It feels like her brain constantly resets.
That's the best way I can understand it.
To watch the ones you love become
different people is disheartening.
It's the disease they have that causes
them to revert to children or toddlers
depending on how bad it is.
You love them but it's difficult to watch.
It's difficult to hear them repeat themselves
and wonder who they are and why they're here.
It's like their brain has returned to factory settings,
only remember the bare minimum
when it comes to those they love
because it's stored in the cloud of their brain,
which will eventually fade away.
The intention of the message is lost,
causing both sides to bicker and banter.
Perspective impacts opinion and causes
emotions to cloud one's judgment.
Person one says something to person two.
Person two takes what person one said to heart
and accuses person one of meaning something
they didn't because the communication wasn't clear.
This causes both parties to escalate their stances,
which leads to getting outside parties involved
because the communication is seemingly too messy
for either party to resolve the issue on their own.
Outsiders don't know the full story,
and often their biases show
who they're for and who they're against
within moments of hearing one perspective.
It's a case of misunderstanding,
when someone's been hurt too many times,
they can't speak without pain being present,
which causes nothing to be solved.
When I was a kid, I used to express my opinion to the other kids as though what I had to say would somehow be useful to them. I was speaking in the way children often copy adults. I didn’t know the gravity of the words I was using. I just knew they made me feel like what I was saying held meaning. I felt important when giving life advice to other 6th graders on the playground next to the jungle gym as one girl hung upside down on a steel bar.
I can’t recall what I said to those kids but the feeling that my words could mean something to others stuck. Besides the fact that I have a stutter, I thought if I paid close enough attention to what the adults around me were saying, I would be able to harness that meaningful feeling while handing out life advice I knew nothing about.
In retrospect, it’s clear to me that I was always meant to be a writer. As a kid and throughout my teen years, I would make up stories in my head. The stories began with me doing things I would never be able to do in my real life, like owning a silver Volkswagen Beetle at age 9 and drive it around the neighborhood, be best friends with Britney Spears and Hilary Duff, or have a horse of my own that I’d love and take a care of. As I got older, I fell out of the stories as the protagonist. Instead, I would choose other people to be my characters and come up with stories that way.
I think I’ve subconsciously always tried to feel as though my words mean something. Not because of how I speak, but because I’ve always known that words are powerful. What you say or write can impact someone else’s life. Words allow you to express what you’re feeling and what you think, it’s kind of mindblowing when you stop and think about it.
With my writing, my main objective is to get people to slow down and think outside their perspective. I want people to appreciate life more because it is so precious. People can get lost in the busyness of their daily lives. Words are powerful. How you use them will impact whoever comes into contact with what you share. Remember that.
One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.
One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.
One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.
Dear 15-year-old Kelly,
Ten years from now, you’ll be finishing up your bachelor’s degree in English after years of trying to figure out what you want to do. You will be a published writer. You don’t realize this now but writing will become one of the most important parts of your life. Writing will help you grapple with your stutter. Writing will help you stop running away from the parts of yourself that you don’t like and refuse to accept now. Writing will help you figure out feelings you’re currently pushing down.
You’re about to embark on a journey that will last until you’re 20. Its already begun but you don’t know how it will skyrocket when you choose not to encounter your authentic self, your stutter, your sexuality, and other things. You unknowingly decide to run away from yourself because your scared of being more different than you already feel you are. You’re already feeling anxiety linger beneath the surface of your skin. When you begin running away from yourself, your anxiety will increase to an overwhelming level. You will wake up every morning, terrified to face the day. Your heightened anxiety will stay with you for the remainder for your teenage years. You know you’re different but you choose to see yourself as normal in aspects that you’re now experiencing because of medication. You still stutter even though you’re fluent. Just because you decide to look the other way doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But it’s how you’re coping with all that has happened to you.
The stories you choose to tell yourself now will shift as you get older. It’s only when you begin to tell yourself stories with truth in them five years from now will you stop running away yourself. You will realize how tired you are jumping from one thing to another and running around in circles for so many years. You will also realize how much of your teenage years you were mentally absent because of fear and anxiety. Fear to embrace all the parts of yourself that aren’t considered normal by societal standards. But your normal always has been and always will be a little different from everyone else’s normal.
You will be okay. I promise.
On Saturday, the 25th of August, I will be turning 25 years old. My golden birthday. For those of you who don’t know my story, I’ll give the short version. I was supposed to be born on November 25th. My mom had a liver transplant when she was 20 weeks pregnant with me on July 1st. I was born at 27 weeks on August 25th, 1993. I weighed 2 lbs 2oz when I was born and dropped to 1 lb 7 oz shortly after. I had to spend the first five months of my lifein the hospital and I was on oxygen for the first two years of my life.
Everyone who I have told this story to over the years has responded by saying I am a Miracle Baby. I’ve known this my entire life. It’s a weird thing to live my life knowing all that of this traumatic and scary events happened that I have no recollection of. How I spent the first five months in an incubator. How it must have been for my parents to see me so helpless. How nerve-wracking it must have been to have a child who was going to have challenges beyond their control. How worried my parents were about my later development of both walking and speech. There were so many things that could have gone wrong.
I know how lucky I am to be here. I know that had it been just a few years earlier, I would not have survived. I arrived at just the right moment where medical technology knew how to help premature babies have a good chance of surviving. Though I’ve developed later than most people throughout my entire life and I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that began as bronchopulmonary dysplasia when I was an infant, I’m so fortunate to not have any serious problems that have stuck with me from being born three months early.
We all have stories and events that define our lives. Miracle Baby was put on me long before I could comprehend anything about life. It’s been a part of who I am. I don’t know what life is like without this story that’s still mindblowing to understand. Every so often, I will stop and think, that really happened. It’s crazy to think about. I’ve been given a unique perspective from what happened to me when I was a baby. Every year on November 25th, I give a little moment to the day that seems so far away from my actual birthday. I think about the person I could have been had I been born on that date. But I’m also thankful for the person I am and for the life I’m so fortunate to live.
On my birthday, I always watch the news broadcast that was done on my early arrival. My mom and dad had a news story on them a month earlier to talk about my mother’s liver transplant while being pregnant. The first few years I would watch the news broadcast, I would think I was looking at someone else’s life because that’s the only way my young mind could comprehend this incredible story. It was only when I turned 12 that I began to process the fact that this story is mine, that little baby that looks like a tiny baby doll is me. This year on my golden birthday, I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last twenty-five years and how all that I’ve gone through has only made me stronger.
I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.
For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.
In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!