Frail; Fragile; Delicate; Disorder

I bruise easily, not metaphorically, literally. My brothers found this quite entertaining when I was young. It became a bit of a game to see how softly one could touch me and still produce a bruise. My youngest brother grabbed my arm once as we were jostling for the front seat in our vehicle. It wasn’t done with much force but still resulted in five finger sized bruises on my arm, which have been captured for future generations to admire, in the form of a photograph, my grad pictures to be precise. My mom was not impressed…at all.

Recently I choreographed a musical production at the local high school. When it came time for the show it was evident that they were in need of some extra hands backstage moving set. Some of the pieces were quite heavy, by my standards, and assisting in carrying these pieces on and off the stage resulted in some rather large bruises on my forearms. Upon viewing these bruises, a friend of mine declared, “Wow you’re frail”. Really? Frail? That’s harsh. Why not fragile or delicate? Those sound a lot nicer. The funny thing is these three words are synonymous. You can use each one to define the other. “Maybe it’s because frail is usually used to describe an old person.” Was my friends explanation for the particular offense the word had created. Well  that was probably part of it. Fragile seemed better to me than frail because when I think of something being fragile I would usually picture something ornamental, something treasured or of great worth. Like a crystal figurine. The kinds you see in stores that have signs like ,”You break it, you buy it”, placed near by. To me delicate sounds best of all. Most likely because of the alternate definitions for the word. Delicate can be defined as fine in texture, quality, construction, dainty or exquisite, but in the context it was used it meant fragile, easily damaged, frail. The word frail just makes me picture something old and withered and dusty that will break into fragments and blow away at the slightest touch. When you boil it all down though, mental imagery, implications and alternate definitions aside, it’s true, in a sense I am frail.

When I say, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I run up against another word that makes me cringe because of its implications. DISORDER, what a nasty word.  When you look up the word you’ll find words like abnormal, atypical, deranged, disability…I find these words implications bothersome. What exactly is abnormal? The way I responded, the way my brain has responded? Who exactly decides what a normal response to seeing someone get murdered in your school is? Or how my brain should respond to the fact that I was approximately 20ft away from someone shooting a gun in my direction?  The thing that’s abnormal isn’t my response but what happened. I suppose it’s meant that my brain doesn’t function the way it once did…..but should it? I guess I may be a little hypersensitive but what can I say. I like my brain, it does a lot of really good things for me. I like it so much I even wear a helmet when I ride my bike, even though it makes me look like a dork and gives me helmet hair. I have a hard time admitting that there is something “wrong” with it, and that’s what I feel like the word disorder implies, that there is something wrong with my brain and with me. I guess things have to be defined and classified for one reason or another, but honestly I say I have PTSD because that’s what “they” call it but I would prefer to just say, “I got some issues”, because that sounds like I own them and have power over them and because really who doesn’t have a few issues?


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