Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Simple Words

Sometimes it's the simplest words that hurt the most. I could write dissertations on my feelings about some people: Fred Phelps, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney. But even if I wrote those dissertations and they read those dissertations, they would not feel any pain.

Because they don't know me. Because my words don't matter to them. But also because you can never hurt with eloquence the way you can hurt with simplicity.

"You're ruining my life"

"I don't want you here."

"I can't wait to get out of here."

"If you want to go, just go."

These are the things that cut us to the quick. That wake us up in the middle of the night, filled with fear, with remorse, with regret or with a renewed sense of hurt.

I could say that we should be more careful with our words, that we should all be more careful with our words, but who among us doesn't already know that? Who among us isn't trying and failing to be more careful.

There are things that people have said to me that I can forgive, but have never, and probably will never forget. It is not a bitterness or an anger that is making me hold onto those moments in time, but a fear. The fear that nightmares are made of, the fear that you can never banish no matter how hard you try. In most cases, my world, my life, would be better if I could forget those moments, expunge them from my memory and move on to a happy future devoid of past injury. I try. And I fail. Just as, I am sure, I fail to not create those moments for others.

I am trying harder and harder each day that my children grow to watch those moments, not just with the girls, but with everyone. It's not enough to save them from scars if I can't save them from seeing their mother cut. I am trying to hold my tongue, to put others' feelings first, to ignore my hurt and stifle my anger and continue to speak in a rational voice, continue to use kindness as my first defense.

It's hard for a loud, opinionated woman like me. I was born in the last century for a reason, because surely, in any other I would have been burned at the stake. I have always prided myself on my strong opinion, my indefatigable will, my fierce independence and my refusal to back down. Now, I wonder if any of that is worthy of my pride. And yet, I can't quite bear the vision of the alternative.

It is natural to me to strike back when struck. It is not natural to me to kill with kindness to catch flies with honey or to madden with my sense of calm. I don't know if it is enough to try and fail. But I believe I've finally begun to realize what Gandhi meant when he said, "Be the change you want to see." It's not about writing your congressman or voicing your opinion. The fact is that world peace needs to take a backseat to peace in my living room. That world peace will only be accomplished when there is peace in every living room. And that, I'm afraid, I now can see, means compromise in every heart.

And that is the sticking point my friends. That is the fly in the ointment of my ramblings. Some things are compromise-able. Some things will not be hurt and will possibly be improved if diluted. But some things, cannot be allowed to let slide. Some things you have to stand firm about. Some times you have to dig in your heels, put your fingers in your ears and la-la-la you're way through. And it is not enough to have both the strength to compromise and the will to stand firm. It is the wisdom to know which is needed.

* No one worry about my weird waxing tonight. It's late. I'm strange. I'm only philosophical when I really, really want to go to bed. Some of my best self-discoveries have come in that glider rocker at 3 a.m. with an inconsolable infant in my lap. This one is just a little early. Or, I am a little older.


Sleepless In KL said...

i agree with you about standing up for some things. the hard part for me is finding a way to speak my mind while avoiding (or at least minimising) any potential damage!

Anonymous said...

Words used to keep me up at night. I found that I got peace after forgiving those people and forgiving myself. I used to think I deserved the words, so I had to forgive both parties.

And I apologize for all the stupid and hurtful things I'm sure I said to you and anybody else reading this. (I know that's kind of lame.)


Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds just like me. And, I think it is enough to try and fail, you can't learn anything if you get it right the first time. At least that's what I tell myself.

Suze said...

Can I just say that reading the blogs of my good friends from high school is weirdly reassuring? Until I went to Ann's wedding a couple years ago, I had basically lost contact with everyone (except for random emails from Roy). Thinking about what I was like as a teenager makes me cringe, but then I see that my old friends, who for some reason I assume I don't have much in common with, are still really cool, really interesting people with more maturity makes me think maybe I am, too.

Just wanted to share that.