I am a Superhero. I am Harry Potter.
Dumbledore's words ring in my mind-- "with great power comes great responsibility." That was D, wasn't it? I can't keep all the epic sages straight (oh my gosh, was that punny!), but I doubt it was my own wise man on the mountain, Andrew. Though I think he would say the same thing. Regardless, it is true.
When I was a wee lass, I made the dreadful mistake of telling my little brother I hated him. Of course I didn't, but you can bet I got into some HEFTY trouble for saying it. Hate was a four-letter word in our family, and its use was strictly verboten. As I've grown older, I've understood why with greater clarity. Though I'm positive I'll feel guilty all my days for accidentally slamming my brother's fingers in the Jeep door, and worse for elbowing him in the face and giving him a massive nosebleed, nothing haunts me more than the few times as a child I lost my temper and said mean things to him. The same with my sister. I regret not letting her play the Babysitters Club board game with a childhood friend who came to see me, but I feel a hundred times worse for sitting by and letting the so-called friend tell Ashley that she hated her.
Likewise, I think of the most painful episodes of my life. I didn't like it when the kids tripped me on the way to the bus because I was a trifle nerdy and carried a briefcase in fifth grade (resulting in my own first broken nose of three), but I hated it all the more when they told me I was stupid or fat or weird or my legs were hairy or whatever it is kids in fifth grade say. The summer before high school, I was in this summer science camp at NAU, and for some reason, one of the older boys told me to "go to hell." It was like getting punched in the stomach, such was my shock. And once when we got separated after a school activity, because I was too busy talking to old chums to remember finding my little sister, she cussed me out. Big time. I totally deserved it, but I wish she would have just given me broken nose number four. You know, sticks and stones and all that, because anyone over the age of six knows that words pack the most devastating punch.
Well, obviously, I'm older now. I've mostly learned to bite my tongue in the heat of the moment... well, if it's an argument, anyway. I still don't have much control when I'm sad-- I'll blubber on and on without an edit button, but I think most of the inner circle has come to accept that as a charming quirk. At least they're kind about the obvious shortcoming. And I still have my less-than-gracious days. In what we'd call a significant fight with someone not too long ago (duh! of course you know who I'm talking about, though I'm trying to wean myself), I think I said some stuff in exasperation that I wish I could take back. I've tried to get the words to come out in the myriad apologies I've sent via various media without any acknowledgement. It worries me to know that words are my own brand of superpower.
I can use my words to destroy-- to rip someone to shreds. I don't do that... at least, I've never done it intentionally. I might craft some barb here or there on the side of the joke, but I try to deliver it with love. I can weave colloquialisms and idioms and cliches into a fresh point of view. I can write and speak to deliver a spiritually powerful message, or I can use the skills for stand-up comedy. And of course, there's my own brand of favorite expression-- channeling my inner angsty-teenager in a diatribe on anything from health care reform to rage on behalf of my oppressed Polish people (at the hands of some of my other ancestors, I might add) to the obvious favorite: my weepy love for the man of the moment (or the man of eternity, as I sometimes foolishly place my beaux on an impossible pedestal). They may be run-on sentences, but they are mine, and for whatever reason, people listen. That's pretty humbling.
And still, it's shocking. How I laugh when I hear someone relate a story I've told (unless it is the truly ridiculous and I end up consoling the likes of Billy Gupton for hours upon hours-- "No, Billy, I would NEVER say that you are a horrible kisser!"). There's a certain satisfaction that comes from people hiring you to write... to think I could once again make money off of all this blows my mind. But that's not as remarkable as knowing that something I've said in jest can change the whole trajectory of a relationship with someone (eg., a boy I jokingly told I was on the rebound now sincerely says he loves me; an impossibly good-looking chap who now has a complex because I laughed at the thought of kissing him; a man who quickly married a woman who is in all likelihood my opposite when I told him I'd never marry him; even my mere vocalizations are enough-- after I screamed in a guy's face three times when he tried to kiss me after a fireside, I didn't hear from him again until six weeks later when he was engaged to someone else).
So that's it. I've discovered it. But I'm also my own kryptonite.