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by Tricia Copfer 4 years ago in recovery
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Once Upon a Time, Before Spell Check...

I have post traumatic stress disorder, which makes it difficult for me to function like an average member of society. I'm not quite ready to dive deep with my story — but if by doing so I could help others, I’d like to try. As I fall back in love with writing, I felt it would be appropriate to share a brief essay; an assignment from my English 1A class in 2016.

Before any schooling, my mother encouraged me to write in a diary. As I recall, it had a ladybug on the cover — which was our favorite thing to scavenge for through the tall grass. I communicated with her about the highlights of my day, and she helped me translate them into something memorable. Whenever she knew I was bothered by things, my mother managed to refocus the attention of a two-year-old into a blank-paged booklet.

If a word came up in conversation that I knew how to spell, I would let it be known. Apparently, her gentle nudge had given me a priceless gift. I've always naturally been shy, but in my kindergarten class, we would sing a song: "I can spell cat, c-a-t. I can spell bat, b-a-t." Whoever wrote the song has everyone say, "... but I can't spell hippopotamus."

Without hesitation, my hand shot up. Our teacher was very surprised. Given my social anxieties, I was yet to even say "here" during roll call. Although, every beady eye had fixated on my quivering lips, I proceeded with, "h-i-p-p-o-p-o-t-a-m-u-s."

The roar of applause scared me back into sitting criss cross applesauce! Needless to say they were impressed. Developing this rush of adrenaline from a simple word became my vice. Every day, at the end of that song, all eyes were on me. Mrs. Dolton wished for me to continue this citation; I was obliged to say the least.

Suddenly, I had the urge to excel; to be the best version of myself. Spelling used to make my mother smile, and I finally understood why. Such a valuable subject could make or break hearts, and with my love for literature, it's as if we were never set apart. Poetry became my favorite thing, aside from art and music. There weren't many other positive ways to express my emotions from the things that I had to endure. Journaling becomes too painful for a person who spent their whole life trying to detach from this harsh reality.

Gradually, between middle school and high school, my worsening PTSD resulted in a plummeting GPA. I would still ace all tests in English, but this dreadful homework was the death of my academic incline. I dropped out and started writing music. Later on, I attempted to achieve my high school diploma, but to no avail. Even though I began completing homework, my grades never picked back up. I believe the irony in this to be such a pity.

I could score higher than most anyone in the district throughout all of elementary school. Especially due to my English scoring, I became involved with various programs. Unfortunately, participating with GATE and ALA brought me to the feelings of confliction and indifference. If I was so great doing all of these things in school, then why couldn't I communicate my needs for help? Was there no relativity?

I am now learning to embrace the challenges that present themselves — personal and professional. Subsequently, my expressions reflect where I'm coming from. Therefore, the things I write may sound collectively gloomy. But, I saw this stuffed hippopotamus in my daughters closet, and it brought me back to my roots. When I used to write of the days spent with my mother, the soothing sound of her voice would read it back aloud to me. Perhaps, these things that I've dreamt of alongside my mother have always, potentially, been achievable — even without her here.


About the author

Tricia Copfer

Does a falling tree make a sound if nobody hears it? Does your story even exist if you don’t write it down? I just want people to hear my trees fall.

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