Friday, June 13, 2014

Sticks and Stones

One of the biggest lies I was ever taught as a kid was

Sticks and stones will break my bones
but words will never hurt me.

Two words:

Bull. Shit.

Cuts and bruises heal. Sure, there may be scars (literally and metaphorically)- but they heal and the pain goes away. The poison from words can last forever and create a wound that is damn near impossible to heal.

When I was in Jr High, there was a fire drill. We all headed outside to the football field and waited for the all clear bell. I was no tiny thing- even then- but when the bell rang and we all went back in, a bunch of the big 9th grade boys got overly rambunctious and created a jam at the door. Somehow I got trapped in the middle of it and when the dam of teenage bodies broke, I was shoved through the door, my wrist was caught on the push bar and torn open, I lost a shoe, was pushed over and trampled. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. In shock, I went to the office and showed them my wrist and ask for a bandaid. It was torn open enough that you could see the vein. one bazillionth of a millimeter more and it would have opened the vein too. They called my mom, hauled me to a doctor and for the first and only time in my life, I got stitches.

That scar is still there. I remember the incident like it was yesterday. I was wearing purple stretch pants and a purple and white striped shirt. The shoes that were ripped off were white canvas Keds. But it doesn't hurt any more. I learned lessons from it. I remember it. But I don't feel it. That was more than 20 years ago.

About 15 years ago someone said something to me that was so mean. So hurtful. And here, 15 years later it still aches in my heart every time I repeat his words in my head. About six years ago, a different someone said some equally hurtful words and what's stupid is that I'm sure he actually meant them as a compliment... but it was so mean. Then shortly after that- within a year or so- two different people said similar things that were also extraordinarily painful.

I've talked about this before on here. I know I have because I've gone back and re-read some of those posts recently (remember, I blog stalk myself more than anyone else) and I've really been thinking about it the last few days... weeks... months... (yes, even during this time when I've been so cheerful that I give sugar a toothache).

First there is DH's and EK's words- "You're a lot to get used to" and "it's really not worth the hassle." That one isn't quite as painful- because they were both just freaking idiots that were only in my life for a flea's wink- but that doesn't mean the words didn't hit their mark.

So many times when I look in a mirror I hear RW's voice saying, "I wish I could take your personality and put it in a more attractive body," and I die a little.

But the granddaddy of them all- is DE saying "You're the kind of girl guys are just friends with- not the kind they date." I can't even read/write/say/think this sentence without an anguish in my heart that radiates to my fingertips. Every. Time. Quite literally.

I think I give these words power because I've yet to be able to prove them wrong. Over the last 15 years they've rung true.

But seriously, how do you do it? How do you un-hear words? How do you remove the venom? I realize I'm the one giving the words their potency. I know. Don't lecture me on that. But how do you suck out the poison and not let them affect you? I honestly don't know how. Trust me- if I knew I would have done it long ago.

By the way- the initials of these men were not changed to protect the innocent- because they are not innocent. They are guilty of causing me the worst pain of my entire life. Only one of them is still in my life- and very, very minimally. He has no clue he's even a part of this elite group.


Amy said...

Ugh. You know, I don't know about other people but I have some of these words that rattle around in my head every now and then too. Like when I was told in high school by two of the most popular boys in my class (Riley and Tad) that "only the pretty girls make the dance team" so I should just "give up now." I don't know how to unhear any of it. For a while I thought it would help to just think of them as jerks and losers (which they were and probably still are). Or when I think about some of the things certain women who were considering us as adoptive parents for the baby they were carrying said to me (accusing me of being manipulative and horrible and all sorts of other terrible things) I feel the rage that you mentioned feeling in your fingertips just typing the words out. But you know, I sort of wonder if the more effective method of sucking the venom out is to laugh at the words. I mean, seriously laugh at how idiotic and completely touched somebody would have to be to utter something like that to another human being. And to know that those words that were said were just completely false.

Melissa Ann said...

I love you and your writing! I have no help but to let you know that!

Lisa Weiler said...

I don't know the magic answer, but when those hurtful moments in my life come back to haunt me, I try to remember all the positive, loving things that the people who actually matter have said. It doesn't make it go away, but over time it dulls it. You became my friend in a time that was very difficult for me, I don't think you know that. And it was primarily your friendship that helped me through that summer. I very much value your friendship and your opinion. You are loved.