#350 ~ Miscellaneous.1: Sticks and Stones

(Written during my month long absence)

Sticks and stones may break my bones – but more often than not words really do hurt me.

They can be pernicious and penetrating wriggling deep into the crevices of your heart, your inner sanctuary, the hidden caves that even you are fearful of entering. Do you ever do that thing, when you send off an email or a text, and you know that you’ll be disappointing someone – letting them down. Maybe you have to quit an activity, pull out of a race or even miss a class, because you’re about to fragment into a million shards of flesh and bone, and you know without your glasses you’ll never find all the pieces or the thread to stitch yourself back together again. You gather all the courage that lingers like used up dregs of tea in your none assertive self, and click send. Boom – into the ether it zooms.

You wait – linger, hover on the thresholds of depressive anticipation, and then you get a vibration, or a new email pops into your inbox, and you wait, tentatively. Doing everything you can to not click open, at last your finger slips, or the dredges of courage somehow coagulate and you stupidly think you’re brave.

Shot down like an enemy plane, even the most polite response blows you apart. And English people have a way, a very tricky and sly way of phrasing reproof in a cold, polite but detached manner which encourages you to implode on your own – with no promise whatsoever of Red Cross aid.

Once the initial damage has been done, and you realize what a complete failure and disappointment you are in the eyes of whoever you had to let down, when you are aware that your excuses seemed like puerile dribble in front of their retina, and they are not in the least bit understanding, but rather more incensed or even pissed off by/at you, you begin to wilt faster than watercress in a nursery kitchen. Even after you’ve rationalized and played their argument over, seen it from their side of the fence, and even, to a marginal degree, agreed with them, all the confidence to keep trundling along and getting the rest of the work completed evaporates.

You find yourself writing a blog post for a 365 day blog that you have neglected for these past 40 days or so, instead of focusing on the presentation on poetic symbolism which is due in 30minutes. You get frustrated, and begin scratching your well oiled scalp until the coconut lubricant builds up under your fingernails, and your head is once more exposed to the raging elements which have washed your university city in a cluster of unromantic water pellets and dirty puddles – and all the while you’ve allowed somebody to make you feel shit.

You are fearful of the impending meeting in 48hours, trying to work out whether you should try to bold face your’e way out, put on a nonchalant attitude of –  Dude, it was in the past, get over it, and hey, this is life, people be busy – but you know that any balls you might’ve had at conception certainly never dropped. You aren’t like that – you’re a crowd pleaser. At your best this is wonderful, at your worst it makes you cower, fearful of even attempting to be assertive. You hate letting people down, because you have sold yourself into the fetters of someone else’s opinion – someone you don’t even know well enough to truly care about, but because they have a title, you submit.

And you’re angry. Angry as you realize this is a constant feature of your character, but the whirlpool of depression still hangs round you, tainting the edges of your being. Could you have done it any differently? Well, no. You were exhausted, you woke up 20minutes into the class and hand’t done the reading or the essay that was due in 3 hours. It was never going to happen – but you still wish it had, even if it was just to please them. Will you make promises and denigrate yourself even further as a worthless fool who shouldn’t be participating the extra-curricular activities which actually give you a reason to live (and might also provide a job in the next few years), you probably will say Yes to that.

Will you always be fearful of someone else’s words? Or will you get to a point where you acknowledge them, but can ultimately move through them, the sticks and the stones to create your own words, your own works and one day, be the writer whose texts are being discussed – and smile benignly on the student who won’t hear them, as their too busy doing their own stuff.

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One thought on “#350 ~ Miscellaneous.1: Sticks and Stones

  1. Boye says:

    I find this very personal. Not just in the sense that this is you opening up and showing your vulnerability. But also that it is a vulnerability I share. When you feel you have let someone down and are hard on yourself as a result, is it because you have fallen short of the standards you set for yourself or because you are too timid to look them in the eye and “bold face” them? Do these standards exist because one enjoys the adulation of others, the reassurance that comes from it? If so, is this wrong? In her book, Casual Vacancy, the other JK explores this in the character “Fats” Wall who is derisive of anyone not authentic, and keeps pushing the envelope of socially acceptable behavior in search of this “authenticity”. What he finds is no deeper truth but the isolating emptiness of self indulgence and the fatal consequences of that (perhaps exaggerated in this case). On this side topic, I think Nicholas Hoult’s depiction of Tony Stonem in Skins Series 1&2 was a much stronger exploration of this theme.

    It appears the individual and society benefits when each member strives to earn and maintain the approval of others. (The devastating outcomes to marginalized individuals and minority communities when this is taken to the extreme continue to shape our history and current events unfortunately).

    Thanks for sharing.

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