“It’s not an option for us. Di- you know what? I don’t even want to say the word.”
Thus began my introduction to a fact of life that was never mentioned in my childhood. And that’s also where it ended.
And – perhaps unintentionally – it became something to be terrified of. It became something so horrible, so awful that it wasn’t even whispered about, let alone openly discussed. I was afraid. There was so much power in a single word that it could upend a family without any further notice, a dark curse of sorts that could be barely spoken, lest the mere mention of it cause any nearby happy marriages to crumble instantly. Without cause.
But here’s the thing.
There is an incredible amount of power in the words that we say and think and write. Imagine for just a moment, the last time someone looked you in the eye and said, “I think you are amazing.” Three seconds of your day that somehow become the most powerful moment in your entire week. All because someone took the time to actually speak words of life and encouragement and joy. Or, imagine the last time someone looked at you and called you stupid. An idiot. Worthless. Hopeless. Chances are, that moment came years (not days) ago, and you can still remember the color of your shoes from that moment in time. It’s branded on your brain and in your heart, and it looks like it may live there forever.
My moment like that came when I was five and someone looked at me and said Don’t talk about yourself, Lynn. No one wants to hear about you anyway. Try becoming a writer – a person who openly shares my stories and my heart with the world – after that one.
But there’s also an incredible amount of power in the words that we don’t speak.
There’s a monster under my bed. Mom and Dad might get a divorce. I might get a divorce. My best friend is going to forget about me. I am afraid. Of failure. Of heights. Of snakes. Of speaking in front of people. Of roller coasters. Of zombies. Of being broken. I am not enough. He won’t love me. I’ll never make it.
When we bury those words deep inside of us, because we’re ashamed of them or afraid of them or disgusted by them, they have nothing else to do but take root there. So, as my husband always tells me when I’m frustrated – use your words. I’m learning to talk about what I’m really afraid of. I’m learning to talk about the lies I’ve believed. Because, when it all comes down to it, saying things out loud somehow makes them less scary. That’s the funny thing about words – there is always power there. Power to bring life. Power to bring death.
But it’s up to us to decide how we use those words. So, go – speak life and joy and hope wherever you walk. Talk about your fears openly. When you share them with others, they’ll dissipate enough that you can begin to move freely and think around them. They can’t stay overwhelming anymore.
I love my husband more than I could ever fully express. We might fall apart along the way. We might be that ridiculously mushy couple who still holds hands at 100 years old. But you don’t avoid falling off a cliff by pretending that it doesn’t exist. That sounds like a perfect recipe for accidentally driving off said cliff and plummeting to your death. You avoid falling off a cliff – falling into the very thing you’ve been so afraid of – by looking directly at it, acknowledging its existence, and moving on. Moving away. There’s an enormous amount of freedom in that.
My name is Lynn. I’m afraid that I’m going to get a divorce one day. I’m afraid that I will be forgotten and passed over by the ones I love. I’m afraid of totaling another car. But you know what? That day is not today.
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