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  • When I was a kid,

  • I used to think that pork chops and karate chops

  • were the same thing.

  • I thought they were both pork chops.

  • And because my grandmother thought it was cute

  • and because they were my favourite

  • she let me keep doing it.

  • Not really a big deal.

  • One day,

  • before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees

  • I fell out of a tree

  • and bruised the right side of my body

  • I didn't want to tell my grandmother about it

  • because I was scared I'd get in trouble

  • for playing somewhere that I shouldn't have been.

  • A few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise

  • and I got sent to the principal's office.

  • From there I was sent to another small room

  • with a really nice lady

  • who asked me all kinds of questions

  • about my life at home.

  • I saw no reason to lie.

  • As far as I was concerned

  • life was pretty good

  • I told her, "Whenever I'm sad

  • my grandmother gives me karate chops."

  • This led to a full scale investigation

  • and I was removed from the house for three days...

  • until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises.

  • News of this silly little story quickly spread through the school

  • and I earned my first nickname:

  • Pork Chop.

  • To this day...

  • I hate pork chops.

  • I'm not the only kid

  • who grew up this way.

  • Surrounded by people who used to say

  • that rhyme... about sticks and stones

  • As if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called,

  • and we got called them all.

  • So we grew up believing no one

  • would ever fall in love with us.

  • That we'd be lonely forever.

  • That we'd never meet someone

  • to make us feel like the sun

  • was something they built for us in their tool shed.

  • So broken heart strings bled the blues

  • as we tried to empty ourselves

  • so we would feel nothing.

  • Don't tell me that hurts less than a broken bone.

  • That an ingrown life is something surgeons can cut away

  • That there's no way for it to metastasize It does.

  • She was eight years old...

  • Our first day of grade three

  • when she got called "ugly."

  • We both got moved to the back of the class

  • so we would stop getting bombarded by spit balls

  • But the school halls were a battleground

  • where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day.

  • We used to stay inside for recess

  • because outside was worse.

  • Outside we'd have to rehearse running away

  • or learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were there.

  • In grade five they taped a sign to her desk that read

  • "Beware of Dog."

  • To this day,

  • despite a loving husband,

  • She doesn't think she's beautiful

  • because of a birthmark

  • that takes up a little less than half of her face.

  • Kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer

  • that someone tried to erase

  • but couldn't quite get the job done.

  • And they'll never understand

  • that she's raising two kids

  • whose definition of beauty

  • begins with the word "Mom."

  • Because they see her heart

  • before they see her skin. That she's only ever always been amazing.

  • He was a broken branch

  • grafted onto a different family tree.

  • Adopted

  • but not because his parents opted for a different destiny.

  • He was three when he became a mixed drink

  • of one part left alone and two parts tragedy.

  • Started therapy in 8th grade.

  • Had a personality made up of tests and pills.

  • Lived like the uphills were mountains

  • and the downhills were cliffs.

  • Four fifths suicidal,

  • a tidal wave of anti-depressants,

  • and an adolescence of being called "Popper."

  • One part because of the pills

  • and ninety nine parts because of the cruelty.

  • He tried to kill himself in grade ten

  • when a kid who could still go home to mom and dad

  • had the audacity to tell him "get over it."

  • As if depression is something that can be remedied

  • by any of the contents found in a first aid kit.

  • To this day,

  • he is a stick of TNT lit from both ends,

  • could describe to you in detail the way

  • the sky bends

  • in the moments before it's about to fall

  • and despite an army of friends

  • who all call him an inspiration,

  • he remains a conversation piece between people

  • who can't understand

  • sometimes becoming drug free

  • has less to do with addiction

  • and more to do with sanity.

  • We weren't the only kids who grew up this way.

  • To this day

  • kids are still being called names.

  • The classics were

  • "Hey stupid"

  • "Hey spaz"

  • Seems like each school has an arsenal of names

  • getting updated every year

  • and if a kid breaks in a school

  • and no one around chooses to hear

  • do they make a sound?

  • Are they just the background noise of a soundtrack stuck on repeat

  • when people say things like "kids can be cruel"?

  • Every school was a big top circus tent

  • and the pecking order went from acrobats to lion tamers,

  • from clowns to carnies.

  • All of these were miles ahead of who we were.

  • We were freaks.

  • Lobster claw boys and bearded ladies

  • Oddities. Juggling depression and loneliness,

  • playing Solitaire, spin the bottle,

  • Trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves

  • and heal.

  • But at night,

  • while the others slept

  • We kept walking the tightrope.

  • It was practice

  • and yeah, some of us fell.

  • But I want to tell them

  • that all of this

  • is just debris,

  • leftover when we finally decide to smash

  • all the things we thought we used to be.

  • And if you can't see anything beautiful about yourself,

  • get a better mirror.

  • Look a little closer.

  • Stare a little longer.

  • Because there's something inside you

  • that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit.

  • You built a cast around your broken heart

  • and signed it yourself. You signed it,

  • "they were wrong."

  • Because maybe you didn't belong to

  • a group or clique.

  • Maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything.

  • Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth

  • to show and tell but never told

  • because how can you hold your ground

  • if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it?

  • You have to believe that they were wrong

  • They have to be wrong. Why else would we still be here?

  • We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog

  • because we see ourselves in them.

  • We stem from a root planted in the belief

  • That we are not what we were called

  • We are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on a highway.

  • And if in some way we are,

  • don't worry.

  • We only got out to walk and get gas.

  • We are graduating members from the class of

  • "we made it."

  • Not the faded echoes of voices crying out

  • "names will never hurt me."

  • Of course, they did.

  • But our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act

  • that has less to do with pain...

  • and more to do with beauty.

When I was a kid,

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B1 INT US pork broken grade day grew grandmother

To This Day Project - Shane Koyczan

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    VoiceTube   posted on 2013/03/06
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