Friday, November 15, 2013

Are you a bucket filler or dipper? You may be surprised.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

That rhyme became my childhood mantra. Each time my insides were bruised by hurtful words I’d repeat it silently to myself, hoping it would liberate me from the pain. As a child it seemed like a practical way of dealing. Words can't physically hurt me - right? But the damage was happening on the inside.  The mantra wasn't complete. It didn't work because it was only half true. 

Dad once told me kids made fun of his ‘banana’ nose and Dumbo ears when he was young. A shy Italian immigrant, he was the bullied kid, the target of ridicule. Dad never admitted it, but I knew.  He probably became an expert at ignoring it – just like he told me, “Just ignore them Valerie.” I envisioned him a lonely fourth grader singing that silly jingle to himself as he fought back tears.  As his nine-year old daughter it was obvious those names still held welts under his skin. Practically twenty-five years later the torment was still in his eyes. “Whoever made up that stupid saying is a total idiot,” I thought.