Flesh from my skin;
Bone, you daft;
Dark as night,
As death crawls,
Seeping into the pores;
My wells deeply contaminated
Spread like long shadows;
Seeping of the Never, bedside sketchbook, digital drawing, 7 x 5 in (cm)
Sometimes, life grips to the tail of our yesterday and without a word leaves us mute; locked in our feeling of “I must do this on my own.” Locked in the voices that whip me with shame and embarrassment. I am better than this! I can do this. I am not stupid or dumb! I am not lazy or unmotivated! Hear my wet words; muffled and damp from my waters falling; tears within the secrecy of the I can’t.
I don’t know what “it” is; exactly. I have grown into realizing the “it” is probably a mixture of the effects of trauma past and learning disabilities. Where I once worked myself into illness and hospitalization trying to meet you where you need me to be, and I started to go there again without a blink; I choose not to go there. I choose, and truth is, I also do not have the energy to try.
My illness is what it is; I am still battling this cold/infection. I am depleted. I am not able to take care of all my responsibilities. I ask patience. Word/Image fill my soul.
I pursued working with an organization to help on the business end of business. Getting further than I ever had, I of course thought; I can do this. Truth is I cannot.
I can’t read the business plan outline let alone comprehend how to do this? Not an intellectual issue. I have had this issue my entire life; an embarrassing barrier in school and my attempts at regular employment. I spent a great deal of energy to hide it. I can do this; Connie, you can do this; figure it out.
I did create my own work arounds. Nobody seemed the wiser until college. The advisor didn’t know what to do with my test results. she said, it doesn’t make sense. You comprehend more than you actually read and that is not possible. I was in the bottom percentile in reading speed and the top in comprehension.
I stared and spoke with my stoic self, for I knew this answer. Apples and Oranges. You have one test in which we circle which word we are at when you say stop (reading speed). Another test in which at the top is a paragraph and multiple choice questions following (comprehension). Apples and Oranges.
You assume I actually read that paragraph. If you made me do that and then go through the questions I would never make it. I can no more tell you comprehensively what it is that paragraph. I can, however skip to the questions, and treat it as a word search puzzle. I don’t “read” anything.
She said, well, clearly you don’t need study skills class which is what this is designed to catch students who need help. I said okay.
Middle school I was simultaneously in honors English/literature and next hour I was in remedial reading. What can I say, I am a girl who has been obsessed with words since I was little, yet, words as words are actually very difficult for me to use as school and work need of me.
I am girl who is good at complex math and physics yet struggles to open a simple piece of mail or compose email or maintain her own blog/website.
In kindergarten I pitched a big fit when I wanted to be at the table with the kids who had recipe boxes of words. I threw a tantrum until I had my recipe boxes of words. I told them, I know those, those are words; I can write them, I love them, I want more of them please!!!! I begged.
No, Connie those are not for you. I pitched my fit until I proved, yes, they are for me. I already have basic writing abilities.
Yes, I struggled to put them in sentences, I failed diagramming sentences. Yet, my favorite two books are actually first, Mr. Thesaurus and Second, Mr. Dictionary.
I am the kid who could have told you where to find the answer (its half way down on the right side of the page) and yet somehow blind if you make me actually try and read and tell you the answer.
Fourth Grade, Mrs. Campbell, she gave me a gift. One day, she said, tell the story of the words. I did. I could read aloud in animation and inflection and body the words. After I could not necessarily tell you what I had just read, but other people could. In fact, as an adult, it translated into being a good narrator, reader in church or public. People enjoying listening to me speak.
Even if I had to spend hours afterwards on my own, doing my thing, in order to soak into my bones what I had read aloud so eloquently.
I doodle and fidget in class or on the phone to soak in the material. It is a lot of energy to spend figuring out what it takes to get by in this world when your brain just doesn’t fit in.
I loved hanging out in the Rainbow Room in Elementary school because I fit in better. I felt safe and as though the kids there got me. I didn’t have to work so hard to fit in. I didn’t feel awkward there.
In the Rainbow Room I didn’t feel awkward. Then I felt weird. How come there is “Rainbow Room” and “the rest of the students”. What is the difference?
Forth Grade, Mrs. Campbell introduced us to Shell Silverstein. Honestly I was an adult before I understood the word poetry. And until now, I didn’t understand or label myself a poet; still don’t call myself a writer.
I don’t know what I am. Does it matter? what/who I am?
All this spilling from my eyes over words, a business plan template and examples. and being asked to do it. I break down mentally/emotionally. My sweet husband at my side loving me as I am; and telling me its okay to say no. I don’t have to figure anything out.
I tell him I feel like I am spinning as I did in attempting regular employment. He nods. agrees. He doesn’t understand why I feel the need to figure “it” out, why I have the obvious need to prove; I can do this. When clearly, there is something about my brain that no matter which road I take ends the same way. Connie, hiding, getting soaked in her water, falling.
I find myself shaking and in tears. I simply can’t;
and I choose not to even try. I have enough. I have been happy and fairly free of attempting to fit in.
There is where I wish to remain. How easily I assume I am doing “it” wrong. I am less than, I am not as good as, and I must figure out how to do it right.
Because if I don’t I am going to be in trouble, I have no worth, and that is never a good thing. I choose rest. I choose to allow myself to grieve, to have anxiety, and to say, no, I don’t have to figure it out. I can just keep being Connie. It actually is safe to be who I am.
paint much love, always,
Connie Karleta Sales
a.k.a. This Crooked Little Flower