For some reason people (me included) just can’t grasp the fact that words mean things. The whole “sticks and stones” spiel always was, is and will be, total bullshit. Words fucking hurt. Sure, sticks and stones do break bones (there’s a reason you can stone and beat people to death), but words. Words can destroy you like a tap of a chisel against scattered rock. They can turn you into sand.
Words burrow into your heart like an insidious horde of termites. See, the thing about termites is that they leave your house full of holes. Millions of tiny holes that cause the wood to be hollow and weak. You wouldn’t even know until something collapsed, because they’re sneaky little bastards. And even when you eradicate them, your home is still ruined. Unsafe, unsound, capable of complete disintegration, at any moment on your head.
Words are termites. They crawl in unseen (or seen, depends on the words and who they’re coming from), and start chomping on you. They break down your bones to feed their thousands of offspring, they tear up your muscles to feed the queen. Your mind falls apart as they consume the juiciest tidbits and the support of your body fails. You might forget they’re there, and all the worse for you, because then you won’t know what’s picking you apart.
Words squirm like maggots, feasting on the dead and dying remnants left by the termites. They weaken you further, and some become the nuisance that are flies. They buzz around until you’ve hit yourself at least once trying to shoo them away or slay them. Words are a difficult pest to exterminate. Worse than bedbugs I would think. Bedbugs at least only bother you at night, as if that’s really a pleasant situation. Trying to rest, sleep, escape from the weariness of the world, and all night they crawl on you, biting and itching. Is that a normal itch? Or one of those pesky words?
Even if you manage to squish the words into oblivion and force the termites out, you’re still left with a dangerous house. Unfortunately, you can’t repair or replace your brain, your spirit. You can try repairs, but you’ll never be the same. It is impossible to make whole what was broken, decayed, dessicated. The category “like new” and “refurbished” comes to mind, but unfortunately you actually can’t get that good. And you become more vulnerable to the treacherous nature of words in the future.
So, why do people misuse words so much? We purposely fling “barbs” and “jabs”. Shouldn’t that be a fucking clue? Why is it so easy to make a hurtful joke or make a prank? Why is it so effortless to be cruel and nasty, even when we truly, genuinely don’t mean to? For some it’s that the offending person doesn’t realize that the person they’re talking to is vulnerable, one who has been badly damaged by a word infestation. Of course, this opens the discussion for why are those words ok period if they hurt the susceptible? Wouldn’t they cause others to be hurt and contribute to future pain? For others the offender is clueless, stupid, or mean-spirited. Somehow words are always just fine until someone gets hurt, and then it all falls apart because the offender was simply hoping to not get called out for being an ass. And still there are those who lash out because they’re in pain, usually because of words, whether freshly ground into their skin or old maggots chewing at their joints.
The reason I’m going on about this is because quite a few of my family members (most of them male) have a disconnect about words and how they mean things. Not only that but a distinct lack of understanding of my personality, mental stability, resilience, and sense of humor. Basically, they say stupid or fucked up shit and it hurts my feelings and they’re always either baffled, offended, uncaring or a combination thereof. Sometimes it’s because there’s confrontation. Whatever, everyone has had nasty words flung due to confrontation. What I’m referring to specifically is jokes.
Anyone with sufficient access to the internet knows these kinds of jokes. Assholish, mean-spirited, cruel, nasty, discouraging, bigoted, and a bunch of other adjectives, these jokes are the ones that are harpoons undercover. They’re demeaning and unpleasant, and they’re often defended when challenged. Not always, since they sometimes come from a genuine place of cluelessness/stupidity/innocence.
From the time I was little I’ve been subjected to such types of jokes. Height, weight, hair, eating habits, talents, and personality have all been fair game for these quips and jibes. I’m not a particularly fastidious person. My feelings are easily hurt, I get offended regularly. I get defensive. I’m softhearted, emotional and empathic. I think deeply, I feel deeply. I’m not that resilient. This isn’t new information. I’ve always been sensitive and acutely aware of others. I’ve also been born to a family that has suffered, and that lashes out and attacks. I have suffered. My mind and spirit has been flogged by words and actions, drained and broken by the parasitic nature of words.
So yeah, when I mention I’m sensitive about a particular subject, like being anxious, shy, and pathologically stage-fright, don’t make a joke about how I “should sing solo so no one can hear you.” Like, are you fucking serious? How is that funny and encouraging to people who are confident in their ability to sing and perform, and who aren’t so easily shattered? This isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with unkind, thoughtless and downright cruel, things being said about any talent besides writing that I’ve tried to cultivate. (Never mind that the pressure on me to write because I’m good at it is strong). No one meant to be critical, but I lived with critical commentary, heavy expectations and destructive words.
It’s interesting that some of my friends comment about how strong and vocal I am. They don’t realize how much the iron claw, powerful voice, assertiveness, viciousness and aggression I show hides a quivering, crying puppy. And how much I only show “strength” to keep others from getting beaten with words, or to shore up their failing beams and sagging ceilings. Truly I’m quite fragile. You can see it whenever I get into an argument with those who can hurt me the worst, and when I get hurt. I bite, with force, to keep others and their infectious words, their deadly parasitic language, away from my weak and broken spirit.
So for fuck’s sake, shut up you assholes. I’m delicate dammit.