You Shouldn't Pick Scabs
The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scartissue, and the pain lessens, but it is never gone." -Rose Kennedy.
The infamous Trio of Trouble, I introduced you to in my last blog post, paid me a recent visit. For the sake of conciseness, there were three boys in Elementary School that would roam the daycare and bully everyone. Teased consistently for my speech and special-education P.E. classes, I eventually broke my arm merely trying to gain acceptance from these bullies.
I physically escaped the bullies, but emotionally escaping is a whole other story. Assuming I recovered from the insecurities and anxiety from first-grade bullying, I was quite surprised to discover the reminiscent emotional scars as an adult.
I recently encountered one of the boys at the gym a few months ago. Seeing old acquaintances from school-yard days is common where I live, and this was the first time in years I had seen him. Recalling him distinctly- his eyes, face, stature, and name- it was the shortest boy, the leader of the Trio.
Casually running on the treadmill, my body suddenly halted by the mere sight of him. My stomach knotted and gut-wrenching anxiety hit me as I slowed my pace on the machine.
Too familiar a feeling.
This feeling was a long-lost stranger who was lost for a reason. Frankly, a stranger that should have remained lost. The anxiety and nerves were identical to when I was a child bullied on the playground.
Silly, I know, a full grown adult and I was frightened and anxious like the seven-year-old me. Attempting to rationalize my anxiety at his mere presence, my brain flooded with various thoughts in order to comfort myself. I reminded myself, "I'm not that girl anymore. I'm a college graduate. I overcame Apraxia. I accomplished so much. He bullied me fifteen years ago-I should be over it by now."
I considered saying hello to him, perhaps he'd recognize me. Maybe if I did, then I would alleviate this gut-wrenching feeling.
I decided against it.
All these flooding thoughts.
My stomach tying up.
Walking slowly on the treadmill. My body feeling heavier, more lethargic.
I was in a daze just thinking about everything and nothing at all.
Does he even know I hate roses now since I couldn't even say it correctly as a kid?
Whenever I see a rose, I recall him on the playground mockingly asking me to say the word.
I know better than to have given him this much power, especially over something that happened 15 years ago, yet I can't help it. It's still a recurring memory. The emotional damage is still present.
All these thoughts, and little did I know, I had been freakishly staring at him the whole time.
He broke my trance by returning an awkward smile indicating "Why are you staring at me?" (We've all done this - you know when you're staring at someone accidentally and they smile awkwardly at you like you are crazy. Totally me!)
I quickly turned away and stared elsewhere.
I increased my pace on the treadmill. My emotions fluctuated from embarrassment then quickly to irritation.
He did not recognize me.
I know it was him too, the leader of the Trio, since one of his buddies called him by his name.
He did not recognize me, yet I recalled him and his bullying days vividly.
How could he not remember?
He ruined my first grade, he was so rude, and I broke my arm as a result of his teasing. Now, he just perceives me as a freak with a staring problem.
Damn it, why am I this upset? This happened fifteen years ago - why am I possibly mad at him for not remembering me?
Then it dawned on me. I wasn't mad at him.
I was envious.
I wish I could forget like he so easily did.
I wish I could face him, or any of the trio members, and have it not phase me. Yet here I was on a treadmill as a twenty-two-year-old girl, anxious and stomach-twisted like I was a first grader. As if he would start asking me to say certain R-words at any given moment again.
I would give anything if I could just forget it all happened.
I wish I could forget that he was the first person to call me a 'retard.'
I wish I could hold a bouquet of roses today and not think of this kid laughing at my attempt to say the word 'rose' correctly.
I wish I could forget.
I wish I could...But I can't.
I never will.
Kids bully and tease others that are different than them or to help their own insecurities, I understand that. This doesn't justify the bullying though, and my logical comprehension does not remove the emotional pain.
Despite my desire to forget these memories, these experiences shaped who I am today. I overcame the physical bullying in elementary school, but also learned that the emotional damage and scars will never fully heal. They'll be irritated and bother me, but these emotional scars do not define me.
They strengthen me. They enlighten me.
If an emotional cut becomes a scar, it has healed to the best of its ability and exemplifies true perseverance. My emotional scars indicate that I will survive the next cut to come-just as long as I remain confident in who I am and my strength as an individual.
My emotional scars are not alone nor are they a rarity within this Apraxia community. We all have emotional scars and cuts, especially in our Apraxia Adventures. These wounds, however, bring forth the most promising and hopeful characteristic of our community-our resiliency. Despite our constant battles and obstacles that inflict emotional stress and anxiety, children and adults alike within this community consistently push forward.
We bandage our emotional scars and cuts, carry on, and achieve our desired success.