I choose honesty over sugar-coating and looking the other way.
Dearest Doodle Soupsters,
The painting above is called, “What creeps underneath the waterline?”
This painting reminds me of shallow puddles reflecting the colors of store displays and the buildings hanging over them.
It reminds me of polluted waterways and their haunting beauty.
It reminds me of rainbows on sidewalks and roads, made from oil combining with water and light.
There’s this idea out there — that if you just focus on the positive, you can improve your life. But that’s not the whole truth.
There’s this feeling out there — that if you just push push push non-stop take a look from every angle, you can fix any problem. But that’s not the whole truth either.
When we turn away from part of the truth, or rather certain truths, they rot and fester like spoiled leftovers in a forgotten corner of the fridge.
When we turn toward the truth, we can move through our emotions, process them, internalize the co-existing truths about life, find wisdom, feel our grief and surrender to it, and we can alchemize the ugly, the rotten, the heart-breaking through expression and connection.
Joy and laughter has the power to connect us. And so does pain.
For those of us who carry some hefty burdens, it’s often extremely precious to be able to share in the understanding and wisdom that comes from feeling pain, letting it be real and true. Because without that connection, without that acknowledgement, being a part of humanity can feel pretty alienating.
Many of us have believed at one time or another, or still believe, that hiding our pain is the right thing to do. Personally, I’ve agonized many, many, so so many times about feeling like a force of negativity simply because I was a person in pain.
Yet, often, what is most uplifting, I believe, is a willingness to be honest. To live in and with the truth, the many co-existing truths. So if I feel excited and jubilant, I can freely express that. And if I feel sad and deflated, I can freely express that too. Angry or frustrated? Also, worthy of expression.
Now, this doesn’t mean I go around cursing out strangers and think it’s okay to take out my anger on others. That’s distinct from expressing anger.
Acknowledging and expressing my anger feels empowering. It connects me to my truth and my power. Intensity ebbs and flows, and passes. But what I refuse to do any longer is cut myself off from it.
When I sever myself from my emotions, I sever my psyche.
I won’t hide what I’ve been holding inside.
Now, I understand I’m not “helping” anyone by hiding.
I’ve tried to “help” people close to me feel more comfortable with my pain by hiding, at grave cost to myself and my own safety.
Sacrificing our embodiment of our emotional experiences to “help” those around us — it’s always been a lie, hasn’t it?
If I believe in treating people with compassion and care, it only makes sense that I acknowledge myself as a person, in need of compassion and care as well.
I didn’t know how to make sense of what happened to me. I didn’t know how to make sense of the sexual abuse by my teacher in elementary school. I didn’t know how to make sense of my powerlessness.
I kicked him. I tried to fight back. Can you imagine?
I held myself responsible for trying to stop him. I held myself responsible for trying to protect another student who he was abusing too.
I believed in my power. And I think deep down somewhere, it crushed me that I couldn’t figure a way out. It crushed me that someone else could hold power over me. I didn’t know how to make sense of that.
At age 20, when I realized I was still using eating disorder behaviors to cope, when I looked at myself and saw that I wasn’t fine, I held myself responsible. I realized no one was coming to save me, and that was true.
But on another level, part of me also gave up on trying to depend on anyone. I kept finding the courage. I kept pushing. I kept going. Even though I was still ambivalent about even being alive.
It’s just dawning on me, in a new way. I feel so sad and angry about how strong I had to be. For my younger self, I feel so sorry that she (I) had to take on so much responsibility for healing wounds that others inflicted.
That’s how we heal, right? Deciding to put in the work to look at our own wounds and ask what the wounds need? Doesn’t make it fair, does it? Doesn’t make it easy, does it?
Healing is beautiful. And that co-exists with the ugly, nasty, disgusting reality that my abusers inflicted these wounds and nothing can or will change these cold, hard facts.
It doesn’t mean that laws for survivors, accountability, etc. aren’t worthwhile. It just means that justice on a personal level may mean something different, depending on the person, their story, their situation, their systems of meaning, what makes sense to them.
In my life, justice has more to do with the alchemy that’s in my power. How I lead my own life. Prioritizing my own healing. Enforcing boundaries with people who’ve hurt me and who blocked my healing, keeping away from them, living my own life. Sharing my art, my writing, my voice. Creating space for me. What I need. My desires and dreams. What I want to share. What matters to me.
I don’t know why life isn’t fair. I don’t know why a person abuses another person. I don’t know how my teacher did such despicable things. I don’t know why he would. There’s a lot of life and this world that I really don’t understand.
I’ve tried reading. Tried considering the role of cowardice in human behavior. But what I mean is I can’t really wrap my whole head around it. Some actions just don’t make sense to me. And I’m accepting that.
I don’t need to understand everything. For some things, I just need to acknowledge it as real, as something that happened.
The truth is there are plenty of survivors out there, right now, right this very minute, who are so understandably confused and disgusted about what happened to them, and their brains and bodies can’t process it all right away. Many blame themselves. Because that’s how the brain tries to make sense of it.
And there’s no “fixing” that. There’s only human beings going about healing at their own pace, hopefully with the comfort of another human being to hold space for their pain.
There’s only that inch-by-inch progress toward understanding that it’s not our fault. Understanding that our feelings and experiences matter. And we can’t rush that. Because healing is a process that can’t be rushed.
Hurrying runs counter to something at the core of how healing works.
The people close to me when I was younger — they rushed me.
Likely because of their own discomfort with my pain, their own discomfort with their powerlessness to change some of the fundamental truths of being alive, and their own cowardice.
And regardless of intention, I was impacted. I live with complex PTSD. I live with the consequences of not having had space to heal as each trauma happened.
And I live a meaningful life.
I make art that reflects the complexities and dualities of being alive, existing in this world, being human.
And I love making art! I love singing! I love sharing my art! I love writing this blog! I love walking outside! I love being with my husband! I love petting our cat Milo! I love catching up with my best friends! I love being alive!
These truths co-exist. And no single truth is more true or more worthy of being expressed than another.
I choose honesty over sugar-coating and looking the other way.
I choose connection of depth over hiding my aching heart from others.
I choose making meaning over willfulness and disconnection from what’s real.
I choose my natural pace over treating my body and brain like a machine.
I choose my soul over looking around for who I think I should be.
I choose a perpetual flow of becoming over rigidity, conformity, and stagnation.
I choose being alive. I choose living.
Nicole Sylvia Javorsky
P.S. Music Corner Related music for today’s bowl of Chicken Doodle Soup … listen to my song, “I won’t hide what I’ve been holding inside” from my EP, so heavy on me!