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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.
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To This Day Project - Shane Koyczan

14163 Folder Collection
VoiceTube published on March 6, 2013
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