[Image by octoberday4U at DeviantART]
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me
I remember reciting that over and over with Sister Francesca in Kindergarten.
I used to think it was true. I used to think that it didn’t matter what people said to me, what they called me, how they labeled me, because none of it could ever hurt as much as a barrage of sticks and stones.
I didn’t realise way back then that the whole thing was one of those analogies adults often have for children to make their lives more bearable.
Sticks and stones are really not something to worry about. How often does it happen that someone comes after you with a handful of stones or aims at you with a sharp little stick?
It’s the words that can bring you to your knees.
Sometimes it’s possible to detach yourself from words that when released in the act of speaking fall and tumble like autumn leaves. Sometimes, if luck holds out, those words can be avoided completely. But sometimes words can almost swallow your soul.
A letter from my Dad came. Unexpected. It was fine at first the way aspirin dissolved in a glass tastes and then that little gritty bit at the end comes that makes you grimace.
I have reread that letter one hundred times in the hope that it won’t mean what it actually means, but the words are there, as permanent as a tattoo.
I have known for a while that I have disappointed my father. His expectations are high – he would only have been satisfied with a Nobel prize or a cure for cancer. Lil’ ole me, well, I don’t have those kind of chops.
But is it necessary to say it or write it? The way I look at it is that most of us are just trying to do the best that we can. It’s harder than we all think to traverse the obstacles that are thrown up in front of us. Getting through each day is sometimes enough to be proud of. And money and all that it brings? Well, it’s only money.
My husband is upset. There were several none too subtle barbs aimed at him. I can take whatever my Dad throws at me. I am well seasoned in the theatre of dodging bullets, but my husband is not so practiced.
My father’s letter, when opened, released words more painful than any barrage of sticks and stones. We are weighed down under the debris. Stunned. Heavy. Our limbs are not our own. When someone tells you what they really think about your life you are ill-prepared for the torpor of the aftermath. I can crush the sticks and stones to dust under my boots, but the words remain; a gasp in the dark.
Tomorrow I’m not going to check the mail at all.