Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones...

She walked down the hallway in her bare feet. The house was dark and quiet. She slipped into the bathroom quietly, pushed a towel up against the crack at the bottom of the door before switching on the light.

The bathroom mirror was big. Too big. She typically made a point of wearing her hair like a shroud 'round her face so she wouldn't see her reflection and other people wouldn't see her, but this time she took a deep breath and shook her hair back.

She was surprised by the girl she saw looking back from the mirror. Her eyes were so sad and guarded. You wouldn't think a 12-year-old would know to identify them as such but she was a girl who paid attention to people and saw too much. She wondered what she would one day be, if she would be ugly or by some miracle maybe a little bit pretty. Maybe she would be grossly fat. Her dad had reminded her at dinner when she'd eaten corn with her mashed potatoes that pigs eat corn. Of course, he was eating it, too, but there was a message there and she didn't miss it. She would be fat, ugly. It was her destiny.

It wasn't long before she was a teenager. She wore her hair long to cover her face, kept her head down, hid her mouth with her hand when she laughed. When some boy said she was pretty, she thought he was making fun of her. When another boy said it she lost all respect for him. If he was THAT stupid, he wasn't worth knowing. How pathetic.

Eventually, she got it. She realized that some people couldn't see the truth, that for some reason they were immune to it. She knew what she was and that was worthless. Her father saw it. Her brother confirmed it. But some people seemed to miss it altogether. She never learned to trust them. She trusted anger. Anger always told the truth, didn't it?

She became adept at pretending but the more she had to pretend the less real she felt until she became utterly invisible. You could do whatever you wanted to her and she wouldn't even feel it.

She eventually ran away from home, tried to run away from herself, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't leave herself behind. One day someone observed to her that she was made for suffering, that she had a penchant for it like he'd never seen before. Although they weren't spoken in anger, she recognized his words as truth, and thus began the slow unraveling of the lie.

Years went by and she became more and more real. She never really went back home. She tried. But home was a place where she ceased to exist, it was inhabited by that girl she'd been, and she felt like she might lose herself to that girl again if she stayed too long near home.

That girl was me. It's still hard to look at her because she breaks my heart. Why do parents sometimes hate their children? Why do people hate one another? Where do those angry words come from? We can build and deconstruct people with our words. That old kids poem, the one about sticks and stones breaking bones while names will never hurt us? It's a lie. We shouldn't tell our children such things. Words are powerful.

I grew to love words, to live inside of them. Words capture truth and lies, reveal beauty and ugliness, create peace and cause wars. I know how to wound with words and I know how to heal. I pray that God will remind me, always, not to intentionally inflict pain.

Mother Theresa said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." Those are powerful words and true. When I get angry I say those words quietly to myself to remind me of our shared humanity.

If I could heal the world, I would.


©Just Kate, March 2010

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin