What Fear Looks Like Now
Experiencing fear in my present-tense life, from normal human trepidation to heavy circumstantial panic, carries with it an irrefutable message to my body; you are in danger, prepare to be injured. I’ve had the privilege of redefining a lot of what my abuse warped and manipulated inside of me, but fear is something that tends to speak first. Demanding an internal response to that of my trauma before I even have a chance to kneel down in compassionate belief.
This manifests in the dampening of my already naturally quiet voice, cowering, and tension. I back into a corner, whether internally or externally, and I subvert. I shrink. I hide. I attempt to be as helpful as possible, deny as much of my needs as I am able to, and assimilate to what my abuse has taught me my role is in every situation. Though this differs, due to the complexities of environments and what is socially acceptable amongst them, the resounding gong of this trauma carries a tone in my body that extends much further than what the situation usually calls for. The tension, the subversion, the timid nature, the need to take up as little space as I am capable of becoming the captain of my body‘s ship.
Previously in life, this partnered alongside my running. I would take myself out of the situation, home, environment, job, school, relationship, community, and the path I was seeking/involved in. Not only was my response a demand of the situation, due to the lack of resources I needed and couldn’t attain there, it also a pretty solid message to my body that this fleeing response was justified. That my subversion, my shrinking, my role-adaption, my cowering, my quietness, my greying of my colour was needed in order to be safe.
Although this isn’t the only facet of existence I’ve been living in the past few months, it has been a foundational one, and the residual impacts of it are mighty. So much so that my nervousness, accompanied by my tears and sensitivity, is a near-daily occurrence. The residual impacts of applying for a visa and facing painful authority fears, advocating for health and trauma in spaces that it is not known, and walking through individual and coupled healing with my partner-in-life teammate have left me in a state where I now am crawling back to who I am versus who I’ve had to be to survive this. The option to do this, the knowledge that I was even surviving, the resource I hold to do the work...they are immeasurably privileged. Immeasurably.
Step one of Skyler-reclamation began this past weekend, in the form of stripping the brown from my naturally blonde hair and choosing to return to pink. The steps to follow are unclear, messy, and numerous, but I’m here. In the depths of it. Writing this bare from a bathtub, nursing a 15-day plus migraine, nerve pain, unbearable bone pain, autoimmune flu-symptoms, lack of mobility, uncomfortable heart and lung pain, hands that cramp up and become unusable, body rashes, nausea, and so much fucking more. This body the evidence that the justice system demands, but in a form that is currently dismissed.
My belief of her, my advocacy for my many versions of me screaming for help inside, my work here... It’s daunting. It’s scary. It’s filled with trepidation. So many moments have passed where I’ve navigated dropping involuntarily to my knees, screaming to die over the pain wrecking me, for that felt like peace. So many moments have passed where I’ve lacked the resources I hold now, the opportunity I hold now, and I’ve managed to survive. Today is different.
Today so much of my work is in the deliriously agonising grief work of surrendering survival, rather than picking up new tools to cope. It’s about new life being discovered and chosen from old wounds that were not. It’s about me, all of me, in every uncomfortable form, taking up space. It’s about honouring that the mere typing of “Taking up space,“ makes me squirm in fear and anguish. Tears rolling down my gaunt cheeks.
I get to do this. So. Fucking. Many. Do. Not. I am not doing this work on their behalf, I am not their voice, and I urge you to seek out their stories as you hold space for mine. My white voice is not the only one there is. My truth and discovery, my work and pursuits, my demonstration of unfair and demanded and powerful healing are privileged. Just like my education, my access to healthcare, my committed partnership, and the roof over my head.
I stand here, kneel here, crawl here, die and become here. I believe you here. I respect you here. I do work to undo my prejudice and my racism and my white privilege here. Because it’s crucial. Just like my healing.
I am not the only one, and our world barely heard me.
I hope that I can do work that impacts even the smallest of change to that devastating and ancient reality.
You are not alone.