Right now I am steaming mad. I got up this morning, meaning to write a blog post about something on my mind. Then I saw a post on Facebook and saw red. It also hurt me, because it brought back my own memories and how easy it is to hurt someone's feelings.
School started just days ago for my grandkids, and already the cruelty has started. My daughter posted on Facebook that some little girl had told my granddaughter Maddie that she is ugly. Maddie told Jen about it with tears in her eyes. As I read the comments from Jen's friends and family reassuring Maddie that she is beautiful, I felt something else.
I felt anger. And shame.
Anger for all the times I remember enduring things people said that were hurtful. I keenly remember how unkind words can rip at self esteem at a time when it is fragile and growing. I remember wondering if maybe the person who said the ugly words was right, and what they said was true. I remember wondering what I had done to deserve the words. I know now I had done nothing, but because I reacted to the words at the time, a few other kids joined in, and hammered me pretty relentlessly for a time, until they tired of the game and moved on to new prey. Back then we knew what bullies were, and these girls were bullies. I know now that I wasn't much different than the other kids. But it was the ability to make me THINK I was different that gave this small group of cruel girls the power to hurt me.
Shame. I feel shame for all the times I have said cruel things to other people. I see how hurt Maddie is, and realize how the mean things I have said over the years to other people have hurt them. Sometimes it was unintentional, but sometimes I said things deliberately to hurt others, when I had been hurt. There is no way to be unhurt by words, and saying cruel things to others doesn't undo what has been done to me, and this was brought home to me by Maddie's reaction to that little girl.
That is what I want Maddie to understand. How we treat others has a lasting impact. Words hurt, but it is important to understand that the person saying the words doesn't really know her. The person saying the words is trying to hurt her, to get a reaction from her. If I could, I would give Maddie the strength to laugh in the face of anyone who says anything mean, because words like that, in the end, are not what is important.
The important thing to understand is her own worth as a person, and to understand that people say things for different reasons. I could go on and on about the whys of it, but the important thing is to know the truth. That we all ride on the same planet, and in the end, there isn't much different about us. We are the only species that tries to feel like we are different from each other, and better than each other. But we aren't. We are all one family. The family of man.
That sounds a little smarmy. I would still love to grab that little girl by the ear and ask her just what she means by those ugly words.
But Grammys shouldn't act like that.
Most of the time.
...life is good.
i am @jonesbabie on twitter