It’s story time.
A little known fact about me is that I have depressive streaks (or possibly depression). I seem to live in a constant state between meh, anxiety and hating myself. It started early on for me, as I was raised by a mother whose husbands had no concern or care for me. My biological father thought it was better to spend his time creating a new family instead of investing in the family he had, and my step father- while claiming to care – was verbally abusive.
Growing up, my step-father would rather watch tv than interact with me, and my mother was always at work. Because I had no friends and the rest of my family didn’t seem to care or wasn’t around, I grew up talking to “the air” and when I became old enough, I started to write.
I’d write my feelings out on paper and throw it away or tear it up and let it go on the wind. Execration at a young age, I suppose, but one day, I got sloppy. I was living at my step-grandparents at the time and I hated it there. Our apartment had flooded and we were living there temporarily. My step-grandparents didn’t like me because I wasn’t blood family and I shared a room with a toddler that would scream from 11pm to 3am almost every night. So to cope, I would write my feelings out on paper. I’d talk about how sad I was. How worthless I was. How much I hated myself and how the world would be better if I were not alive.
I forgot to mention I was in 4th grade at the time.
I was interrupted one day while writing my feelings out. It was snack time, and I went out into the kitchen to have something to eat. I would return to my room to find my paper missing and my mother would come in shortly afterwards to yell at me and tell me that these feelings weren’t “normal” and to not write about that sort of thing anymore.
I think it’s like this frame of Hyperbole and a Half, where she is trying to reach out for help, but instead, you end up scaring the person you’re talking to instead. And instead of my mom trying to get me some help, she got scared and told me to stop saying such scary things.
Either way, I quit writing. I stopped writing for years. I wouldn’t start writing again until high school, when my depression hit an all new low. It was at this point that I began to explore poetry and expressing my sadness through the use of rhyme, measure and lyrics because I had no other outlet or venue to cope.
And one day, in my stupidity, I showed my grandmother one of my poems. She thought I had stolen it and claimed it as my own.
I stopped writing again. The fact that she took me to be someone who would do that hurt too much for me to bring myself to put pen to paper.
I wouldn’t start writing again until I opened up my Kemetic blog on LJ nearly a decade later. I wouldn’t take my writing seriously until a few years after that, under the direction of a therapist. And only then did my words and writing find a niche and a place.
Only then did my writing come full circle. But then again, I’m now writing with more direction other than to say “I hurt”.
So why am I telling you this story? What is the moral in all of this?
The moral is that words have power. Sure, you hear us say it all the time “rah rah! words are important!” but I think we really don’t get how much of an influence words truly have. If you’re a Kemetic, set down your textbooks. Forget what Assman or Pinch or Reidy or anyone says about that thing called heka and just… think about it for a minute. Think about your own life and how many times you’ve stopped doing something because someone told you that you suck at it. How many times has your day turned to crap because someone said something mean, hurtful or spiteful?
And for those of us with depression or anxiety, it’s not very hard to understand or grasp- because I know for myself, it’s a daily battle because people are very calloused with their words and their actions.
The phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones” is the stupidest thing on the planet because it’s a gigantic lie. Words are just as powerful as any physical weapon. Words can break your spirit and wound you in ways that never heal, and when many of us cast stones and point fingers and call our fellow peers delusional and crazy in a flippant manner, what do you think you’re doing to that person? What kind of effect do you think that could have on that person?
You don’t know this person. You are not a mental health expert. You are not being helpful.
You are saying things that hurt people. And when people get hurt enough, their light gets extinguished. And no one prospers when that happens. Not you. Not me. Not the gods. And least of all, the person who’s ideas you snuffed out because you were being careless with your words.
I can’t tell you how many years I wasted not writing because every time I showed it to someone, I had a negative experience. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve spent hating myself because I was told via verbal communication- aka words that I was not normal and that what I felt was flat out, completely wrong.
It’s easy to write it off with “grow a pair” or “get some thicker skin” but that is the easy way out. The responsibility shouldn’t fall on the person who is being put down. The responsibility should fall on the person who is being an ass. And we should all be working on being better to one another.
And we should really work towards understanding not only the weight our words truly have, but the consequences our words can inflict and carry when we use them haphazardly.
And finally, for those of you who are reading this, whose flames are dieing out because someone is being a jerk- don’t let your flame die out. Don’t give up what you do, love or believe because someone doesn’t have the sense to speak with care. Don’t allow yourself to hide away for years like I did.
Remember that we all bring something to this world. Even if we don’t realize it.