The Pie Baker

Fresh from the Oven

Word Power

Ever heard that old rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Who said that? Where the hell did that come from? Sure, it’s a nice thing to tell your kids if some bully is harassing them on the playground, but it’s not true. The more we perpetuate that rhyme, the more we are lying to our children! The truth is that words are the most powerful, hurtful things that exist! There are a few instances I can remember in my life when I would rather have been poked with a stick or smacked with a rock than endured the painful words that someone said to me. Some of those instances were unintended word injuries – minor flesh wounds, if you will – but mostly, the words hurled at me were meant to disarm, to cause pain and to devastate.

Most of us in polite society would never consider slapping or hitting a friend, a family member or someone we love. But we don’t think twice about slinging around words that can cut just as deeply as any knife or cause just as much damage to the heart as a bullet. When we call someone “stupid,” we make little sores on their insides. Without an opportunity to heal, that person will eventually believe he or she is stupid and will be devoured by those little sores that grew into malignant tumors. When we tease children relentlessly, we think it’s funny, but with every word, the child starts to second-guess what’s true – starts to question what’s real. As adults, we must be careful of what we say to and around children – it is our obligation to be the gatekeepers of their language acquisition and usage. What they learn now, they will apply later in life.

Some hurtful things said to me that have left scars:

• You could be so pretty if you weren’t so fat.
• You will never be a ballet dancer.
• You need to change completely in order to get a man.
• I wish I had never met you.
• No, I will never love you.
• What are you going to do with the little bastard? (this from my father’s evil wife when she learned I was pregnant)
• You just say you’re happy being single because you can’t find a man.
• If your mother hadn’t died, you father would have killed her. (Again, a jewel from my father’s wife)
• What’s wrong with you that you can’t keep a job?
• You’re adopted – you’re not really family.

Unfortunately, I am guilty of using words as weapons. In a situation where I find myself frustrated, confused or afraid, I use sarcasm and jibes as my armor. I know I have trampled on the feelings of friends without even knowing it and I feel terrible about it. I know how it feels to have words used against you, so I would never want to subject a loved one to my own attack – whether overt or not. Words carry different degrees of meaning for different people, so we can never be certain that our words are accepted with their intended meaning and purpose.

My mother, a scrappy little woman of 4 feet 11 inches, taught me that I needed to speak up – no matter what. I was a shy, fat kid who never really felt I belonged to anyone or anything, so she forced me to come out of my shell. I think sometimes, people want to push me back in a little! So to those people, I apologize for my insensitivity and hope that you can forgive the slips of my tongue that has left their own scar on you.

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August 10, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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