Dear Annie: When I was 11 years old, I made an insulting remark to one of my older sister's teenage friends, teasing her about her acne. The next day, my mother loudly confronted me about it, and my grandmother and sister joined in. For the next several months, if I said anything my mother didn't like, she'd angrily remind me of the horrible thing I'd done. For years after, she'd allude to it. This continued until I was close to 30.
Last year, my mother told me this same girl had been working as a waitress after dropping out of college, and that my comments about her acne had ruined her self-esteem. At that point, I tracked her down and asked her whether she was still upset with me over the incident all those years ago. She said she didn't remember it at all. She said her lifestyle choices were the result of her rebelling against her domineering parents and had nothing to do with me.