The Value of Words

One can say anything that’s on her mind if she uses the right tone of voice and remembers to be respectful.

Most people who know me know that I’m a very opinionated and “open-mouthed” person (some say that’s comparable to being a bitch and I say … okay then, I won’t argue.). I tend to overthink things, allowing the words to simmer within until they hold so much force that they are more powerful than a tornado ripping through a small town. I am not a keeper of words. I do not hold my tongue well. I often have fits of verbal vomit that tend to surprise even me. But I can say that if there is one thing I make a priority, it is to be respectful when respect is deserved.

Words, when used with uncontrolled anger or hurt, can be the most damaging of weapons. They often do more harm than a slap, leave a deeper wound than a cut, and are unforgettable. Words imprint themselves in our hearts and etch themselves in our souls. To wound someone forever is not a hard task if you do not think before you speak. I know this to be true, for my heart and soul ache from the heavy burden of unrestrained words they have been whipped with.

There’s a price to pay. When your words have slipped from your tongue (or fingers, since this world is so technology driven these days) without a second thought, know that there will always be some consequence.

I have lost friends because I chose to stand up for what I believe in, using my words. Those people were not, I have realized, true friends. True friends love you in spite of your differences, maybe even because of your differences. And when you speak your mind, spilling out your heart with your words, to your friends, they, of all people, should understand the song of your soul.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case for me and I have lost friends I dearly loved because they couldn’t handle my truth. (Do I sound cocky? Arrogant? Trust me when I say, that is not my intention. The fact is, if I am taking the time to defend my beliefs, or express my thoughts and feelings, you can bet that I BELIEVE I am right. Otherwise, what would be the point?)

I have hurt people I love with my words. Granted, it has been quite some time since I last spewed hate from my mouth without having seriously taken the time to think it over first. (If you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you’ve heard/read my angry words and therefore I must be lying, you can bet your pretty little ass that if I took the time to say the words, or write the words, I sure-as-shit MEANT THEM!)

I am not one to just resort to vicious and angry taunts. I do not play word games. I do not participate in verbal abuse. Because, I am dangerous when words are my weapon; I know this, and it is a curse and a blessing. And so, as I’ve matured, I’ve learned to speak slowly. And I’d rather remain silent than say something I will regret, something I don’t mean, or something that will unnecessarily hurt another. I am not (no matter how much others argue) a cruel person. And if they are arguing that I am, it’s most likely because they got a deserved tongue-lashing!

Perhaps, because I understand the value of words, I have a much higher regard for things spoken and written than the normal person. Perhaps it is because of this that words strike me to the core. Perhaps it is because of this that I am so easily hurt.

And with my hurt comes consequence. With my anger comes consequence. You, no matter who you are, do not get to hurt me, make me angry, or disrespect me without consequence. It doesn’t work that way. And unfortunately, I can only be pushed so far, bend so much, before I break.

When someone has no regard for how another person feels, and gets lost in their own selfish immaturity, losing sight of not only those who care about them but also losing (or throwing away?) their “self,” I no longer see any need to keep that person at the top of my priority list. Respect is lost. Trust is lost. And sadly, once I break, it’s near impossible to fix it with simple actions. No, I require more than a fix-all apology. Remember, I know the value of words …

At some point, we all have to be responsible for our actions, our words, and even our thoughts. I claim mine. I’ll be the first to admit when I have done something wrong, screwed something up, or let someone down. I will take responsibility when and where I need to. I will accept fault. And I’ll be the first to apologize – when an apology is needed. Most times, we expect a person to step into their own light at at age in which they fully understand the difference (and importance) of right and wrong. It’s at this time that we believe they make their decisions with conscience. And it’s at this time that the world NEEDS to hold them accountable.

What age is that? Do we hold a three-year-old to the same level of accountability for their words and actions that we hold an eighteen-year-old? When a 5-year-old says “I hate you,” does it hold the same meaning, the same acidic weight, that the same words hold when they leave the mouth of a fifteen-year-old? No. Maturity plays such a huge part in understanding the value of words. But once they have reached that milestone of “understanding,” it is the responsibility of the world to hold them accountable. Otherwise, we let them down and set them up for failure.

Sometimes, I am amazed at the blinders some wear. They hide behind their words, a confuggled mess of half-thought and half-belief, trying desperately to find truth amid the confusion. It doesn’t work. Seldom will a lie lead to the truth. Rarely can one avoid reality forever. And eventually, everyone must face their own reflection. You cannot hide behind words. I can see through you. Eventually, you have to hold yourself and those around you to a standard worth respect – if you fail to do so, you lose it.

And this is the lesson I will teach my daughter:

It is important to be an individual, to think and speak for yourself. It is imperative that you become your own person with your own thoughts and beliefs. Argue. Debate. And stand your ground. Respectfully.
Do not belittle, degrade, or humiliate another. Do not say things you will regret. Do not allow another to sway your beliefs without just cause. Be strong but gentle when you can and firm when you must.
Do not fear what is different, but instead see the beauty in uniqueness. Keep an open mind and do not judge. Never allow another to burden you with their ignorance. And always, always, always, remember the power of words.

I want her to stand up for herself. I want her to know her own strengths. And I welcome her arguments. Because I will do everything to teach her the power of words – to show her how to use them. And I will teach her the lesson that so many are not taught – how to do so with respect.

In short:
If you want to make noise, use your voice. If you want to be heard, respect the power of your words.

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