Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me.
If only that were true. Being a word girl, I know the power that a word can have. One word can change your life for better or for worse. And while it’s true that a word can make us feel elated or dejected, furious or frustrated, it only has that power if we allow it. After all, it is only a word. The emotion comes from somewhere else, somewhere deeper and we are in control of that.
In the past few years, I have fought and won a battle with one word in particular – one word that changed my life and nearly destroyed my spirit until I decided that I was the one in control. That word is Tourette.
When Jacob was diagnosed I found it difficult to speak the word, to say “my son has Tourette.” That word was surrounded by so many negative stereotypes propelled by the media and I felt that if I said the word I would unleash all of that bad karma onto Jacob and shatter his reality – the reality that he is a normal kid who happens to have TS.
But I watched Jacob and I learned a powerful lesson from him: He was never afraid to tell people that Tourette was a part of his makeup. And he wasn’t afraid because he knew that no matter what other people thought about him, he knew who he really was and nothing they could say or do would change that. He was not controlled by the word Tourette or by other people’s perceptions of a person who has TS.
Since I’ve let go and started saying the word out loud, I have seen some wonderful things happen. Being open has given me the opportunity to educate others and start breaking down the stereotypes that can be so hurtful.
Letting go of that one word has enabled me to release the hold other words have had on my life for quite some time, words that have left me feeling empty and undeserving over the years. Now I feel liberated and less afraid of what others think of me. The older I get the more I realize that what matters is only what I think of myself and I’m learning to think good things.
Words are powerful, but people are empowered.