Today, I want to write about words.
When I was 17, my mother told me that she had not liked me until I hit 16. She struggled with unacknowledged mental illnesses, but she was also a horrible human being. Even today, 41 years later, those few words hurt.
Growing up, I had to carefully think about what I was going to say before I said it. I had to think about how she would react to each word and my tone of voice. Now, did this always work? Not in the least. But it has helped me tremendously in my day-to-day life. And, of course, sometimes I still open my mouth and hear myself saying things that I had not thought through. But that is a rarity.
My daughter suffers from severe mental illnesses. She is currently in a Behavioral Health Hospital. This is not her first time being hospitalized. Each time, she has been driven to the point of wanting to take her own life by the thoughtless words of others. Sometimes, it has been a few words said during a breakup. Words that were meant to cause the greatest amount of hurt possible. And they did. Those words have caused her to want to die.
Now, part of me knows that I cannot place all the blame on the other person. The decision to take your own life is your own and cannot be forced by another. But those words hurt her to the point that she felt she did not exist.
Our words matter. And these days, if those words are sent in a text or published online, they are out there forever for anyone to see. This can have even greater repercussions.
Please, be careful of what you say. Words have power. Think before you speak or especially before you write.
Do you have any stories about hurtful words to share? What about when words have made you feel on top of the world? Those are the more important words to remember.