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I was told growing up that sticks and stones may break my bones but names could never hurt me.
And now I’m grown with scars that sit beneath my skin where only I can see.
Those harmless words cut me like swallowing glass,
Everything on the surface seems like it’s fine and will come to pass
But it won’t. It doesn’t.
Our brains have a predetermined chemical pattern for assimilating physical pain into a zone of dulled senses.
When trying to remember the pain of a broken arm or cut leg I can only remember the pretenses,
But not the sensation.
The dull resounding pain that at the time shook me to tears is now intangible and an almost inconsequential fear.
But remembering a time I was made to feel “less than” is not recalled the same.
When I think of it I don’t see the memory from that time, instead I feel the pain.
I would always proclaim that the next time I’d stick up for myself, until the next time came.
It’s insane that the pain behind the memory wasn’t a call to action.
I would just blame it on a bad expectation
The expectation that people are inherently good
Or that they will love me the way I’d want them to,
and before long I find myself blocking the knife-edge of those words with a shield sewn together with phrases such as:
“That’s just the way they are” or “I’m used to it”.
The problem with that shield is it’s only big enough for one person to be – I’m guaranteed that when someone loves me, that they won’t be in the same position of safety.
You see, the oil from childhood phrases I rub on my shoulders doesn’t protect the one’s I love.
The attacks may not be at them, but they will have seen or heard enough.
Forgiving and forgetting is easy for the one affected – ask any grown woman if she can recall how bad it hurt in Middle School to be broken up with.
That feeling has probably subsided – added to the memory bank of pieces of her childhood she had long since retired.
But now ask that same woman’s mother if she can remember the way her daughter cried – and I can tell you with relative certainty the account, though buried deep in her mind, would still hurt her too much to throw away or hide.
She would remember with painstaking detail how hurt her daughter was, and it would still, decades later, hurt her to remember.
This is the power and fallacy of Love.
Too often I forget that the ones I share my love with hold my shield when it’s too heavy – knowing they will be hit when the spoken swords deflect off my steady weathered skin.
And when the adrenaline settles down I will have forgotten the weapons strewn throughout the battlefield of my pride and memory – but the ones I love will have scars that they can’t explain or show me.
I don’t understand why they can’t just let it go,
I remind them of sticks and stones
and they tell me they’d rather suffer those broken bones than the shame from the names I didn’t deserve and
I tell them that this is how I deal with this, I’m used to it, I will be just fine,
Until it comes around next time, and my shield is too heavy –
but they aren’t holding mine
And I see it’s because they’ve had to build their own,
to hide behind.

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