The Power of Words

We’ve all heard the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” chanted at us when we were young, and crying because someone had said something cruel.

Of course, that phrase is supposed to put us in a mind frame that says “what others say to/about me doesn’t matter!  I am __________________(insert the opposite of whatever was said)”

As we all know – this is not true.  Words do hurt.  They can cut deep, and leave scars to rival, or even surpass the physical.  Bruises fade.  Cuts heal, grow smaller, and some physical scars will fade away completely – even if the gaining of them stays sharp and clear.

Words however, leave no physical evidence.  They are sneaky and insiduous.  They worm their way into the head, and pop up when we are most vulnerable to them.  They take on a life of their own – especially when you are already unsure about/insecure about whatever it was that the words addressed.

Struggling with clinical depression – struggling with a lower self esteem, and second guessing all the time makes this even more invasive. I fight with myself over every mistake – every word I have uttered that may have been misconstrued – even years after the fact.  I worry about what and how I said something, because I know this to be true:

Words can indeed hurt.  A lot.

When those words are uttered by someone who is supposed to love you?  Devastating.

Why do those we love do this?  Is it because they are hurting, and know that it is safe to lash out at us?  I mean, we love them – we should forgive.  Right?

I ask, because this happened to me today.  I have been sick for going on a week now.  I don’t know if FMLA will cover the second part of the sick.  It overspans the covered timeframe for the month that we have set up.  I need to see my doctor to ask about having that amended.

My sister called while I was napping – so I missed it.  Called her back after I woke up – and she was screaming at me.

I am here, running a fever of 101 – 102, coughing, hacking, and generally feeling like crap.  She?  Is flinging mud.  Starts with the fact that she has been trying to get ahold of me (facebook and phone) for THREE MONTHS.  It isn’t a matter of her catching me – I just don’t give a fuck, and don’t call back!  (Truth is – I checked.  NO messages on facebook – and one, from JUNE, that was missed.  She had called when I was at work, with my phone off).

She moves on to trying to throw down a guilt trip about my mom.

See, before my mom died, she sent me a Logitech webcam for my computer, and Skype.  It was my birthday present.  I hooked it up, but couldn’t get it to work correctly.  Mom died before I could get the damned thing figured out.

My youngest sister was telling me that I broke my moms heart – denied her her dying wish – wouldn’t use the camera mom bought for me, so she could see me before she DIED.  Didn’t I feel bad that I denied that wish?

Yeah.  No.  Not going to accept that one.

Sorry.  I managed to get over/not fall for guilt trips a long time ago.  Not gonna fall for this one. My youngest sister was just trying to pick a fight.  So, I told her that I wasn’t gonna do this, and hung up.

She called back.  I answered, and the first thing I asked was “are you going to be a reasonable adult?”  “Yes!  Just answer the damned question!”  I hung up again.

The third time, I answered and said that I would speak – but only if she were civil.

Nope.  “Just answer…”  I hung up again, and turned off my phone for about 1/2 hour.

Turned the phone back on (because I was waiting for a call from my FMLA coordinator, to figure out how the messed up claim was going to work), and she called one more time.

“So.  Are you going to be civil, and speak to me calmly?”


“ok.  How are you?”

“Fine.  Just answer the question.  What about…”

“No.  I am sick – running a fever of 102.  I am not going to do this.  Check your facebook.”  and I hung up.

I think she got the message.  She hasn’t called back.  My facebook message to her is private, but basically says, “I love you – but I won’t do this.  I refuse to do this.  If you want to talk to me, I am happy to do so.  If you want to abuse me because you are unhappy with something in your life, don’t bother.  I am not the cause of your unhappiness, and I won’t do this.”

I do love my sister.  She has problems, and I understand that.  She has let those problems dictate her life, instead of trying to figure out how to overcome them.  She has trapped herself in a victim mentality – and now doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything.

I however, refuse to be her punching bag.  I refuse to let her try to drag me to that level.  AND – I know that she is doing this, because she has something that is bothering her, and feels that the only way to deal with it, is to make herself “better”.  Better than someone, or…  I don’t even know anymore.  I am sick, and I am tired, and I am so over drama.

And yet.  I know that while I loved my mother, very dearly – it was a LOT easier from a thousand or two miles away.  I did try to set up that damned camera, but did I try hard enough?  I know that I was ashamed of the way the thyroid issues I have developed made me look, and the weight gain they have caused.  Did I not try hard enough because of NOT wanting to be seen that way?

Is she right?  Did I deny my mother the chance to see me – and ME of my last chance to see her?  Even subconsiously? (realizing of course, that mom died unexpectedly.  There wasn’t any warning.  Talked to her on Sunday night – Monday morning, sis called to tell me mom had died in her sleep.)

Still, I don’t know.  And not knowing, I guess that question will add itself to the other million little nibbling spiders of self sabotage in my subconscious – trying to weave webs of tangled doubt.

I guess congratulations are in order.  The guilt trip?  Seems to have worked.


Easter 2012

It is Easter, and my mom would have been 64 today.

I was going to write a fun and funny, poignant and tear jerking post, but I find that I cannot.

As I have lived at least a thousand miles from Colorado for several years, and mom died last June, I find that I am still having a problem with trying to memorialize her as I wish. It still doesn’t seem real, even as I know it is – I hear my sister saying “ Oh Pam! Mom’s dead!” every time I go into, or out of the front door of the office I work at.  I was right there, just outside the front door, by a sweet smelling Wisteria bush in full bloom, expecting the same old trivial questions, and being rather…  put out about being called at work AGAIN,  until she said that.

Living a thousand miles away, it doesn’t quite have the same impact immediately. It is sneaky, and makes itself felt in a thousand different little knife cut ways.

I thought that Easter Sunday, combined with moms birthday would be the absolute best time for a memorial post, full of fun and funny stuff about mom and me, but I am learning as I start, and stop, and start again, that this is not what will happen.

I find myself alternating between huge melancholy, and almost anger. I know that other than that first day, I really haven’t done much to deal with the reality, the HUGE reality of this.

Yes, I did go back to Colorado for the “service”. Yes, we did spread ashes in the Colorado River like mom wanted. Still.

I find myself STILL almost a year later, thinking in the present tense when I think of mom.

“We are having rain. Mom will be calling to ask if we are floating away!” “um… not anymore.”.

I wonder how long it will actually BE before it stops hitting me like a freight train – and when I will get over the voice of my sister, echoing in my head, whenever I think something about mom, her foibles, her love. Not that I WANT her to be past tense… Not that I WANT her to be… not here.

And now, I cry. Because she was so young. She was only 63, and she is gone. My mother is gone, and I will never, ever be exasperated by a phone call making sure that I am ok when the actual (whatever is happening) is “somewhere in TX” again. My mother will never ask me if I am floating away in the floods again. She will never make me an Easter basket because she knows that I am alone, and lonely and sad again. She will never hug me, or tell me that she loves me, nor be there for me to tell HER the same, again.

And – of course, now the tears are real. This instant.

On this day, what would have been her 64thy birthday, I just want to see and hear my mom, and tell her how very much I love her, without qualifications. Just because.