Monday, November 13, 2017

Don't Forget to Remember

I'm guessing that I'm not the only person who will stop channel surfing every single time I run across the movie "Pretty Woman" and watch it even though I've seen it like a gazillion times already. I've always loved a good "underdog wins in the end" type of flick, and there's no denying that "Pretty Woman" most definitely falls into that category. I mean come on ... lonely millionaire who sucks at relationships hires a hooker off the street to be his eye candy for a week while he tries to close a big business deal, realizes she's much more than just a hooker, falls head over heels in love with her and ends up climbing up a fire escape to profess said love? It just doesn't get any better than that when it comes to an "underdog wins in the end" movie ... no way, no how does it get any better than that. Add in Julia Roberts as the hooker and Richard Gere as the millionaire, and I say again ... no way, no how does the mysterious land of filmdom get any better than that.

For me, one of the most touching dialogues from the film takes place during an intimate conversation between Vivian (Julia Roberts) and Edward (Richard Gere) when Vivian is telling Edward about the journey that led to her becoming a prostitute.

Vivian: "It's not like anybody plans this, it's not your childhood dream."

Edward: "But you could be so much more."

Vivian: "People put you down enough, you start to believe it."

Edward: "I think you are a very bright, very special woman."

Vivian: "The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?"

Vivian's words struck me deeply the first time I saw the movie, and they still strike me deeply almost 30 years later as I sit on my couch typing this post. Perhaps it's because I've lived more life now or because I've been on the receiving end of more than a little of the bad stuff myself over the years, but I find that the words strike me more acutely, more pervasively, more profoundly now than ever before. It's hard to keep believing in yourself when a chorus of people tell you that you're not good enough or smart enough or rich enough or successful enough or young enough or strong enough or thin enough or happy enough or pretty enough or straight enough or powerful enough or any other of a million other not enoughs. Add in some of the phrases below to those not enoughs, and it's a pretty perfect recipe for bashing the heck out of someone's spirit or, at the very least, doing some significant damage to their quite probably already lowered sense of self-worth.

"Nobody likes you."

"Your feelings don't matter."

"I don't care about you."

"You'll never amount to anything."

"I don't love you anymore."

"You're not worth my time."

"My life is better without you in it."

"No one needs you." 

I often envy people who can simply disregard personal slams or digs against their character or integrity, though some would say that type of self-confidence or self-regarding attitude could border on being pompous, egotistical and, in extreme cases, even narcissistic. I've wondered a great deal why it is that some of us struggle so hard not to succumb to the bad stuff people tell us about ourselves while others are able to brush off those types of comments like they were nothing, or perhaps it's more accurate to say that they can brush them off as if they were never spoken to them. That question troubles me a lot ... why some are swallowed up by the hurtful words tossed their way and others walk away unscathed, and it's a question I'm certain I'll never be able to answer. But the bigger, more distressing and concerning dilemma for me personally, however, is this ... why do I let the people who tell me the bad stuff about myself cause me to forget to remember the people who see the good in me?

People like the older African American woman who came up to me in the Walmart parking lot a few weeks ago when I was loading my groceries into my car. Actually, she didn't really come up to me as much as she came up to Ollie. She, like many people, simply couldn't resist my adorable little wiener dog and asked if she could pet him. As we chatted about the wonderfulness of dogs, the sweet, gray-haired lady suddenly stopped and put her hand on my arm and said in a strong, clear voice, "Girl, I can see you have a good heart. I feel that about you ... I feel that you're a kind and loving person." Why do I so easily forget the kind and encouraging words of that particular stranger but remember the harsh and hateful ones hurled at me from another?

People like my sweet great niece who sent me this text while I was visiting my family in Tennessee. "I wanted to tell you thank you for always being sincere and never making our time together ever feel rushed. You genuinely show love to those you're around and really tune in to make them feel so important and special. You have a special gift and I thank God for that gift from you!" Why do I so quickly forget my great niece's precious, heartfelt words of appreciation and gratitude for the time I spent with her and her sweet family, and instead remember when someone tells me I talk too much or care too much or take up too much of their time?

People like my children who so often remind me of how much they love me and tell me I'm a pretty great mom. People like my little Canadians who say I'm absolutely the best (and the warmest) Ghee ever. People like my nieces and nephews ... and even my greats and great greats, too ... who are all in agreement that I'm the coolest aunt ever. People like the friends who reach out to schedule time to get together with me or the ones who randomly drop me a note or give me a call to say they miss me or they're thinking of me. People like my young neighbors who leave me bouquets of flowers or trust me to take care of their doggies when they go out of town. People like the guys who delivered my firewood a couple of weeks ago and told me I was the nicest customer they'd ever had. People like the co-worker who signed my anniversary card with "I've never met anyone who cares about people as much as you do. I love you." People like you who, for reasons I will never ever understand, continue to send me emails and messages begging me to start writing again. And again I say, why do I let the people who tell me the bad stuff about myself cause me to forget to remember the people who see the good in me?

Don't forget to remember, friends, that the words we speak to each other matter. What we choose to say to others can give them the hope they need to go on or help them believe in themselves, or cause irreparable damage to their spirit or make them question their worth or their reason for living. We need to be careful in what we say to each other ... we need to take care with our words and we need to take care of each other. Be the one who speaks good to another ... be the one who loves without measure ... be the one who refuses to hurt anyone ... be the one who is selfless in caring ... be the one they won't forget to remember.


Anonymous said...

You focus on the bad because it's what you thrive on. You think it will fix your loneliness to exploit and focus on the "drama."
You wonder why some people can just brush off the negativity? Probably because they have some sense of peace, security, and healthy self-esteem.
You seem to complain a lot about other people. At some point, that's probably a reflection of how you are choosing to interact with and relate to people.

Terrie Johnson said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments regarding what I "thrive on" and how I interact and relate to people.

While I respect that you have the right to voice your opinion, you completely missed the point of my post. My intent was to remind all of us, myself most definitely included, that our words and actions toward others can, and often do, have lasting effects on people's lives, both positive and negative alike. The post was my attempt to encourage all of us, again myself most definitely included, to be more careful in how we speak to or act toward one another.

In my opinion, and that's all it is - my opinion - your words are rather harsh, though I will say they have provided me with some food for thought. When I write, I try to do so from my heart in the hope that my words may help others who may struggle with the same things I do to know they're not alone. Perhaps those I wish to help may be better served by my silence than by my words, however ... again, food for thought.

It's apparent that you don't consider me to be the greatest writer, or person, for that matter, so I would encourage you to think about not reading my posts should I choose to continue writing.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts, Anonymous.

Kindest regards,


Anonymous said...

To each his or her own. If you want to continue to make this victim mentality your reality, then there is little that can be done to make you happy or satisfied.

Terrie Johnson said...

Who are you to judge my level of happiness or satisfaction, Anonymous? I don't believe I said in my post that I was unhappy or dissatisfied, nor do I believe that being open about the things I (and lots of other people, I might add) struggle with means that I have a victim mentality.

Not that I owe you any sort of explanation or accounting for my emotions or feelings, I assure you that there are many areas of my life in which I am abundantly happy and totally satisfied. Are there some that could be better? Of course there are, and I think that's probably the case for a lot of people. Are there things about me that I need to work on? Of course there are, and though you may choose not to believe me, I am doing just that ... I am working on becoming a better person. Life isn't perfect, Anonymous, and neither am I.

I don't like conflict and I like arguing even less, so should you feel the need to comment further, don't expect to receive any additional replies from me. I think a better use of my time would be to engage in a more positive endeavor such as doing some online shopping for Christmas gifts for my kiddos and grandgals.