“They are just words,” someone once said to me.
Let me put this into context, though.
Someone very important to me made a comment – just words, mind you – but I felt as if I had been cut to the core. It was very personal, and it was very painful, and the results of these words being said were the end of a very long friendship. Scars heal, pain subsides, blood dries and is washed away. Words linger. They carry weight. They leave a scar deeper than flesh if they are wielded inappropriately.
It’s funny that my whole life is built around words. I take them and mold them into stories, ideas, poetry, and I am always very aware of the weapon that I wield. I choose words carefully to create mood, to present a character, to bring something out of my imagination and give it life. I love words, and I love their power, but I, too, am capable of forgetting exactly how powerful they can be.
I forgot this quite recently, and the unfortunate downside is that those words which I tossed out without thought have gone on to hurt someone I care deeply for. I can offer a million excuses, but the truth is, I was foolish. I lost sight of what I know in my own heart as a universal truth: words wound if not used carefully. And the damage I caused is sizeable and may be long-lasting. And as a result, I am hurting deeply. I am even trying to use words to cover the pain and repair the damage, but it isn’t working too well thus far.
In my hurt, I am trying to continue to focus on using words as tools instead of weapons. I’m seeking to commit an act of contrition by offering words to soothe the damage I’ve done. Only time will tell if my sin is cardinal, but in my own heart, it certainly feels that way.
This is also the time where I see that words fall short of having super power. One can only offer “I love you,” or “I’m sorry,” so many times before it becomes nothing more than mist dissipating on the breeze. This has all been a very vigorous and painful reminder to me of how language – words – impact others, and as a writer, it is a lesson I can’t take for granted again.