"A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever, ' - Jessamyn West
Words can encourage or discourage; promote love or hate; be gracious or cruel. How we choose to use our words speaks to our character. Words take on a life of their own; become their own entity. Words - as we are reminded often as adults – are like cast stones: they cannot be taken back.
An email from an old friend reminded me of the damaging affect words can have if they are not conveyed and received appropriately, or due to a difference in opinion. A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about what it was like for my sisters and me to grow up witnessing loss (almost) daily. Our father was a funeral director, and we grew up above the funeral home. I voiced my opinion based upon my experiences, and the experiences of my sisters. This was written as an open letter in response to disgruntled Hilary supporters.
As grown women who have experienced many types of loss, our intent was to offer our experience with it. We identified loss as death; not the outcome of a presidential election. We never imagined our words and position on loss would prompt the demise of a 20- year friendship due to a difference in political views. Yet, two days before Thanksgiving, we received the same email ending a friendship that spanned two decades; marriage(s), divorce, children, career changes and personal reinvention.
Without this friendship, my business would still be in my head and my novel would be unfinished (for this and so many other things I will always be grateful). This was a friendship where it was safe to be vulnerable for all involved. And with several strokes of the keyboard, and divergent views, loss was borne once more.
My sisters and I are strong, passionate, and yes, opinionated, women. It’s the stock and chemistry from which we were raised, as was our “old friend.” Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words…their damage doesn’t heal so easily.
As Elsa sang in Frozen… “Let it Go,” but not without a reminder to all of us: words matter. We need to respect the power of words, the inflections from which they are spoken, and the everlasting impact they can have on the mind and heart. We become our words, so choose your words wisely. Ask yourself: does this need to be said; does this need to be said now and does this need to be said by me.