You yelled at me last week. A drive-by assault, words flung out an open window. It shouldn’t matter, but it does.
You weren’t angry with me, I suppose. You couldn’t be. We’ve never met. But somehow you knew . . . you knew the very word to use, the one that would cut deep and lodge in my soul.
I didn’t have to turn around. I knew that word was meant for me. My ears have practice hearing it and they carried it straight to its mark.
“Hey Ugly!” you yelled, and I knew. And though you and I are far too old for the playground, there we were, the bully and the victim.
The word rings in my head, in my stomach, in my knees. It runs through my veins and drums in my ears. How can it be anything but true? — it found me, it returned to me right out of the warm evening air.
Maybe you’ve forgotten. Maybe the impulse to flay me with words was gone as quickly as it came and hasn’t crossed your mind again.
For me, I don’t go out anymore. I can’t bear the shame that I carry like a spotlight over my head, like a bullhorn that calls out for the scorn of all around me. I find comfort in only one thing. Whatever my flaws, whatever my scars, I would not do this to you.
We hear a lot of stories at Family Service Regina. A lot of raw, emotional stories of the moments of people’s lives that become turning points. We bear witness to the stories and we stand beside people in creating positive endings. This post, written by one of our staff, stems from one client’s story and speaks to the power of words and the enduring untruth of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”