Sunday, November 21, 2010
An Irish Melody
Regular readers will remember that I was very concerned about sharing the words to the song I had written when very young to sing to myself in comfort and defiance when being teased or bullied:
I'm OK with being me,
There's no one I'd rather be,
I've a peace within my heart,
That your names can't break apart,
I don't care what you say,
You can't wreck my lovely day.
Well, after sharing these words here, and with Ruby who has been teased at school, I've now incorporated the song into my teaching about teasing and bullying. At one point in the workshop, Joe and I sing it, the group sings it and then we do 'Karaoke against bullying' and individuals come up to sing. Almost always more than half of them do. In Dublin one fellow came up and rapped it adding all sorts of 'yo' and 'yo yos' to it. Another sung it as an Irish folk song. Another countrified it, and we all laughed and encouraged each other.
She smiled all the way through.
For much of the morning she had sat and stared, even appeared to be sleeping. But she wasn't. She was taking in the situation. Determining if it was a safe place, if Joe and I were safe people. It was as if she wore her Down Syndrome as a convenient costume to hide within. People don't notice her. That is her intent. Then, suddenly, she got up and headed to the flip chart where the words were written down. Her hands shook with nerves. It was if they were the only part of her that was willing to show the fear that she must have felt, making herself vulnerable by coming out, by being present, by being up front and in view. Then she raised her voice and sang, sweetly, reading word for word. It was a voice that sounded rarely used. When done applause rained down on her. She smiled and took a bow and walked carefully back to her seat.
From then she participated often, laughing quickly and encouraging others. When we all talked about feelings, I asked her what made her happy. She had heard all the other responses, she thought, carefully, as if it was the most important question she had ever been asked, 'expressing my feelings and having people listen' she said. Throughout the rest of the session, I'd glance over at her. She was no longer slumped down, vacant eyed. The costume was off and she was fully there and fully present. By the end she participated, and her hands didn't shake.
I was waiting in the lobby for transport when she was being led out of the building. Her costume was back on. But as she passed me, she glanced and me and I heard a quiet voice singing, 'I'm OK with being me...'
It is my fervent prayer that she finds more and more places and more and more people around whom she feels safe. Safe to come out and be and live. That she needs to retreat into her soul only for solace and quiet - rather than as a place to hide in fear. I hope that the words she sang will become a message from her to those who care for her ... I'm OK with being me ... now it's their turn 'I'm OK with you being you'.