Our tongues can be a blessing or a powerful weapon. Here we are all, all walking around with this potential weapon, no license or specific training that everyone must go through to use it. Instead we are all trained by those around us, our parents, our friends, teachers, culture, etc. I vividly remember the exact moment that anyone outside of my family heard me cuss. It was the spring of 6th grade and had hurt myself on my locker, and out came a word. YIKES! I was mortified. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the fact that I didn’t cuss was probably noticed more than others who cussed like a sailor. That apparent “self-control” over how I spoke, had a huge impact on the way people saw me. It went beyond cussing though. I always choose my words wisely. I was kind, and I never wanted to hurt anyone with my words, or otherwise. As the years went on and I became a hormonal teenager, I did my fair share of gossiping, but still, overall, I wasn’t someone who just said hurtful things to people, like others did.
I’m not exactly sure when I noticed it, but within the first year of dating/being married to my ex I remember thinking, holy cow, nearly every other word out of his mouth is the F word. So overtime, environmentally I guess, I slowly lowered my “self-control” and I became that person. Things would slip so easily, and when he of all people would mention anything to me, that just made me even more mad, and I developed an IDGAF attitude toward what I was saying. It didn’t even phase me to sit and talk about someone or things I didn’t like about a person. Then a few weeks ago on the way home from school the kids and I were having a conversation, and my 13-year-old mentioned how she could tell my attitude was different. She said she could tell I was happier, and one of the ways she mentioned was because I rarely cussed anymore. WOW! Don’t get me wrong, I still say things, sometimes more often than others, and I don’t and won’t condemn anyone for cussing, it’s just amazing how she noticed this.
This conversation got me thinking about yearbooks. How many people signed your yearbook when you were in school, many of which you probably didn’t even know that “deeply”, so their descriptions of you were what the overall majority of the world saw. Were you cool, cute, smart, sweet, kind? I was always sweet, kind, shy and quiet. I needed to “talk” more. I was one of those people who could and would talk to anyone while at school, but my circle was small and tight. That still holds true, some people would never think I am “shy” because I can still strike up a conversation with a stranger, and often do to make things less awkward in some situations, but I’m super shy and private. (Irony as I share my life through this blog) Sweet and Kind…hmmm…was I still those things? This one hits hard. This is where that tongue is a weapon thing comes into play.
For years I was called everything that was opposite of sweet and kind as I would endure the hours of yelling and name calling late at night. I went to sleep so many nights believing I was a bad person and no one liked me. Super hard pill to swallow for someone who had spent so much energy on trying to remain kind even when the world was being so harsh. To and extent I think I went through a period where I became those things he was saying to me. Words have this scary way of shaping how we see ourselves and who we become.
And then there is that beautiful thing that our tongues do when they are a blessing. Isn’t it amazing how fast our tongue heals when you burn it on your morning coffee? Or the paper cut from licking and envelope, wait…does that even happen to people anymore? Similarly your words can heal and speed up someones emotional healing. It’s truly amazing how all of you have contributed to my healing over the last year. It might have just been words of encouragement on days when I couldn’t even look anyone in the eye for fear the tears would just come spilling out. The compliment on days when I actually felt well enough to not just throw my hair up in a bun and find the most comfortable clean thing to wear that day, those slowly rebuilt my confidence. As I’ve shared my experience through this blog, I have had many people reach out to me and share their story and I realized I wasn’t alone. I have been showered with adjectives that describe me in a positive way. It is through these action of your tongue that I have been blessed with a renewed confidence and ability to see myself for who I am at my core once again. Your words have blessed me and changed me. Thank you!
Self control….we shape the people around us with our ability to either have self-control with our words or not. With the exception of the not so proud moments my marriage (specifically when I knew I was done, so I stopped giving a damn) when I just let the words of the moment roll out, I typically approached arguments with a think before you speak approach. I teach my students during internet safety and my children this and I try to practice what I preach even more. Once you have said it, you can’t take it back. In the digital world it is SO easy to just spout out a response instead of waiting and thinking about what you are saying. NEVER text or digitally respond when you are angry. NEVER! While I was married I had gotten so use to preparing my defense when I was getting yelled at, that word vomit just became like second nature. Reeling that habit it in takes A LOT of self control sometimes.
Recently I was discussing something with someone who they were less than thrilled about. I remember sitting there my body started going through the same process it did in the past to prepare for the yelling. It sucked it was a terrible feeling. As a reaction I started the word vomit. Its like a person who is going under water feverishly flaring their arms…that’s what my words felt like. But after a few moments I just looked at the person. They sat their quietly processing. I’m certain that had it been socially acceptable they would have wanted to slap the crap out of me or choke me to death or something, but they were just quite. I noticed my body’s reaction, initially I went stiff, rigid, preparing for the yelling. Suddenly my heartbeat slowed, my breathing became calmer, I could physically feel my body relax. I still wasn’t sure what their response was going to be, but I was safe, I wasn’t going to be yelled at, and I suddenly felt like I could handle whatever the response was going to be. Suddenly I realized how much I appreciated this person, their ability to have self control and not yell at me helped me to see things differently.
So as I think about this situation, my daughters comments about my attitude, the comments I have received from people recently about the blog, my happiness, what they can see in me now vs before, and the things in my year books all those years ago. My heart hurts at the things that are going through my mind that I have said about other people in moments of frustration or gossip that I have listened to or actively participated in. So as I sit here and appreciate those who have shown self control during moment of disagreement, shared kind adjectives or thoughts with me, I remind myself of the moments I have not done those things. I am challenging myself and those reading this to be more aware of my words and self control. Actively compliment those around you, use your words to bless someone. And in moments of disagreement, frustration, irritation, take a deep breathe, think before you speak and choose your words wisely, whether directly to the person or to someone else. Don’t allow your tongue to be a weapon.