I sat down on the curb, crossed my arms, and refused to speak.
by Lyssa Myska Allen
I have no recollection of the following event, but I might be reliving it right now. My mom distinctly remembers a time my family and I were visiting Fredericksburg, Texas, and I was seven years old. I got upset at something and sat down on the curb, crossed my arms, and refused to speak.
She couldn’t stop asking me “what’s wrong?”, “why are you upset?”, “what’s going on?” When I simply refused to speak, she got scared. She’d lost her daughter! How could my mom fix what was wrong with me if she didn’t know what was wrong?! She was trying to be loving in her concern, but she put a lot of pressure on me to answer.
I’m sitting the curb right now, arms crossed, stubbornly refusing to talk. It’s not because I don’t want to talk. It’s because my seven-year-old brain cannot compute the turmoil of emotions going on in my head. I’m upset about this, confused by that, want to answer my mom but I just can’t. I feel the pressure, so I’m frustrated by my inability to put into words what I could not even possibly begin to put into words.
Except it’s 20 years later, I’m 27, and my brain still can’t compute. I sit on the metaphorical curb, cross my arms, and go silent. Stubbornly holding onto the thoughts I can’t name, the words I can’t form, the emotions I can’t explain.
What did my mom do with seven-year-old me? Let me cry. She was scared and worried and stressed, but there was nothing else she could do. Just like there’s nothing else I could or can do until the thoughts clarify, until I find the words, until I understand the emotions.
Sometimes you just have to sit on the curb.