The Power of Words

Words have power, even after their sounds have long dissipated in the air.

Recently, I saw a post on a Facebook group that prompted NPD survivors to share the favourite words and phrases their narcs used. Responses included “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” “That’s just your opinion,” “You can’t change the past,” and the perennial narc favourite “You’re crazy.”

Some were so familiar I could hear them in my ex’s voice, others were new and I was grateful I’d never heard them spoken to me.

This morning, at work, a disgruntled former client posted scathing posts on my organization’s Facebook page that ended with “Lame.” This is a word she used frequently when rules were enforced that she didn’t like. Once when I’d had to sit in on a mediation with her, she had used this word often. Every time she’d said it I had felt irritated, but I’d been so focused on the situation I didn’t give it much thought.

Until today.

Today, after being triggered by a movie last night, and after 9 months of No Contact,when I saw her comment ending with “Lame” I felt absolute rage toward her; rage that was disproportionate to what she had done, so I knew I was being triggered.

It’s all coming together.

“Lame” was one of my narc’s favourite ways of shutting me down. Whenever I was happy about something, he would call it (or me) lame. If I made a joke, he just replied “lame.” If I proposed an idea I was excited about, of course it was “lame.” Every ounce of confidence and happiness was drained out of me with a door-slamming, soul-deflating “lame.” Over and over and over again.

And today, after 9 months of healing and growing, that one single word still has this much power over me.

It reminds me to be careful with my words when I am speaking with others, and it also reminds me not to have any tolerance for people who aren’t careful with their words with me. We’re all old enough to know better – those who don’t can go learn it on their own time.



3 responses to “The Power of Words

  1. Very true. My stbexpah (sonn to be ex passive-agressive husband) used to say: “you’re living in the past”. I hated those 5 words, because it meant to him that I was rehashing the past, when in truth I was referring to the same “past” things still happening in the present. Over and over again… When I hear them (heard them again last night), it makes me want to blow a gasket… no joke. But I usually quiet down because no matter how I try to explain it, he will deny it of course.

    These people have a set of rules for them and a set of rules for others. You have to respect them but they will not respect you. That’s the message that comes through loud and clear when they open their mouths.

    I’m so careful how I speak to others, I mull it over, I step back and think, because I know how hurtful words can be having lived with someone who used them to subtlely attack and destabilize you and using your words against you. You develop a sixth sense about how you approach conversation and the words that are used to convey a message.

    Congrats on 9 months by the way!!

    • You’re so right, and I can totally relate to the living in the past thing. Mine used to do that too if I ever brought up anything. “Can’t we just move forward? Why do you have to keep bringing up the past?” I had a million things I could have brought up, but learned to keep my mouth shut. Yet the one bad thing I had done years earlier he brought up repeatedly (along with the usual false accusations of things I never did). The double standards were soooo frustrating.
      Thanks for the congrats, and good luck to you on your way to making yours an ex. Good riddance! I look forward to seeing your ‘woohoo I’m free!’ post when it’s all done and official. 🙂

  2. “It reminds me to be careful with my words when I am speaking with others, and it also reminds me not to have any tolerance for people who aren’t careful with their words with me.”

    I wish I had learned the last part of this 20 years ago. Thanks for your blog.

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