“MORE SYMPTOMS THAN MEMORIES”
Many of us with a disability can probably remember bits and pieces from our childhoods, such as toys we played with growing up, birthday parties, Christmas gifts, and other places we’ve been where we could just have fun being a kid and doing ordinary kid stuff. But for some of us, particularly those of us who aren’t quite as young as we used to be, everything probably just kind of blends together now. Sometimes we naturally put up a mental block regarding traumatizing past events that we don’t really enjoy talking about much. I understand, I’ve been there.
I spent about six and a half years of my life living in a trailer park in Holden back in the 90s. It was the most trying time at that stage of my young life, especially as I approached my preteen and adolescent years. Leaving friends behind and starting over somewhere new was a challenge. It was the first time in my life that I had to deal with not being wanted, and I struggled coming to terms with the fact that not everyone liked me, that not everyone wanted to be my friend. I took rejection hard back then. I tried hard to make meaningful lasting connections in unfamiliar territory in some of the few ways I knew how, and my efforts simply fell flat.
I got off to a rough start going to school in Holden in third and fourth grade. I didn’t really know what to think when other kids ages 8-10 would ask me very inappropriate questions during recess such as “Are you a virgin?” or “Are you gay?” I didn’t know what those words meant back then. Who would teach their kids to talk like that at that age? I also remember going on a field trip to a local beach and someone thought it would be funny to bury my underwear in the sand while I went swimming that day.
Seventh and eighth grade was an exceptionally difficult time for me. Textbooks and notebooks were often hidden from me when I wasn’t looking. Pens and pencils were stolen from me. My locker was padlocked with someone else’s padlock. I was even shoved down a flight of stairs on my way to gym class. I had a hard time putting into words how things at school were bothering me, and there was only so much that could be done to help me since my parents and my teachers weren’t there to see for themselves what was happening to me.
Even now, there are times where my mind drifts back to living in Holden in the 90s, and I’ve often used those experiences as the basis for how I think the world really is and how I think people really are. It’s almost like I have more symptoms than memories sometimes because of it. Thankfully, people close to me have encouraged me to challenge myself and what I think I’ve learned about life from those experiences since then.
I’ll be honest, I resented my parents for the longest time for the hardships I endured from living in Holden. I didn’t like my environment and I didn’t like how I was being treated. I didn’t realize until much later that living in Holden was the next step towards them owning their own home and realizing their own “American dream.” Even though it didn’t make it okay for other kids to treat me poorly back then, I realize now it was necessary for me to endure certain hardships growing up, because I don’t think I would have turned out the same way if I hadn’t. My personality would have turned out a lot different if I didn’t endure certain hardships.
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