There’s a quote by Maya Angelou, (who I love, her poems are both so empowering and humbling it’s hard to know who couldn’t) about not remembering what people say, but remembering how people made you feel.
On this, I sort of disagree. There are occasions I absolutely remember how I felt, because I can remember exactly what was said.
Schoolfriend when we had moved from middle school to high school,
‘You’re just not cool, Tash, can’t you even try? Try putting your hair behind your ear or something’
This was her way of explaining why my previous group of friends no longer wanted to be associated with me. They were cool kids. I was not. It hurt. Ginormously. My twelve year old brain (actually my thirty-one year old brain) really struggled with understanding why my friends didn’t want to spend time with me, just because I wasn’t pretty, or ‘cool’, enough. I hadn’t changed; but they had, and I wasn’t up to scratch.
Kids are cruel. We know this, but I can still remember where I was when she told me this, I still remember hastily tucking my hair behind my ear as the tears slid down my face.
Even now, I still feel like the underdog, like I’m not quite good enough. I still pitch myself against other people, even though I am old enough to know better.
A best friend, in front of our group, on the beach in bikinis, chatting about our plans for when we have kids,
‘I don’t think you COULD breastfeed Tash, there’s nothing there’
Meeeeooow. My two other friends quickly piped up defensively for me, while my jaw hung open in shock, about a minute later one of my friends suggested a walk, and I practically ran down the beach.
In what way was that necessary? Not only completely untrue, but downright hurtful and bitchy. Why start body-shaming someone on the beach? And they were supposed to be a friend, and knew my less-than-buxom chest had always been a source of insecurity for me.
FYI I successfully breastfed both my children, the Little Little Man until he was 11 months old, so clearly, size does NOT matter.
My line manager, at a company awards ceremony when I was five months pregnant, he had just taken a photo of our team,
‘You’, looks horrified and points at me, while looking down at his camera (everyone at our table is listening) ’are NOT photogenic’
Yeah. I know. Thanks for pointing that out to all my colleagues. Tell you what, just announce to the room that I look ugly. Cheers.
My colleagues either side of me were suitably scathing about him, ‘he’s just drunk Tash’. But he was right, I am not photogenic (or my mirrors lie, quite feasible) and I really didn’t need it to be pointed out, especially by my boss. Someone I had really admired, respected and liked. And who I had worked really hard for.
My face got hot, I tried to laugh it off, but feigned tiredness and went to bed within ten minutes. He did apologise a few days later and tried to convince me that I was very attractive and had he not been married…blah….blah….blah
It still sticks with me. Which is why you will rarely see a selfie of me. Look through my Instagram, there’s not many, and I usually squash someone/something next to my face to cover it up.
Shortly after the Big Little Man was born, a close relative passed away, we went to visit family, and this was said;
‘Aw, he’s lovely, but haven’t we paid a dear price for him, it’s true, one in, one out’
I understand it was said in grief. I know it was not meant in a malicious way. But this is up there with things that should NEVER BE SAID.
A new mother never wants to hear that someone thinks her baby is the reason that someone else died. Much as she knows it’s not true, it’s so hurtful that someone can perceive it this way. Thankfully I was so shocked I couldn’t speak.
But I still remember it.
There are a couple of other instances but these are the ones that have cut deep and had a lasting effect on me; they still influence how I feel about things, and I can’t see that ever changing.
I know I have uttered my own faux pas in the past; it saddens me that I have upset someone as much as I have been.
When I have done it, it has been unintentional, and was never meant to cause offence. But it never feels that way when you are the reciprocate of a throwaway comment.
Words are so powerful, their impact can be huge; I think we all underestimate the power that we hold to devastate another person.
*****UPDATE 14/11/2015***** Weirdly, since writing this, some degree of acceptance has occurred (how unexpected and bizarre), prepare for more selfie’s people 😉