I believed them when they told me,
That sticks and stones may break my bones
But words will never hurt me.
Then they proceeded to body shame, smart shame, and slut shame me.
They laughed, and hi-fived each other as they came up with new ways to name me,
“Chubby, cry-baby, childish, bitchy, slut, virgin… virgin, slut.”
I recited the old sticks and stones rhyme,
While I reminded myself all the time,
That their words could not hurt me.
But they did.
Cause “they” were the architects of my identity
And their words were the sticks and stones that built my insecurities.
Their words were sharp as sticks and hard as stones,
And although they didn’t break my bones
They formed cracks in the foundation of my confidence,
And I told myself that once I grow up, it will be different.
But I grew up and a different “they” told me
That the power of the pen is mightier than the sword,
And I believed them too.
As they told me that there was only one way to write, their way, and their way alone.
That their rules of grammar and punctuation were set in stone:
They could not be broken.
I believed them.
I believed them
As they made me a devout follower of an institution that taught me of the West than of my own.
As they consciously let me put ink to paper to write of America’s first president than my own.
And I wrote, and I wrote, until of the West I could write no more.
And I wrote, and I wrote, until ink to paper I could do no more.
Finally, I came to the land of which I wrote so much,
Only to be told, by yet another “they” that words are a weapon.
I believe them.
Nothing like the old days when you could see the “theys” as they said their fill,
Dishing it out, serving it cold, murdering the soul, over-kill.
Words are now a weapon shot behind the veil of internet anonymity.
“You unlovable bitch”
“You should kill yourself”
And another teenager in America has committed suicide.
And all the spectators on the internet wail,
“You’re too soft”
“Take a joke!”
And yet another cyber “they” walks in our midst.
Stabbing his metaphoric sticks at people whose faces he’ll never know.
Victims of the vowels and consonants used to fire at them over the internet.
And while the old adage is scientifically true,
Society has proved it to be flawed.
You see, sticks and stones can break my bones,
But the man who said this first got it wrong, because words can break me too.
They can put me down, and make me weak,
Tear me at the seams until what is left are threads of what I used to be.
Tracy Eric Writes… About the power of words.