It's just a word. Just one, small, single syllable word.
And yet this word destroyed me at age 4, again at 11 and more times than I can recall in my 20's. And here I sit in my 30's, torn and bleeding around the wound the word insists on opening in me over and over and over until I fear I have nothing left.
I can't remember the last time I was able to see that word without shuddering. Lately, it's become a full scale meltdown and all because of that one, stupid, insignificant word.
It's an ugly word, easily spat with the contempt it deserves. Often not enough in the face of those who wield it as their chosen weapon. Like my grandfather. He taught me the meaning of that word before I'd ever even heard it.
Those who never know anything other than Webster's Dictionary's Definition of the word have been spared a fate far beyond death. It is the conquering of not just a body but a mind and soul. It is the ultimate power play intrinsically designed to leave the conquered irreparably damaged.
There are so many days I walk through and breathe just fine, but it waits. On assassin's paws it creeps in slow circles. Crouching. Watching. Waiting to pounce at the first sign of happiness.
God, it is so hard to hold my head up right now. The word sits on my shoulders, pressing me to the ground, whispering in my ear, showing me things I never want to see. Memories.
I try to light the word on fire, to sweep away it's ashes, but find only the blisters singeing my own flesh. I welcome the pain because it is not the word. It is not the conquerors. It helps me feel. Yet, that way is lost to me now. Shoved away by promises I fight to keep.
My anchor, so far away, desperately clings to me. Tries to hold me as the word goes after our ties, one by one. He fights and pleads while I slip away and chase the silent world where the word does not exist.
I will the anger to return. To burn me from inside out. I'll become a crucible. You can scrape away the impurities. I promise I'll shine one day. And the next time the tarnish surfaces, you can hold me and we'll walk through this together.
The word wants in. Just like those who used it as a weapon on me came in. Tore me apart and left me bleeding. For now all I can do is walk forward. And when I can no longer walk, I will stand. And when it takes that from me, I will crawl. Towards the word. Towards all the word screams to me.
It will destroy me, just like it did so many times before, but this time I have my own weapon. And there is no one to wield this word's power on me but me. And after all...it's just a word.
And I can say it without shuddering, without tears, without desperate panic, and maybe someday without blistering pain.