Words as Weapons

Kathryn - Lexington, Kentucky
Entered on February 26, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Words as Weapons

I have a secret, and it’s a juicy one. It’s the kind of secret that if let lose in my high school, would spread through those sacred halls like the anthrax virus, until everyone was infected. I’ve been tempted many times to tell the truth, but it burns in my mouth like acid so I have to swallow it back down. However, now I’m in college, and I feel like I should start anew and let people see me for the shallow and vain person I really am. My secret is: I had a nose job. That’s right a nose job, a rhinoplasty, or as most people will call it when they are gossiping about me, plastic surgery. Yes, it hurt really badly, and I looked like a boxer at the end of a 20 round match for about three weeks. Also, since I know everyone is wondering, it cost a little over five thousand dollars, and my parents paid for it. I’m really glad I got it done, and I’m even gladder my parents agreed to let me do it and fund it. What’s more, is I bet I can guess the question burning in your mouth like acid: why? I’ll tell you why. I had my nose job because of the words people said to me when I was in middle school, and that is why I believe words can hurt.

Words can hurt. Words are the most potent and precise form of violence. They are the perfect weapons. No bullet or knife can hit a target as perfectly or cleanly as vicious slur. Words can cut right to your core and break you down. I gunshot wound can be operated on and repaired, but no amount of surgery can help you forget a hateful comment. You can apologize for punching or slapping someone but you can never take back something you say. It’s out there in the open forever, and it will lodge itself in your victims’ head and say there rotting away their self confidence and taking over their thoughts like a brain malignant brain tumor. The words that are especially hurtful and hard to forget are the ones we hear in adolescence.

“Hey you shut your mouth BIG NOSE!”, “You could SINK A SHIP with that thing!”, and “You’ll drown whoever you kiss with that BIG FAT HONKER!” I will never forget having those remarks yelled at me in the 6th grade while waiting in line to go to P.E. It was said by a 4th grader. At first, when you get teased, the words sting at you like hundreds of tiny annoying fire ants crawling all over your body. Then as time passes the words become a swarm of horse flies that buzz around your head getting caught in your hair and eyes, making it impossible for you to concentrate on anything else. Finally, the words will turn into a disgusting black spider that lives just inside your head. It will whisper those nasty remarks that have plagued you since you were young, into your ear at the worst times, like: when you have to speak in front of the class, when you meet new people, when you are trying to get a prom date, when you get you senior portrait taken, and when you walk across the stage at graduation. I know from personal experience that that ugly spider has ruined just about every important occasion in my life.

Because of those damn hateful words, I could not go a single day for the next six years, without thinking about my nose. His words hurt me so badly that I was crippled in to submission by them. Every article of clothing I bought, every hairstyle tried, every makeup routine I applied, was done in effort to mask how big my nose was. It hindered me from trying new things and meeting new people, for fear of what they would say or even think, of my nose.

The pesky black spider that had formed in my ear in sixth grade, decided to hang around and taunt me for so long, that I decided to take drastic measures to get rid of it. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to convince you parents to give five grand for a completely unnecessary surgery, because it isn’t easy. After months of pleading and crying, begging and bargaining, lying and scheming, I finally convinced my parents to let me have a rihnoplasty. I anxiously waited for July 24th to roll around, like it was the second coming of Christ. When the day finally came I felt as if my life was going to start anew and that the words that had hung on me like a heavy cloak for so long, would finally be lifted at last.

I emerged from the operating room like hot, freshly baked cookies; warm and glowing. I wanted to see my reflection immediately, but the only thing for me to look into was a shiny, metal bed pan, sitting on my lap; I looked anyway. Even though the image was distorted and my nose was stuffed with gauss and swollen. When the doctor took the split off, I cried like a baby. I cried because I knew that whatever had been said to me in the past would no longer affect me in the future. I was free from the verbal baggage that I had been carrying for so long; the ants, the horse flies, and the spider where all dead and gone forever. The bleeding wounds that the hurtful words had inflicted on me were finally healed and I no longer felt like a target for them. I was free to live my life on my own terms and not answer to the painful memories that had once flooded my head. I actually stopped thinking, good and bad thoughts, about my nose for the first time in my life. I didn’t think “I hate my nose,” or “I love my nose,” I just had normal, non obsessive, thoughts like “Do I want tomatoes on my five dollar foot long?” and didn’t worry what the person behind the Subway counter was thinking of my face. Because I was not thinking about what people from my past had said to me or worrying about people from the present would say to me, I ended up with a whole heck of a lot of free thinking time. All this free time got me thinking about something new: I’ve always seen myself as the victim when it comes to “words hurting,” but, have I ever been on the delivering end of those mean words? This new thought was alarming because, guess what? I had.

I know for a fact that I have said some hateful things to people, and I’m not proud of it at all. It makes me look like a hypocrite. Here I am ranting and raving about my suffering from being teased, when in some cases I’ve been the one making others lives miserable. Now granted I don’t believe I have ever purposefully said something to someone with the intention of forming a “black spider” in their ear. However, I know I have, without the slightest regards for the words coming out of my mouth, said mean, discriminating and nasty words to people. This whole adventure of getting a nose job has been worth a lot more to me since I realized that I too have hurt people and that we all can’t be the victims. Learning a life lesson has lessened the sting of dropping five grand on my face, for both me and my parents.

You and I both know that calling people derogatory names or using words that carry a lot of stigma in everyday conversation, leaves little paper cuts on a person, and that over the years they will build up into a huge laceration and create a black spider in their ear. I feel like a lot of people twist up the old expression “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” in to “if you can’t say anything nice, say something mean.” Everyone, especially children and teens, need to understand that words can hurt. It’s not fair for someone to have to go their whole life beaten down by the thing people say. I believe that words can hurt; I believe they can hurt so badly they make you change your life, and I believe that they hurt even worse when you know you have said them too. So there you go, you know my juicy secret. Think what you want about it, but just remember to be careful what you say.