Monday, November 22, 2010

Harmful Words

Lately I have noticed the toll that harmful words take. Just yesterday Larissa said that her thighs are too fat. Then last night when I was doing her hair she talked about how ugly her hair is. We have not been able to determine where she is getting these ideas from. I do know that at one time she said a girl at the playground at school said her hair is ugly.
This upsets me. She is a beautiful child. Why at the age of 5 is she already questioning how she looks? Why do kids have to be so mean?
Weesie, your hair is beautiful! Just the way God intended it to be.

Actually, it is not always kids. Tasha was home last weekend and she was telling me about an incident that happened when she was 5 years old at a Girl Scout camp. She was sitting with her friend K when an adult came up to them and said, "K is actually pretty but Tasha just thinks she is". What! Why would an adult say that to my child. Tasha never told me about that until now....17 years later. She still remembers it like it happened yesterday.
Tasha you were more then a pretty girl at 5 years old and you are beautiful today inside and out.

Sometimes the words can be from a parent to their child. For years I held a secret. I thought that I had shared it with all my children but I realize that I had only shared it with Sarah when she was struggling with the bullying. When I was 20 years old I tried to commit suicide.

My parents had divorced and I was struggling. I was in college in a major I didn't want to be in. I wanted to do oceanography and then psychology. My dad was so against those that I put them aside to major in what he wanted. Only problem was in the end what he wanted wasn't what I wanted. I quit. I was weak at the time and confused.

When my dad found out I quit he started calling me night and day. I don't know how many times he told me I would not amount to anything. I was worthless. At the time I thought that my dad was the greatest. We had a good relationship, so I thought. I realize that it was only good when I was doing what he wanted. The harassment continued and I would call it bullying.

At some point I started to believe him. I was lost. I didn't know where to go from that point. I was worthless.

One night I took a bunch of pills and alcohol and went to bed figuring that all my problems would be solved. After all, I was worthless so what did it matter.

In the middle of the night my phone rang. I tried to get up and answer it...but couldn't. I fell to the floor because my legs were totally numb. I crawled to the bathroom and threw up then went back to bed. I believe that whoever called me in the middle of the night saved my life.

When I woke up the next afternoon I realized that that was the stupidest thing I had ever done. I also realized that I needed to get away. I joined the Army reserves and left town.

It is not something I would ever do again. However, I do understand how at that moment it all seems hopeless. At that moment it is hard to believe that things will get better. How powerful words are and how much damage they can cause.

I didn't tell anyone what I was planning. Everyone would have been shocked. I also wish that I had been able to talk to some of my friends before and afterwards but I felt too stupid.

My relationship with my dad has never been good since. One day I talked to him about that night and he said, "bullshit, you're lying". I am sure that I am still worthless to him. I am sure that he would consider me a failure. If he knew I was going to school for teaching he would look down on it. His motto was "those that, those that can't....teach".

At that time my dad was a Christian. It took me many years before I was willing to open a Bible. Even then it was because I was attending a Baptist University and I had to study the Bible. I graduated from Wayland Baptist University in 1999. It took me a lot of years to make my way back to school.

I have come to realize that in so many ways I am not worthless. I have learned not to worry so much about what others tell me about myself. Quite frequently their words are worthless. Those negative words no longer have their power over me because I know who I am now. It took me a long time, but knowing who you are is more powerful then all those negative words thrown your way.

So, speak gently to your kids today. Tell them how great they are and how you love them for being themselves.


  1. hugs to you and to your beautiful girls for all those words that have hurt deeper than any one can realize. Gosh I hope Larissa can let those words go and see herself the way she is! She is just beautiful.

  2. A parent's words really stay with us, don't they? HOw awful that he denied it and you didn't reach closure with him--but you've gone on and accomplished great things.

    I have an MEd in el ed with a reading specialty and here I am writing books because teaching just isn't fun with all the emphasis on curriculum and testing.

  3. I will attest that Larissa does not have fat thighs. That girl is all legs and is skinny as a bean pole. Larissa is also my little diva. Whenver her mom makes up her hair, Larissa has to show me her hair do. She also has to model her new clothes to me. She is nothing less than a little cutie pie.

    Whoever said that Tasha was not pretty was just being cruel. She had her pick of bofriends in high school and turned out to be a beautiful and independent young woman.

    I cannot say enough about Felicia. I refer to her as the queen bee. Felicia is a great wife and mom, and has an artistic gift that reflects through out the house

  4. Sesame Street has a song about loving your hair. You might look it up on YouTube.