Saturday, October 9, 2010
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”
Whoever came up with that was full of shit or living in a complete delusional state. Maybe both! Whatever the case, I am intensely aware of the impact words can have, even more so the devastation that the absence of words can create.
Words can comfort and encourage. They can pacify a panicked spirit and soothe a broken heart. Words can lift us up… but ooh they can easily, so easily, tear us down. Words can make a heart flutter, give wings, and shine light on dimly lit paths. Conversely, words can puncture the heart, destroy one’s sense of self and belonging, and demolish a person’s own value.
Some of us are extremely thoughtful with our words while others seem to have diarrhea of the mouth. Some of us recognize the impact of our words, others fail to develop this awareness, and a few purposefully wound with words. In my opinion, the outright, purposeful withholding of words, particularly words of love and support, is the cruelest of ways we use words and hurt each other. There is nothing worse than waiting, desperately yearning, pleading internally for words that are never uttered. Very little in life is as humiliating and excruciating as this.
Since August 19th I have been flooded by words (and the absence of words). Just when I think I have heard it all, another doozie comes my way. Most of the words that have been said to me have been small answers to prayers and gifts directly from Heaven. I fully recognize that there really are no words that can help me and our family through this. Words can only express the love, compassion, empathy, and commitment that people have to walk by our sides through this part of the journey and the rest of our lives. I praise God for the words that have made us laugh, brought happiness to our hearts, and comforted our souls. I question the words (or lack thereof) that have made me weep, injured my heart, and caused my family pain. You would like to think that if there ever was a time where people would carefully watch how they used their words it would be now….but alas…some people are so broken that this time never arrives. I am painfully aware of this.
Since Nina’s diagnosis I have also used words in a way that I had never done before. Words are now a daily ritual for me, allowing me to process what I have experienced, document what I fear to forget, and share what is too painful to say in person. I have poured my soul out to the world through my words and it has been a great gift from God above that I have been able to do so. It is painfully evident by my entries how I vacillate (sometimes by the minute) from extreme sadness, longing, and devastation to unyielding happiness, peace, joy, and gratitude. Such is my life. Such will be the rest of my life. I fully understand that and submit myself to that reality.
The funny thing is that I am the master of using words….on myself that is! My entire life, I have used my internal verbosity (if those of you who know me personally think I’m verbose in my expressive communication, you’d be shocked to know that it does not infinitesimally begin to compare to the never ending internal dialogue that runs through my wretched brain) to control, limit, and deny myself. I know that we all do this to a certain extent but I’m a pretty rare bird…and that is not necessarily a good thing! The bottom line is that I have used words (in my head) to allow myself to live in constant fear. The really sad part is that it took Nina’s illness for me to allow myself to admit this! I had known this all along, but shoved this reality deep, deep, deep down into a dark basement that was padlocked with 5,000 different locks. The consequence of this is that I have now been taken to the brink.
As I stand at the edge of this cliff I see every word that I have ever said to myself and every word that everyone else has said to me (or not said to me). It’s as if these words are millions of different flying insects. Some are beautiful monarchs, others camouflaged and harmless moths, some infectious mosquitoes, and the remaining ugly stink bugs (I think these can fly??). I am praying, constantly, for discernment and wisdom. I pray that God will help me have the strength to let the right words guide my heart and let the harmful ones slide over me like passing rain. I am simultaneously filled with a new sense of freedom about how words (including my own) have shaped my life thus far, as well as, a new found fear of how they may derail it even further. Ahhhh!!!!!
About a month ago now, words (especially ones that I said) brought me down to my knees. I lost complete control (which I despise). But as always (not sure why my stupid human heart can’t grasp this once and for all!) God picked me up and helped me say the right things, even though they were the scariest words I had ever muttered. Then, God blessed me again (again, not sure why this still surprises me!). A most precious friend of mine said the following to me:
“I didn't see you as a hero because I thought you were perfect, but for the way you handle imperfection."
These 20 solitary words may possibly be the most powerful words I will ever be told! I praise God for these words and for moving this person to say them to me. All my life I have been waiting to hear these words…I just didn’t know it until they were said to me. I wept when these were said to me. I wept not out of sadness but gratitude and peace. I thank God for the tranquility these words have given my spirit and I praise God for the heart that had the courage to say them to me!