I've been thinking a lot about the power of words in the last month. I've temporarily lost my ability to find pleasure in writing, an activity that's helped keep me sane during this very difficult year. And I've become hyper-aware of how much good and evil a few well -- or ill -- chosen words can do to a person. I found myself paralyzed by hurt and depression caused by someone else's words, unable to write about it, unable to write about anything else.
Being separated from friends and family during the holidays didn't help. Neither did the constant low-grade worry about Brian and his future, and the fact that this was my first Christmas without him in 15 years. We talked almost every day, probably as mutually emotionally supportive as we've been since I left. And that helped. But for the first time in my life, I really understood on an emotional level just why people get suicidal during this time of year.
Supportive words from Mom, Lisa and Willy P. made things better. A gift package from Maureen, including premium quality baking supplies so I wouldn't be forced to do my Christmas baking with cheap cocoa, a funny card making fun of, yet acknowledging my pitiful state, that helped too. And T.C. made me laugh with his succinct, sometimes pithy, usually accurate, and always supportive commentary on my life.
And if Dave were a book, he'd be Hot Chocolate for Dana's Soul, for all the times he listened to me cry, rage, or just whinge my way through December, for all the advice and words of comfort he gave me. And for sitting through Zombie 3, Day of the Dead; Contagion, and The Dead Next Door just because I needed a dose of holiday zombie cheer to perk me up.
Bottom line, words matter. They can hurt or they can heal. Be careful how you use them. Relationships can dissolve in an acid bath of deliberately worded cruelty, be it verbal or written.
Be damned sure that you have your facts straight before using words to sit in judgement on someone else.
If you use words with intent to injure, be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions.
Don't be afraid to apologize. Knowing when you're wrong and being able to admit it shows strength of character, not weaknesss. Don't wait until the apology is so diluted by time that it has no real meaning any more.
For those of you who really don't care about the consequences of your verbal knife throwing or poisoned pen...I still hope you have rich, full lives. I just won't be a part of them.
And for those of you who've gotten me through the hardest year of my life, I owe you lots of nice words and a cessation of whinging for 2006.