Sometimes, one is reminded of the limitations of language. Of the words that should exist but don't, and it's hard to find ways to express the concept.
There should be a word for the days when the past lays heavy on you. When every bad, wrong, stupid or embarrassing thing you've ever done pursues you, nipping at your heels, catching you when you pause for breath to run you through the heart again and again. It doesn't matter whether they're things that only you can remember, or things that you get teased about, or the worse things that nobody mentions but you know people are aware of.
First year, juniors. I'm either seven or eight years old. We have a daily "word quiz" - the idea being at the end of the day, the teacher gives us a question and we go away and look it up/find out the answer, overnight. One day, the question was "A quarrel is an argument... what else is it?" And I, for reasons probably to do with fantasy books, know it. Hyper-competitive (really, some things don't change), I blurt out the answer. "It's an arrow for crossbows!" Is there a more embarrassing word than blurt? It's up there in the pantheon of 'words and phrases that are never good' along with "smirked" and "a double-length edition of You and Yours".
More than thirty years, and that little memory has been a recurring pain. A burr that prevents me from sleeping comfortably. And of course, when you've thought of one embarrassing thing, all the others come crowding in, as if not wishing to miss out on the opportunity to give me a good kicking. Many of you were there for some of them. I regret them all.
There needs to be a word for it. Some kind of incantation that banishes it, some kind of lotion or balm. Alcohol looks promising, but like most such things it's just an invitation for further incidents.
There's an Aimee Mann song about this:


From: [identity profile] realdoll.livejournal.com


What I find useful is to imagine going back in time and giving tiny-me a hug and letting them know that actually, it's awesome to have knowledge and someday a lovely lady will marry you for her love of your mind being just that sharp.

I did that with the loss of a ring, in a riding school. I was so upset and ashamed I couldn't even tell my mum about it for months, until the flooring of the school would have been changed and it was gone forever. It was a silly ring, not even silver! When that pain comes back, I think of myself telling tiny-me that actually it didn't matter and that there would be many rings to come which were far more beautiful than that.

From: [identity profile] braisedbywolves.livejournal.com


I was thinking this morning that, if the much-delayed Manual of Life ever appears, there should be a chapter which is just a page that reads "Shame and fear fix things in your memory more strongly than anything else. Correct accordingly".

Also I'm aware every workday that you are both smart and good at the application of smart, with people of (wildly?) varying levels of smart.

From: [identity profile] khalinche.livejournal.com


I have one or two choice moments like this too, that I will never, ever forget and probably never be brave enough to recount.
emperor: (Phoenix)

From: [personal profile] emperor


Most of my early memories (and all of the vivid ones) are in this category.

From: [identity profile] smhwpf.livejournal.com


Ay, I have my share of those memories. Somehow it is the childhood ones that really stick.

From: [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com


I relate to this very much. I've found trying to foster compassion for my younger self helps somewhat (especially because if I think of any child I know the age I was when I did X horrendously embarrassing or awful thing doing said thing, my reaction is generally tolerant at worst, outright affectionate at best), and I may try doing what [livejournal.com profile] realdoll suggests also.

But if you ever find that incantation, lotion or balm, let me know the recipe? :-)

(And in the meantime, in case it helps at all, and at any rate because it is true, I wish to observe that I think you are an excellent person, whom I am glad to know. Also, that I think it is awesome that you knew that definition of quarrel when you were a child, and I think that children being enthusiastic and knowledgeable is nothing for them to be ashamed of.)

From: [identity profile] borusa.livejournal.com


Oh. The reason why it was a bad thing was that I spoiled it for everyone else. Clearly not a good thing, but possibly not the life-marring thing I have turned it into.

From: [identity profile] mirabehn.livejournal.com


Ah, I see what you mean. But, still, no, not a terrible thing at all in my view. I mean, you were seven or eight! Totally understandable and excusable. I think if I'd been the teacher, I'd have been mildly exasperated, but also endeared, and pleased that you were enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

(I can understand why it's affected you so much, though, having similar memories and things. I think when something is so devastating and embarrassing as a child, it gets burned into the brain. I'm only now really unpacking that whole thing where I was 6 or 7 and I'd just got a distinction in my grade 1 piano and squeed about it to a friend of my parents who had just come round, and got roundly berated for "showing off". And remembering that is still quite painful. It was helpful, though (and kind of a shock), when it suddenly occurred to me that if any of the children I knew or had known at that age had done something similar to me, it would have made my day. I'd have been delighted, and really chuffed that they'd shared it with me. There are other memories I've not unpacked yet, and which still make me shudder, though.)
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