Sometimes I get super sadsack. I’m like no one will ever want me or love. No one will ever understand me. I work with a guy who has a pretty intense stutter when he gets excited or when he is confronted. He talked before about how hard it is to communicate how it really requires that he thinks before he speaks.
I was placed in speech class. Not because of anything I recognized as a problem, I could say street, strawberry and straw pretty easily, but I decided it sounded cuter to say it with a k. A linguistic pattern that is really well known in AAVE. Skrawberry, skreet. That and I had a nervous laugh after just about everything I said. The nervous laugh came about because one of my favorite people had one. I didn’t realize that he had a speech impediment.
I went to speech class pretty early, maybe kindegarden or 1st grade. My grandma encouraged me to get into oratorical contests. I won just about every one I ever entered. But my time in speech class helped me understand people with actual speech impediments not ones I created because I thought they were cool. And that’s what I feel I’ve been doing my entire life, seeing habits, actions, etc that were deemed problems by society and becoming that problem. Putting on and taking off stigmas other people experience on a daily because I admired them.
But it was the moments I wasn’t in my speech class that I learned speech class was for “dummies”. These are the first places I heard my ideas, thoughts and feelings didn’t make sense. So despite the fact that I won a life-size trophy for the highest grades of any student in the school for a few years, my school life was marked with feeling inadequate. So I just started being quiet and when that didn’t work I started beating people’s asses.for bullying me. Its this that helps me understand that violence is the refuge of the powerless especially when you’re forced into a reactionary situation.
Now I recalibrate to figure out who I am. But I feel like the only story I know how to tell is as an outsider. The only narrative that ever makes sense to me is one of isolation. Who am I today? I’m still the girl who was abandoned, who misunderstood rape for love, who thought she could fly and was marvelous, who locked herself in closets as a child to punish, who fucked for love and humiliation, who thought any attention was good and thought that she would never do the things that her mother did. And in the spelling bee I could spell all the big words but missed something as simple as colonel. Yeah.
But today I’m the woman who recognizes that was just a girl and I can’t keep letting her abandonment and abuse rule me and induce fear. I can’t let experiences I had as a child own me. I dont want to keep living like I’m 10 years old and its my first suicide attempt. I want to accept that i survived and its behind me. I must realize cruelty and abuses do not define me, they define the people who hurt me. Forgiveness has to start with me forgiving myself. Maybe I just have to live with it and understand the expectation of abuse is unhealthy.
But I get so tired hearing I can’t communicate and no one understands me, I’m making no sense. And like in school I just bury myself in work looking for relief by learning and applying the knowledge to get my own approval in the only way I can recognize. My heartache is still there now there’s just a gold star on top. But even that’s not working anymore.