This is a photo circulating around facebook this month. It is child abuse awareness month and this particular photo struck me as so incredible powerful. Words can do so much more damage and yet most of us do not think about this before we speak. We talk to our loved ones in arguments without thinking, our anger rules our words and we don’t even mean them but out they come, their poison spreading and cutting worse than any physical damage, worse than physical blow. Using words and tone can cut a person to the quick, can hurt them for years to come. It is the things we say to people that will be remembered, be it words of love or words meant to hurt. A tone demeaning tone from a wife can emasculate a man, a negative response to a child about an achievement they are proud of can dampen their willingness to try again, an unloving response to a husband can him feeling disrespected or loved and can crack the seams of a marriage. Words and tone can turn even the most healthy relationships into unhealthy, hurtful, damaging places that no longer offer solace and a place to hide and feel safe and love, into places where we feel the lowest and most alone. Yelling at a child in frustration, telling them that their picture isn’t good enough, their efforts not enough, or that they are someone less than we wanted them to be, that is child abuse. It’s not just children though is it? Words from a friend, a lover, a parent to an adult, they hold power too. I still remember things said to me about my lack of breast feeding Josh, (even though I had wanted too and couldn’t because of medical issues) made me feel like a bad mother, I remember every word told to me by friends and loved ones about carrying a child with a heart defect, that somehow it must have been something I did in the past that caused this to happen. Making it my fault that my child was sick. Though in truth I knew this was not true, I had done all that I could to be healthy during pregnancy, I still had the voices in my head, and those voices are powerful. It took a long time to realize that I was believing a lie.
I have seen marriages fall apart because words were spoken, tones used, that cause gaping holes and wounds unrecoverable. I have seen children grow into adults with no self esteem because words from their parents still haunt them, I have seen broken people, all over the world struggling with things that were once spoken to them in hateful ways, or worse, in indifferent ways. There is nothing worse than receiving difference from someone you love. I have been at the receiving end of that and I have seen the damaging affects of that.
When I think of my life with Tim, when I think back over our years together I think of the things he says and I can honestly say that his words are always of love, always filled with a deep respect of me, and because of that I know that I am loved, I can trust him because his actions match his words. Do we fight? Of course, what two people who live together and have two children don’t? The difference is that we do everything we can to make our words and actions count. We do our best to let the other person know that we love each other, and we do our best to show respect to each other. Do we fail sometimes? Sadly yes we do, but we have a lot of good things to counter act the words we sometimes utter. However, there is always always room to improve. I have used words of frustration with my kids when they are throwing the twentieth freak out of the day, anger and pure frustration causes me to yell, and that just isn’t the best reaction for an adult, so this Blog post is for me as much as it’s for the readers. It is a reminder to use my words wisely to guard my words well because the last thing I want to do is hurt someone I love because I have given in to frustration, or used a tone that is demeaning and disrespectful. It’s also a reminder to apologize for my bad behaviour when I slip up. So that they know immediately that I was wrong, not them, that I was not truthful, that I didn’t mean it. It won’t take the sting out of the words but hopefully a day at a time my actions will prove to them that I do love them, that I believe in them, that I think they are the best things to happen to me.
My challenge this week and every week in the future is stop and think about what I say, before I say it, and to let each of them men in house know that I love them, respect them and think they can do ANYTHING that they set their minds and hearts on. I want to be the kind of woman who says what she means, and above all to give them men in this house the respect they each deserve and need.
Words don’t just hold the power to damage, they also hold the power to heal, saying sorry, honoring someone with words, saying you are proud of someone, telling someone you love them, pointing out the areas that you think are special about them… those words have power too. Let that be the weapon we wield to destroy the negatives that the people we love hear in their lives.