"God may forgive sins, he said, but awkwardness has no forgiveness in heaven or earth." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Great endowments often announce themselves in youth in the form of singularity and awkwardness." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There are reasons why at times my interactions with people seem strained. I say the wrong things. I limp through my social circles, everyone making way for my awkward presence. I bring up subjects deep and poignant. I provoke thoughts, thoughts you are not accustomed to. I speak in a way you find odd. My accent tainted, not pure, not from any one place. The same with my mannerisms. I fidget with my hands in a crowd, unsure of how to hold them. I wonder if the way I'm standing is threatening. If a purse is left close to me, I walk away, believing you'll accuse me if something is missing. Trying to drive with a thousand choices that are made instantly, provokes these social swerves that seem ungainly and make others uncomfortable.
Do you know that this is not me? This is not how I am, constrained to behave oddly, chained to a limp of the soul and mind. Do you know I'm injured? Do you know I almost died because of love? Do you know I fought for my life many times, not from just physical beatings but mental torture and illness? Do you know that I've argued for my release from beatings given, many, many times?
Do you know how these scars make it hard to smile? The hardened skin refusing to release the joy struggling to stay alive in the poisonous atmosphere of my melancholic soul? Do you know the thousand thoughts I think just to go out the door? Checking my clothes, the color of my skin, the dark circles under my eyes, the length of my nose, the girth of my belly? Do you know that walking to my car creates anxiety? I grab my keys like a weapon; I make sure I always have a knife, though these things have never delivered me from violence or comforted me. Do you know that I struggle with violence a hundred times an hour? Not only my self-imposed violence toward me or others, but of the perceived violence I see directed at me in every face?
Do you know that I always try to help others? Do you know though having been burned 99 times out of hundred, I still reach out, thinking that everyone believes I am a sucker? Thinking that they all talk among themselves, working out plans to rob me of my time, energy, and money? Do you know that I know you are using me? Do you know that I still give in spite of this? There are reasons, stop and consider why.
Take time to realize that the people you know and see everyday are hurt and wounded. Look out from your struggle and know that a friend, a family member, a bartender, a cashier, is on their last thread of hope, wanting to die from the pain they feel. Reach out with compassion on those who irritate you, understand that the scars they bear make it difficult to respond with graciousness toward you and your problems. We are all in this together, make room in the survival raft for those drowning in despair. Act without requiring a suicide note or a midnight call from the police before you reach out...
Also published in Broowaha Magazine