Three Little Words

Words are not coming easily to me right now.

I have reviews to write. Articles. Email replies. I open the file and…

I know it’s not just me. Other friends have spoken of feeling ‘blocked’. I see books delayed, proofreading problems – even social media misunderstandings.

Lockdown may be sending us a little stir-crazy, and the mixed messages coming from those who profess to ‘lead’ us don’t help.

I’m writing this spontaneously, in the hope that it helps to provoke my inspiration, but also that it makes sense.

Words are the tools we use to convey how we feel, our intentions and thoughts. Some of us are more skilled than others, but if we take the time to truly listen to the voice of the writer, that sense of them can be found.

Sometimes, those ideas take more than 140 characters, or a small blurt of ‘Status Update’.

I like the idea of Twitter being the sound of sparrows yelling at each other in a hedge. Lots of noise, but you can probably determine a conversation thread if you listen hard enough. But it’s easy to be sidetracked or mis-hear.

There can be connotations you’re not aware of. A particular word may be unintentionally insulting. A phrase may be new to you, but tired and over-used to others.

A journalist friend recently said to me that the sentence ‘That’s a really good [or ‘excellent’] question’ is so often used by politicians, it virtually translates in the hearing, becoming ‘Now I’m going to talk about something entirely irrelevant.’ I used that sentence in an interview – and I sincerely meant it, because the question was good and new to me. But due to unknown overuse, the way it was received was far different from my intention.

I try to speak honestly, in my verbal words and my writing. Some readers assume I have ulterior motives, but usually I genuinely do just want people to see what’s on my mind! We hear so many soundbites and political doublespeak, it’s hard to discern what’s really meant.

Let’s take an example that we all know: ‘I love you.’ Sometimes easy to say, sometimes not. But familiar from books, movies, chit-chat or intense moments.

I’ve always found it hard to say. Because when I do, I want to mean it.

The first person who was not family that I said this to kicked me to the curb a week later. I think these words made him run, but who knows.

I’ve had alleged ‘friends’ say them to me, before doing things that no caring person would. ‘Love you, babe’ – then cattiness behind my back.

People now say them to me, and I know they mean it. But it’s hard to respond, because of the fear of what might come, based on past bad experiences.

I never want to do my dear friends a disservice, ever. Family can be more than blood, as modern folklore says.

Again, if I say it, I want to mean it – and for that meaning to be understood.

‘I love you’ means that I’ll run to help if called. I’ll provide what’s needed, from hugs to food parcels. It means you can be safe with me.

There’s levels of relationship, of course, but this is a powerful statement. I can’t say it frivolously. It hurts when those who’ve said it to me act as if it means nothing.

Words hold power. They are basic communication, but also deep magic and connection (why do you think it’s called ‘spell-ing’?). I would be so glad if we could speak our truth to each other and be heard, rather than twisting the words in midair to mean something entirely different…

I can’t guarantee that, though, can I? Because of those connotations and associations I mentioned above. The ones I don’t necessarily know about.

We can only do our best to convey meaning through these squiggles of sound, pixels or ink. We have to trust that those listening hear our intention.

And we have to act – and keep acting – to prove that our words are true. No matter if only one person is listening, or the whole world.

Our words can be powerful, or they can be meaningless.

I hope you understand.

I send you the love of a writer for those who read through to the end.

6 Comments »

  1. I have frightened and offended people by daring to admit that I love them. I’ll keep doing it. 🙂 Much love to you.

  2. Linda Davis said

    Hello Cat, Thank you for sharing your words. I am always aware of the danger of thinking just because I follow someone on facebook, subscribe to their blog, read their book or even listen to them talk, that I ‘know’ them, that I am truly their ‘friend’. It would seem impertinent to say ‘I love you’. But I do appreciate your putting yourself out here and so send my good wishes for ‘all the best’, which is a sort of love I guess.xx

  3. Karen Cooper said

    I completely agree with your words, it is so easy to be misunderstood, and mostly it shocks me when I am, because it wasn’t my intent. I am honest and true and at times people seem to take it the wrong way, they are so unused to sincerity, I think. But I can also get easily upset by some words that are also most likely well intended.
    Thank you for your posts

  4. Yep, the power of words and like so much power so often misused.
    Hugs offered and love sent. Love is a good thing to mean and to share 😊

  5. Tanja said

    Thank you for this text. It is just what I needed to read right now.
    I still hardly can grasp what “love” really is. It is such an abstract word for me, with so many different meanings in different contexts.
    I used to collect those little pictures with “Love is …” to find some meaning to it. I do not need those words to be said to me, but shown. And so I show it too.

  6. Lesley Walsh said

    I really appreciate your writing it is honest that’s all that matters, the truth will always shine through. I am really sensitive to words they are so important they portray what we think. That’s why the wisdom of your words will lift someone, somewhere, please keep writing. With deep gratitude.

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