The Power of Words

Stephanie - La Canada, California
Entered on April 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of words. I vividly remember the unvarying routine of my brother Jeffery coming home from school. His shoulders were weighted down by some unseen burden. He would drag his feet lazily across the floor deepening the scuff marks he’d already created from previous days. He rarely responded if you tried to talk to him on his way to his room. It was a dreary procession that worried me. One day I crept up to the door after he had forcefully shut it and listened. I could hear him throwing things and the enraged beat of his fists on his pillow. Then I heard the loud booming of his wild music, which after I listened closely, was to muffle the sound of his relentless sobbing. I fought back tears of my own as I slid down the wall to land in a broken heap at the foot of his door. I had known for a while that his friends had been teasing him and throwing insults his way, but I had not known the extent of the damage it was causing to my brother. I had been similarly teased in middle school and even now some of the things that were said to me still stung. It was like a phantom pain, a sting deep down that never left. Always subconsciously the thought of whether the comments were true or not. Even if the memories were blocked out, something forces the memories to surface again. But words can heal as well as hurt.

I remember Jenna Lohman. She was the pretty, popular girl in my middle school. I still remember her comments that saved me from self loathing. She would casually drop how nice I looked or congratulate me when I got a good grade. Everything she said was uplifting and it healed my crushed self esteem.

I let out a small yelp as the door swung open. I stared awkwardly up into my brother’s face. He stared back with dull eyes. I wrapped my arms around his legs. He stumbled and gave me a queer look. “Jeff!” I gasped as he tried to remove his legs from my grasp. “Leave me alone.” He muttered. “You know, you’re a pretty good looking guy!” I said and grinned up at him. He stared at me like I was insane. Then a small smile crept into his face and his eyes lit up. “You’re so weird!” he said, managing to release his foot. I just lay foolishly on the floor. But when he walked away from me, his shoulders weren’t slouched. He didn’t drag his feet, and there was a bright half smile on his face. It had started. I promised myself I would try to say something nice and encouraging to him every day, as Jenna had done for me. Words can heal as well as harm and it’s confounding to me how little thought we actually put into what we say to others.