One of the most powerful tools that anyone of us has is our words; one need not be a writer to exercise that power. Ask anyone who has ever been in an emotionally or mentally abusive relationship and often times they will tell you that it was their partner’s words that hurt the most. Words can tear a person down, words can uplift and sometimes they can simply confuse. When I was 8 years old and rather irritated about my brother’s arrival, I went to school and made a flip comment that I wanted to kill myself. I didn’t mean it, but after years of being the only kid, frankly I wanted some attention. In the end the attention that comment got me was nothing like what I thought it would be and almost 32 years later my Dad still brings up that incident. Since he and my mother had the unfortunate task of convincing folks that I was being a brat and was not in need of psychiatric treatment. For a time, I learned how to mind my words.
Fast forward decades later when I first started writing professionally for the Portland Phoenix, in my early columns I sometimes had a tendency to overreach in a desire to get a response and ended up with mixed results. In almost a decade of writing professionally, I have received much hate mail (writing about diversity while living in one of the whitest states tends to make some folks lose it) once so bad my editor had to alert local law enforcement. It’s always good to have a paper trail if someone pretty much tells you what they want to do to you and it includes non-consensual violence.
Over the years I have tried to walk the line in my professional writing and, thanks to my restraint, good editors and the limits of word counts, I can be more widely publishable. And sometime, necessity forces me to hold my tongue when I feel one way or another about issues. As such, often I use this space to stretch my writing wings. The upside of blogging is that I have no editor, no word count and no pesky red marks to deal with…but that too has a downside.
It seems a recent post of mine, was not well received. In that post I spoke on authenticity, yet I made some generalizations that offended some or maybe even many based off the unusual number of visitors that post received. I have been mulling over whether or not to say anything because frankly my intent was not to offend. Yet sometimes intent doesn’t matter, in some cases it’s how things are received. When I speak on authenticity in my space here, it’s from the perspective of a woman growing up and reconciling who she is and who she wants to be and creating my authentic space. The authentic space that I reside in comfortably with no more inner conflict, it’s that place that allows me to realize and accept that where I am is where I am meant to be and to be at peace with that.
I use this space to share and to muse out loud, it’s great when it’s read but for quite a while this space had very few readers and that’s okay too. This space is where I play with my words and sometimes it gets a little messy and that is okay too because sometimes life is a little messy, I believe the only time things stop getting messy is when we take our last breath.
So I am reminded once again of the power of words, they can uplift, tear down and confuse and part of the work of a writer is being aware and intentional in how we use those words. For me it’s a work in progress.