I want to do what I can to make this world less lonely and the way I know how to do that is through being honest with my art.
Dearest Doodle Soupers,
The painting below is "Wild Child of Mother Earth." I began this painting a few years ago. I thought I was done with it. Or, maybe I just left it for a while, let it be what it was.
When I began this painting, I had been staying with my family in Queens. I had just moved back to New York City from the D.C. area where I lived for a couple years. I only planned to stay a few months until I found a new living arrangement back in New York, but the pandemic complicated this plan and I ended up staying there for about nine months. By the time I moved to be on my own again in Brooklyn, I remembered so many things that part of me really wanted to disconnect from and let all that yuck lay dormant inside of me. While I was living in Queens, I was faced with the reality of how my parents had treated me my whole life, and that they had never stopped treating me that way.
When I was getting out again, to move to Brooklyn, I felt like I was fleeing something really big and scary. I guess I felt that way because I was. I didn't even go back to get my stuff. I couldn't imagine choosing to go back there, to the building where I struggled so much to break free, and right across the street from the school where I was abused.
A few months ago, I went back. Someone very special to me, he helped me go back there and get my stuff. One of those things was this painting, the beginning of it. The painting used to be that same little spunky girl, same edges, walls, but the colors green and black. Recently, I added the red and pink hues, the same color I had painted the girl's hair a few years before.
It's funny - I dyed my hair pink once. I think it might have been around the time when I decided the follow this path, the same year I realized no one was coming to save me and I decided that I wanted to live and I was going to have to find my own way to that life I really wanted. That life? That life was always simple: feeling safe for the first time in my life, getting access to real support so I could heal, finding real love - the kind of love without stipulation that I be somebody else or pretend to be somebody else.
I'm kind and yet, I am not tame. I am wild. And I don't want to be someone else. I only wanted to be different because I wanted to be loved by people who have a different definition of love than my own. And to me, true love is based upon mutual respect, trust, the freedom to be ourselves and to grow and change along the way, accepting each other as we are. Being "nice" is distinct from being kind. Sometimes, kindness means being honest and clear about where we stand.
"Wild Child of Mother Earth" is a a part of my new series of paintings coming to my website over the next few weeks - Love Letters to Mother Earth. It's a series about loving myself, loving this planet, loving nature, loving artists and art and music and dancing and being alive, loving what's genuine and beautiful and messy in all of us. It's real hope based on real love. It's not platitudes or sugar-coating. It's living in reality and finding what's so precious here. This Earth is filled with polluted rivers, landfills, chemical plants that turn what would be fresh air into poison that's already making people sick and killing them. And still, we are here. There are people and forests and rivers and lakes and wildlife to love and protect from further harm. Nothing is ever over. I learned that firsthand the hard way. I almost died so many times and yet, I didn't. I'm here. I'm hurting. I'm grieving. Maybe, I'm not the exact same person I would have been with different life experiences, less trauma, more support.
And somehow, I wouldn't trade my life for any other. Not because the trauma was okay or because it made me who I am. No. I love my life because it's my life to live. The pain doesn't lessen the joy and still, the joy doesn't lessen the pain. And I'm okay with that.
Part of me really doesn't want to write about my parents. Part of me still wants to protect them. At the same time, I've spent my whole life protecting them at my own expense. The dynamics of our home meant I was never truly at home anywhere because I didn't know how to believe myself. They taught me to distrust my intuition and that in order to be loved and appreciated, I had to mold what makes me special into a form they could appreciate and understand. I was never able to do it all the way, never able to distrust and betray myself as completely as their version of love required me to do. They were wrong and their parenting left me extremely vulnerable to the abuse I experienced from other people along the way. I still have this urge to delete the above, say it another way without using the words "my parents," but isn't that the problem in the first place? I don't want my parents to feel hurt and at same time, what does it say that this is what comes up when I try to write what I naturally want to write and share? What does it say that this is something I'm afraid to write and share?
I want to meet my fears with courage. I know I'm not the only one who has been hurt by their family. I'm not the only one who is afraid to believe their side of the story because maybe on the other side of believing themselves lies such deep pain, anger, grief, sadness, loss. And because it's understandably hard for lots of people to grapple with the realities of why some of us are estranged from our parents, this leads many of us to feel misunderstood and under-supported when dealing with this situation. I want to do what I can to make this world less lonely and the way I know how to do that is through being honest with my art, following the way of that wild child inside of me, speaking her truth out loud without cowering to those I'm not speaking to or for.
And I think the best way I can follow her is to believe her, acknowledge her, see her, hear her, feed her. I have to feed her. As I've discussed here before, I starved myself as a way to cope with my trauma before I found a trauma-informed DBT therapist six years ago. Denying myself nourishment was a way of maintaining a state of denial, being less here, reinforcing disconnection from my reality, my pain, my truth, my real story. And in being honest through my art, my music, my writing, my dance, I feed my soul, the core of who I am, the wild child inside of me, my natural self, or any other term I can use to describe this central living thing that's at once a part of me and the whole of me. After all, I named this newsletter Chicken Doodle Soup - I think it's meaningful that I did. I think there's a reason I made the tagline, "Serving up stories about making art to nourish our hungry hearts."
I've been asking myself a lot lately - what is it that I need to share? Why do I share? I love making art for myself and yet there's some reason I feel compelled to get it out there - why and how? And still, I keep being led to this - what more can I do than be myself and share who I am, share what comes naturally, what I feel somehow naturally driven to share? Isn't this what I'm here to do? To be me and everything else stems from that choice, to be myself and keep exploring what that means, allowing myself to grow and change and also enjoy existing, being here? Maybe sharing is intentional, but it's also natural. It makes sense that I want to connect, I want to share what's meaningful to me, that I want to do what I can to help others, that I know that sometimes doing it alone is easier and also sometimes, not better though than doing it together.
I don't think that loving is easy or about hiding or pretending or retreating from what's scary or hard. I think that loving is more about facing fear with courage, about being ourselves and making space where others feel comfortable being themselves too, about being home, having room to be messy and loved for that too, having a soft place to land after a hard day or in the midst of a confusing situation. Love can move us to do some pretty radical things, some pretty kind, caring, unselfish things.
This reminds me of the description I wrote for the upcoming Love Letters to Mother Earth series. I look forward to sharing more of the paintings from this series with you soon ...
What moves us toward protection and care if not love? In honoring and loving my natural self, my soul, I learn how to safeguard my tenderness and the magic that is mine to wield. And this love guides me toward the people and spaces where I feel free and valued as my true self.
My hope is that in honoring and loving wild lands, tender artists, our authentic selves, this mysterious and beautiful universe, and this magical and messy planet of ours, we will learn to safeguard what is precious and sacred in each other and this world. Standing under a canopy of towering trees is humbling, freeing, incomparably special. It’s precious. So are you and so am I and so is each river and forest and so is this planet.
With love for who I really am,
Nicole Sylvia Javorsky