Conflicted (Repost)

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I’m a big fan of words. Not individual words per se, but when words are strung together in such a way as to affect us deeply. Whether the results manifests themselves in a good laugh, a good cry, a call to action, or some combination of all of the above. Words are powerful.

Two forms of word play I have particular affection for are quotes and song lyrics. I don’t know why. I’ve just always admired a good quote. A small collection of words that conveys a powerful concept. As for lyrics, I think there’s something magical about combining thoughtful words and music, especially when it seems as though the songwriter has somehow peeked into your heart and found a piece of your own story.

Yesterday, with a song that’s been playing in my head for the past several days, I came across a quote that was in opposition with said song. It left me feeling conflicted, because I tend to agree that the words in the song and the words in the quote were both true, even though they were at odds with one another. Here’s the quote:

“It’s better to keep grief inside. Grief inside works like bees or ants, building curious and perfect structures, complicating you. Grief outside means you want something from someone, and chances are good you won’t get it.”
~ Hilary Thayer Hamann (Anthropology of an American Girl)

As I spoke these words aloud though, they felt bitter in my mouth. Grief outside often does indeed mean you want something from someone, and the stiff upper lip side of me tends to agree. “Stop whining,” it says. “Don’t burden someone else with your problems.There are certain things that must remain unsaid. Bury them deep and no one gets hurt,” and on and on.

But those aren’t the words I want to believe. The words I want to believe are these:

Say (by John Mayer)

Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ’em in quotations

Say what you need to say [x8]

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say [x8]

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say [x24]

I’ve thought about both the quote and the song quite a bit. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the quote comes from someone who builds walls around herself. Walls built in an effort to insulate her from getting hurt again. I understand that. But I also think those walls don’t really insulate you from pain. They just keep others out, and by doing so, allow you to focus on yourself almost exclusively. (A sure recipe for misery.) They’re also pretty painful for those who are trying to get through them to reach you. And sometimes words left unsaid are every bit as painful as the ones that are. Sometimes moreso.

Are you holding back words you need to share?
“I’m proud of you.”
“I believe in you.”
“You make me smile.”
“Thank you for being there for me.”
“I know this is difficult, but I’m here for you.”
“I wish things could be different.”
“Things are going to be okay.”
“I love you.”
“Hang on.”

I think I’ll vote for reaching out and saying what needs saying. It just might be exactly what someone needs to hear today…

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16 Responses to “Conflicted (Repost)”

  1. Jason May 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    So many people underestimate the power of words. I knew a girl in high school who tried to kill herself. When I talked to her later she told me that all she wanted was someone to tell her that she mattered to them.

    • katdish May 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      At the end of the day, I think we all need to know that. Thanks, Jason.

  2. Bob G May 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Nice Kat. I’ve heard that (Say). The lyrics did strike me as meaningful.

    And you know that thing at funerals where people talk about all the best qualities of someone and go on about what they appreciated when they rarely spoke (or wrote) the words to them while they were still living? I think that’s a bunch of crap. I can understand how it’s hard and sometimes awkward, but, yeah…say what we NEED to say.

  3. Simply Darlene May 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    Heya miss Kathy. I’m with the sayin’ what ya need to say too. It’s interesting that this post follows one on vulnerable writing. I reckon we sometimes need to say it aloud, while at other times maybe we cannot get our mouths to work, but our hearts still need us to put our words on the line.

    On the flip side, I do think there is a time for solo grieving, perhaps when a heart is too raw to take one more thing, even if it’s a good word. But as believers, we also must know that we are never alone and not one tear drops unnoticed by our Father God.

    I don’t like that first quote at all. I think the author really wants and/or needs something; by talking about how it’s best to keep it in, she’s really just asking for something she apparently disdains. It makes me dizzy to figure it out.


  4. Hazel Moon May 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    I certainly do believe in speaking out, even when your speech is not exactly popular! I enjoyed your contradictions of thought that opened up the facts that holding it all in can eat away and fester like a cancer. Tears are meant to be a release and those who weep usually find comfort in their sorrow. Sharing words of positive thought will heal the broken bones, and what you have to say – – is exactly what someone needs to hear!!

  5. Haley May 26, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    “Walking like a one man army
    Fighting with the shadows in your head
    Living out the same old moment
    Knowing you’d be better off instead,
    If you could only . . ”
    I love this

  6. Louise May 26, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    I like what Jason wrote — along with what you wrote — we all want to know someone ‘sees’ us — and when we keep it all inside, we cannot be seen. it’s about intimacy —

  7. Alise May 26, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    So beautiful. Words can pierce, but they can heal so much as well. I love the MLK quote, “In the end, we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

    I want to fill up those silences with good words that drown out the bad ones.

  8. Katie M May 26, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    This is so good. I have been that girl that, without meaning or wanting to, built a wall around myself to keep from getting hurt again. I would only let people close enough to feel like they were my friend, but never close enough to hurt me. That’s all come crashing down recently and I’ve never been more relieved to feel again! It’s so worth it to “say what you need to say” and let people into your heart. I spent too long focusing on putting bricks in the wall around my heart while people around me are hurting and needing love. I would rather walk around with a bleeding, raw heart than one that can’t feel.

    • katdish May 26, 2011 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks, Katie. In the words of Gibran:

      “But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

      What you said about rather walking around with a bleeding raw heart than one that can’t feel? I feel the same way. We must risk being hurt to truly love.

  9. seekingpastor May 26, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    I come from a long line of extremely reserved people–people who do not share feelings of annoyance or aggravation. My wife comes from a long line of people who are completely the opposite. Being married to her has really stretched me in this area. Sometimes painfully.

  10. Kelly Sauer May 26, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    I am so glad to be reading you again. I didn’t have time until recently, but every time I come, I can SO relate to what you’re sharing (or laughing about…. :-P)

    This is one of the hardest dilemmas I face, on a daily basis, when sorrow has become a part of who I am, when I process my life in words and by talking.

    Proverbs says that even a fool is thought wise when he keeps his mouth shut, and it seems as if their is some honor in that, but the fool is still a fool, and unable to change unless he says something for others to speak wisdom to him.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who wrestles with all this.

  11. jasonS May 26, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    That quote is beautifully worded but a little messed up, at least in the context of scripture. If we all did that, we would never have the opportunity to “mourn with those who mourn.” The mourner misses the blessing of being comforted and the comforter misses the blessing of sharing compassion. Now, this is coming from someone who doesn’t like to show too much emotion and would readily hold it inside, but I know that’s not the correct way to do it. Thought-provoking post, Kat. Thanks.

  12. karenzach May 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Why is it words which belittle and mock others come so quickly, while words that affirm and encourage are like spitting nails?

  13. Jake May 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    I have to say it. John Mayer makes me gag. He’s talented… so that balances out my distaste, yesh? Regardless, I’m coping with walls this very moment. I built some up at a place that has been incredibly dear to me for years now. The disappointments just kept coming, so now I’m only spectating. Ugh, it’s stupid and ridiculous but nobody’s changing and I don’t know that to do about it. I’m being incredibly emo right now, but your post was incredibly pertinent. Kathy, I always love what you have to say. Good job.

    • katdish May 27, 2011 at 12:55 am #

      Yeah, he is a tool. But I really like that song. And it’s okay to be emo, just don’t dress emo because I’ll have to make fun of you.

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