Sticks and Stones
When I was 14 years old, I screamed at my mother that I hated her. I was so driven by hurt and anger. It was the first and thankfully the last time, because despite the fact I was so hurt, hateful words spoken to someone who had done so much for me just didn't sit right.
In a world of social media, conversations have become public in a new way. Passive-aggressive Facebook statuses initiate hate-wars, and not just among teenagers! The ability to vent frustration through bad-mouthing has become accessible to those who don't have the guts to say it to people's faces, and now join those who do. Speaking badly of another person is no novel concept, but with a new outlet to do so, it's now not only acceptable, but fashionable!
Have we forgotten the fragility of the human spirit? Or do we simply not care anymore? We have all been hurt by words spoken to us and it seems that we use it as an excuse to hit back. We assume motive and declare injustice without considering someone's deeper story. Did that person who cut you up on the roundabout do it to purposefully tick you off, or were they responding to a family emergency? Is your child being quiet because they are secretive and deceitful, or are they trying to process their day to better understand themselves and their emotions?
Three years ago, someone who had previously verbally abused me reached out for a friend in a time of loneliness. I knew she suffered with depression, and invited her round for lunch. After some small talk, she asked me why I was talking to her, after the way she treated me. I told her that I was no stranger to depression, and the person it turns you into. It's hard watching people you love get hurt, especially when it's because of you and something you can't help.
Through empathy, I could offer her patience and grace and she is now a good friend.
My friend's deeper story was important, but no more important than anyone else's. I realised I'd had it all wrong - I was not judge and jury of the world, I needed to change. I found myself making excuses for people in my head whenever they did something selfish and/or hurtful. I made a point to never post something bad about another person on Facebook, however angry I was. If someone complained about another person to me, I'd encourage them to consider whether life is hard for that person at the moment.
To just stop and give people the benefit of the doubt, to consider they don't know any better or are having a bad day, really can offer us some inner peace. I know it's worked for me, and that memory of screaming at my mother that I hated her is now so alien to me, it barely feels like a memory.
Kitty Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kitty is a 24 year old freelance editor and writer who has an English degree with honours and has edited several published self-help books. Eclectic to the max, Kitty currently works with a variety of collectives within Sheffield, including projects based around alternative fashion, poetry, children's work and an underground music sound system.
Kitty's variety of pursuits stem from a passion for deviating from the mainstream and expressing unique personal style, something she encourages as a personal shopper.