“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”, have you ever sung this little ditty? How many people really believe this? I do not know anyone that is immune from the sting of hurtful words. I can still remember my parent telling me something when I was in 7th grade – I know they did not really mean it; we all say things in the heat of the moment, yet those words are burned into my mind and heart. I want people to stop saying and using the r-word – the use of the word is mean spirited. I constantly hear adults and youth throwing this word around as if it were an innocent word but it is not, it is a word with power. People that are intellectually disabled are not always able to speak up and defend themselves when someone uses the r-word but those of us that can speak up should. Using the r-word is derogatory, it is hateful, it is sad, and it is unacceptable. When a child is born there are so many hopes and dreams attached with the birth, but when a child is diagnosed has intellectually disabled those hopes and dreams are changed forever. Loving someone that is intellectually challenged is wonderful; there is so much joy and unconditional love between the child, parent, siblings, and friends. That is why I am astonished at the negative use of the r-word and do not understand why it is thrown around as an insult. It is not okay to use derogatory words to name call or to call yourself a name. Words do indeed hurt. Every time I hear someone use a derogatory word, I cringe and my heart breaks for the person that is being called the name and the person doing the name-calling. Obviously, the person doing the name-calling is a bully and probably so filled with hate that they may never change. However, if there is a chance that the person could stop and think, they might just realize that they wrong; maybe there is a chance that they can stop spreading hurtful words. My wish is that people could be more tolerant and respect each other rather than being hurtful.
I have a very good friend that I have known all my life; I will call her Nicole for the sake of her anonymity. Often Nicole discusses with me the regret that she feels every day about the hurt she may have caused her children. You see my friend like all young people made a few poor choices when she was on her own. I might add that she was on her own way too soon; she had her own apartment, by the time she was a senior in high school. She went to high school for two hours a day, attended college fulltime, and worked. Some might say wow, that was admirable, and others would say that was tough, for a kid to have to do, to work, and support themselves. I tend to think it was too much for her that led her down the path of a few poor choices. She dated and soon married a gorgeous guy with a terrible and abusive temper. My friend struggled every day to find a way to escape this marriage but he had isolated her, moved her away from friends, and family, and put all the bank accounts in his name. My friend suffered terrible isolation with no one to turn to and no money of her own to leave. By this time, she had a baby who she had to protect. To me looking at this I think my friend was ill equipped to protect herself let alone her child, but she preserved through bruises and broken bones, until one day when she developed a plan to escape. I admire her for leaving with nothing but her child. Nicole suffered from very low self-esteem, though she went on to college and joined the Army Guard, she still was still haunted by her abusive husband who visited her, or I should say cornered her, but she stayed strong and found a way to get away from him each time; she did what she had to do to get away. She met a guy again who she thought respected her but in truth as time went on he turned out to be verbally abusive which continued to eat at her self-esteem. You see women that are abused often fall into another abusive relationship. During this brief time, unbeknownst to her she was pregnant, and she would not become aware of this for several months. You can see that Nicole had many obstacles, as all young women encounter, but the worse, was yet to come. Nicole’s mother came to visit her but while she was on the highway, her tire blew out and she wrecked. Her mother was taken to a local hospital, had surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, but she was brain dead and a decision was made to take her off life support. Nicole was devastated as was her son who had been very close to his grandmother. Nicole noticed that her son started acting odd, trying to hurt himself, hearing voices, and seeing things – he was only five. Nicole sought out help and her son was diagnosed with posttraumatic syndrome and given therapy and meds. Nicole decided to breakup with her boyfriend who was so very verbally abusive. Good you say and so did I, but during this time it occurred to Nicole that hey, my body feels odd and she had not had her menstrual cycle for several months – she realized she was pregnant. What to do, she had a son who was suffering terribly, she was broke, she did not want to tell her ex-husband that she was pregnant , so she decided to take on these problems by herself. Her son’s behavior became more and more bizarre and difficult to deal with. At five, he was hurting himself and other people; he was later diagnosed with a much more severe mental disorder that generally happens in young adulthood. The news was devastating to my friend and at the same time, she was told that her baby was not moving and appeared to be very ill. A decision was made to have a caesarian so that the baby could be treated. The baby was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and was not expected to live. Yet the baby did live but had many problems with her hearing and development. My friend went through many years of helping her children in every way she knew as they were in and out of the hospital or in therapy. Many people on the outside- looking –in criticized her, and made her feel awful t at times. Mental illness is such a terrible disease as it torments the person that suffers from it, and it is difficult for the family. My friend struggled with her own grief and with growing up, she is a productive adult that has worked hard to handle her life with grace and put away the criticisms from family, friends, and even strangers, to forgive them, and move on. But Nicole struggles with her son who is angry at her and blames her for everything bad in his life and for all the hospitalizations he endured as a child and her daughter recently told her she was a lonely kid because Nicole worked so may hours. I do not know what to say to Nicole because her heart breaks each time her children say discouraging things. She realizes that they are young and do not realize that Nicole did her best, that each choice she made for them was to help them not to hurt them and that Nicole herself was a child that had to grow into adulthood raising her children on her own just like many other people do. I pray that Nicole finds peace and that one day her children realize how much she loved them and that maybe some things she did were not the best but it was not that she meant any ill or harm to them but she acted on eh advice of the Doctors that treated her two children one which suffered from mental illness and the other that suffered physical. I also pray that there is a cure for mental illness but until then, that society develops a better understanding of the struggles the mentally ill go through and become supportive.