The Power Of Words
We all grew up hearing the old adage:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”
And whilst it was comforting to us as small children, it’s not entirely true is it? In fact it’s complete bullshit
Words have power. Words have started wars and revolutions, broken hearts, toppled dictators. Words have healed, seduced, soothed and empowered many. Words can cause laughter and tears. And whilst their power is pendant on many factors to deny they can’t cause damage is beyond naive. If words had no power to hurt or damage why then have so many books been banned and burnt throughout history for their influence?
The moment I began dancing was the moment I really stepped out into the world properly. I was complimented on my dance and my appearance and other things and I absorbed them all like a sponge. The compliments made me float. Sometimes, they went to my head a little bit but I was always insecure and they gave me confidence like I’d never had before
When I first met S I was according to him, “Perfect” and “the most beautiful”. Of course I knew even then it was rot and I never believed it in literal terms but non the less when S said I was “amazing” I could not help but feel amazing
And then the Trauma began to take hold and I ceased to be “perfect”
Words were the making of me, but they were my undoing too
From about late 2010 until about 2012 or so, perhaps longer( it’s hard to say as it fizzled our rather than suddenly came to a halt) I was subjected to some not very nice words on an almost daily basis.
I was called “whore” and “rotten”, or specifically “rotten to your core” at least once a day, sometimes more.
Logically I knew it was bullshit, and I said as much ferociously each and every time – I was never going to stand and accept those slurs – yet I couldn’t compete with the venom, coldness and conviction behind those words. They struck sharp and hit home. I Absorbed a little bit of them each and every time no matter how much I tried not to. Over time, they wore me down. Over time, I began to feel grimy. Over time I began to feel disgusting. Over time, my self esteem plummeted. Over time I felt as if I was worth less than dirt. And as anyone who currently knows me can probably tell, my sense of self worth and confidence has never fully recovered
And it didn’t mater then and doesn’t matter now how much S tells me I’m “the most beautiful” the damage has been done. I no longer feel it.
The problem was it began to sound feasible. I could understand, on some level at least, why I might be called that.
The problem was that it came from someone I cared deeply about and whose opinion of me mattered greatly to me.
The problem was that it wasn’t simply spiteful words thrown in an argument where emotions and tempers are high, but – cruelest of all – the way it was casually dropped into any given conversation, out of the blue. Tossed over the shoulder as if it meant nothing. As if it was a given. As if it was a matter of fact. Insults flung in anger can be easily dismissed. Cutting words dropped into otherwise normal conversations are harder to
It was probably one of the most noteable factors in the deterioration of my self esteem (although there are of course a number of factors) and why, despite it being the most volatile and destructive point in my mental health, 2010 (prior to the start of this daily verbal assault) is the year I shone brightly, smiling and confident in photographs. I was lit up with 2-3 years worth of compliments, and hadn’t yet been brought down significantly enough to dull my sparkle
Words have become my salvation.
I’ve been completely empowered by the recent understanding I’ve garnered from my frenzied reading. Not from woo, flowery affirmations but from knowledge. Knowledge of how our brain works, knowledge of what others experience, knowledge of myself. The words in this ebooks have helped me greatly, even the ones I didn’t much agree with
I started talking and then started writing, as much to help myself as to help others. It’s proven cathartic. I feel so much healthier and better for not sitting on things and keeping them inside. They no longer eat at me
Since I started talking about my mental health – initially on Facebook – people began calling me “brave”. Bravery is a quality I’ve always admired, but I didn’t think it applied to me. “Iym not brave, I’m just a chronic over sharer” I’d dismiss the compliment laughingly. But, rather like with the compliments of yester-year and the verbal abuse that lasted a couple of years after, if you keep being told the same thing repeatedly eventually it begins to stick and a small part of you begins to respond.And now I wonder, tentatively, “Perhaps….perhaps I am?” And if that sounds like humble-bragging then so be it. I give no fucks.
I feel stronger for it; for hearing the word brave applied to me.
And so I will keep on talking, and hopefully wrting. I have a story to tell and I’ll continue to tell it, bit by bit and at my own pace, but I will tell it. I will maintain my integrity and continue to strive to use my words responsibly, respectfully and I’ll make attempts at wisely (but can’t promise!) but I will talk. I won’t sit on things anymore. Even if it’s scary at times; the idea that I might be brave encourages me to want to be brave and so I’ll keep doing what im doing and start pushing out further – if possible – too
Words buoyed me, and destroyed me and now they have buoyed me again
As Orwell said (and yes I know he didn’t strictly mean it in this context but it applies here non the less):
”If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought”