Monday, July 14, 2014
Let me offer an example of that which I am writing, if I may. A friend of mine from high school recounted a story to me a few years ago. According to her, she, I, and another of our friends went to a restaurant together, but the other friend and I jokingly left her out of the car and alone in the parking lot as we left. Honestly, I have tried and tried, but have no conscious memory of this at all. She does. Why? A man approached her int he parking lot and scared the snot out of her. She remembers, because it was stamped into her brain with the indelible black ink of fear. I don't, if I were to guess, for two reasons: one, because I saw it as a harmless joke when we did it and two, because afterward, when she got into the car crying, I felt incredible guilt at having hurt and frightened a good friend. Here is the important part: I do not doubt the veracity of her story whatsoever. Nor do I dismiss her feelings. I have apologized since hearing it and will continue to express my regret regardless of whether or not I recall the action for which I am remorseful. She says I hurt her, so I did. I care about her, so I care about her feelings.
She doesn't have a revisionist memory, because it differs from mine. She has HER memory. I do not have a revisionist memory, because I recall things from my childhood that others found less important or would rather forget. I have MY memory. I anticipate my son having memories from this time and beyond in his childhood that I may not remember in the future. What seems negligible to me right now, may be of the utmost importance to him. I try to take everything important to him now as important to me, because HE is important to me, but I know that there have been and will continue to be times that I fail, simply by nature of my fallible humanness. When he brings to me memories of his past, of our pasts together, I will listen, I will validate, I will empathize, and, if necessary and possible, I will apologize and rectify. What is important to my son is important to me. What is important to me is to not dismiss or negate him simply because I failed in some way, big or small. Finally, what I vow is to never tell him that his experiences did not happen, it's just his "revisionist memory," and that he needs to simply get over it and move on. Never. I know that that feels like. I vow to learn from that mistake others have made.