This is not who I am

To my parents, my siblings and my family first,

To all those who saw only the surface, and thought I was inhibited, blinkered, wild or mad, that I was living only for work and fame, or out of selfishness,
to all those who never truly knew who was standing in front of them – this is for you too.

 

This is not who I am. This is not what I want. I’m sorry, but you’ve mistaken me for somebody else.
 
You have been, you are still in denial. That, I know. I’ve known it for years, actually.
Still, I haven’t done anything about it yet. I hadn’t the strength to do it, until now.
I have always stayed hidden under a blank mask, by the physical distance between you and me, by my silence in front of your queries, under your eyes.
 
But I cannot do it anymore now.
Because if I go on as I did before, as I aways did despite my rebellions, it means I’m slowly killing my own self by stifling her with the self you decided she was.
I just cannot do that anymore. 
 
 
No, I didn’t give a shit about my marks – I just worked hard because I was afraid of your anger and your blame if I had bad ones. The only moment where they mattered was in post-secondary courses, when I wanted to prove my teachers their bet on me was a good one – and surprisingly, that’s the moment where I got through the roof, and where you didn’t care, because you were focused on the entrance exam.
 
No, I’m not career-driven. I don’t regret my failure at the entrance exam. It was actually a good thing, because I wouldn’t have been anywhere with that school. I never thought my life was a waste because I couldn’t enter the agregation exam. I never ever wanted to dedicate my life to my job, least of all a job who would give me loads of money and fame but no happiness.
I do love the job I studied to get. I love being a publisher, and I’m determined to become one of the best in my field. But I don’t want that because I would have more money or recognition. I want that because I like my work to be the best it can be. Because I want to bring exciting stories to people out there, for them to enjoy, as I enjoyed those I read when I was a kid.
 
Yes I do value my well-being higher than my payroll amount, nature higher than economics. Yes, I deeply love humanitarian and volunteer work despite it being totally useless from your point of view because not paid and not ambitious enough. I love it because it creates a special bond between people, freed from money and social standards. Because it creates a general overlooking of any difference to focus on our common ground to all : humanity. Because it makes you feel connected to the world.
 
Yes, I'm a scout to the core. I respect and honour scoutism's principles, and I hope to do so all my life. I loved being a scout chief and I’ll even dare say I was a good one, despite your prejudice that I was too authoritative and strict to look after kids, and that scoutism was total bullshit. I liked interacting with the kids, giving them time and effort, and seeing them grow up. We shared good times, the kids liked and trusted me, the fellows chiefs too, and that’s more than enough for me.
 
Yes, I’m an ecologist – the political party you despise for being useless about « serious affairs of the country ». I’m pro-Greenpeace, anxious of the well-being of whales and the oceans’ state of health. I’m left-wing. I would have voted Hollande, had I been in France for the elections. And I still stand by this position despite the country’s current state, because I feel certain that Sarkozy’s comeback would have been an utter social disaster. And yes, I am in favour of marriage for all, homosexuals, heterosexuals, transgenders. No matter how scandalous you think this law is, I think this is a brilliant step towards a better social tolerance.
 
Yes, my close friends are like family to me. They give me true support and help when I ask them, they see me as I truly am and they don't judge me. They make me a better person and I trust them with my life. I fight tooth and nail for them when need be, and I love them all dearly for who they are, no matter how much time we spend apart.
 
I don’t care if I marry or not, if I am in love with a man or a woman, a deaf or good-hearing person. I DO care to be in love with the person I am with, and to love his/her for all he/she is, nothing less, nothing more. I do want kids with someone, when the time will come, and I want to choose that someone, not let you choose him/her for me. And I want to raise these future kids MY own way, not yours.
 
I don’t care being deaf, meaning that I don’t see it as a failure, a defect anymore. I care being deaf, because it has taught me so much more, opened me to life so much more than if I was good-hearing. It has made me bold, determined and sensitive, it has given me a deeper awareness of life, and I love it.
I don’t, and will never resent you for my disability. It’s just part of who I am.
 
Yes I hated my siblings when I was a kid and a teenager. I hated them with all my heart, because they were everything I would never be, because they had everything I didn’t have. They had your visible love, your recognition, your compliments. They were easy to deal with and had an easy life at school and at home. Mind you, they were good-hearing. And they had fucking friends.
And I hated them all the more because they had this brotherly bond I couldn’t have with them. They sang songs to each other, they shared secrets. And I was always the left-out sibling, too different to be accepted in public, acknowledged only in privacy.
I hated them too because I loved them deeply and couldn’t ever reach out to them, because my never-talked-about-disability always stood between us, till this day. Like the day where my brother told me I deserved to be deaf. And the day where my sister’s best friend looked at me and laughed out loud, and my sister with her.
But what I will remember for ever is the look on my siblings’ face when people bullied me under their eyes. They were only ashamed to have a sister like that ; only hoping I had never been born. And they never did anything to stop that, to help me or to stand by me, like I would have done, if it had been them instead of me.
Now, I hold them firmly at arm’s length, because I know they can’t accept me, just the way you don't accept me, and that it would destroy me if I started to care.
 
No, I wasn’t a quiet, brilliant and industrious kid, and you pretty well fucking know it. I was an angry and wild kid, scared of the world you were thrusting me into without further ado, scared of the fact you didn’t want to fully acknowledge my disability, and thus scared of it myself, because I wasn’t prepared to confront and accept it.
I was brilliant and respected my teachers when they were understanding; I wasn’t when they were assholes, which happened more often than you think. The first occurrence being in second year of preschool. She was a bully. You knew it ; you didn’t want to admit it. You just let me being wrongly punished, then switched schools after two years and thus ditched the problem without ever solving it.
The quiet, brilliant and industrious kid was just the image of me you showed to your parents, which recognition you so desperately sought ; it was the person you wanted me to be, that I never was, and never will be.
 
I was scared of you, because you were young, far too young, pressured by your own parents and all the griefs you held on to them into a career and success-driven life, and thus ill-prepared for parenthood, especially of a disabled kid. That didn’t make you exactly very loving and caring, or present for me when I was deep down, right into severe depression.

 
The only thing I still can’t understand, and cannot forgive you, is precisely these seven years in this high school. Where I was going utterly bad right from the start.
I still don’t understand why you never acknowledged something was wrong. Why you just assumed that it was my own fault, that I had to make more efforts, and that it was all.
Why you simply watched me drown deeper year after year, denying the whole thing until the end. While I was right under your eyes, trying to stop willing to kill myself.
You still don’t admit it today, and that’s what makes the gap between us so deep.
If you would only acknowledge what truly happened, that you did an actual mistake, and that you’re sorry for what happened, I could start to forgive you, trust you, and we could start again.
 
But because you don’t, I can’t do it.
Still, I don’t hate you anymore for that. I hated you for years, and I am still angry from the core of my being, but I do not hate you anymore, because I finally understood it was a sheer mistake and not something you did on purpose.
I am still angry, because your mistake was to protect yourself from my disability by denying it, instead of trying to handle it. You put your fears, your need for protection first, instead of my well-being.
So much that you didn’t even realize I almost killed myself four times.
 
Today, I know these years are golden proof of my own strength ; that they are the best and hardest victory I’ve ever won from the bottom of my guts, through a bloodbath where I saved my own life. But I wouldn’t ever go through that again. And I can’t ever come to terms with the fact it was my life on the brink, and you just looked away.
 
I know I've been a difficult kid, a yahoo and wild kid, driven mad by anger and repression; who fought savagely with her siblings; who thrashed her bedroom, yelled and punched in the walls, talked back all the time and was a pain in the ass with teachers. And I'm sorry for these collateral damages. I'm sorry for what I wrongly did to you and my siblings. But I'm not sorry for having rebelled again and again against this godforsaken school who didn't give me proper help for following classes, against the teachers and kids who bullied me for being different, and against your passivity and utter denial in front of this, day in, day out for all these seven fucking bloody years.
 
Today, I do not try to fill in the gap by myself, because it protects me from your denial. I need this gap to keep me sane, to keep looking at myself as a full human being, not a maimed and distorted one.
 
But the worst and the best part of all this is, I knew you loved me. I knew you wanted the best for me. I know you still do. I know you did your best, and I respect you for that. I can even still love you deep down, because you still love me even if you can't see me as I am.
 
The thing is, your best is not MY best. Your dreams for me are not mine.
And above all, your vision of me is not who I really am. Was never who I am.
Each time I’m trying to show you that, you just don’t look at it, because it’s outside of your frame. You just turn blind, and wait for me to stop trying.
So as long as you won’t see and accept me as I am, we won’t be able to bond.
 
And I don’t want to comply to your requirements for my life anymore.
I don’t want to wear that mask of what you want me to be, do what I’m told to do, what you want for me.
I just want to be myself, do what I truly want to do, and fully live my life as mine, totally mine, and never ever be indebted to someone else’s will anymore.
 
You always resented the fact I valued freedom more than anything else, thinking it was proof I didn’t realize all the efforts you put into my upbringing.
I did. I’m grateful you refused the idea of having a kid trapped in its disability and fought against that, because it gave me the tools I needed to build myself.
But your fight wasn’t about giving me freedom. It was about erasing my disability, forgetting it, to force me into being similar to a good-hearing person. Into being the person you unilaterally decided I would be.
Which I am not, can never be, because that would be denying myself – and trying to kill myself again.
 
I cannot shatter your denial. I cannot break the false image of me you so carefully adorned and nursed with your own desires for all these years.
But I can, and want to tell you who I really am. That I’ve broken your mould, and built myself as I wanted to be, not as you wanted me to be.
I am a person who isn’t only a disability indeed, but who acknowledged it and made peace with it, instead of trying to suppress and hide it.
There’s a whole different world between these two attitudes.
I’m what I am, with all my scars and imperfections, and I’m happy with it.
 
I’ve just told you, now.

Une réflexion au sujet de « This is not who I am »

  1. Bonjour !

    Y a-t-il une traduction exacte de ce texte ? Il y a des français non anglophones, comme moi, qui aimeraient pouvoir le comprendre…
    En tout cas, bravo pour ton site !
    Bonne continuation,
    Sucama

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse de messagerie ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *