I have a terrible memory. Recently I was talking with an old college friend, and we were laughing about memories we shared as roommates. In the middle of telling a story, she said “Wait, I can’t remember if this happened to me or you. Whose story is this?” We both looked at each other with blank faces realizing we couldn’t remember the major details! It doesn’t stop there; I’m bad at remembering birthdays of my closest friends, that secret ingredient to that delicious recipe, or even emails I’m supposed to respond to! However, when it comes to anything negative my husband has said to me, I remember every single word. Every word.
After a long day, my husband made a comment to me criticizing a decision I made, and his words were hurtful. Like an elephant that never forgets, I opened up that little lock box in my memory and shoved that one in as fast as I could. I was stunned by what he said, and I wasn’t going to forget it. Quickly, the event turned into a “frustrated filter” through which I began to view everything.
In the days following that conversation, I starting hearing everything my husband said differently. When he complimented me about how hard I was working, his words went through my “frustrated filter” so that all I heard was criticism. When he picked up my dishes or ran an errand, I translated his actions through my “frustrated filter” and thought he must not think I can handle all I have going. After a few weeks of this, you can guess that I was pretty distant from my husband. Each time he tried to grow closer to me, I felt myself building a wall to protect myself from anything hurtful he would say. When he kissed me goodbye one morning, I actually stuck my tongue out at him after he turned around. My bitterness was turning me into a moody teenager!1