“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
THAT is one of the biggest lies ever told.
Words are powerful. Words matter. Words can encourage and convey love or they can gash the psyche, convey hate, and plant the seeds of shame.
If we are pummeled with cruel words frequently enough and long enough, shame takes root and, like a noxious weed in a garden, chokes out nearly all of the flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
Degrading insults like, “you are fat, ugly, stupid, pathetic, disgusting, incompetent, worthless, etc” eventually become our truths about ourselves if they are hurled at us, over and over again by a primary care-giver or loved one. Whether it be in an overt abusive way or a subtle, cruel passive-aggressive way.
I am living proof of these assertions. As a 51 year old person with Bipolar Disorder who has been in some form of recovery for 25 years (working it rigorously for the last 8), I still deal with a degree of toxic shame (resulting from indoctrination that I was unworthy) that surfaces at times.
Thank God I have the tools and support to prevent it from eating my lunch for long periods of time or causing me to act in self-destructive ways.
And thank God I broke the chain and didn’t pass the family legacy on to my children.