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This is How I Stand Up for Myself

Give me respect or leave me alone. It's that simple.

Dearest Doodle Soupsters,


I just finished the painting above. It's called "Leap of faith" and this is me, right now, taking a leap of faith.


Maybe some won't understand why I'm writing this and why I would dare to share it. I'm making peace with that. I know why. And those of you who relate, you most likely also know why.


And deep down in your soul, maybe a wound even cries out, "Oh yes, oh yes. I know why. This pain, this ache, this bleeding, this spot where I was cut open, yes. I know it well and I wish I didn't."


So here I go ...


There are some things that cannot be said without taking a leap of faith first. And you can read my words, and hear it echoing in your head, me stalling, me prefacing, me adding words, adding words because I'm afraid to write what comes next.


And here I go ...


I'm afraid to write about this.


And I here I go again ...


There's a reason why I do not have a relationship with my parents. In fact, there are many, many, many reasons. And not a single one of those reasons has to do with me being unwilling to forgive, unwilling to find compassion for them, unwilling to try to talk to them, unwilling to understand their points of view.


I have been willing to forgive. In fact, there have been many occasions from childhood up until the recent present when I've been asked to forgive, and I thought I had.


Near the end of last year, I tried seeing my parents, tried to develop a new relationship with them. And my body cried out, "No! This doesn't feel right, this doesn't feel right." And I said to myself, "It's okay. It's different now. Just have patience, just wait a while."


Oh, how many times have I said those words to myself! How many times have I asked my soul, my body, my health to just wait a while?


And with having complex PTSD, this is something I have to remind my body a lot. I have to remind myself, "Hey, it's okay. It's just a memory. It's not happening now. You're safe."


So what happens when I tell my body to have patience when in fact my body is expressing intuition? My body and brain gets even more confused about what pain and fear is from the present, and what pain and fear is from the past. Flashbacks increase. I have more nightmares. I feel more distant from my soul and intuition.


And regardless of whether or not a person has PTSD, something along these lines can happen. Intuition can come in the form of stomaches, headaches, bodily pain, overthinking and ruminating, insomnia, nightmares, etc.


That doesn't mean that the cause of physical discomfort is always intuition. It's just that this is a cause that is often overlooked and explained away. It's easier to believe that all you need is a Tylenol than you need to set boundaries or even cut yourself off from someone you love.


I won't hide this. I've suffered alone and too many survivors suffer alone. I intend to embrace my humanity along with my capacity for empathy and compassion. And as I've written here before, kind isn't the same thing as nice.


Having empathy and compassion is distinct from self-sacrificing, looking the other way, and sugar-coating.


I don't need pity. I don't need sympathy. I don't need judgement. I don't need advice. I don't need suggestions on how to deal with my parents. I don't need to hear another word of people telling me to look at it from their perspective when that's what I've been doing my whole life.


Here's what I need: respect.


Here's what I need: to proudly share my art.


Here's what I need: to embrace my chosen family and prioritize my relationships with people who've respected my boundaries, my needs, allowed me to be honest with them all along. This doesn't mean my chosen family is composed of perfect people. Nobody is perfect. I'm not perfect. And I won't aim to be perfect and I'm still working on embracing that. Rather, my chosen family is composed of kind people who respect others' boundaries not only when it benefits them, and because respecting others' boundaries is one aspect of love. Respecting boundaries means respecting others' autonomy, means trusting them to decide what's best for them. It means understanding the difference between trying to control someone versus love someone.


I deserve to have my needs respected.


I deserve to have my boundaries respected.


I deserve peace.


I deserve to be treated with compassion and kindness.


I am an autonomous being. No one has to put up with control, abuse, manipulation, gaslighting, disrespect.


My mom continues to violate the boundaries I set. And this impacts me. It makes me feel disrespected and like I've been treated callously. I still grieve our relationship. And that's my grief to feel and work through at my own pace. And my grief doesn't mean that I should be in touch with my mom or that I want to or that it's what I need. My grief comes from love and the absence of a mom who feels safe.


Having a relationship with people who've continuously hurt and treat me with disrespect ... to "fix" my grief ... to make them feel better ... so others won't misunderstand my reasons ... it's not a solution. It's disconnection. It's avoidance. It's based in fear, shame, and feelings of isolation.


This is how I stand up for myself. This is how I share my soul. This is how I stand in my power. This is how I grieve. This is how I share compassion and understanding with survivors like me. This is me refusing to hide the realities of PTSD and surviving abuse.


I won't be told how or what to feel. I already know what and how I feel. And when I feel confused and unsure, I know how to access and work through my feelings.


Give me respect or leave me alone. It's that simple.


Standing up in my power and with honesty,


Nicole Sylvia Javorsky

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