Squirming at memories, like a quick dig in the gut, followed by kicking myself or just blushing. “How could I have?” Or “Did I really?” How is it the smallest detail of those moments is minutely recorded, while I often have to be reminded of words of praise?
Is it because we need to believe we are good people, though that doesn't cover the time my strapless dress fell down in the middle of the dance floor? Or because we need to be accepted and a snapshot of us through an onlooker's eyes is cringe-making?
I know I have days when these moments come in stabs, rather like breathing with pleurisy. My self-image spirals down, my shoulders curl. For years I tried talking them down, mentally apologizing or just feeling bad.
Then suddenly a ray of sense. Unkind, tactless or selfish acts from my past are recognized and understood. Now when I remember shame-making moments, my recoil is proof that I now know better. An invitation to forgive not only myself, but others when they carelessly hurt me.