My aunt has an eidetic memory. She’s super sensitive and really, a softie. It was my birthday last month and she called to wish me a fantastic one.

The call was brief, even with her bringing up the kinds of things kids roll their eyes at, even though they tickle the adult who remembers the details. And of course, she was reminiscing on things Toddler Helen was saying and doing, memory intact.

Then, as she was about to get off the phone, she proclaimed a blessing over my life and ended it with a nickname I’ve had since I was a baby. “Sorry,” she quickly apologised, sincerely. She said she was told I no longer want to be called by that name and it was force of habit for her to say it.

Context: this is a name I hate but have answered to for three decades. A long time ago, I told my family I would no longer be acknowledging that name. It was during a normal (even negligible) conversation and I’m sure I said it flippantly and have never had to repeat it. But it wasn’t until my aunt apologised that I remembered I had even said it. That’s because my core family members and cousins haven’t used that name since I denounced it.

Denounce is such a seriously pompous  word. I digress.

The point is: it made me so emo to know that everyone took me seriously. That someone had to have said, to other people who love me but hadn’t had this convo with me: she doesn’t like that name so don’t call her that.

That feels like love.

And maybe I was emo because it was my birthday or I’m reading far too much into that moment but it was so meaningful to me that if it mattered to me, it mattered to people I love (and who love me).

For you, it might not be a name. It might be a past incident. It might be a belief you previously held. Whatever it is, I hope that you have a tribe that sees your for you and acknowledges your feelings around it enough to dead it when you denounce (hehe) it.

If you’ve had this happen to you, I’d love to know your story. Maybe it will free someone else. Hit me up in the comments section.