Trigger Warning for hate speech
If retarded is bad, and I am retarded, then I am bad.
I learned this simple equation early on. That word was always used in hushed tones as if to soften the horror of it all. It elicited swift, angry reactions in adults around me. I remember being pulled by an adult’s tight grip on my arm out of places so fast my legs would tangle in a vain attempt to keep up with whatever grown up was running away from that word. I remember desperately wanting to know what I did wrong so I would never, ever do it again, but being told I didn’t do anything wrong. And yet, they were all clearly upset with me. By the time I was seven or eight, I understood it wasn’t any one action I could change. I was different and wrong to a degree I couldn’t change no matter how hard I tried. This is how broken that word was forty years ago.