Sticks and stones

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”

I often spat this out as a child. I can remember my mother cheerfully parroting the words back to me after I would recount a rude remark from a classmate or even a teacher.

Now I know this isn’t true, even if I would rather be whacked with a million sticks by people than hear the unkind words they utter. Nevertheless, saying this became my major defense. It was my ammunition against mean girls. I would say it, keeping my head high, trying not to cry.

I always took the high road. It was the only path I knew. It was not until fifth grade that I developed a less positive mentality.

My best friend and I would frequently attack each other over email, furiously typing insults back and forth – anything that would hurt one another. I can’t even remember why we fought, but I still shudder at the thought of the things I said.

I had learned from the remarks my classmates had thrown at me, and now instead of taking the high road, the better road, I used the words that caused me pain to inflict more.

It was a lie that words could never hurt you, and I had learned this a thousand times over. As I grew up, I found more words that could hurt people, with a book that contained more creative insults. For example, one was ‘Nice shirt, who shot the couch?’

I never considered myself a mean child. I was very reclusive and for whatever reason, I was often the subject of teasing. Most likely because I would cry instead of standing up for myself, or furiously hurl out weak insults that no one really cared about.

When I really grew up I cannot remember, but I know now how much lasting damage words can cause. I still hold a grudge against a girl from my seventh grade science class, when she called me a know-it-all.

Words are a weapon that is easily employed and I do not like using them. And yet I do.

I’ve learned that when people say ugly things to me, it hurts me. When I say ugly things to you, it still hurts me. Maybe it’s time to stop because if we don’t – it will just keep causing us more pain. The world doesn’t need that.

Sticks, stones and words always hurt your bones.