Words can hurt.
“I need an ambulance!”
Definitely not the words you want to hear from your husband.
And certainly not over the phone.
While at a party.
Your birthday party.
There is no subtle way to put it. He screwed up my festivities. But selfishness aside, the events of that night reminded me we need to be careful what we wished for. Or at least, make sure we don’t use words as weapons to protect us, or to make us feel better. Or to manipulate. Ready to hear the story?
I don’t throw parties to celebrate my birthdays. I’m more a ‘dinner with my man and a cake with my boys’ kind of a girl. This year, however, I had a theatre rehearsal the day of my birthday and I thought it to be a perfect opportunity to toast with my friends from the drama class. Maybe under the influence of a year that separated and isolated us all, I felt a bit irresponsible, yet eager to have a party.
Phone call instead of a toast
We had only started when my husband called.
“Sorry, I really don’t want to bother you,” he started.
“What’s up?” I asked, slightly annoyed. Not that he interrupted me and my friends, and held me from a glass of prosecco, but because I expected that he couldn’t remember what the kids eat for dinner or had some other urgency that he could very well figure out himself.
“I need an ambulance! I need to go to the hospital to get stitches.”
I heard his words, but they didn’t make any sense. He surely knows how to build up the tension (maybe he should be the writer in the family).
“What do you mean you need stitches?”
“I hit a tractor,” his answer surprised me. Mind you, we live in a rural area where an agricultural machinery is a common occurrence. Yet, in the short few seconds before I react, I couldn’t imagine what had happened. Did he walk out of the house and got hit? Did he drive? Surely, after a car accident, he wouldn’t seek medical attention on the phone with me?!
“How?” was all I managed to say. I stepped outside of the party area and stood alone in the theatre’s auditorium, the party chatter behind me, the drama not happening on the stage.
“I was on my daily bike ride and I hit a tractor. My forehead is bleeding badly and I need stitches.”
“Where are you?”
I almost asked how did he get home. Luckily, I had enough self-control to focus on a more pressing matter.
What effectively happened was that he went for his usual 20K ride. A tractor passed around him. My husband was in the zone (whatever that means for bikers) and didn’t realize that the tractor stopped suddenly. He turned to save the bike! (I’m not even going to comment on that one). He has a scar; the bike has no scratches at all.
Careful what you wish for
Are you waiting for the morale I promised at the beginning? Careful what you wish for! Let me rewind to a night before my party. I don’t know why I felt the way I did when my husband asked what I would like for my birthday. The night before! I mean, why bother!? It upset me he didn’t plan better. I felt he didn’t care. I know he cares, and he loves me, but my romantic notion got the best of me and I wanted him to feel miserable. So I said:
“You don’t care anymore. You no longer want to surprise me.”
This is not true, because he surprises me all the time. Maybe not with gifts, but with his kindness, his care, his humor and his ability to show me beauty where I overlook it. I said those words to manipulate.
And boy, he surprised me big time the following day. A birthday surprise I will never forget. A scar that would remind me to value what I have. Careful what I wish for!
Now, obviously, I’m aware there is no real correlation between my accusation and my husband’s close encounter with a tractor, but it got me thinking. Words have power. Words can hurt. Sometimes we don’t even need to say them. Just thinking outside of the realm of kindness and care, can turn our thoughts into self-doubt, hate, fear, or anger. Now we may stay silent (or not), but the world reacts and our experience changes, usually worsens. We need to choose our words—spoken or not—with care and wisdom. And more importantly, with kindness and compassion.
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