I think about it sometimes, and I always end up forcing it back down, telling myself that “people go through so much worse than you” and “your story is nothing compared to what others have faced”… and although there may be some truth behind that, what I went through is unlike anything that anyone else has ever gone through, because every story is its own, and every story is different in its own manner.
I have been shaped by this event. Shaped into a form that no one else in this world reflects— it is a from unique to me, which only I can, and ever will, embody. We are all different shapes, ever growing and ever changing by these events in our lives.
It started when I was five. My dad left. He was in the military and was deployed to Afghanistan for the next year. I was living with my mother and older sister. I was starting grade one. I remember staying inside at recess to help the other kids in my class with math homework. I would go through step by step with them and explain how to add and subtract numbers. I was good at math. What I wasn’t good at was language, writing and reading, and I wasn’t good at piano either.
I remember it started out as just being a drag, I would come home after a full day of school and my mom would sit me down and have me work on my homework. Once that was done, I would have to move onto the extra spelling and reading exercises that she had gotten for me. She told me that I was slow. Once I had finished with the spelling drills (which always took me at least double the amount of time they were supposed to), I would move on to piano practice. At least an hour of going over warm up scales and drills and then onto the pieces that I was learning. I remember thinking “if I can’t read regular writing, how am I supposed to read foreign, wonky-looking music symbols?” She told me that I was slow.
I remember when it started to become more than just a drag. When I started dreading my walk home from school. I knew that when I got home I would be locked up for hours fighting with my mind to try and finish homework and exercises and piano drills, while all my friends were out running around and playing games.
I remember when it started to become more than just my mom telling me that I was slow. I remember her yelling at me, bringing me to tears, because I couldn’t remember which key on the piano matched up with the note called “mi.” I remember her hitting me because I couldn’t remember if the ‘i’ came before or after the ‘e’ in the word “friend.” I remember feeling hopeless, and sometimes I still do.
There aren’t words to describe the feeling of being hit, over and over again, by the person who is supposed to love and care for you the most in the world. I remember the tears and the pain and the frustration. I remember feeling such anger towards my mom. I remember hating home. Home… the place that is supposed to be a retreat from the stresses of school and work. For me, home was anywhere other than our house. Home was down the street at my best friends house, home was the playground at school, home was the classroom, home was the walk away from our house in the mornings. Home was anywhere I was away from her. And yet, I still loved her, and I still do.
Love is something we cannot choose and cannot explain. Love is far more powerful than hate. And I love her. And I forgive the years of pain, which I still carry with me today, as I walk through the world feeling — slow. Still remembering her words: “you are slow.” Still remembering the red palm marks which branded my face and back. Still remember every ounce of my body and soul aching. Aching from the relentless revile. Still remembering the anger and the fear. Still harbouring the powerless tears of the five year old girl who missed out on so many of the most important experiences of childhood.
Still… I am okay.