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The Weight of Words.

July 11, 2012

“The things you say and do not mean
Follow you close behind…”

~ Ben Harper

A few weeks ago, I received the following text message:

Will you ever talk to me again? Ever…

It was from a number that is not programmed in my phone… but one I thought I recognized. Now, I know I should’ve let it go at that, and if I had any feelings left towards this person, I would not have responded. But… it’s been effing two years since she’s freakin’ contacted me, and I gotta be honest… this kitty was curious. 

Finally, I asked who it was. That one response was all it took. After that… the following:

It’s —-. From —-.

[She attempts to call me. I don’t pick up.]

Please just talk to me

I think about you everyday.

I hate that you hate me.

How are you?

Without time for a single second response from me. And, yes, in that order. Seriously guys. It was followed by…

I’m not trying to hurt you or be vindictive, I miss you, legit. You don’t have to respond, it’s fine. Just know that I think about you, I care about you and I respect you.

No fucking joke, peeps. After all that, I did  say something like “hey that’s nice but our chapter is closed.” Which, apparently, invited barrage of “you’re amazing/I miss you/are you in a relationship/you deserve the best/can I come down and see you?


I don’t for a single second actually believe much of all of this. I don’t believe she meant one word. Instead I’d put money, a lot of money, on:

  1. Large quantities of alcohol.
  2. She’s going through a break-up and also through her phone book.

She’s drunk, lonely, and sad – the first thing happened too regularly when we were dating, and the last two she was never good at dealing with.

Now, here’s the thing. I bring all this up not to reminisce or discuss this particular ex. It’s not stewing up some long-buried emotions for me. But it does bother me – at a deeper level. A level where this ex is just an example of a larger, significant problem.

Words have weight, kids. Words actually mean something.

Ok, ok. I know I just posted on the importance of actions. I am the first to tell you words are cheap. But, you know what? They shouldn’t be. Words are not, actually, inexpensive – it’s just the way we use them that negates their value.

It’s this ex who says “I’m not trying to hurt you, but I still think about you every day” simply because she feels like shit right now. It’s the dude who tries to cover up his doubts and keep his partner from crying with “you’re amazing”. It’s the girlfriend who, the day before she breaks up with someone via e-mail, sends one with the subject line “I love you.

And, to be frankity frank, it’s even the goddamn 23-year-olds I know who oh-em-gee-I-love-you vomit all over facebook, when they’ve only been dating three months.

And it’s not ok.

It’s not ok to use words to make yourself feel better, or get what you want, or cover something up, or play pretend. It’s not ok to use words with strength and meaning you cahlearly don’t understand. Nor care to.

I believe words like “care for”, “miss”, and “love” are all very, very serious words – yet, somehow, someway, they are also words we no longer take very seriously.

And, yeah, ok sure – I can see how this argument may appear to be born of cynicism and being jaded by relationships and human behavior – experienced first-hand and through the tears of others. I’ve been told things that were unwarranted, unmeant, unfelt. I’ve watched those things said, equally without real meaning, to others. And, yeah, as a result I’m cynical and jaded and overthink pretty much every-damn-thing.

I am also kinda terrified of those serious words – both being said to me, and saying them to someone else. I am kinda terrified of their weight.

But being jaded doesn’t mean irrational, thinking things through isn’t a waste of time. I won’t be told my fear is completely unwarranted. Honestly, I wish we were all a bit more afraid of the weight of serious words. Of what they mean to other people, of their literal and emotional translation once they leave your mouth. How much harm they can do, the potential they have for hurt.

However. That is not to say they cannot also cause great joy. But it is that joy, and that potential for hurt when that joy is discovered to be unfounded, that should matter to us, more than it does when we don’t fear or even pause to consider their power. When we choose to instead believe they can be used without caution, without contemplation, without concern.

Yes, I still believe actions speak louder, that talk can be acquired at bargain-basement prices… but perhaps it’s only because we’ve forgotten the weight of our words.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2012 6:47 pm

    hmmm This so reminds me of one of my pet peeves when people feel they have to say, upon leaving a relationship or after they are out, “I’ll always love you or him or her.” I accept that some people feel this way, but when you don’t, don’t say that shit. It ain’t right. And even when you do, and you’re breaking someone’s heart, it might not help for them to hear that because it’ll be harder to move on. And if you’ve had your heart broken, telling your Ex that you are still love him/her will, again, make it hard to move on. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I don’t care actually. You don’t treat someone so badly if you still love him/her —- and if you leave you don’t make it harder by professing love while kicking someone to the curb. That shit is confusing, and hurtful. And it only softens the blow to the one doing the hitting (emotional). I’m headed toward a rant. Gonna stop now. But — you can stop loving someone. It’s okay. And you know what, people shouldn’t spit out words, they just shouldn’t. I’m so with you on this.

    • July 12, 2012 8:44 am

      Girl, I totally feel you.

      Why do people say any number of things as if it’s going to lessen the blow? I mean… really? Or they say them prior to pulling some ridic fade – as if that makes them disappearing easier to deal with! Yeah – it’s hurtful, makes moving on more difficult (…but s/he said he still loved me… maybe s/he just needs time?), and is goddamn confusing. It’s a selfish, selfish use of a very serious word.


  2. July 11, 2012 8:44 pm

    Words are like knives. Lusty or not, drunk texting is not cool.

    • July 12, 2012 8:50 am


    • July 17, 2012 3:36 am

      Youuuuuuuu shower me with words made of knives. Love that Adele.

      Sorry, I’m all lyric-y today.

      • July 17, 2012 11:45 am

        Love the lyrics! Keep ’em coming! And please tell my local radio stations to stop overplaying Adele when she comes out with something new! I love it, and then I’ve heard it 500000000 times. Damn.

  3. July 12, 2012 9:53 am

    “But being jaded doesn’t mean irrational, thinking things through isn’t a waste of time.”

    Amen. This might be one of my favorite posts from you, and I agree with you 100 percent. People say things all the time and yes, I’m jaded and take them with a grain of salt and am often skeptical of the weight that they hold. Past experience has taught me that while I might covet the sincerity I use, others don’t feel the same way. Some do, of course, but it’s important to be aware that not everyone feels the same way.

    I’m also so impressed with your maturity and awareness around all this stuff. That’s lacking with so many others. Great post.

    • July 12, 2012 4:56 pm

      Hey, thanks. This comment pretty much made my day! I mean, the part about *moi* of course….

      The rest – of course I agree and it’s really tough *not* to be skeptical… and maybe we’re not “jaded” as much as realistic about the fact that not everyone is as sincere, honest, and self-aware as they could be. So… we err on the side of caution, both in terms of what is said to us, and what we choose to say to others.

  4. lrn2giveup permalink
    July 13, 2012 5:51 am

    so wait.. drunk texting is now a form of oppression? ugh, thank god I only have one ex.

    I liked things better when words only had meaning when people GAVE them meaning , meh rather than deal with all these ever increasing “rules” placed on free speech so as not to “hurt anybody” I’m pretty sure its easier at this point to just avoid talking to people period if you don’t wan the social justice people after you.

    so far I’m down to about 2 social interactions per week, both under 1 – 3 minutes. #winning

    • July 13, 2012 10:54 am

      Er… huh?

      First, um, drunk texting is a form of oppression? Huh?

      Second, I think there’s a point missing here. While I think I get where you’re coming from I’m not at all talking about speech that hurts people in ways that would require the “justice police” – that’s an entirely different conversation, if you ask me. What I mean here is the words used in romantic relationships that are pretty serious – but we act like there no big deal. Like “I love you” not like “womenz be on their periodz”.

      I see where you’re coming from, but that isn’t what I meant…

  5. July 16, 2012 1:49 pm

    could i possibly agree MORE with this post?


    If there is one thing i can’t stand its the freaking people who iloveyou all over the place after like 3 months of knowing someone. Then they break up next week and bash them to everybody – really, you LOVED that person? gimmeabreak.

    I don’t think anyone even knows what that means anymore. Hell, i’m even confused about it.

    I agree actions are the true test,… but don’t say shit you don’t mean. don’t barage me with compliments and crap that you think i want to hear. yuck. i hate most that people think that they can reel women in with words whenever they want because most of the time, they do fall for it.


    xoxo (i can only comment now by logging into twitter or FB?? and it makes me reactivate the app every time..?

    • July 17, 2012 11:48 am

      Oh, lawdy I hear you on the people who broadcast how much they love someone after 5 seconds (relatively) and then they hate them as soon as it ends. WTF is that, anyway?

      “I agree actions are the true test,… but don’t say shit you don’t mean.” <– I think this is the kicker, right here. And, yeah, not knowing what you're saying is one thing – but then using it to get something knowingly? Bleck. Yet I still try to be honest myself, and take people at their word as much as possible. Mostly. Most of the time. Generally speaking.

  6. July 17, 2012 3:34 am

    Nicely put, Nikki. Because when you say stuff, people are inclined to believe you. But maybe you were just talking out your ass. But how are we supposed to know?

    Reminds me of the lyrics of that General Public song “Tenderness” that I’ve always loved:

    Words are so cheap, but they can turn out expensive
    Words like conviction can turn into a sentence

    (Pretty clever play on words too, eh?)

    How’s this: think hard before you speak, and don’t say shit you don’t really mean.

    • July 17, 2012 11:49 am

      Ooooo good lyrics! I see what they did there!

      Yeah – the bottom line is I wish people did more thinking before they just said whatever came to mind. If we were all a bit more self-aware and more honest with ourselves, that would be a start… sigh.

  7. July 17, 2012 5:25 am

    I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I linked to your post in mine. I just wish that people realized that some things they say will have a huge, huge impact, and sometimes they can’t just take it back, no matter how much they want to. Once you break that trust, it’s gone, and any amount of “I’m sorry” will be ineffectual because, honestly, you can’t trust that they’re sincere.

  8. July 19, 2012 6:51 pm

    I hate when exs pop out of nowhere. One of mine randomly texted me for 3 years after our breakup…even after he got married. I ignored every single one. Like you, I didn’t believe him.


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