I don't remember the cruel things people have said to me. I mean, I remember being upset, but I can't actually tell you word-for-word what was said. However, I guarantee you that every item below is an exact quote. These kind words are etched in my brain and heart. If you've got examples from your own life, please feel free to add them.
  1. "You're a good dancer."
    Allison Duffy whispered this to me while we were dancing in a gymnasium in 9th grade. I couldn't believe it! She was doing the Molly Ringwald dance at the time.
  2. "I see great things in your future."
    I was 21 years old. A professional writer sent this message to me on a Post-It after reading my homemade, Xeroxed magazine. No one had ever said anything hopeful to me about my future before.
  3. "I like your jacket."
    A woman I was in love with said this to me, so casually! And she was so beautiful! How could someone so beautiful take any aesthetic pleasure in anything connected to me? I was thrilled. I married her.
  4. "Ohhhhh. You're one of those people who doesn't realize how loved he is."
    A standup comic said this to me on the streets of NYC at 3 a.m. What a beautiful gift, to recognize someone's self-loathing - and to craft the perfect sentence that could forever short-circuit that self-loathing ("Oh my God, what if he was right about me?!"). I'm not even in touch with this person anymore, but I really owe him for it.
  5. "Dad, you're my hero."
    The kid said this to me out of the blue one night when she was four years old. My heart almost stopped. The next day, I saw her watching an episode of "Berenstain Bears" (which she'd seen about 20 times that week). It ended with Brother Bear telling Pa Bear, "Dad, you're my hero" - with the EXACT inflection my daughter used. She was just imitating the cartoon! Didn't care. Took the win.