Words have power. I know you know this. The power of words isn’t new to any of us. We learned this lesson early, too early. In kindergarten when someone made fun of your name. In middle school when you got called mean names. Words hurt despite the cliché that says otherwise…
A few years ago someone threw out three very powerful words at me. I will do my best to keep this as general as possible. I don’t want her identity to be revealed. After the fact, she admitted she was wrong – that she was drunk (which was no excuse, she says, but really used it as an excuse). She apologized via email after unfriending me on Facebook and Instagram, which suggests something more was going on. I know she felt bad, but does she still remember that moment?
It was the end of the night (perhaps early in the morning?). We were standing around laughing, reconnecting. Everything was fun, light, jovial. I glanced over at her and, from my perspective, out of the blue, she lashes out:
You look pregnant!
If people could shoot daggers from their eyes, I would have been stabbed multiple times. She looked so angry. The smile dropped from my face. The laughter was gone. I wasn’t married yet. I didn’t know what would come. All I knew is she was insulting my body. She was implying that I was fat, that I had too much around my middle.
I momentarily found my smile again, quickly said goodbye before anything could escalate and told Brad we were leaving. He was caught off guard, as was the rest of the group. I waited until we were a block or so away before telling Brad what happened. I didn’t want him to go back. He would have. If I had let him, he would have gone back to defend me.
Like I said, she was remorseful, apologetic. But, this was around 4 years ago and I can still recreate the scene like it was yesterday. Her words had power – they still have power.
The non-loving, vindictive side of me hopes she still remembers that moment too. That side of me hopes she’s gotten wind of my situation, that I will probably never look pregnant, because I’ll never be pregnant. That side of me wants her to have that moment ingrained in her mind too because I want her to endure the power of her words, just as I have.
Then, I take a few deep breaths and come back to myself.
Let go. There’s no need to hold on to her words anymore. There’s no need to relive that moment. There’s no need to let her have valuable space in your head and heart. Let go.
Replace her words with new words – with powerful, strong, life-giving words. Relive moments that give you joy and peace and life.
So, I go to my running and I hear, “endurance.”
I go to my yoga practice and hear, “peace.”
I go to my sewing room and hear, “creativity.”
I go to my family and hear, “joy.”
I go to my friends and hear, “trust.”
I go to my work and hear, “dedicated.”
I go to my writing and hear, “thoughtful.”
I go to my dog and hear, “loyal.”
I go to my husband and hear, “love.”
These are the words that I will listen to. These words are powerful, strong and life-giving. These experiences, people and moments are full of joy, peace and life.
This experience several years ago reminded me to be careful with my words. I pray my words will never cause the pain her words did for me. I pray we can all pause a little bit longer before we speak. Words have power; we all need to use that power very carefully.