Words are a powerful and interesting things. With words we build people up or tear down friendships. They are used to bless as well as to curse. I’m a communication professional. I’m deeply flawed and to make matters more complicated, I’m also Brazilian. Brazilians are often fun, but we’re also blunt in ways that make southerners blush. Over the years I have tried not only to adapt to my new adopted country, but also temper my not-so-subtle foreign ways. I have not always succeeded.
Here’s some memorable exchanges I wish I could have taken back:
“I have the best hair money can buy” jokingly to a gentleman at a church I was interning as he commented on how much he liked my hair. I didn’t realize he was wearing a toupee. (it was a good one, after all)
“When are you due?” To my non-pregnant waitress at Cancun restaurant. Twice.
“I meant to tell you before, but you’re actually an adopted monkey we got from the zoo” to my 5-year-old son Marcus as he ran screaming, “MOM is it true?”
“Your grandfather is a hoot” to my college roommate only to find out it was his grandmother I had just met.
“I’m not sure what kind of mirror you have, but I’m sure you didn’t see in it what I’m seeing.” to a friend who had a fashion meltdown.
“Come with me little girl! You can sit on my lap” to a 28-year old midget woman sitting in a church service as I invited her to join me at the children’s story time.
“Haven’t they suffered enough?” to a friend after she told me she was signing up to take food for the Nashville flood victims.
“Sorry,but it looked better on the hanger than it does on you.” To my young wife after bringing home a dress I bought her as a gift. Twenty years later and I’m still paying for it.
I’m glad for forgiveness, second chances and life lessons. But the truth is I can’t ever take those words back. Today I self edit a lot more than ever before, but to people who know me well, it’s not quite enough. My hope is that the majority of comes out of my mouth will be used for building up, instead of tearing down.
Now it’s your turn. What have you said that you wish you could take back?