Sticks and Stones

Jasper's block design“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” I think this was one of the most repeated phrases I heard growing up. I was little. I got called shrimp, peanut, and elf. I was told to stand up, and then laughed at because, of course, I already was. As one of three siblings, we took to calling each other names that either insulted each other’s intelligence, or were barely disguised versions of potty words. None of these words really hurt. I also heard, “Good things come in small packages.” And though we could be petty and mean to each other, I knew my siblings would defend me from any outside threat, and I did the same for them.

I recently got a very angry comment regarding one of my posts. Emerald got “hate mail” on one of her blog posts and took it as a compliment. But she did not know the people making the statements. My first response was disbelief, and I deleted the comment from the Facebook news feed where it appeared. 10 minutes later, an even more scathing retort came in. I replied via private message inviting this person to a non-public dialogue, and then the fear set in. Though I “knew” this person from my childhood, in fact revered and respected him, I really knew nothing about who or what he was now, other than very angry. Though I share no private contact information in certain venues, I know that I am not hard to find if someone sets their mind to it. I deleted the 2nd comment and I blocked future contact from this person. There will be no dialogue. His words hurt me, and they scared me.

This whole discourse again had me questioning why I write. I don’t write about politics, or destination skiing, religion, or rafting technique, animal ethics, or triathlon training. It’s not about music, or land use, home repair, or public education. It is about what it is like to be a brain cancer widow in my 50’s. This blog is not a spiritual newsletter, it is not a code of words to live by, it is not meant to please or displease anyone. Much of what I said about this a year ago still rings true. I write because I cannot paint, I cannot do block designs, I don’t play oboe often enough to keep up my chops, and because while electrical repair and basic construction are satisfying, they really do not feel like a very creative outlet. This blog is simply my story. I publish my story because I like to hear other people’s stories. I write because it helps me to process, I publish because maybe my story will help someone else feel less alone.

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Though no one has ever thrown stones at me, I am no stranger to physical pain. I gave birth to 2 children and as an athlete in my 50’s, I can’t name a body part that hasn’t suffered some sort of injury. Bones heal. Words can wound the soul. I seriously contemplating just closing this blog. I would continue to write, I would just stop hitting the publish button. But then I thought again about the power of words. Like it or not, we live in a world of digital communication and words. Between emails, phone calls, tweets, on-line dating, Facebook, and messages, we are inundated with words all day long. One can be selective about what to read, what to ignore, and most importantly, what to respond to. I have found myself hurt more in the last year by words unsaid: unanswered questions, invitations with no RSVP, a friendly text sent with no response. I have caused more pain by lack of words: no reply to an email, lack of thank you cards for gifts of time or goods, busyness rather than stopping for that cup of coffee. I will keep writing. I will publish. If my words offend, please tell me. Or, you can always choose to ignore them.

Moonlight in Montana


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10 Responses to Sticks and Stones

  1. roles says:

    Keep writing….I enjoy it…I am out nine months of being a widow….I wish I was more like you…fuck them…if they don’t roberta

  2. cord4530 says:

    That is simply terrible, and I’m sorry that someone responded in a way that made you question publishing your story. The way you write about your life is a gift to all of us. In ways I don’t understand and that don’t make sense to me – your writing it is healing to me. Reading your posts makes me feel better about humanity in general. It saddens me greatly to think someone would try to take that away from you, and from us.

  3. Kermit Allard says:

    May we all remember that in the begining was The Word. Writing is a gift that is to be shared.
    Many of us do not share our thoughts and feelings but appreciate anyone that has the talent to

  4. Phil Druker says:

    Your writing is a gift. Thanks for sharing. (Ignore the bastards–it’s easy to make people feel bad but you do the hard work of making us feel good about life!)

  5. alyrbean says:

    “When someone judges another, they do not define the judged; they define themselves.” -Wayne Dyer. Keep up the good work, Kathie, for every hurtful comment there are about fifty or so positive ones waiting in the wings…..

  6. Janice Boughton says:

    When you are misunderstood, it’s hard not to let the whole un-had conversation run over and over in your head. Maybe it’s OK to let it do that. Obviously that person’s anger is their own and has nothing to do with who you are, but it’s still so very tempting to try to fix it.

  7. Deb Landon says:

    Please don’t stop writing. Your posts mean so much to me as I sit far away from you and my old life in the Palouse. There are so many reasons why this is my truth. However, unlike your angry word messenger, I never leave a comment, not because I am not touched or enriched by your every post, but because often words just can’t really express all I need them to from such a distance or in such a venue. Maybe it will be helpful to know that for any folks out there who express themselves with anger maybe there are an equal number (or more) folks out there (here) who hold your words close and treasure them in silence and gratitude.

    Just for the record, as you might not hear from me again..soon. Your ‘tunnels of light’ post really helped me see another way through dark times. I know that I have to go through them to get to the other side. I imagine it will be easier if I’m looking for that light out in front of me instead of walking with my head down just trying to gut it out to the end. Or, when given choices looking for the tunnel with the light at the end instead of gnashing my teeth over having several dark tunnels in front of me.

    Much love and respect,
    Deb Landon

  8. jill says:

    thank you for writing, i just found your blog and i love reading your words, it is very helpful to know that others are out there, with the same experiences as me, (will be 50 next month, an 11 and 13 year old), my husband passed in october 2012, diagnosed in march 2012, feel like i didn’t even have time to wrap my brain around the cancer and he was gone. keep writing, again thank you. peace.

  9. Friend in NYC says:

    I’m new to your blog, and please know that your posts are already having a positive impact on me. My beloved husband literally dropped dead from a brain aneurysm in May 2011. I’m trying so very hard to move forward. By many accounts- all external- I’m doing well. But my internal turmoil persists. Your words help me know that others walk through these valleys of darkness and make it. I must forge on. Thank you.

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