Wednesday, October 21, 2009

But Words Will Never Hurt Me?

by Felicia Donovan

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,

but words will never hurt me..."


Growing up, that adage was ingrained in me by my mother to ward off children on the playground who may have had comments about my geeky penny loafers or later on, to assure me that the teens teasing me about being so studious could be disregarded.

I never bought it.

Sticks and stones are an awful way to settle any conflict, but as an adult I've come to realize that words can, indeed, hurt. Words can hurt very badly, in fact. I have many friends who bear the scars of words that cut deeply into their hearts by people who knew them well. Just ask any couple who has every gone through a bad breakup who may have, in the heat of the moment, launched a verbal  assault at their significant other.  I've lost count of how many friends have reiterated, verbatim, the exact words that were hurled at them by their former lovers when tension rose to an untenable point...and they still remember those words years later.

As writers, we understand the value of words. They can bring us to laugh, to cry, to experience joy, to re-experience a wonderful memory - but they can also cut to the core of who we are by those who know us most well. And once they are out, they cannot be taken back.

Consider your words. Whether writing or speaking, consider the value of each word and the impact it has on the other person. Sticks and stones can, indeed, break bones, but words are often what leave the deepest scars and take the longest to heal.

Have words ever hurt you?


Lisa Bork said...

Great post, Felicia. I really only take to heart words from my family, the people who know me best, and I remember a few that hurt. Of course, I'm guilty, too.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Very interesting, Felicia. I can absolutely remember hurtful words (my entire junior high experience, actually!) And some that I've wounded others with, too.

In mysteries, hurtful words can even lead to murder!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Injuries from sticks and stones heal. Injuries from words seldom do. We carry them in our hearts like tiny pockets of pus.

Jen said...

What an insightful post. Words can indeed hurt. Why is it that we tend to hang onto the terrible things people have said to us and let the good words trickle away?


Alan Orloff said...

Words to live by, Felicia. If we all pause a moment before speaking, the world might be a (slightly) more civil place.

Felicia Donovan said...

I can still remember things that haunt me that were said to me despite having a fairly good handle on what was or wasn't significant. I have friends who can't ever shake hurtful words off. They invade our soul, our hearts, our psyche and fester - as Sue Ann most aptly pointed out.

Do you think we're more sensitive to it as writers?

Mr. Halpern said...

Wow, powerful stuff! I NEED to get the first book in the series and read it NOW. :) I will go to Amazon right now and buy it... remind me the next time I see you in person to tell you all the nice things Dave said about you too.

Aaron said...

Words have power, even the Bible says is.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God." John 1: 1