Sometimes the people we love the most are the ones we hurt the most.
Words are so powerful when spoken aloud and when spoken within, don’t you think? Words said aloud can’t be taken back after they’ve been heard ~ an indelible mark is etched into the mind of the person to whom you are speaking when they are unkind words. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it and sadly, I have also done it.
Growing up, my Dad said words that I know he regretted a lot. I’m not talking about cursing (although he did that too), but rather, hurtful, stinging words of failure which poked right through to my soul and to my self-esteem. He meant them in the heat of the moment; he said whatever came to his brain at the time in order to add more blunt force to his already powerful voice and his harsh words tore at my heart just the same.
I’m telling you this because I think many people speak without thinking of the impact their words have on the intended listener. It’s hard to step back before throwing a verbal punch sometimes, but I can attest that it is well-worth it because you can’t take back those words once they are said. Like the smell of a skunk, their stench lingers in the air, poisoning even the most kindhearted listener.
It’s taken me a long time to erase those bruises from my self-esteem and I will confess to you that the little girl whose Dad called her a failure in 4th grade because she didn’t have straight 100’s in school, still feels ashamed even though it’s more than 30 years ago. In my head, his words still chatter, shredding my self-confidence at the most inconvenient of times even today. It’s interesting to me as my Mom and I had a conversation recently about him and she told me how proud he was of me which I never really heard from him, although I’ve heard plenty of times from his friends now since he’s passed.
Failure in 4th grade (by the way I was an A student, but not 100’s every time) is just one example of a litany of weekly put-downs. He would get a laugh from everyone around him when he called me an airhead starting when I was in high school, especially when friends came to our home. He’d reach up and grab my left ear and pull and make a hissing sound ~ telling everyone that he let the air out of my head! He berated me to get a laugh and it broke my heart every single time. He put me down in order to raise himself up.
I loved my Dad, but I didn’t like him for many reasons. As I got older, I was blessed to have others who held me with their warmth and loving ways, who nurtured my strengths and helped me to rebuild my mangled self-esteem. MIL even told my Dad that I was ‘perfect’ which to me was such a priceless gift! It still tears me up to this day to think that someone thinks I am perfect even in all my imperfect ways. My Dad laughed and told her that I had her fooled, but through her eyes, I learned to feel good enough and most importantly loved.
My Dad loved me, this I know for sure. He came from an abusive family and he allowed his lack of self-control to rule his life. He often said, “You hurt the ones you love the most,” which is the card above ~ and I used to say, “then don’t love me.”
That cycle, that vicious cycle of mental, emotional cruelty stopped with me. I try very hard to stay positive with my sons and to not berate them. I don’t give them false information, but I try to look to the bright side. I am blessed as my MIL taught me that, she nurtured it in me and since I’ve known her for more than 24 years, I’ve been able to watch my role model mother me along with her grandchildren and it’s been a priceless blessing in my life.
So please, watch your words!
Speak with Love!