27 May 2015

The Wound Nobody Could Heal

For most of my life, I have withdrawn from people when I felt they were getting close--or, more precisely, too close for my comfort.

And what do I mean by "too close for my comfort"?  Well, I always knew that deep within myself, there was a pain, a wound, that nobody could make better--and, I believed, nobody else could understand.  It made me very, very angry and whenever people who might have been acting from the purest of motives tried to "help" me, it almost invariably made me feel worse.  Sometimes I would be angry at those people.  I never expressed that rage physically, but I said a lot of things I shouldn't have and walked out on a few people who deserved better.  

Sometimes I withdrew simply to try to spare someone my wrath.  If I and that person were lucky, I could somehow pre-empt that person's attempt at charity or mercy or compassion, which I knew I never could reciporacate and would never make me a happier or better person.  And there were a few people whom I simply wanted to spare from grief and self-blame, to whatever degree I could. 

In fact, there were two occasions in which I stopped myself from committing suicide only because I knew that the only two people about whom I cared at that point in my life--my mother and a very close friend--would blame themselves. Both of those occasions came within weeks after another friend committed suicide not long after the deaths of an uncle to whom I was close and my grandmother.

I will never know exactly what was in Kyler Prescott's mind and heart.  I, like most people, hadn't heard of the 14-year-old Californian until today.  However, I suspect he was suffering in a way similar to what I've described.  From what I've read and heard, I don't doubt that his mother, Katherine Prescott, did everything she could to support him from the day he announced that he was a boy, not the girl indicated on his birth certificate.  But the pain of having to live in a body that didn't conform to his gender--and the bullying he experienced online and in person--marked him with wounds that even the most resilient and resourceful teenager or parent would have trouble healing.

If there is any window into Kyler Prescott's mind and soul, it might be this poem he wrote:

                     My mirror does not define me:
Not the stranger that looks back at me
Not the smooth face that belongs to someone else
Not the eyes that gleam with sadness
When I look for him and can only see her.

My body does not define me:
Not the slim shoulders that will not change
Not the hips that give me away
Not the chest I can’t stand to look at
When I look for him and can only see her.

My clothes do not define me:
Not the shirt and the jeans
That would look so perfect on him
But that I know would never fit me
When I look for him and can only find her.

And I’ve been looking for him for years,
But I seem to grow farther away from him
With each passing day.
He’s trapped inside this body,
Wrapped in society’s chains
That keep him from escaping.

But one day I will break those chains.
One day I will set him free.
And I’ll finally look in the mirror
And see me--
The boy I was always meant to be.

Ms. Prescott is calling for greater empathy, support and acceptance for transgender and other non-gender-conforming teenagers.  She has done what she could, she is doing what she can and is trying to do better.  Nobody can ask more.  I don't think her son would, or could, have.

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

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