Most of us think it’s an insult when someone calls you a freak, and in many cases, it is.
I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being called a freak in the worst way imaginable and had the pleasure of realizing that I was, in fact, a freak in one or two senses of the word.
“I believe, unswervingly, agonizingly, that it is in freaks that Being breaks through to the surface and reveals its true nature.” ― Olga Tokarczuk
I’ve been called a freak negatively more times than I can remember, but the first time I can recall was when I was in the mental ward in Gardner, Massachusetts. The weeks leading up to my stay in the loony bin saw me lose my 100K a year job, my house, and what remained of my mind. The voices in my head — that I had locked in a cage so I could appear normal enough to manage my team of web designers — broke their chains and now were screaming and throwing shit against the walls of my psyche.
I had taken the business end of a razor to my arms and legs so often that all my clothes had blood-stains. I didn’t want to harm myself anymore, so I had myself locked up, and the first few days I spent in solitary staring at the stained, ivory-tinted walls and talked back to the voices who were now in control.
I didn’t eat, and I only pushed myself to the bathroom when the alternative would have been to soil myself.
Chad, a freckle-faced surfer-wannabe with crooked teeth and a sarcastic grin to match, was the orderly who cleaned my room. The only image he had of me was a small, broken man curled up on a wafer-thin mattress on the floor, and he spent the whole time he was cleaning my room insulting me.
Freak was his favorite word.
I don’t know if he thought I couldn’t hear him, or he was just a special kind of stupid, because one day, in a moment of clarity, I decided I had enough. He bent over the toilet singing Master of Puppets (except he replaced the word puppets with freaks) and didn’t hear me get up from the bed and stand over him — 6 feet of menacing crazy.