With These Four Words

how many times must you fall
before you can’t get back up?

you’re six and they tell you
– don’t be so sensitive –
– don’t be so sensitive –
stop taking things so seriously
you’re too much you’re too small
don’t be who you are
– just spit it out –
– just spit it out –
stop with the frown stop with the pout
just talk, talk, talk
stop sputtering stop muttering
and you’re six and all you’re hearing is
you’re too much you’re too small
and you look in a mirror but there’s no you at all
and you take that glass and you build up a wall
to keep them out to keep you in
to keep you safe inside your skin
– don’t be so sensitive –
– just spit it out –
now you’re within and they’re without

how many times must you fall
before you can’t get back up?

you’re fourteen and you’ve forgotten about the glass
you trail through the halls on the way to class
you lower your eyes you drag your feet
you’re hungry but you don’t dare eat
your eyes glaze over but no one sees
so your mind starts telling you stories
you’re narrator you’re protagonist
and you write your own book
and you walk through the pages
and you walk through the pages
and you think it’s your fault
and you think it’s your fault
and you think
– don’t be so sensitive –
– just spit it out –
– don’t be so sensitive –
– just spit it out –
until eventually
the fog, it lifts by itself
and you rise up you rise up
but the glass is still there
only you don’t know it
and the narrator laughs
because you just don’t get it

how many times must you fall
before you can’t get back up?

you’re twenty and it’s second semester
and your heart gets colder with the weather
and you wonder why you even bother
when the wind, it knocks you down
but you’re too thin now to hear yourself fall
and you’re too much you’re too small
but you still exist within that wall
which you’ve certainly forgotten is there
because it’s clear
you’re in college and they give you words to describe it
depression, they tell you
but all you hear is
– just spit it out –
– don’t be so sensitive –
– just spit it out –
so they give you drugs and you pick yourself back up
and you brush yourself off
and you think –
i guess i’ll be better now that they know what’s wrong with me
and the narrator laughs at you
because you just don’t get it

how many times must you fall
before you can’t get back up?

you’re twenty-four and you’ve been married a year
you think, there’s no more need to live in fear
and you tell yourself you’re happy
and that everything’s going to be okay
until one day feeling great becomes a mixed state
but you don’t know it then
and you break
with mistake after mistake after mistake
and you don’t know how much more you can take
until they tell you, bipolar
and they give you drugs and you pick yourself back up
and you brush yourself off
and you think –
i guess i’ll be better now that they know what’s wrong with me
and the narrator laughs at you
because you just don’t get it
and that’s when the excuses come flying in
that you were too sensitive that you couldn’t spit it out
because bipolar
that’s what it’s about
you were too much you were too small
and we did our best, and we didn’t know
because bipolar
and you hear all this and still
you’ve forgotten about the wall

how many times must you fall
before you can’t get back up?

you’re thirty-two and you have this diagnosis
that explains everything that ever there was
– don’t be so sensitive –
– just spit it out –
that’s what it was all about
that must be what it was about
until you hear a knocking
like a rat-a-tap-tap
and the narrator says – what’s that?
and you hear it again
rat-a-tap-tap rat-a-tap-tap
– don’t be so sensitive –
– don’t be so sensitive –
rat-a-tap-tap
and you move in closer to look out the window
it’s inches from your face and
rat-a-tap-tap rat-a-tap-tap
– don’t be so sensitive –
rat-a-tap-tap rat-a-tap-tap
– don’t be so sensitive –
rat-a-tap-tap rat-a-tap-tap rat-a-tap-
crash!
just like that, it breaks
just like that
a 26-year-old defense mechanism
comes crashing down at your feet
and you finally remember the wall you had built
to keep them out to keep you in
you had written yourself into a book
to protect you to protect you
until it became your own prison
and shattering was inevitable
so you sweep up the pieces and you pick yourself back up
and you brush yourself off
and you think –
i guess i’ll be better now that we know what’s wrong with me
and the narrator laughs at you
because you just don’t get it

how many times must you fall
before you can’t get back up?

you’re thirty-eight
and for six years you’ve been fine
in fact, you’re at your prime
giving of your time to people who have it rough
who don’t hear enough
that they do matter
that they do matter
and you’re thirty-eight
and you’re feeling great
until you hear four new words
four new words
and then you crash
and there’s backlash
and it’s because of four new words that you heard
and they were
– emotional abuse emotional neglect –
and you never realized how much of an effect
exists in only four words
only four words:

emotional abuse emotional neglect
too much too small
don’t be so sensitive
build up that wall
just spit it out
walk through the pages
don’t be so sensitive
don’t be so sensitive
don’t be so sensitive
don’t be so sensitive
don’t be so sensitive

and you were six.

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4 Comments

  1. Billye Roberts May 8, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    I had seven words: You’re fat. You’re stupid. You’re a failure. Here are three words I gave myself: Never give up. It isn’t that it goes away. It’s just that you find a door and walk through it and close it behind you. I hope you find your door.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous May 18, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you for this. It really makes a difference.

      Reply
  2. Rachel May 16, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    You wrote this so well. I can feel your journey
    May Gd bless you

    Reply
    1. Anonymous May 28, 2018 at 10:36 pm

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply

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