small

They don’t teach you not to be small.
I’ve been in a million classrooms that teach us not to get too big and make sure we exercise enough.
Never have I heard, “Don’t get too small.”
Never have I heard, “Make sure not to run too hard.”
Never have I heard a word about mental illness.

 

Age six: OCD sets in and I feel sick.
At ten, the depression hits and I’m sure I’m a sinner heading straight for hell because they haven’t talked about this is school and they’re certainly not talking about it in the church.

 

You can’t cry for help when you don’t know the words.
I couldn’t tell my parents I was depressed and suicidal because those are curse words in the elementary school system.
They flood my head with “stay thin”, and “work out”, and facts about physical maladies,
but I’ve yet to hear a word about the beasts inside me, devouring my brain,
making me turn the lights onandoffandonandoffandonandoff.
Because no one wants to believe in mental illness.
My mom didn’t, as I tweaked the angle of the book at my bedside each night.
My dad didn’t when I sobbed my cheeks raw Sunday nights, des[erate not to meet the looming threat of school the next morning.
My peers didn’t when they saw how I would panic when the teacher left the room or I thought the door might be locked.
Never did they say a word

 

I learned you have to scream to be heard, and not just with your mouth,
but with you body.
Cuts up each wrist, at least.
A body whittled into something out of an ASPCA commercial.
Baggy clothes, all black.I sanded myself down until my blueprints were visible and still nobody heard me.
Instead they praised me as a seraph or a goddess because I was small.
I listened to my teachers.

 

I am not small.
I have almost the same DNA as an ape and a banana,
I can swing through trees for miles on end and I have a heck of a lot of potassium in me,
And I will not conform the beating wonder within my chest
or the anatomical beauty beneath my skin to a five letter word like
small.

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