I remember my mum telling me once not to have a ‘poisoned tongue’. I was probably about 15 at the time and a bit of a tinker – I probably paid no attention as I was a teenager and she was my Mum – but I obviously did listen because this has stuck with me.

Tongues can be horribly poisonous.

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Words which drip off the end full of nothing nice can crawl in and start to slowly infect and corrupt the deepest part of who you are. I suspect we can all remember a word which has cut deep and left a festering wound months, years or even decades on. A glib throw away comment, a harsh response, an idle word of gossip, a deliberate white lie to undermine. Yuk. 

And yet I know I’m guilty of doing this myself. I know I have said horrible underhand things, I’ve ¬†thrown out opinions and statements willy-nilly – many of which I have later go on to retract. But how much poison have I laced people’s souls with in the process. I shudder to think.

I know when I am hurting my weakness to do this grows. They say hurt people hurt people. How very true for me.

Yet again I am in the position where I have noticed something in me (and maybe in others too) that I now can’t un-notice. I see this poison epidemic growing – I see it more in women which saddens me even more, I see it being done to me. I see myself doing it to others more often than I would like to admit.

Just yesterday I heard that someone is quite vocal in their issues with me. I kind of knew we weren’t best buddies but I guess hearing this from someone I trust brought it home. The words they had said, the things they have whispered about me behind my back – always behind my back – well, they hurt. It hurt that much of it wasn’t true but it hurt most that when I see this person I am fed syrupy sweetness to my face but now I see that those kind flattering words were laced with the poison of the tongue which had spoken something very different when I wasn’t there.

At first I was cross and my reaction was to ‘have it out’ – I’m a bolshy Northerner – that’s my style! But then I thought how many times I have done the same thing – lacked the courage to take my issues straight to the person involved t deal with and instead let them creep around in the dark. I realised she is not wrong and me right – we are both crappy gossipy types who need to grow a pair and deal with whatever issues we have. I hope she can one day sit down with me over a cup of tea and explain why she was hurt by me enough to let this stuff crawl around her heart, but I don’t know if that will ever be the case. I hope we could apologise and explain and realise we were probably never enemies but rather looking at a sixpence from two different sides.

I have no control over how she processes this, but the reminder for me is that I do have control over how I choose to use my tongue. I have the option to poison or elevate. The choice is simply mine.