There are people who don’t want me to be trapped and stifled. There are people who love me for who I am and want me to be free.
Dearest Doodle Soupsters,
I've been tempted to sacrifice my own happiness and freedom to bring comfort to my parents.
But self-sacrificing isn’t always holy. It isn’t always loving. It isn’t always preferable.
Self-sacrificing is often a cop-out. An understandable cop-out, but a cop-out nonetheless.
The path to helping a family or this world is actually the path of healing, not “helping” through giving into demands and self-sacrificing.
Self-sacrificing allows people to avoid finding the courage to pursue their own path, end relationships, face themselves and their pain, their desire, their grief.
Self-sacrificing is often of the false spiritual — the realm of toxic positivity, forgiveness at all costs, and the realm of anti-pleasure as morality, of rigidity. And I do not belong to that.
I belong to the bold colors of the sunset, soothing and vibrant.
I belong to the warm breeze, comforting and strong.
I belong to the mountaintop and the dirt.
I belong to the sky and the depths of the ocean.
I am not zen at all costs.
I am not forgiveness at all costs.
I am not pleasing others at all costs.
I am not afraid of being cranky or emotional or intense or zoned out.
I don’t want or need to have the same plastered-on smile all the time.
I am like the Earth. The earth is not calm all the time. Volcanoes are naturally-occurring, so was the ice age. So are the ocean tides, the seasons.
Forests are not manicured lawns. They’re beautiful and soothing, but they’re also wild.
I don’t believe in trying to be something other than human, which is why I don’t resonate with certain elements of technology/science/savior-of-humanity etc. But, I’m also not natural at all costs, either.
Humans are a part of nature. We embody the possibility and creativity that comes from the randomness and expansiveness of the universe. Everything is always changing. I don’t believe in some static natural paradise.
And I know the reality enough to understand that nature is also cruel. Predation is fundamental to how many animals survive. So yeah, why not use our brains to be able to sustain a society where everybody isn’t struggling for survival, constantly? But, also, yeah, keep in mind the added layer that even as things change, something about reality remains constant somehow. There are always many, many, many results, consequences, not all of them beautiful.
I don’t know if there’s some better future out there, but I do know that we can’t just cut out some of the possibilities that come from what makes us human and keep the rest.
And, I wouldn’t trade my humanity to be a butterfly or the wind, as much as sometimes I feel that urge.
Being human is so weird and wonderful. It’s precious.
We get to exist, but we’re also able to be observers of life and this world in a way that’s really (as far as we know) unique in the animal kingdom.
We are at once alive, experiencing life in the present moment, and analyzing it, because of our memories and ability to organize information in our brains and sort through it at will.
We are aware of existence and that leaves humans with a strange emptiness in being aware of how much we don’t and can’t know, while giving us an appreciation for time, how precious life can be. It gives us autonomy, creativity, power, choice, in a way that’s also pretty out there in the animal kingdom.
We create complex societies and live complex varied lives, which is what allows for such vast disconnection, strife, etc. AND allows for such wonder, joy, and just plain variety. Life is interesting and that’s something, too.
This is how I see it and I’ve felt so alone in what is clear to me.
In fact, ever since I was little, my mission in life has been extremely clear to me:
• Love as a verb
• Be present with this world and my experience of life
• Make art (any kind of art) from what comes naturally to me.
When I pointed out what behaviors felt like the opposite of love, I was made to feel like I was unloving for pointing it out and seeing it that way. I was made to feel like I was asking for too much.
Often, my parents either called me selfish and unfair, or said I was being unrealistic to expect others to be on my level.
They said I would spend hours and hours in periods of intense focus. But they didn’t have any curiosity, ever ask me what I liked about it, how I felt. I was dying to share my passion and excitement with them. I always had to be the one to tell them. They didn’t express interest in my interests, unless it was something they were already interested in.
And my feelings about the sky, being in the moment, what matters in life? They dismissed me as an idealist. They called me irresponsible and unrealistic.
They weren’t able to accept that art is such a core part of who I am and why I’m here on this earth.
They didn't try to embrace that. Instead, they tried to bully it out of me, used it as a brag, or used the attention for themselves when I succeeded. They didn’t encourage me or take my accomplishments as proof that I was right. As proof that I wasn’t irresponsible or unrealistic.
I was simply in touch with my truth and my soul. I knew what makes me me wasn’t going to go away and I was better off embracing my identity, rather than stifling myself.
The truth is I tried to fit myself into so many boxes for them, so many boxes that weren’t even acceptable to them. These boxes were just a little closer to something they’d accept. They said I couldn’t be a journalist. And I did that. But, even journalism felt closer to something they’d respect.
Meanwhile, I’ve always known what I needed to dedicate my life toward and that’s art, being present with my experience on Earth, and loving …
I knew exactly how I wanted to live and my priorities — they were all the opposite of what my parents wanted for me, what my parents would tolerate.
My parents constantly treated me with disrespect and then called me disrespectful.
They didn’t accept me for who I am.
They didn’t allow me to express my feelings, even after I was hospitalized for anorexia and going through so much out in the open. They made me feel unsafe, stifled, trapped, scared, alone, confused.
They taught me to hold myself responsible for others’ hurtful choices, full stop.
For them, the problem wasn’t that I was hurting and being taken advantage of. For them, the problem was always my honesty. For them, the problem was that I didn’t hide it well enough. For them, the problem was that I involved them, that I “caused” them pain and worry. If I suffered alone, then there was no problem to them.
I don’t know a lot of things. But deep in my soul, I do know this heart-breaking truth — my path is not to comfort my mom. My path is not to lie to myself. My path is not to make choices that serve my parents’ unwillingness to face themselves.
My path is not to use my heart to make my abusers and their enablers feel comfortable at my expense, and at the expense of others who I love and who understand how to love me back.
My path is to use my heart to enjoy life and be present with this world, to love and be loved in ways that align with my values, and to make art and share it in a way that is made possible by my heart, by my love, by my experiencing life.
This is an oil painting I finished recently (still drying!) … it’s a part of my upcoming series, Cycle Breakers …
This painting has gone through many stages. The layers underneath look very different! But, there is a common thread in the process: painting from stillness/peace/clarity then painting with bold strokes from intense emotion, repeat, repeat.
Breaking cycles is similar: there’s beauty, hope, and clarity behind the choice to be a cycle breaker. Yet, there’s also messy, wild, intense, confusing, and frustrating emotions to be felt while breaking free and maintaining the boundaries needed to stay free.
I have much, much more to share about this new series of work. And, I have a bunch of finished paintings in the series to photograph so I can begin sharing them with you! But for now, I just want to express my thanks to you for being a part of my art community. In sharing my art, my music, the words to go along with them, I feel more able to stand in my truth, to trust in myself and my intuition.
Sharing my healing process, my story, my realizations, my art through this Chicken Doodle Soup project has and continues to help me along my path as a cycle breaker. The acceptance and support I’ve received in sharing my honest truth and art — it helps me keep becoming the me I know deep down in my soul, to keep growing and healing. Each time this community has read my words, responded to my newsletter, spent time with my artwork, reached out about my music, and supported my art — you’ve helped me stand firm in my truth and who I am and continue to grow and free my soul.
Healing has required me to “get out” and also to learn how to trust and stay where I’m supported. There are people who don’t want me to be trapped and stifled. There are people who love me for who I am and want me to be free.
I’m really looking forward to sharing more from my Cycle Breaker series. A few years ago, I couldn’t have imagined feeling this comfortable sharing my art and the vulnerable truths behind them the way I do now. I’m proud of myself.
Standing in my power, bearing my soul while protecting it, breaking free,
Nicole Sylvia Javorsky