, who harassed my child, 3 years ago.

It's easier to note changes in the kids, their bodies remind me that they are growing and changing. But my brothers and sisters are changing too. I know this, because i am too. More slowly than the kids, but changing nonetheless.

We remain wary, our long memories of past transgressions, large and small, fogging the lens through which we experience one another, in a way that never happens on the blanker slate that is a newer acquaintance. Just the echo of that past can send me back to that time, looking at the bully or the belittler, even though they no longer exist. Just a whisper of that cutting tongue can have them seeing that hurtful bitch who is no longer really me.

So carefully we must act, in order to avoid these echoes and whispers.

There needs to be an expiration date on certain memories, a way to delete them permanently.

The trouble with family is memory.


flutter said...

memory is also the blessing.

Anonymous said...

Labels are just so much easier than figuring things out fresh each time.

Schmoopie said...

The MIL made several hurtful comments about me to Stucco several years ago via email. She has no idea I read them. It changed the way I relate to her. Now I am distant and uncaring towards her. I don't give 2 shits about anything she does anymore. Fuck her.

Memory is a powerful thing.

Whew! Thanks for letting me rant.

Anonymous said...

If you move, please let me know. It's hard to forget, it takes practice.

Em said...

Whew, you nailed that one! I remember lots of good things...but it is sooo hard to forget the hurtful things. I can forgive. I can move on. But I still remember. And it does make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is an expiration date. It's just hidden on the back side under the label and the ink is smeared.

Something I am in the process of learning and implementing is attempting to actively create positive memories rather than perpetuate the hurtful ones. It's a difficult exercise, stretching muscles I never knew I had.

Gordo said...

Growing up together does strange things to people. My brother and I didn't start to get along until we were in our 20s.

furiousBall said...

i didn't get along with my sister well into my 20s. i think we all find our places in life eventually. you hope. life grades on a curve. at least it better, or else i'm totally hosed.

Anonymous said...

WOW, well said...

Anonymous said...

One of the oddest things, I think, about being human is that every experience, every moment of every day lays a layer down around us. Every negative thing, every good thing, every hour and minute and second where we do nothing but sit around and watch people goes down, layer after layer. Now that I'm pushing past 40 I think at times I can almost FEEL those layers accreting around me, colouring everything. Its a wonder any of us can function past the age of 10.

crazymumma said...

I know this all too well these days.

This memory just freaking haunting us all......

Mignon said...

I like what Irrelephant said. I was thinking how I have my share of bad/uncomfortable memories, but as long as the good outweighs the bad, I can still feel positive things about Jane or John. Or at least accept them with their faults.

But this is in theory, I guess, because I'm still pissed at my big brother for siding with his wife's friend, over me 12 years ago... I'd like some White Out for that.

Really good post.

meno said...

flutter, that is true as well.

daisy, EXACTLY!

schmoopie, what a dumbass thing for her to do. Now i hate her too. Rant on!

deb, of course i would let you know. You can learn to forget? Really?

em, yeah, of the forgive and forget thing, i can only forgive, but i never forget.

de, that is one hell of a worthy goal. I think i'll make a good memory today.

gordo, i get along with my sibs, but we are wary.

furious, i'll see you in hoseville then. That should be fun.

emily, thank you, i was feelin' it.

irrelephant, *happy sigh* that was quite nice. From one fellow onion to another.

crazymumma, i gotta tell you, i am DYING to know what the hell happened with your family, although i totally understand why you can't say. Peace.

mignon, see? You know what i mean. Would that we could forget those things and have unclouded times with family. And thank you.

SuperP. said...

Wow. You are so correct. The trouble with family IS memory.

Perfect post.

jaded said...


I wonder it we hold family to a higher standard of conduct than friends, because are surrounded by them when we are most vulnerable or if it is because are naive and trust them not to use our own weakness against us.

Dianne said...

I also think the problem with family is not greeting and recognizing the memories in order to let them be

I realized that a lot this Christmas with my family

I wish I was better at it, I always try and just end up causing more trouble ...

TTQ said...

Nobody in my family holds a grudge anymore...We've forgotten what a pain in the ass we use to be to each other. Takes too much energy, holding a grudge..
And we are way to tired to care anymore..

Anonymous said...

Hi M. Thought provoking post. My family is making some memories these days. Be good.

Mrs4444 said...

What a gift it would be to forget, completely. For me, it would be a period of two years (ages 7 to 9). I suppose those years are a part of who I am today, but I'd be willing to take the chance of being different, if I could forget. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea if anyone can forget. I wrote it down trying to sound wise. I'm calling bullshit on myself:)

I don't forget when people hurt me, all the way back to forever. Maybe Alzheimers wouldn't be so bad.

Vanessa said...

I can remember the good and the bad and do my best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people really can change and sometimes it really is about recognizing them for what they are in order to protect yourself.

meno said...

penny, thank you! The idea just hit me yesterday morning.

patches, or maybe it's just easier to dump friends. Family tends to stick around after inidents.

dianne, Christmas does bring out the family thoughts in me.

ttq, i don't know if we hold grudges, but we do hold memories. At least i do.

mamalujo, Good memories?

mrs 4444, yeah, we need an erase button.

deb, oh. And i was so hopeful that you knew something i didn't about forgetting, because i never forget either.

vanessa, we have all changed, but we keep seeing glimpses of the old that skew our view of the new.

QT said...

This is a great post. I think I am lucky that I have very, very thick skin as I don't remember a lot of the hurts. Unfortunately, the flip side is my barbs are calibrated for elephant hide, so my sisters could probably write this post about me. Guess I'm going to hoseville, too....

luckyzmom said...


It hurts no one but yourself when you won't or can't forgive. Oh, BULL, my brother hasn't spoken to me in almost 10 years (no one is sure why) and it still hurts me.

I've worked long and hard to be a better person, leaving behind anger, criticism, control and such. But, get together with family and the elephant still stands in the middle of the room.

Scott from Oregon said...

My brother's lip snarls involuntarily when we meet.


I wonder what he remembers?

meno said...

qt, at least i'll have some good company in hoseville. :)

luckyzmom, elephants are so hard to ignore, but we are all so good at ignoring them. Don't worry, if i do move, i will let you know.

scott, that's powerful, that snarl. I wonder what he remembers too.

Girlplustwo said...

ah babe. i'm with you. but i'd go easy on the niece. morose seems fitting given the rest of the above.

Magpie said...

Oh yeah. There are whole branches lopped off of our family tree.

sari said...

I have this problem with my mother. I don't forget. Is it fair to either of us?