Of all the words in the English language why should that one be the one that hurts the most? There are other words that are hurtful. Fag. Nigger. Dyke. Towel head. I detest all of these words. I don't use them- well, other than in this post. They are all words that make those that say them sound ignorant and cruel and yet they don't inspire the same reaction in me as the word retard.
And I can say very honestly- though not proudly that of ALL the aforementioned words COMBINED it is the one I have used the most often. I used it as an insult. I used it as an adjective and I used it as just a casual reference to something that was a little off. I felt okay using that word since I would NEVER have used it to describe someone who actually had mental retardation. For "those people" I used more sensitive phrases like "mentally challenged" or "slow". I was an asshole.
I also feel like a GIANT hypocrite!
Ever since Casey and Connor were born people have told me that I am such an amazing mom- I'm not bragging at all just stating what people have told me. If you've read my blog before you know I disagree. I am a proud mother. I am a loving mother. I am the best mother I know how to be.
I feel confident in my mothering skills so far.
I am still learning to be an advocate for my sons.
I have stated that I have used the word retard many times in my life. I have NO WAY to state how much guilt I have because of this. Like the heart in Edgar Allen Poe's story I hear this over and over again in my head. It's like a dripping faucet. I hear it all the time no matter what I do to try and stop it- it repeats. Retard. Retard. Retard. I KNOW I am punishing myself.
I deserve to be punished.
What gave me the right to use such a disgusting word? And what's worse I used it with ZERO regard to how it would or could make someone feel. I have always prided myself on being the best person I can be- and sometimes I fall rather short. I was so ignorant. I was not aware that one word of only 6 letters could cut someone all the way to their very core. And yet, just because I was ignorant doesn't change the fact that words DO hurt.
There are some people whom I feel VERY close to that STILL use this word and then try to justify it by saying they were only joking and that they didn't use it toward anyone. It kills me a little when they do this and then try to explain it away. I have been told "The babies aren't retarded." (Doesn't make it better.) It was made to be a big joke when we were on a recent family outing to Cedar Point. I was hurt so much by this that I have been thinking about it since June 24th.
I want so badly to find the right way to explain to them WHY this word is hurtful but I don't know how to do it. I have thought of posing the question to them like this- "When Casey and Connor are old enough to know what that means will you just tell them it's a joke when someone means it as an insult?" "Will you tell them to shrug it off when they are crying because some ignorant jerk called them a retard?"
Even as I write about some hypothetical situation where someone insults my sons I am crying. It causes me so much pain to think of anyone calling them this ugly word. But it happens. Hell, it HAS happened. And it killed me then and it still destroys me now.
I wish that everyone knew how bad that word is- it's not funny. It's not a joke. I hate that we live in a society that finds it acceptable and amusing to use hateful speech. I HATE that I was among those that threw that word around like it was nothing at all.
I am sorry.
I am sorry to Casey. I am sorry to Connor. I am sorry to all the people who ever heard me use that word. I am sorry that there are so many that STILL think it is acceptable. Until people KNOW that the word retard is not acceptable for a laugh it will STILL be considered acceptable. I need to do my part to make the change necessary to make it UNacceptable. Starting now if someone uses this word in front of me I will correct them. I ask each of the people who read this to do the same. Quit laughing at the jokes and they won't be as funny anymore to those that tell them.
I am sorry that it took me having my perfect, amazing, beautiful, angelic children to learn such a big lesson. I will do my best to teach others what I have learned.
Someday I hope to be the best advocate I know how to be.
I will spend the remainder of my life atoning and raising awareness that this is NOT okay.
If I am successful maybe when I die the word will quit repeating in my head over and over.
and over agin...