Things you say can be forgiven, but not necessarily forgotten. As the poem below suggests, I say some awful things when I am unwell. Filterless. I can be really vicious, trying to bring everyone down to my level or make them hate me so that my self-destruction seems more acceptable. Even inevitable. I know I have hurt people with the sheer volume of the negativity I spew. Those closest to me have accepted it, accepted me, sealed the wound and moved on with me. Others I have lost or pushed away. I can’t spend too much time regretting that. All I can do is try to forgive other people in similar spots.
There are probably things I have said without meaning to, or thinking, that have hurt more than I can know. I know people have said things to me, off-hand, without realising the hours or months of agonising it would cause me. I think especially as children we are vulnerable to the things people say and the way that they say them, a sensitivity lose some of as adults. I can still flinch at half-remembered slights from my teenage years, at things that I imagine would just wash over my head these days… or that, unintentionally, I might say to somebody else?
We also underestimate the positives we can say. How a compliment can make somebody’s day. How an “Are you OK?” can change someone’s week. It is as easy to make somebody feel good as it is to make them feel bad, so sometimes it’s nice to tell people positive things. Think about the last time somebody told you you looked good, and how it made you feel. Then ask yourself if you’d like somebody else to feel the same way you did. Then make them. Simple.
I always tell my family as I hang up the phone, that I love them. Imagine I died before I got to make another call? Imagine they did? This is, of course, extreme and morbid. But important.
A friend of mine recently wrote very movingly about her last encounter with a friend who died. She reflected on whether, had she known it would be the last time she would see him, she would have responded differently to something he said. Her article can be found here: http://littlemissbond.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/thats-what-careless-words-do.html
So… words. You can’t take them back once they’re said. You should handle them carefully. Like a fire-eater with flames.