Words carry such incredible weight. As a writer, I put a great deal of thought into each word before it spills out onto the page. The alteration of a single word can dramatically change the context and meaning of a phrase, which can be interpreted far differently than my original intent. Knowing that the reader can only draw substance from that which I’ve carefully laid before them, and with no further physical clues beyond, I deliberately scrutinize every word and sentence, to insure my meaning is clear.
Writing buys us the time to be discerning in this way. Heavily contemplating what we wish to convey, prior to doing so. Not so with the spoken word. We have a tendency to expel them in a haphazard, unchecked manner when we’re face to face with another, especially when emotions are in a heightened state. We don’t seem to take the same time and prudence in choosing our words when dealing directly with individuals. We rarely hear of a writer coming forward apologizing for words used in haste, as that’s seldom the case in written form. Yet, we continually wrestle with guilt, shame, and regret over injurious words spoken in carelessness, driven by strong emotions, that create a wake of destruction in their path. These are only heightened by the physical cues that accompany them, such as tone of voice, facial expression, & body language.
I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few years revisiting, reframing, and healing deeply damaging beliefs about myself and devastation that has been inflicted by harshly spoken, careless, or in many cases intentionally wounding words. The degree of impact it has had, bleeding over into every area of my life, has been far more significant than I ever imagined. The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” could not be further from the truth. Words can and do cause utter devastation and can break a spirit beyond recognition. As children and even young adults, we are so greatly influenced by how we are spoken to and the messages those words convey, as they are often taken to heart.
Choose your words wisely and always consider the potential damage they can do. Words can never be unsaid once they’ve escaped our lips. We have the choice whether we use our words to build up or tear down those we encounter. Wounds will heal, but the scars from the tongue remain. The power of life and death itself resides in this mighty member. Wield it with the great weight of responsibility.
This is a poem I wrote several years ago as a reminder that our spoken words can devastate lives. Having long been on both the receiving and giving end, and enduring the aftermath, I am far slower to speak these days, and mindful of the power that my expressed words hold.
Scar Of The Tongue
With mastery the match began
Opponents both well armed
The weapons used for this great fight
Intended to do harm
Striking here and stabbing there
With each increasing blow
I watched the anger rise
As the self esteem dropped low
The tongue was like a dagger
As it hurled such hateful words
The damage irreversible
Once these things had been heard
With tension quickly rising
And the knowledge none would win
Both walked away still angry
Unresolved and still in sin
Although the surface wounds would heal
A scar would still remain
Reminding us the tongue’s
A wicked weapon we must tame
Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby
Also published on Medium.