If the brutality of harmful words from the past are still hurting you each time you think of them and you are now at an age when wisdom should have erased that sting from the memory, a little understanding of why those words still hurt may be in order. By now, all the hurt you've carried for so long may have done incredible damage to your self-esteem. You may feel you will never get over the cruelty that was inflicted, perhaps when you were just a young child, a teen, or a young adult.
A great many people continue to feel the effects of careless, thoughtless, or purposely cruel comments directed toward them when they were in their youthful years. No matter how many great feats they've accomplished, no matter how successful they've become, there may still be words that haunt them from long ago. The words ring in the ears as if they've just been said. Eyes burn and vision blurs from the tears that they dare not let roll down their faces.
If they are not careful, they can let sadness get the best of them. But quickly, they turn their attention to something else that's happier and more uplifting, denying themselves the opportunity to examine the words that were said and the possible causes for them at the time.
Words are powerful. Spoken and written words have the power to build up or tear down. They have the power to strengthen people or weaken them. Sometimes, words destroy people. Words can debilitate and cause people to doubt their every decision or their every attempt to move forward. They can leave one mystified and unable to disengage from the hurtful circumstances surrounding a verbal attack. Words can hold one hostage for years without any means of escaping their brutality.
Many times, it is helpful and necessary to seek an outsider's point of view. In the case of children or adults who have been verbally abused in the past but the offender is no longer available to speak with, a counselor may be able to help sort out the damages left by the abuse. Adults who experienced verbal onslaughts by parents who are deceased may find counseling helpful to determine why they cannot seem to forget.
It's not always an experience from the past that hurts. Those who experience verbal abuse in the present may need assistance in learning how to cope with verbal attacks, how to respond or react to them, or how to interact with someone who uses words to harm them.
But usually, people seek help to understand the harmful words thrust at them years before they were able to discern the intent or the reasons for the abuse and to learn why the memory is still so painful.
Example: An adult female has dwelt on one sentence, a verbally abusive statement uttered by a male relative when she was a teenager, that she cannot get out of her mind 45 years later. She thinks about it often, and wonders why it was said. The phrase served to lower her self-confidence for many years, and she admits thinking it had a great impact on the choices she made in her life. Only by seeking the advice of a therapist is she able to make some sense of it and begin to let it go. Will she ever totally forget it? It's hard to say, but at least she now understands that the statement had more to do with the offender than with her. It is often the verbally abused themselves who perpetuate this form of abuse on others later in life.
Words can either support or destroy. Supportive words seem to stick in the mind for a much shorter period of time, but hurtful words can last a lifetime. It is always the cruelty that is etched on the heart and mind that seems to help prove to us our own perceived worthlessness. We must try to understand and learn that the worthlessness is only our own perception, if we hope to recover from verbal abuse.