Last night I gave a talk about my artwork. I don’t know to many people who really relish public speaking. But my slight bit of nervousness stood in such stark contrast to the boy I’ve been writing about.

In high school I couldn’t bare to be seen. Most days started with me planning on attending. Some days I did arrive at the start of the day. Many times I dreaded it and delayed going into the building for hours. Being in the hallways felt like a humiliating march, a display of public discipline. Being in a classroom just trapped me. The noise in my head was so loud. I couldn’t turn it off, I knew I was worse than anything said to me. But hearing it outloud was stabbing. It wasn’t just being called names and shoved around. I couldn’t stand being seen by the nice boys who didn’t even know I was there. They were so clean, none of the shit I was. God, I wanted them to like me. How could they, I knew I was filthy trash?

From here, decades later, the lineage is so clear. The connection between being abused and how I felt about myself couldn’t be more obvious. But I denied it forever. I felt dirty not because I was encrusted with shit from events, I believed to the core that I was fundamentally soiled. Go ahead, scratch me, no matter how far you dig, it’s all crap. But I did scratch and clawed, and though it took a long time. I discovered it was a crust attached to me.

When I stood in front of the audience last night, I liked the man I have become. And I was excited to share my passion with them.


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