“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.