the power of words

March 11, 2009 — Leave a comment

this is a work in progress, so bear with me.

i`m not a physically violent person, i may look like a huge, intimidating man, but if you get to know me i`m a teddy bear, well at least with the people i love and even then, there are some that would question that.

i discovered very early on that words have power.
“sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
bullshit, i`m still carrying the scars of my first three years of high school. i`ve moved on, i may be a better person now, but they`re there and it`s the reason i worry about my children`s popularity.

i was the short, fat, non-physical-sport playing, sensitive child in an all boys` high school. in any herd, i was the one most likely to get singled out and devoured by the predators and it took four years, a growth spurt and an incredibly violent outburst to break the predators of the concept of me as easy prey. it didn`t stop completely but i was no longer the most helpless. during those `formative` years i learned to bottle my anger and hurt and disappointment and channel its release in the most powerful weapon i know; words.

i`ve always been an avid reader, books were and still are a form of escape for me. the first book i ever owned was Tootles the Taxi. i devoured it, literally, i was old enough to read and when i was finished i ate from hard back cover to hard back cover. i don`t know if it`s because i`m listening to American Gods now or if it`s something i`ve read somewhere but it seems somewhat mythical and powerful. my mother is still an avid reader and encouraged my reading by allowing me to read the paper every morning with a dictionary at my side; i can`t remember a time when i`ve never owned a dictionary; and by buying me a book a month on the anniversary of my birthday. even that wasn`t enough, i joined the children`s section of the public library at 6, and by the time i`d finished my primary education at 10, i`d read everything they had. i knew all the librarians by name and they got me a dispensation to join the adult library at 11. words brought me comfort and joy and there was a time when i wouldn`t leave home with something to read, my mother would take me on her jaunts and as long as i had a book, i would just completely zone the adults out. my books didn`t defend me in high school but the provided a temporary reprieve.

as i got older, i hid my hurtful words behind the guise of absolute truth if you were a friend, if you weren`t a friend then there was no hiding, i was just nasty and cruel.  my barbs were calculated to cause the most harm. with family and friends, it was easier because i knew the weaknesses and had bottled hurts real and imagined and distilled into something truly venomous. one of the reasons my ex-wife and i are such good friends now is that we`ve said every hurtful thing two people can say to each other. i`ve always said if they verbal arguments we had in the last two months of our marriage had been physical neither of us would be here today. everything we said to each other at that time was meant to cut to the quick and simultaneously salt the wound while we were at it. and in retrospect, she was just reacting to me, i started it, i was pushing her buttons and she responded.

i still have pretty sharp tongue but i don`t bottle, well not as much and i`ve learned temperance. this isn`t where i`d intended to go with this, but i`m pretty happy with it anyway.

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