Mean Words

I belong to a group on Facebook focused on writing and publishing. Someone just left the group due to judgmental comments.

Mean words.

Then I read an article about how one comment meant in a teasing way, caused a profound response.

I have been on both sides. At work one time a friend made a comment and I thought I had a funny response that landed flat and much worse. I apologized, but I will never forget how my words lay there between us.

Another time a former friend went OFF and I felt she needed a “lesson” and…well, as the saying goes, I took her to school.  In retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut. That was nearly 20 years ago and I’m still bothered about it.

I have also had innocent and not-so-innocent comments directed at me. Words from decades ago that I remember like they happened this morning. I had lost nearly 30 pounds and my Grandfather said, “Well, I hope you kept your clothes for when you gain it all back.” My mother who said I invited the abuse. The people who suggested my marriage failed because I am “too strong” or because I “forced my husband to have a baby.”

I think the worst thing is when we pretend our words aren’t powerful. “I was just kidding. I didn’t mean it. You need thicker skin. Don’t be so sensitive.”

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

As someone capable of delivering hurtful words, I think I’m better for two main reasons. One, I matured (i.e.; learned from my mistakes).

Two, I own my words. I don’t say anything behind someone’s back that I will not say to them (I may pick different ones, but I will tell ya’).

If I’m right or wrong, I own it.

What does me in is when no one tells me about being wrong. Sometimes I get it, but sometimes I am oblivious and I need another person to say, “Uh, Charise, that was too much.”

When I am the victim of mean words, it can be a little trickier. It depends how fast the searing pain is stealing my breath. Sometimes I just curl up. Other times I am able to ask for clarification in the “surely you didn’t just say that to me” vein.

And other times I am able to say “I know you aren’t trying to hurt me, but you did– so please stop.”

I love words. Speaking, writing, reading, listening. Words are powerful. And like all our super powers, we need to use them for good, not evil.