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October 9, 2012

BEAM: I present, the list

FLOYD COUNTY — I have a list.

No, it’s not a grocery list, or a to-do-list or even a bucket list.

My infamous list records the names of people who really irk me. Believe you me, it takes a whole heck of a lot to really get under my skin. But somehow, a few people manage it, quite regularly in fact.

Pushing buttons should be considered an art form for some. And I’m willing to bet my nemeses have some pretty sore index fingers from all that pressing.   

To avoid a paper trail, I’ve committed my list to memory. Better to not have evidence of my petty grudges. Not writing it down also makes changes to the list much easier.

If you, say, give me an offhanded compliment, I can raise you two spots. Yes, everyone is assigned a number, and at times my inventory of irritation can be more volatile than Elizabeth Taylor’s love life.

Chances are if you’re on the list, you don’t know it. I’ll smile and joke and laugh. But all the while I’ll be secretly analyzing our conversation, ready to record any annoyances. Psychologists might call this passive aggressiveness. I call it anger management. I don’t need to confront anybody.

Just putting them on the list satisfies some deep desire for me to control an out-of-control situation.

And don’t ask me if you’re on my list. This isn’t Luther’s 95 theses. I won’t be posting it on the fence of the local ball field or at the next PTA meeting. If questioned, I’ve learned early on to deny, deny, deny and then counter accuse. So, if you’re asking yourself if you’re on my list, what exactly have you done to warrant the placement? (Don’t say I couldn’t have been a lawyer.)

That reminds me, this isn’t a reprisal list. I have no intent to get even with anyone. So don’t picture me repeating the names of those who wronged me each night before bed like a young princess from “Game of Thrones.” No one will wake up with a horse head cuddled up next to them. The worst I’ll do is complain to my husband, or an unfortunate friend, about the alleged insults.

A keen negotiator, my husband has learned to always take my side in these battles, even though at times he thinks I’m being a bit too reactionary. He’s fully aware he can be added to the list as well as anyone, so he holds his tongue and smiles and laughs. I’m willing to bet he has a list too, and he’s scribbled my name in one of the top spots where it lies to this day circled by a red Sharpie.

OK, so I know my list isn’t probably the best way to deal with things emotionally, physically or spiritually. Neither is holding a grudge, which I’m obviously exceptional at doing. Bitterness hurts a person’s health. When your blood begins to boil, your actual blood pressure goes up. Stress increases as do feelings of anxiety and, even at times, depression.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” If a man who was unjustly locked up for 27 years can forgive those who wronged him, surely I can let go of some persnickety person’s rude comments.

Am I going to abolish my list? Well, I’m going to try by not holding as many grudges and to try and forgive a little more. For some reason, it’s much easier to remember bad things than to forget them and move on.

Our minds want to categorize, to rank things, even negative events or experiences. Forgiveness takes work, time and mental awareness, all things I, along with many of us, need to work on.

I’ll just add that to my list of things to do.

— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at hoosiermandyblog@gmail.com or visit her blog at HoosierMandy.com.

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