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Fear Has Layers To It

Knowing my fear's origin helps me reclaim my power.

painting by Nicole Javorsky
Painting by Nicole Sylvia Javorsky

I thought I was afraid of blood, afraid of driving, afraid of myself. And in a way, I was. And to some extent, I still am. But the layers underneath these fears reveal what I was truly afraid of: my own memories, the truth of what I'd experienced, the reality of how I was treated by people who were supposed to protect and care for me.

My own mind became a personal haunted house (without any of the fun of Halloween!) because behind each closed door and each furnishing hid the ghosts of my past selves. Yet, as I meet these ghosts, I realize they were never really ghosts at all. Because I lived through the terror. And those past selves are not so much terrifying as terrified. The shadowy remnants I avoided were always scared versions of myself who just wanted to be seen and heard, to be met in their distress with love and compassion. This is what I am doing now.

I wrote this poem for my child self, and anyone who relates to my experience -

I ache for the story I am yet to tell, a story of a young girl with bountiful joy bursting from her chest, and a head full of many dreams, for her imagination could spin endless imagery.

The sharp pounce, pain undulating and pulsing from my breastbone, derives its dagger-like feel from the shameful acts of a man I cannot fully, completely, recall.

How many little girls are there, ones like I was, who suffer such an ache without a word of it communicated, the shame turned inward due to silence?

As I meet my younger me's and listen to myself, I feel driven to communicate those stories I didn't feel safe enough to share - my story. And as I do, I not only free myself of old shame that was never mine to bear, but I also liberate myself. Because bringing my past into the light, where it can finally be seen clearly, helps me understand my present self better.

Through this healing process, I'm realizing that most of my fears come from experiences I had, times when I was treated with cruelty, contempt, misunderstanding, abusiveness. It was never the blood. It was never the car. It wasn't about who I am as a person. Most of the time, the origins of my fears lie in the painful memories I had to make sense of with my child brain.

Knowing the origins of my fears helps me separate my past from my present and future. Knowing helps me reclaim my power and recall my capacity to pursue my many dreams with clarity and gusto.

By Nicole Javorsky


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