Fawn: (n) A young deer in its first year.
Fawn: (v) (of a person) give a servile display of exaggerated flattery or affection, typically in order to gain favor or advantage
When I was 19, I was in relationship with an abusive 35 year old white man who might have been a serial killer on the side.
He was manipulative and scary but I felt like that was the only person that would ever love me. I felt like that was what I deserved. I felt like we were two weird kindred spirits traveling through the world while everyone else was so pretty and polished. I thought it was only right of me to be mentally abused and mistreated by this old scary full grown man.
But at least I knew who I was.
I was an actor. I was hungry for art. I was bright eyed and I was thin. I was cute. I was faux innocent. I was faux Christian. I was goofy and fun. I was laid back. I was so sad and depressed I couldn’t even breathe.
But at least I knew who I was.
It was the worst time ever, and I don’t miss it one bit, but I do miss the feeling of certainty that came with that false identity.
Eventually I let all that shit go. I woke up with roaches crawling out of his toilet and an apartment which smelled like sewage and mold. I finally began to cough and felt like I was going to vomit as I looked on this man with alcohol bottles piled up in a corner and a breathalyzer that was needed to drive his car. I finally said it.
I left. I chose me. But then that feeling of choice got so overwhelming. Who was I? I wasn’t a cute fun actor anymore. Now I was a little traumatized and jumpy. Remembering him throwing a table at Pizza Hut at the cashier. I would scratch at my skin. Worried. Didn’t I deserve that? What do I do when I am not in constant fawn mode of fight, flight, freeze or fawn? I always forget about that fourth f. The one where I try anything to placate and create an illusion that everything is okay. Where I pacify and try to keep the peace. Without the chaos who are we? We the fawns who thrive on caretaking?
I did it again. With another grimy old white man that could be a serial killer. My friends said no. My heart said no. My body said no. But my trauma response said yes. This is what I deserve.
Until I woke up again. And panicked and went back and awoke again. Panicked went back and awoke again. Panicked went back and awoke.
I’ve been awake for about five years now. Still have no clue who I am. I have learned my patterns of fawning and now I’m like a fucking reindeer when my back is against the wall. I will fight you with my horns. I will fight you to the death.
The fawn is dead. Or is she? Sometimes she shows up in the most mysterious situations. Sometimes she speaks for me when it is time to share my work. When it is time to write she tells me that I shouldn’t be controversial. When it is time to sing she tells me to be softer. When it is time to work she tells me to keep the peace with everyone at all times. But when my back is against the wall finally she disappears. This is an improvement I think.
The fawn is still here. Don’t know if I could ever kill that inner animal. She comes in handy in a pinch. She knows how to get what she wants. I get upset with her when she shows up because she reminds me of those days when I smiled under the daze of alcoholic breath and driving through the Los Angeles grapevine with men who made me feel like a stranger in my own body.
But accepting her and not throwing metaphorical bottles at her has been helpful. Feeding her affirmations when she shows up and reminding her to breathe deep and speak her mind has been helpful. Existing with the fawn helps. Though she makes me feel weak. Knowing her kindness is what saved me in dangerous situations reminds me that she is so strong.
I want to let her know she can rest now. She doesn’t have to protect me anymore. She doesn’t have to put her body on the line. She doesn’t have to hide my artistic side. She doesn’t have to smile until she bleeds. I want her to rest. I want her to know I’ve found some strength. Sometimes misguided and followed by wild tears but I’ve found it.
Rest easy young fawns, and breathe into the afternoon air knowing that from those past situations you are safe. You are safe.