Words have a terrible legacy and cause awful pain even where it is unintended. During the course of any relationship words are spoken, sometimes without thought or consideration of how those words might affect the other person. When we are deeply divided by experience, education, history and culture words become even more powerful. All too often, our lexicon is different, broader or narrower by our worldview and experience. When we add an unwillingness to learn the other person’s perception, concepts and values we judge and sometimes even punish.
It is a conundrum, sometimes unsolvable impossible to bridge without a willingness to listen, hear and speak our own truths in our own language. If our relationships are long-term, whether friendship, love or even marriage we have to find ways to bridge the gaps in our understanding or we ultimately fail in our communication and our relationships. Fail to define the words you use they can be misconstrued and lead to horrible misunderstanding. Fail to balance your own cultural premise, personal history and even educational background with your audience you can be completely misunderstood.
Words have been a part of my life, all my life. Usually I think I am sensitive. Usually I think I understand my audience. Sometimes I am apparently dead wrong.
Dead wrong does not mean malicious.
Dead wrong does not mean cruel.
Dead wrong does not mean foolish, stupid or ignorant.
What dead wrong means unaware the other person has not only taken your words and twisted them to their own truth but will refuse any definition but their own. There is no ‘Sorry’ for this, no bridge to walk across in remorse for words spoken without malicious intent. It is not possible to say anything other than, “I am sorry your feelings were hurt”, this disregards your own truth and fails to acknowledge you exist in the conversation.
Of course you are sorry the other person was hurt by what you have said, however, if what you said was not intended to hurt, was not malicious there is a ‘but’ behind it. The but is, you misunderstood what I said, the gap between your understanding and my intent needs to be discussed needs airing or it will continue to stand between us. The longer we ignore the unintentional hurt and the misunderstanding the wider the chasm and shakier the bridge we must cross to heal the hurt of both people.
What happens though when our unintentional words result in the other, perhaps our beloved or a best loved friend lashes out in anger? What happens when our unintentional words result in angry and hurtful words in response. How do we take those words into ourselves? Do we forgive without considering the source, even questioning whether thoughtless words spoken in anger do not hold a seed of the others truth.
Should we consider words spoken in anger as not relevant to the weft and warp of our weaving? How can we, when words form both the terrible flaws and the best strength of the fabric of our relationships. Can we recover deep hurts when words flung in anger or retribution are deeply painful, deeply troubling.
These questions are on my mind, the question of words.