It happened twice just this week.
The mere act of typing this right now has made my heart race, my breathing shallow. I feel slightly dizzy and a little sick.
It is anxiety, straight up, Shaking, dry mouth, headache coming on...
And it happens every time. And it has happened every time, since I was little girl.
I heard two adults use it this week.
The R word.
I heard 'retardo' twice, then 'isn't that retarded' once.
I am shaking so hard I can hardly type.
What would you do if someone used the 'n' word in casual conversation? Do you respond? How do you respond? I can honestly say I have not heard that word used in person but one time in the last 30 years. My eyes got wide. I shied away. I said nothing. Then the enormous burden of guilt and shame descended.
It is the same when I hear someone use retarded or worse, 'tard, retard, retardo (new one, how is there a new one?).
I want to say something but I am usually far too anxious to do it.
If someone is in medicine or studying medicine I generally say something. I announce to my college students how I feel about the word. I want them to think about the use of that word and make their own decision.
But when a friend, or a friend's child, or a family member uses it, I generally say nothing. I just don't want to see them again.
Does shying away with my feelings help anyone?
My brother is retarded. My court paperwork assigning me as his guardian states that he is "an incapacitated person due to severe mental retardation."
He cannot communicate. He cannot say "what do you mean by that," or "that hurts my feelings," or "please don't say that."
But neither can I.
And I feel heavy with shame and anxiety about it.