the pen is mightier than the sword
phrase of pen
writing is more effective than military power or violence.
“She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.”
― Dean Koontz, Lightning
I own a weapon. Every day, each and every one of us will wake up possessing the most powerful and destructive weapon ever. Our words. And just like real weapons, some people shouldn’t be left in charge of them. Written, spoken or, as is the case more often than not these days, typed. Words can lift or destroy a person. People can use them against us, and more worryingly, we are able to hurt people without even realising it. Every day I have at least one moment where I think “if only I’d said that… “, or equally, wishing I hadn’t said something. So much emphasis is put on saying the right thing. Think before you speak. Most of us will ensure we try to word things in a way that can not be misunderstood. Unfortunately, there are a handful of people who don’t. These people don’t care how their words are taken, or the effect their words have on the person they are aimed at. This problem has become worse in my opinion since text messaging/instant messaging. Now I admit, I am the world’s worst at reading something into even the shortest of texts which was probably not even there. That’s my problem, not the fault of the sender of the text. However, I do this because I do realise how text messages can be misread and the intentions behind them blurred. I have been on the receiving end of texts that make my whole day. I have also had texts that knock me right down to rock bottom. They are only words…. but the choice of words, the order in which they are put, and even simply where a comma is situated, can completely change the meaning. The whole idea of a text or instant message is to get a point across quickly, but by doing that we sometimes miss out vital bits of information that are crucial to getting the correct meaning across. Writing this blog I can’t think of a specific text which I have misread but, like I say, I can misunderstand the simplest message. I’m not alone, surely? Here’s an example…
“I’ll be there whenever I can”
There are at least two ways in which I would read that. Depending on my mood and the situation. However, paranoia always kicks in with me and I tend to settle on the most negative meaning.
So.. the first way it could be taken is that the sender knows how important their presence is to you and they will do whatever they can to get themselves out of whatever they are currently doing and be with you at the earliest opportunity.
The second way of reading it, and the way I’d be likely to take it is that they have more important stuff to be doing which they aren’t prepared to drop for you and in actual fact you are so far down their list of priorities that they can’t even promise it’ll be today.
Extremes. But both possible meanings. The sender is blissfully unaware that I’m going between both options in my head. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if we put a little more thought into what we type, this could be avoided. That message could’ve read “I’ll be there before 3pm”. Specific… to the point, no confusion. We can type to the point without being vague.
On the flip side of misinterpreting texts is the whole subject of someone sending you a text when they know exactly how you’ll read it, because they’ve taken the time to compose it in such a way that will hit all the right buttons. This is where someone shouldn’t be left in charge of the weapon of words. The kind of person who writes the long, composed text is the kind of person who wants you to be hurt by its context and content. They have thought about the best way to word something in order to leave you defenceless. That’s exactly what you are, defenceless. Every bone in your body is telling you that the best way to deal with such a cuttingly worded message is to ignore it. You want to. You should. However you somehow think that your own words will be stronger but the reality is, through anger and upset, your response will never have the impact of the message that reduced you to this state. You randomly type thoughts without reason and it just shows you up to be the defenceless fool they were hoping you’d become. Recently, I have learnt one thing. The kind of person who WANTS to hurt you with carefully chosen written words are actually the defenceless ones. If they choose to text their insults rather than say them to your face, it’s because if you do respond with an equally cutting text, they can choose to ignore it and still think in their minds that they’ve won because they’ve provoked that response from you. If they said it to your face and you cut them back down, they would be forced to come up with a reply on the spot. They couldn’t just walk away to replicate “ignoring” a text, as walking away would be admitting defeat. I’ll hold my hands up, I can’t ignore a text provoking a reaction. I wish I could. However, a friend of mine early last year made me aware of something called the Gray Rock Method. Primarily it is a method of dealing with a narcissist or psychopath, but works well with people who poke at you with words. A quote from lovefraud.com says this- ” Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t overtly try to avoid contact with these emotional vampires. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the parasite must go elsewhere for his supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the psychopath, his mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama. Psychopaths are addicted to drama and they can’t stand to be bored. With time, he will find a new person to provide drama and he will find himself drawn to you less and less often. Eventually, they just slither away to greener pastures. Gray Rock is a way of training the psychopath to view you as an unsatisfying pursuit — you bore him and he can’t stand boredom”. I was on the receiving end of some very powerful texts that made me doubt my own understanding of a situation. Almost made me believe a different version of reality in a way. Texts made up of sentences that were telling me things had happened in a way they really hadn’t. I have also since been made aware of “Gas-lighting”, Google it. Gray Rock is what I tried. It works. Bore them. They are, after all, just words.
Although, with the theme of my whole blog… there’s always a plus side. And words can be used for good. If you follow my posts you’ll know that I’m in a fairly new, shiny relationship. When he and I first got together we had the briefest of conversations about previous relationships. He used the words “I’ve been bitten”. Those three words hurt me as much to hear as it did for him to say. I am a very affectionate person, I’m touchy feely with people I know and like. He wasn’t. Those three words explained so much. In response I said “I have no intention of hurting you”, to which he replied “that’s what she said”. My words were meant with the purest intentions and I honestly meant them, yet somehow they had the power to transport him back to a place where he felt vulnerable and hurt. Right in that second I realised how powerful wording things could be. Hearing me say the same words as someone who had gone on to hurt him must’ve been a blow. My promise to you, dear readers, and to him, is that I’ll stay true to my words. Even if we drift apart, or the spark disappears, this guy is worthy of my promise. Since then I’ve kept my word. Or rather, stayed true to my words. With the convenience of texts meaning a conversation can be spread over several hours without ever having to say goodbye or hang up, the art of actual conversation has taken a nose dive in most of our lives. However, with the introduction of emojis into our text lives, you now no longer have to use words to make someone’s day. My partner and I are now into our fifth month. Every single morning since our very first date, one of us has texted the other in the morning to wish a good day. No pattern, sometimes him, sometimes me. Sometimes it’s just ” 🙂 x “, which, without words, is all I need to know this guy is thinking of me at that moment. We’ve had situations where his shifts have changed last minute which resulted in us not being able to see each other when planned. I’ve been angry, not at him, but at the situation, so I carefully word my response in a way so that there is no doubt in his mind that it is not him I’m angry with. On one occasion, I thought I’d upset him as I had plans that he’d forgotten about on a night he was free. I got so upset that I might of hurt his feelings when after a few hours he’d not replied to my text, that I kept reading and re-reading what I’d sent to him to see if it could be read the wrong way. As soon as I was able to, I phoned him. The tone in his voice instantly reassured me that he hadn’t taken offence. Near the end of the conversation I said that I was glad he was ok because I thought I’d upset him. He told me that he had sent a text “that would explain a few things”. I hadn’t yet received the text, so immediately started to panic. Explain what? Was it telling me that things weren’t working out? Was it saying he wasn’t bothered about not seeing me because he was thinking of ending it? Even though there was nothing in his voice to make me think that was the case, again it was the choice of words used. As we said our goodbyes, my phone beeped in my ear notifying me that a text had now come through. I felt nervous about reading it. Had he just put on the biggest act over the phone to break my heart by text?
My last message to him just before I phoned him simply said..
“now I feel I’ve upset you 😦 x ”
“No, not at all. You are sweet, kind and caring and I’m so glad I met you. I just can’t text every half hour, it would cost me a fortune! 😉 xx”
No confusion. Only one way that text can be read. I went from worrying about it all being over, to wanting to jump with joy, from the power of a few words.
I’d just spoken to him, but I needed to say something.
“Glad I met you too 🙂 x”
“That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.
You can change your world by changing your words… Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.