My mother was an alcoholic. Until the day she died, no, even long after, the words spinning in my head were wonderings about what a can of Coors offered her that I could not. There are certain experiences and certain words in life that humble you. They bring you suddenly alive, albeit with regret, shock, pain or a melancholy musing often about why you haven’t been in your own life. There are also words that bring you alive with joy and happiness.
My clients over the years have softened my child-like judgment about my mother, and brought me the gift of greater understanding, compassion and forgiveness. My mother never really had a chance. My mother had no words of encouragement or comfort. She had no words of guidance or compassion. My mother was my greatest teacher. She taught me what it looks like when you do not love yourself. I love her for that.
Words connect us or separate us. They heal us or hurt us. They empower us or victimize us. Deepak Chopra says we have 60,000 thoughts a day, most of which come tumbling out of our mouths and almost all of which are the same old things we have thought and said repeatedly for the majority of our lives. We pay so little attention to our words. Yet, they are profound.
My father used words, ”You stupid ignoramus son-of-a-bitch.” My mother used no words. What floated in the space between us was cold and isolated sadness. My admissions professor in college used words I’d never heard,
“I cannot believe what you have done in your life without support.” My kids use words that took my breath away, “Thanks for holding this family together mom.” All of them have made me queasy…either because they hurt so badly or because they were unfamiliar and challenged my willingness to trust.
Words are crafted around conference tables, in the hopes quelling objections: the theater of war, friendly fire, constructive criticism etc. Make no mistake! These are enormously powerful words. You’ve been persuaded, manipulated, cajoled, coerced and controlled because the words were crafted in such a way that the risks no longer mattered. And, written words are even more powerful when they are accepted, uncritically, as being true. There is so much to say about words in every context and form, whether written, spoken or published in books or the Internet, words allow us to connect, communicate and enlighten each other. They are filled with potential – the potential to heal or the potential to harm. Love, laugher, gratitude, joy, courage, heroism are all inspired by words. A life well lived is nearly impossible without words. We take very seriously the opportunity to share words with you that hopefully teach, enlighten and encourage. I invite spirit to sit on my shoulder as I type, hoping to reach out from the page and touch you in some way.
As we age, we look at words with a bit more suspect. We begin to question whether we can really lose 20 pounds in a month, or whether he or she really can be in love in a week, or whether the government really does have our best interest at heart. With aging comes the answers to the words that formed questions such as “Have I done what I came here to do, or, what can I learn from this challenge.
In moments of silence, you begin to question the purpose of your life for there is no true depth or value in life without meaningful connection to those you love. Connection is difficult without words that are genuine and heartfelt and followed by behavior that is reverent and respectful.
I remember things my father said to me that brought me to my knees when I was twelve. I remember things that my teacher said to me in fourth grade that brought me up, standing tall again. Words have so great a force in them that we should all remember to make sure they are well chosen. “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ― Rudyard Kipling Words can make people love you a little less or a little more.
Who knew a consistent inquiry with words about how one could help, along with a soft touch and gentle hug could mean so much? Give that today.
© Dr Dina Evan 2013
All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.