Make Me Understand

“No one understands.”

I hate that sentence. It calls up the last three brain cells I have left from high school, when I said those words constantly. When I hear it, I remember how much time I spent hating others for ignoring me just because I wasn’t talking to them. That’s the problem. If no one understands, you’re not being very clear. You’re probably not even being a little clear. You might even get off on being cryptic, because you think it’s the same thing as “deep,” whatever you think that means. I only say these things because I’ve been these things.

“You just don’t understand!”

Then try harder. Use a metaphor. Use another one. Now speak plainly. Now try imagining what I’ve been through today, and what I actually hear coming from your loudest face-hole. Try speaking plainly again. And again. And again. Ask if I understand, and test if it’s true. If I don’t, start from the beginning, whether that’s this morning or the day you were born or the moment of the Big Bang or some theoretical pre-universe where everyone thought putting all the available matter into a superdense ball so it would explode into a new universe with humans and platypuses and the Crab Nebula seemed like a really keen idea. Start somewhere better than you’re starting, because I don’t seem to be following.  Use different words. Use my words. Use pictures. Do a dance. Write it down. Make a puppet show.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

Try me. Drop this miserable cop-out and try me. Imagine, just for a second, that I’m a human who has lived a number of years, during which I have learned and understood many things. Imagine that I’ve done things and seen things you wouldn’t believe the first time I told you, but after the third or fourth you’d see the gleam in my eye and know that I believe it, even if it’s not true. Imagine that my life is as complex and interesting as yours and I don’t have as much time for you as you deserve but I really am trying my hardest and somewhere out there in the future is a Miracle Worker moment where I learn your word for “water” and from there we start carving our own Rosetta Stone.

You’re not special because no one understands you – you’re just alone. You make yourself that way because you can’t be bothered to speak Friend or Coworker or Stranger on the Bus, which are all valuable languages that you should have learned in school even if there wasn’t a test. Learn to speak Dancer and Poet and Painter and Construction Worker and Retiree. Definitely learn to speak Asshole, because Assholes don’t bother learning to speak You.

It might be harder than you want it to be. Too bad. Make me understand, be misunderstood, or stay silent.

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