Three days ago, I wrote about the phrase
“We are neither as important or as unimportant as we fear.”
And I dedicated that post to my friend, Jeanette, because I THOUGHT it was her birthday that day.
And it wasn’t her birthday.
I had tried to be a detective, figure it out, and be sure about it. But I was a lousy detective.
Every year, I have trouble remembering Jeanette’s birthday. I know it’s in April, and I know it’s a single digit, but I am vague about the actual date.
And because I’ve known her for so long, and she is so important to me, I always think that I SHOULD know her birthday.
I’m afraid that she might misunderstand my not remembering. I fear that she might translate that into misunderstanding her importance to me.
I have that fear about other people too, because I can forget things about them. I tend to forget details about people’s lives. And I worry about how they might interpret that.
By the way, I panicked momentarily after I posted the erroneous birthday greeting. It was my worst fear coming true. Not only did I get her birthday gone, but, boy, did I make that mistake public! I felt terrible, beat myself up about my carelessness, and imagined Jeanette having all sorts of negative reactions.
That’s what the mind is for, apparently: imagining people you care about having all sorts of negative reactions to you.
However, I am glad to report this: I let go of those negative thoughts and fears REALLY QUICKLY. I mean, I’m talking five minutes. Then, I got in touch with the more probable story — that Jeanette would be okay — that she wouldn’t equate my mistaken birthday wish with her importance to me.
And I quickly used the antidote of Reality Testing. I called her. And she was laughing about it. She expressed all sorts of POSITIVE feelings about the post, not negative ones.
Before I end this, I wanted to write about another side of this issue of memory and importance.
When people forget details about my life or forget what I’ve told them, I can have a negative reaction to that. Not always, but especially if I’m feeling vulnerable, or thinking negative thoughts about myself. Then, people forgetting my birthday or other details about me can cause this thought to crop up:
I am not important to other people. If I was, they would remember things about me.
I also feel some shame about wanting to be more important to people — so that they do remember details about me.
But here’s the way I’m telling the story today. Every connection is important. I matter to other people. People matter to me. We affect each other.
And trying to figure out importance, based on details remembered, does not help.
Proof of that last sentence: I have trouble remembering Jeanette’s birthday, and she is very important to me.
However, I think, this might be the year — This Year of Living Non-Judgmentally — that I finally get her birthday into my head.
Happy Birthday, Jeanette.
And thanks for reading.