Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.
The first time I heard this, I didn’t know what to think of it.
I wondered if it was just another saying made for the sole purpose of making the bullies leave you alone on the playground during recess. I wondered if it was some secret psychological trick that made people be nice to you and solved all your self-esteem problems.
I wondered if this saying were true. Eventually, I heard it from other people. Friends, family, and even teachers. “Words can’t hurt you,” they told me. “They are nothing.”
And soon enough, I began believing it.
The words echoes in my ears like pounding drums that were ceaseless. And these words were engraved in my heart eternally.
In third grade a girl in my class tells me I am ugly.
“Stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” I tell her.
I walk away feeling proud like I hold the answer to the riddle of life.
At the age of 13 my best friend tells me she hates me.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” I say. But it does hurt. A little. Not enough to leave a mark, but enough to put doubt in your head.
Enough to be acknowledged, like that small voice inside yourself trying to tell you that no matter how hard you try to suppress something or deny it’s there, it still is. Sort of like a bee sting. And it goes away as quickly as it came.
I take a deep breath and the doubt goes away and I can’t feel the sting anymore. I forget about the voice inside and the hurt. I have the answer to the riddle in my grasp once more. I feel that proud feeling once again. I am superior.
In high school they call me a geek because I know that “There are 2 types of camels: dromedaries and Bactrians. Bactrians having 2 humps, Dromedaries having 1.”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I shrug it off, but the words they say pound in my ears like the others I have memorized so well.
The first guy I ever loved tells me he doesn’t feel the same way and that no one ever could.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I repeat this to myself a hundred- a thousand-a million times.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones… but… but stick and stones don’t exist. Only their words do. Only their words exist. Echoing within my very being.
They make an earthquake that opens up the ground and swallows me hole. They rain down on me so that I barely have the strength left to stand up straight. I hide inside myself to escape the pain. To escape the words that invade my thoughts and give me no rest.
Their words are double edged swords, their words are knives. They make me ache and bleed until finally I give up. But that’s not what we are supposed to feel like.
Because words don’t hurt, stick and stones do! If words can’t hurt me, why do I constantly search for an emotional Band-Aid to cover the pain?
I would rather take the sticks and the stones, if it meant that I would be whole once again. I would rather die a physical death a hundred times over before I lived just one life of emotional death.
I don’t want to be afraid to be seen. I don’t want to hide. The opinions of the strangers I pass on the street shouldn’t matter to me but they do. The jokes and the comments shouldn’t matter to me but they do.
I hate you. I hate you. Geek. Weirdo. Geek. I hate you. Weirdo. I hate you. Geek. I hate you. Weirdo…
“Sticks and stones may break my bones… but words can never hurt me.
Or can they?