Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones

A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?
Edward Hersey Richards--

On Tuesday, I run a Women's Empowerment Group; it is my favorite group, and I rarely miss a Tuesday. When women come into treatment, they are so beaten down. Their self-esteem as well as their bodies has been battered. Talking about issues is healing, and I get such a feeling as I watch my women grow. Yesterday's topic was hurtful words...words either said to us or by us...words that have been blurted out before any thinking had taken place....hateful, hurtful words. In many cases, family members and friends, not knowing how to deal with addiction, sometimes use their words as weapons thinking that somehow they will get through, and their loved one will be saved...but it never seems to work that way. In fact, the very person they are trying to help is usually so hurt and traumatized that they feel the need to retaliate, and they,in turn, utter their own hurtful words. 

Name calling, bullying, bitter, hurtful words can destroy a person,a relationship. Words can sting and cut someone like a knife. Verbal attacks leave the victim crying out in pain, and poorly chosen and harsh words may easily scar someone beyond the point of forgiveness or apology. Once spoken, words cannot be taken back, and no matter how many I'm sorry's are said, the ramifications can continue to cause the victim emotional pain for many years to come.  Sometimes we may not really mean it.  In the heat of an argument, we just blurt things out, say things we don't even know we are saying.  We may not even realize that we have hurt someone until they turn a cold shoulder toward us...and when it finally hits us, we might want to eat our words, but it doesn't work that way.

I am sure you all remember the following...Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. That is so not true, but what do children know!!! When bones are broken, they can always be put back together and with time, they will heal, but when words are spoken, it can take weeks, months and even years for the scar of the words to heal. And, it is an unfortunate fact of life that every day there are children out there who are being teased, taunted, and ridiculed in schoolyards and playgrounds every day. When you are the victim, it is not a nice feeling.  All you want to do is find some corner and crawl into an hide.  It hurts; I know.  I was one of those children. Sadly, not much is done about it. Parents and teachers believe that teasing is just a normal phase of growth and that the child will grow out of it, but it is so more than that. Teasing and making a child feel left out and unwanted can scar the other child for life. Many children carry the pain around until they grow into teenagers and turn into adults. And, when a child is also being verbally abused in the home, it's a double whammy for the victim.

As adults, we sometimes just fire out words because we may be frustrated about something, and we have to take it out on someone.  We forget to think twice before we speak.  Verbal abuse never really goes away; it molds who we become. Although I am far less sensitive than I once was, it took me years to overcome this, and even today, sometimes, someone may say something that I take the wrong way, and immediately tears come to my eyes, and, before I know it, all the old feelings back again. A man may become so angry that he abuses the wife, unwittingly teaching the same thing to his son.  Someone else may become a thief, a murderer, a rapist.  To some of you it may seem far-fetched from schoolyard name-calling to criminality, but when all of this pain and rejection are bottled up for so many years, it can and does happen.

If we are to stop this chain, it has to begin with us. Before you say something you will regret, just stop and take a breath. If you need to, walk away for a few minutes; then come back after you have thought about the message that you are truly trying to convey. It takes two people to argue. Don't be pulled in. That way there will be nothing said that you will regret later.

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.


  1. such a profound post this morning dear. Yet words we all need to hear. It is so easy to blurt out something and wish we had not done so at a later time (usually instantly). Bless you for empowering your group in the manner you do. You give so much of yourself to others... I wish that it comes back to you three fold, as there is not many who deserve it as much as you

    Have a blessed day...

  2. ~marry so many words to think about here...i l♥ve the very first quote...have it written here at home...i have learned and try hard to practice...deep breathing and walking away when i feel ready to lash important to evaluate our feelings before words start flying out...much l♥ve and light to you~

  3. Fantastic post. To this day I still remember the hurtful things said to me as a child. It really has affected me, in the way I perceive myself. Even now, I assume I'm somewhat unlikeable. The older wiser more together me knows that isn't true, but I often catch myself thinking with the mind of the ridiculed child.

    I think it does have to start with us, and those of us who are parents must make it very clear that bullying in any form is not acceptable and will be punished. My kids knew that they would be in very big trouble if I ever heard they even had the smallest part to play in the bullying of another child.

    I think bullying was once accepted as a part of being a kid, so parents and teachers didn't understand how damaging it was. I'm really happy to see the media spreading the word, and that includes blogs like yours!!

    Thank you!

  4. know you were already nominated for the Prolific award.. but I could not help myself but do it again.. you give us all so much...

  5. a post that has made me stop and think. thankyou xo

    [I sent an invite to my blog.. not sure if you received it?]

  6. Being the recipient of hateful,vile, hurtful words. I do not utter them.
    As you said...once spoken they can not be taken back.
    I have stored that information in my mind.
    The hurt is there and no I'm sorry makes it better.
    If my nerves get shot , which they sometimes do, I've notice a sarcastic tone to my voice.
    Hear my words ringing in my ears and most always say I didn't mean to sound that way.
    Notice myself lately talking down to hubby when he blunders and I'm not proud of it.
    No Saint! Hubby # 2 use to tell me if I didn't get to Heaven, no one would.
    I didn't let that go to my head. ;0
    If I still went to church, I'd be in the confession booth. Father, I have sinned!

  7. Mary...this post was needed today in so many ways for a child who went through verbal, physical, and sexual abuse I wish someone had understood this all back then...and truthfully, the words are the things that have scarred me. I, like you, can cry at the utterance of something hateful...and I've been one to utter them too...we live what we is far past time to unlearn hatred in any form.
    Such a HeartSong you have shared with us today...I thank you from my very depths for bringing more awareness to this much needed subject!
    May the Blessings of the Lord and Lady be Yours Always!