Words are powerful, and they can hurt

I was a kid who felt many things and felt them at higher magnitudes than was perhaps necessary. I was a sensitive kid. I was so sensitive that when my dad called me sensitive, I cried about it. I was sensitive about being sensitive.

I felt like it was a weakness, my ability to feel a lot of things very deeply. I was 10 years old when I watched a documentary about cancer patients and their faith in God. I remember I spent the entire week crying because at the end all the cancer patients who were in the documentary died. I could not understand why they had to die. I could not understand why the documentary-makers would play such a cruel joke on the viewer. And I absolutely could not understand why God didn’t save them even though each of the dead cancer patients really believed in him. And my mum said I was silly.

Fast forward to today and I’m still feeling all sorts of things more than anyone should perhaps.

I spoke to a teen yesterday who shared with me his struggles as someone with a learning disability. He told me his biggest wish was for other people to believe that he was just as capable as anyone else. My heart felt heavy, and sad, but mostly pain that a 15-year old boy was forced to be so wise beyond his years because of all the voices who kept telling him ‘you can’t’.

Today, a teenage boy told me his psychiatrist said he should not pursue medicine but instead should, ‘do something less stressful’. All of this was said in the name of helping. This time, my sadness was twisted with anger and frustration.

Perhaps, the psychiatrist and many of the other people didn’t mean to hurt these kids. But their unthoughtful comments just added onto their list of ‘I can’t’.

Words are powerful. As a sensitive kid, I was always holding on too long to too many things others have said. Like how my dad called me sensitive. I don’t think he meant it in any way, and I’m sure he forgot about it the day after. But I remembered. And I spent my whole childhood trying to be tough and I never cried in front my dad ever again.

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