Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones.

I've only had one broken bone in my life, but do tend to bruise pretty easily. I don't know if it's the fair skin, or that I'm a klutz, or just that I'm a girl, since a lot of girls say the same thing. At any rate, I can look down any given day and see all kinds of random bruises that I can't remember getting. They don't always hurt, but they're ugly and sometimes they last a long time.

Especially having red hair, I've been ridiculously fortunate not to be the brunt of nasty jokes much throughout the years. Maybe this is because I laugh at my own self a lot. Maybe peeps are considerate enough to save their ugly talk for behind my back. Or maybe -- just maybe -- it's because I try really hard to follow the rare and consistent traits that I grew up watching my parents and sister live daily and seemingly effortlessly, and I try to be kind (though I don't always succeed, especially when I'm stressed out). I'm forever laughing with people about my faults, and often pointing them out to those around me, but am not proud to say that especially in the past, I tend to be pretty sensitive when facets of me that I view as negative are pointed out, even by friends who mean well. But basically, when it comes down to it, I have really, really escaped a lot of life's barbs, and I am utterly grateful for that.

My precious sister got picked on a good bit in elementary and middle school. She is absolutely the sweetest person in the universe, so I think it offended me almost as much as it did her. She was very shy and quiet at the time, so I don't think that helped matters much. Thankfully, she came out of her shell and blossomed into a gorgeous, more outgoing but still very kind young lady, and boom, the jokes stopped. I don't think I ever realized, though, how much those jokes could have hurt her. I mean, I still haven't talked to her about it (I'm typing in a very stream-of-consciousness way right now, so I'm sure we'll discuss it soon), but good grief. It had to hurt. Basically a stick figure of a child, I often took up for her on the bus or wherever, using words as my fight and praying I wouldn't get beat up by the instigators.

Yesterday, I was insulted worse than I can ever remember. I also experienced raw, emotional hurt in a way I can never remember hurting. I don't know if the (not particularly nice in general) person knew she ruined my day, and possibly month, but she did. It was just a thoughtless comment, but absolutely unneccessary, and it made me feel fat and slobby and small (but definitely not in a good way), and like the biggest loser (but also not in a good way).

After crying pretty hard about the rude comments and seeking immediate e-counseling from 10 of my closest friends, including my mom & sister, I realized: there's something to that old saying.

Sticks and stones -- or in my case, being thrown from a horse -- may break my bones, but words won't break me.

(I wouldn't go so far as to say words can never harm us, because the initial bruise is pretty nasty. But thankfully, we have our circle of peeps who take care of us with the effect that rubbing alcohol and antiseptic have on bruises and cuts. And after a little bit, the bruises fade, the cuts stop bleeding, and hopefully later, we can look back at that experience as un-fun, but not life-altering.)

So what lessons did I learn from being school-bus-picked-on at 33 1/2? 
1. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.
2. Remember to be kind to others, because what we think are lighthearted comments may be really hurtful to them.
3. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.
4. Keep your "surmising," as my Nan would say, to yourself.
5. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.
6. Keep Taylor Swift in your iTunes. Always.
7. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.

Because in the end, thank the Lord, bruises really do fade and cuts heal. Especially with the soothing ointment of wonderful friends and family.


  1. Love you RJ. To the rude person... Well bless their heart.... ;) Aimee Howard

  2. I enjoyed this and I like your writing style! I can relate to this post, believe me. Having friends / people to share it with is important. Living away from my family & close friends - seven timezones away is hard at times, which is why I turn to writing most of the time. Nice to "meet" you :-)

  3. I'm so sorry you had a day. Trust me - I can relate... to the having bruises and not knowing where they came from and having hurtful things said to you. Last October - I had a friend's son tell me... "Joy, your the fattest person I know." Talk about hurt... I still cry thinking about it. But the thing is RJ, we wouldn't be the people we are today if these things didn't happen to us to make us stronger and and even better person. Here's to us... let's forget the losers!!


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