The screaming matches between my sister and I were infamous with cousins that ever paid witness. When she was old enough, she was in charge and babysat my brother and I often while our mother worked.
She wasn’t my mother, so naturally, I wasn’t so cooperative. In my defense, she often hounded me when we disagreed, rather than dropping it, and sometimes about little inconsequentials. In her defense, I could be a really spoiled brat.
Today’s memory centers on one particular fight. The fight that taught me insults, even ones hurled in the name of “just being siblings” are never an answer. I was in middle school at the time (my sister is 5 years older), and my sister just experienced a severe allergic reaction that left her face disfigured (temporarily). Edit: Apparently I was mistaken, it was poison ivy…which I suppose is still an allergic reaction.
I knew she was very sensitive about how badly the itchy bumps warped her features and went one insult too far. During a fight, I yelled something about her being an ugly monster who looked like a troll doll, then I watched the direct, crumpling effect that had on her expression. A crushed look made painfully clear despite the lumpy reaction that at some point swelled one or both eyes shut (I’m fuzzy on the other details). She cried. I felt like the absolute worst human being on the planet.
It was the last time I used insults during heated arguments with anyone, especially people I care about. Also, I don’t allow kids to insult each other during arguments around me either. Kids tend to listen to me, a few tested my resolve, but stopped (in my presence) after a brief lecture/lesson that includes this story. The people we care about in life are precious. Even when we wanna yell with frustration about what they do (or don’t), the world is cruel enough, such words should come last from those close to you.
Now I have the philosophy, if you wouldn’t allow someone else to talk about your loved one like that, why would you turn around and do it? I’m excepting playful insults that don’t touch nerves. I still call people silly things when messing around. I’m specifically talking about the ad hominem logical fallacy (the “I win the argument because you suck, you’re stupid, and your mom is ugly” fallacy).
It might be better if we were as quick with compliments, but we never really learned that until after we grew up. Some never learn it. For me, I already tore someone I care about down once. Seeing the immediate effect still hurts my heart; words from my mouth.
I want genuine compliments and positive emotions that uplift others to come from my mouth far more often than any criticism or complaint, especially when it regards those close to me. There are enough people in the world to tear them down. Let it be my place and role to help build them up.
Not that I never get in arguments now and fart rainbows in my sleep. There are exceptions to this. If someone asks me for an honest critique of their work, they should prepare for just that. If I’ve had it with a particular behavior, I’ll likely contact the offender about it and express myself. If you’ve bullied someone or stomped all over someone I care about, don’t ever expect a compliment out of me. If you’ve ever broken my trust, don’t expect to get it back, no matter how calm I might act around you. Heck, I’ve still engaged my sister in shouting matches since that time. Not many, though none while we were living in separate buildings. This post isn’t about or for those situations and people.
It’s about telling my sister I’m sorry, confessing one of my worst memories, and maybe nudging others toward more mindful and encouraging discourse with one another. Just because we don’t always agree, or disagree often, doesn’t mean I dislike or lack respect for you.
How about you, any confessions on words you wish you could take back? Feel free to cleanse yourself in comments.