Ten yo: Mummy, why is that lady walking like that?
Mummy: She’s drunk.
Oi! Are you drunk?
The voices encircle me. Up the road, on the road that I live on, in town, on my way to school. I think I used to drown them out; repress them. I notice them much more now. The above, last week’s collection.
I hate that I can’t hide the disability; walk normally. My ankle-foot orthosis is still in for repair: my walking sucks. People’s interpretation of it sucks. I can’t walk properly. For the record, I am effectively, teetotal.
People stare. I remember them staring when I was a child, just learning to walk. Sometimes, they stared more.
Like in the adventure playground, at Black Park. They’re staring because, aged eight, I’m in the middle of a meltdown, because I can’t get on to, let alone across, the chain bridge. I am screaming for all I am worth. I’ve lost control.
I’m screaming twenty years later in psychodrama, just as a child; with the scene laid out before me. My brother has already completed the adventure course. He wants to help. I am infuriated because he can do all the things, and I am older, and I can’t. I push him away. But I’m not allowed to be angry. But I am boiling with rage. But it’s not allowed.
I am evil and horrid and this is what I am really like; not the sweetness and light that my teachers see. I am bad to the core.
But you weren’t bad and you weren’t naughty: you needed something you didn’t have.
I breathe. The messages from my parents are ingrained. How can it not be bad to lose control? I breathe. I am trying to learn that it is OK to be angry. That containing my anger as a small child was not my responsibility. Being angry, and having no means to express it, was not my fault. I am not intrinsically bad. I feel bad. And I am hurting and I am pathetically exhausted. But the hurt is heard. And held. And it is safe. And things can be OK again.