Hey, hey, Followers – Guess what day it is?
It’s TK’s birthday! Can I say I’m in my mid-twenties if I’m 24?
Little TK must have known about today when she wrote the poem I have to share. You see, as I turn the page of my old poetry book, I find a happy poem.
Unfortunately, this poem comes across as forced and that’s because it is. I looked back on all I had written and saw a lot of darkness. So, I decided to force out some light. Certainly there was some amount of happiness within me I could write about
This was written on April 19th, 2004. I was 14-years-old and in eighth grade. This poem was given no title when I first wrote it, so I have decided to give it a name which best describes its purpose.
The gleam of the day shines upon me.
light that brightens all
the rivers and hills
The joy it brings me
To see such a sight
The beauty around me
The power of our Lord’s creation!
The gleam and the light
A new day is near
Let all see and hear
the beauty and magnificence
That nature holds here.
I can’t believe I just typed that. My face might be a little red right now. Damn, that’s a bad poem.
There’s a reason, though. In fact, all the commentary I provide with my poems has a reason. My poems came from a place of intense emotion. For better or worse, the emotions churning inside of me were dark. That isn’t to say there weren’t moments where I brushed against something like happiness. The fact is that I simply didn’t feel happiness intensely enough to create a good poem.
These poems made my emotions real. They were the only way I could find to understand what I was feeling. At the time I wrote most of these, the poems were like a strange artifact. Now that I had given them existence, I could hold them and examine them. Understanding developed over many years and it’s that understanding I try to express in my commentary.
I went through a lot during my childhood. There was a lot of fear and many tears. By far, the most painful aspect of this period was fake happiness. I had this habit of smiling when I was sad. When peers made fun of me, I would laugh with them. The theory was that they wanted to make me feel bad. If they saw their words caused me joy, they would stop. The plan failed because all they did was try harder.
My smile had become a facade. I hid behind it, hoping it would prevent anyone from seeing my emotional scars. I build up this mask and began to hide everything I was. Behind the mask, I hid my nerdy ideas, my wild aspirations and any desire that conflicted with what my adults wanted from me. I became so good at hiding who I was, that even I lost myself.
There is no pain like feeling so ashamed of who you are that you must pretend to be someone else. Nothing can compare to the lies and the fake smiles. Everyone buys it. I know people like to think they can tell when someone is faking it, but that’s a lie. No one knew. No one said anything. In fact, if I would have revealed the parts of myself I hid, I’m sure I would have been asked to return them to hiding.
Maybe the reason no one noticed is because no one expects a child to feel such sadness.
Regardless, that pain has come to serve a purpose in my adult life. Not only do I hate pretending to be something I’m not, I hate the idea that anyone else would feel they need to hide. I know that my experiences pale in comparison to many people, but that pain was enough. Whatever a person’s sexuality, religion or culture, they should never feel like they have to hide in order to be accepted by society. I know a fraction of that pain and it nearly destroyed me.
These childhood moments were the genesis of my support of human rights. The right to be who you are is a precious one.