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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me…..Really?!

February 6, 2011

Good Bye January you will not be missed you miserable month.

I am so glad the gloom of the week before is beginning to lift off me in dribs and drabs, it started with the unexplainable bad mood last sunday and this sadly set the tone for the rest of the week. It was just one of those weeks where nothing goes right, plans seem set to fail and people annoy you for just being them. So, yesssss the cloud of woeful woe is lifting and I am feeling much better and ready for things to come. This has been greatly helped by my fate from next September being decided and I can’t wait, but more about this at a later date.

A few weeks ago I was returning ‘up north’ from London, it was late Sunday night, I had to be up at half six in the morning for work so all I wanted was to get home and go to bed. Hence when I got to Preston Train station I inwardly cursed the departure screen when it dared to print the dreaded numbers 00:10 for the next train home…..yes an hour wait in perhaps the coldest train station in the world is just what I want  when I’ve already been travelling for hours and want nothing more than my bed.

‘The world is completely against me’ I dramatically concluded with that internal voice that never shuts ups and is ready and waiting for its timely comments. With regret, I hauled my case down the urine- scented ramp and shuffled along the deserted wind-tunnel of a platform. Grim-faced I set up camp on a metal bench probably created for the purpose of giving its occupants ‘piles’, put my headphones on my head and attempted to block out the world for an hour.

Ohh no this was not meant to be, you see it seems that drunkern idiots are the one force of sound to be reckoned with that the flashy headphones designed to block all other sound out could not conquer. Through my soothing music, their grunted football chants reached my ear drums, their drunkern slurs infiltrated my thoughts….and they were advancing closer. Head down,….make no eye-contact, press myself closer into the bench…, look at me coat-what was I thinking? WHAT WAS I THINKING? But….thank goodness the police arrived and took said drunkern revellers away.  So anyway, the whole point of regaling this late night lingering at the train station is to  make the point I had a very glum look on my face, remember that.

A week or two later, a work collegue said to me ‘you didn’t happen to be at Preston train station late the other Sunday did you’
‘Yes, I was there, I’d just got back from London and had to wait an hour for the next train home.’
‘Oh really, I’d been on the train from London as well, had been visiting my sister I thought it was you but I really didn’t know as it was from a bit of a distance, I recognised the orange coat but you had such a frown on your face I didn’t think it could be you because your always so smiley’.

So what did I think when I heard such a thing about me….firstly just goes to show you never know who is nearby observing you, even at midnight in a cold northern train station. Secondly…..’smiley’….me really… I mean really, smiley, has a such a word ever been used to describe Me the girl who is more likely to have an unintended look of disdain on her face, an abstract glint of misery directed at the state of the world in her eye. But in an earth-shattering moment somebody had described me as ‘smiley’ and had found it unusual that I was not smiling, they had gone as far to dismiss the person along the platform as me because she was not smiling. This one small, seemingly insignificant throw-away comment made my insides break out into the biggest, most glorious, joy filled smile.

You see, somebody, somebody that doesn’t even know me that well, somebody who would be regarded as more acquaintance than friend, who I had known but a short while had noticed a change in me that I had slowly been working on for years really but had only come into effect in the past few months. Naturally, I am a pessimistic person who worries about everything but I have been trying so hard to stop worrying, be positive and just be happy or pretend to be happy because really its all a mindset isn’t it?! So this comment made in passing conversation had a massive impact on me because it confirmed what I had been trying to do, it confirmed that I was making small steps towards achieving my personal aim that I have been working on for so long. I realise now, a good friend or family member who knows you inside out is less likely to notice these subtle changes because they haven an entrenched perception of you which is hard to shake-off especially when you seem to be doing the opposite of what they expect of you. We all fall into acting in the certain roles that people expect us to be because we have always been like that so sometimes it takes somebody more remote from us to notice when we are changing for the better.

What has all this got to do with the children’s rhyme ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’? To point out that it is horrendous in every way. Firstly, is putting the image of using sticks and stones to break somebodies bones the kind of image we should be relating to children?! Most importantly should we undersell the power of words to young ones, because in my experience words can hurt a great deal and heal and bring joy and a smile to another in a way that nothing else can? Everyday, we all have conversations with various different people and say things without thinking or knowing of the impact they have on somebody but as shown in the example above a passing comment can resound, repeat and play for a long time after in the mind of that person you had a seemingly meaningless conversation with.

Tomorrow the great Health-regime starts… many times have we heard that one before…..more on this tomorrow.

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