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Reckless Words & Why They Still Matter

Before We Begin

I need to clarify because I want no mistake made in thinking I might have a penchant for liberal word fuckery. I do not. (If you like to read an amazing book on this, check out Michael Knowles Speechless) I am a "facts over feelings" woman, a "toughen up buttercup" woman. Blame or give credit to my stout German upbringing and my Cuban temper, or my conservative values. Regardless, I have a thick skin when it comes to most things (especially to things like trolls on the internet). However, I also am a woman who believes words have power and we - as the first of The Four Agreements states - should be impeccable in our word.

Your Words Matter

We grew up chanting, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” Well, that was a lie. Words can hurt like hell. Have you ever been told, “I don’t love you anymore”? That hurts. Have you even been told you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough? Those hurt, too. Words have meaning and impact, power and consequence. Once spoken, they are forever a part of your history. There is a proverb I heard once that has stuck with me:

I heard it on a day-time talk show by chance, quite some time ago. One of the hosts had said something offensive and in her apology, she used a portion of this proverb and for whatever reason, it stuck with me. Maybe because I had used my words recklessly recently, and needed to hear that. The universe, through this talk show host, was sending me a message, you ask? Well, yes. I’ve told you before, I believe in signs. I ask for them, too. So, in answer to last night’s request for what to write next, I awoke this morning with those words in my head. So, here we are.

When We Use Reckless Words

I remember my father getting very angry with me when I was a kid - I was maybe ten or so - for reasons I didn’t understand until I was older. My brother and I had gotten into one of our typical sibling spats over God knows what. As usual, he was winning. In my frustration, and with an inability to articulate feelings, I blurted out, ‘Shut up, you faggot!’ By the look on my brother’s face, I knew immediately I’d said something bad. I didn’t know what that word meant; I’d just heard it on they playground from the older kids.

My father, who was directly behind me, hissed, What did you say? I mumbled and shrugged, knowing I was about to be in trouble. I honestly didn’t know what I said. You don’t know what you said? Then why did you say it?‘ He continued , not waiting for a response (please insert imagined Spanish accent) . Do not use words that you do not know the meaning of. And I do not ever want to hear you use THAT word again. Do you understand?‘ I nodded, even though, no, I did not, in fact understand. It was clear, though, that I was meant to keep my lips zipped; questions would not be taken at this time.

To the best of my knowledge, my brother was not hurt by my choice of words, and was in fact delighted that I’d said something to get myself in trouble and embarrassed. Here’s what I didn’t know: my uncle, which was my father’s brother, was gay. Back then, no one spoke of it; it was a topic off limits and the adults pretended it wasn’t ‘a thing’ and the kids certainly didn’t know. Though my father didn’t understand his brother, he loved him. That was his way of defending him, even if indirectly.

*Were it a different time, say 2023, the incident would been recorded on a cell phone camera, posted to social media, and subsequently sent our family into hiding thanks to all the death threats from tolerant liberals, but it was 1970-something.

My father gave me a powerful lesson when I was impressionable enough to receive and remember it. He said,

Don’t use words that you don’t know the meaning of.

So, I don’t. Well, I try not to. Thanks to a couple mortifying incidents - that one being top of the list - my father was probably the one who most instilled the value of the words in me. As a Cuban immigrant with a last name that is the Hispanic equivalent to Smith, paired with a strong accent, he was extremely conscious of his word choices. He was/is always very careful and concise with his speech; he says exactly what he means at all times. Often at a snails pace, as he considers the weight and balance of each… and every…single…word. I tease (but true).

When We Receive Reckless Words

Yes, receive. Try as we may to live the ‘sticks and stones’ mantra, it just doesn’t work quite so easily. I grew up with unrecognized ADD (in girls often manifests differently than in boys. Read HERE for info). I was labeled:

Spacey Distracted A Daydreamer Lazy Irresponsible Scatterbrained

Sigh. Reckless, reckless words. I have an old ex whohabitually spoke to me in a rather demeaning way, but he’d always act like he was ‘just kidding’. He was technically a good heart-ed guy, but his insecurities had a way of flipping a switch in his brain. I genuinely understood this about him, and excused it. (We could go into a whole psychology dialog on that, particularly based on the above, but let’s not. Just know there'd be no excusing that nonsense now). I suppose that today, we’d call him ‘verbally abusive‘. Back then he was just a jerk. So, Just Jerk (JJ henceforth) would have some zingers on repeat, so much so that I unconsciously adopted them into my already reckless-word-loaded psyche:

You’ll never finish that project. You must be an idiot to think that. Don’t talk, you’ll just embarrass yourself.

Ugh. Those all became my mantras. Reckless words spoken by reckless people, received by a naive young girl. For a little while. Fortunately for me, there was a lion inside of me that kept wanting to roar. So that little lion began pacing the cage until one day she smashed through the gate with all of her pent up frustration. You see, that lion loved to read; loved words. She read books with heroines and heroes, princes and warriors, and they used magical, marvelous words. Words like:

Brave. Fierce. Strong. Smart. Tenacious. Resilient. Persistent. Relentless.

Those words have great power, too. Those words heal wounds and soften scars. They build up instead of tear down. They empower. I love those words as if they are dear friends… because they are. Words spoken recklessly must not be allowed to take residency in your head, make no space for them. Drown them with words of value until those are the only words you hear. Speak the words you wish to hear to others. Use healing words.

Healing Words

If you - like me - are a mantra/affirmations fan, here is one of my favorites: “I choose. I choose which words I will receive and which I will not. I choose which words I will use, which kind of word-user I will be. I choose to be a healer with my words. I reject the urge to bite back or be baited and I remove people from my life who live that way. I surround my space with positive speakers.”

Never allow yourself to forget: words have great power, and: with great power comes great responsibility. Use them wisely.

About Elsa Kurt

Lifelong Patriot & longtime Police Wife, Elsa Kurt has channeled her fierce love and passion for defending the defenders as the creator, Executive Producer & Host of the Elsa Kurt Show , correspondent and media personality for Right America Media & Law Enforcement Today. Her book, Welcome to the Family (Life Behind the Thin Blue Line) has been called the “must have survival guide for new LEO spouses.”

The vocal LEOF advocate is also a multi-genre author who has penned over 25 books, including twelve contemporary women’s novels. Her fiction stories explore the complex and relatable experiences of everyday life – the love & laughter, the heartbreak & sorrow, and everything in between. She finds the extraordinary in ordinary lives and puts you in the front seat of every story. Elsa has also written several children’s books, all with themes of encouragement, empowerment & uplifting messaging.

In 2022, Elsa launched The Writer’s Tribe Talk Show, an audio & video podcast for authors & a line of author merchandise in her Writer’s Tribe Store with clothing and more for authors & aspiring authors. Elsa also created three lines of apparel, accessories, & home decor: EKS Store with show & first responder merchandise, iGoodhuman, and Very Sweary Stuff. In 2022, she joined the Amazon Influencer program & opened her Elsa Kurt Official storefront where you can shop all Elsa's favorite Amazon finds.

As of 2022, she is the current Vice President of the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association. Elsa has also embraced the fun and entertaining world of Tik Tok as theotherelsa.

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