The Power of Words

Oh my, she must be very shy, the butcher told her mother when she was about four years old, after he had asked her a question that she didn’t answer. Her mother didn’t object.
It was the day she learned that she was shy, and she kept believing it for a very long time.

Relatives and friends of her parents liked to comment on her appearance when she was little, as if looking pretty was her only quality, and even now as an adult, people she’s not at all close to seem to find it appropriate to offer unsolicited feedback about her looks, as if she owed it to the world to be easy on the eyes.
She now sometimes chooses outfits that the people around her – rather than herself – would approve of.

Stop throwing a tantrum, you’re overreacting.
They remember their mother’s words from when they were a little kid, crying uncontrollably in an attempt to let her know that their feelings were hurting.
They repeat them in their head now every time they feel sadness rise within them, invalidating their own experience.

She doesn’t think she’s worthy of love and support without offering anything to deserve it first. She thinks back to the times when she had to earn her grandmother’s attention by being a “good girl” and doing what was expected of her.
She believes that she has to fulfil a certain amount of duties in relationships in order for people to love her.

This isn’t gonna work out for you so don’t even bother trying, they told him. And so he buried his dreams, trusting his parents’ life experience over anything else.

She wants to tell her boyfriend about an unmet need but keeps her mouth shut because she remembers her friends bicker about someone’s “complicated new girlfriend”. She decides to keep pretending to be easy-going and needless for fear of being deemed uncool.

If I tell them how I feel, they won’t love me anymore, they thought as they contemplated letting their parents know that they’d like to pursue a different path in life than the one that had been meticulously planned out for them.

He was anxious about sleeping away from home as a kid, which made him stir under the covers a lot before falling asleep. His cousin, whom he shared a bedroom with whenever he stayed over at his aunt’s house, told him this was annoying and that he should just get over it and go to sleep.
He’s been unable to fall asleep next to another person since then, terrified of being too annoying in his sleep.

After having been told by her parents that she looked like a slut prior to leaving for a night out, she was hiding behind her friends at the back of the club out of worry that she could give off the impression that she was an easy girl. She didn’t have a good time and was consumed by the feeling of being inappropriately dressed all night long, even though she thought she looked gorgeous when she was getting dressed.

Don’t be a pussy! Man up!, his friends teased him as he was trying to express his feelings as a teenager. He learned that expressing feelings was for girls only and pretended to play it cool and keep his mouth shut from then on.


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