Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shadow of the Hammer

Hammer. An amazing tool. For certain jobs.  The problem with hammers is you are limited to what you do with them.  Hammers, except in the strangely gifted hands of my husband, have a limited range of jobs. They do those jobs well, when used in the right hands.  In the wrong hands or used in the wrong way they can be brutal, deadly, hurtful and terrible to see.

We all know people who use their words and their hands, their actions and intents like hammers. The problem with people hammers is that every situation is reduced to a limited set of actions, just like a real hammer.

What can a hammer really, basically do?  Hammers pound in nails.  Hammers pull out nails.  Hammers bend over nails.  Sometimes hammers can be used to break things, bend things and rarely open things.

People hammers are no different.  They use their words, their actions and their presence to hammer us, pull us or bend us to their will.  They try to break us, bend us and sometimes tear us open.  They have only so many options because they only have one tool - a hammer.

Abusers and controllers may have other tools but the prefer their hammers.  They like the power of it. They like the brutality of it.  When I started to write, to heal, to finally feel unafraid there loomed over me the shadow of an emotional hammer.  The memory, the shadow, the ache of those times when it was not the only tool but the preferred one.

No wonder I still flinch at a tone or pull back from a gesture.  I'm reacting to that shadow.  That hammer that is no longer really there.  Some days I see hammers everywhere and mentally wish for everyone to have more multi tools! Some days the words hammer me and some days the actions hammer me and some days the silence pounds me and breaks me.  I'm bent over with the hurt and I'm torn open by words.

Those days are fewer between because I know, I understand the hammer. I know the shadow cannot hurt me.

Sadly, I struggle most with what I was taught about BEING a hammer, and as a Mom that is the last thing I want to be.  As a wife it is not what I want to do.  As a friend I would rather have empty hands.  I confess I can be a brutal hammer but I'm learning.

I'm learning to not reflexively grab the worst tool I have but to consider what the situation calls for.  As my son says, "The right tool for the right job!" and that fits for actual physical work as it does for emotional and spiritual work.  I'm learning not to lash out and swing wildly hitting whatever I can.  I'm learning that my temper was given a hammer too young and was taught too well.  Now to unlearn. To unwire, rewire and relearn.

To get out of the shadow of the hammer.


  1. I very much enjoyed this post. It reminded me of how powerful our words can be and the effect they can have on other people. Thanks!

  2. Delores, thank you for coming by. And thank you for taking the time to comment. Bright blessings!

  3. What an accurate use of ideas to describe how powerful words can be used to hurt. Part of healing from abuse is to unlearn some of the messages that we were given about the use of words to harm others. Great post.

  4. Thanks Patricia...I have felt many a blow from a word that I would have happily traded for another kind, they verbal blows seem to leave such long lasting wounds. Bless you!

  5. I liked your post. It is soooo true. Words can hammer damage into our brain. We get enough of them and an imprint is made that is very hard to smooth out. I too, and I know many do, have such imprints on our brain. I am thankful that we have an amazing brain that is able to circumnavigate healing around the imprint by God's grace. Since this recognition, I try very hard to be mindful of my words..but alas...I'm still a work in progress. Thanks for posting such an important topic in such a well crafted manner.

  6. Merry, thank you so much for coming by and sharing in your comment. We are all works in progress, and I believe that it is the work in progress that matters not a single, final result at the end. Bright blessings!