*Special thanks for all the comments on the last post, especially for Naijamum's addition to the list.
I noticed early in life that I had a way with words. It must be because of all those new words my dad made me write and learn from NTA news and Concord newspaper. It was in my junior secondary school days that I learnt that every gift or skill acquired can have its negative side if not carefully/properly used.
I had ‘tongue-lashed’ this friend of mine for allowing someone copy her in a test because that’s what good friends do – they tell each other the truth! Well, it just happened that the truth is resisted if not told with wisdom. We never spoke to each other until I took my mum’s advice and apologised in SSS 2. Going forward, I tried to be careful with my ‘bluntness’ but yet again fell short.
This time around, I picked a fight with her because she was ‘dating’ a junior. In my opinion, it was improper conduct and unbecoming of a school prefect... pray tell, who made me judge? Till this day, I still see her action as wrong; however, my reaction wasn’t any better.
Fast forward, 3rd year at the Uni.
Lovely Miss Bee introduces me to Mr A, a new member of our study group. Mr A and I develop this chemistry (nothing relating to love) and become almost inseparable. Miss Bee being the hyperactive person she is would drift back and forth, in and out of many groups – she was that jovial.
Weeks to the semester exams I receive a text from her, officially ‘unfriending’ me. As a rule, I never let anything get in the way when I’m trying to achieve a goal hence I wait till after exams to address the issue. Within the one month it took to complete the exams, herself and Mr A had exchanged countless texts... enmity was brewing, and sadly, I was caught in the middle.
Miss Bee claimed she was ending her friendship with me because Mr A had ‘stolen’ me from her and since she didn’t want me to feel like I had to make a choice, she was going to let him have me! Truth is, I wouldn’t have been bothered if not for the harsh words she used in describing Mr A.
It’s been over 6 years and although I’m still in touch with them both, things are exactly not the same. Last year, Miss Bee apologised for all the hateful things she said and asked if I could help put in a word with Mr A to forget the past. Although I’ve tried to, I totally understand Mr A’s standpoint of ‘yes, she’s forgiven but we cannot go back to how we were before’!
If I didn’t know better, I’ll say to him, activate your church mind and let it go, but honestly, I can’t. I have put myself in his shoes and I’ve concluded that friendship with someone who once called me a beast, threatened to kill me and hurt my family will take the Holy Spirit’s intervention.
In all these, I have learnt one very important lesson. In our daily interactions with family and friends, we are bound to offend/annoy each other, whether on purpose or just because of the peculiarities of our personality. When we do, depending on which side of the divide we are at the time (the offended or the offender) it is important to stop in our tracks and think of what our actions/reactions/inactions may lead to.
Fighting fairly is a skill we all must learn to acquire as we deal with our colleagues, family and friends. I now know that although the work and traffic induced stress in Lagos can get one angry without notice, it is no fault of the person who’s getting the brunt of your caustic tongue.
Words, either nice ones or hateful/haughty ones, stay in the mind of the one who hears them long after the speaker has forgotten. Personally, I’ve tested the silence first, speech later therapy, and it has worked thus far, saving me from regrets and earning me admiration especially at work. If like me you enjoy airing your views then it may be very difficult at first but with every chance you get to walk away, you become better at it.
In the end, relationships have been shattered past repairs and countries have gone to war not because the issues could not be resolved, but because of the impact of the words carelessly said to each other. Let’s put this little member of our body (tongue) in check before it sets the world on fire.