I too, often heard that infamous rhyme growing up: "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never harm you." Well, words did break me...
I will never forget the first words that broke my heart. I was in the 1st grade and a 6th grade boy who was a "popular" kid approached me at the cafeteria’s water fountain. He screamed in my face with spit flying everywhere "My dog's s*%t looks better than you!"
Well dog poo is brown and I am brown, so maybe he's right. Those were the thoughts that rummaged through my little 6 year old mind. What this boy said was just way too much for a 6 year old to process.
Unfortunately this was not the last time I would be tormented. It was just the beginning. I was voted "friendliest girl" and it seemed like I had a lot of friends, and perhaps I did. But some of the school memories that stand out to me the most are all the words that broke me, broke my heart. Indeed, it has taken me decades to heal from some of those words, and others remain a painful memory.
I will never recite that infamous rhyme to my girls. Instead, whenever they share an experience when words have broken their heart, broken their spirit, I'm going to listen. I am going to allow them to feel the sting for a bit. I am going to validate that sting. But then I will proceed to tell them how those words may break your spirit for a while, but they DO NOT define who you are. YOU get the chance to define yourself and move on passed the hurt, passed the pain.