On Bullying and Words and Family

I started this post not too long after Thanksgiving. And then I decided to delete everything I had written. Why? 

Well the first time I wrote it, the idea was to the point where I realized I was just bashing my family. And I didn’t like that. If there is anything that I have learned in my life, it’s that no person deserves to be bashed. When I realized that was what I was doing I had to stop and think. 

Too often it’s easy to just call someone a whore or an asshole. But rarely does anyone stop to consider their words. No one really stops to consider how they say things, no one considers the words they use. During my training as a counselor, I have come to learn the importance of words. There is a difference between “sad” and “upset” yet everyone treats them as synonymous. We no longer consider what kind of effect could result from calling someone a “whore.” 

I personally found myself calling someone an idiot, and other various expletives in my head, and convinced myself that it was okay. Why? Because that’s not what I really thought of them. As a writer, I carefully consider the words I utilize when I give characters speech and scenery description, why would I not carry this careful consideration into reality? I honestly don’t know, but I would venture to say that it is certainly a result of the majority of society. 

We are naturally trained, whether intentional or not, to give very little weight to our words. All of the major religions speak on how important our words are, yet we do not heed the warning. Words are powerful. They can make or break a person. I can honestly say that I do not lie to those who are close and important to me, but does that mean I tell them the entire truth? 

I say that it is important to consider what you say. It is important to carefully weigh what spills forth from your mouth because you never know who is listening. 

At Thanksgiving with my family, I had one cousin who has been dealing with constant bullying. I cannot speak for what she has had to endure, but I can speak for what I noticed during our holiday. My family has always been rough. One of my siblings has said that the purpose of family is to be picked on, or something to that effect (I can’t remember precisely what was said, so much for my idea of specificity eh?). That really puzzled me because everything I have come to learn and understand is contrary to that idea. 

From my perspective, family is the one place where you are consistently accepted no matter what. When something goes wrong, everyone is there and they trust your judgment and stand behind you on whatever call you made. 

This Thanksgiving though, what I saw was my family, but in a completely new light. I saw a people that I did not want to become. A people who had no respect for certain individuals, poked fun at the LGBTQ population and said that a man kissing a man was wrong, along with the classic “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” line (albeit with slightly different wording), demonstrated disappointment at me for where I currently am with not being in a relationship, and honestly scared me. For all the advice they gave about how to not be bullied to my younger cousin, they sat and bullied her. I could easily tell that she did not want to come back the following day (which my family does because we make so much food and never finish it all). She told me that I was right…she didn’t want to come back. She was in the one place where she should have felt safe and protected and at home, and she wasn’t. 

I love my family. But they can be harsh. And honestly there is one person who really gets me when I say that some of my closest friends, I’d rather spend time with them. For some of my friends, they’re more like family than those I am related to by blood. There is one in particular who when I’m around him, I feel beyond safe. I feel protected and happy, as if nothing could ever go wrong. To me, that is what family is. 

When I am at my lowest, when I am most frustrated, that’s where I turn. I turn to my family, and my blood family can grasp some parts, but my friend family can truly get it. I talk to them, and they don’t mince words. They are right there with me, in my misery or my happiness, standing and waiting for me to move. 

I guess now that I have rambled on, I’ll wrap it up. 

In short, be careful with your words. Let actions speak where words fail. And be mindful of what you do, when you give advice about how to avoid being bullied, don’t bully. And all in all, know who your Family is, that it does not always include just your blood-related relatives, mine certainly doesn’t. 

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