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Fear of Living?

For Vocal's 'Identity' Challenge, I took a trip down memory lane to the time when I was three.

By Karina ThyraPublished 4 months ago 2 min read
Fear of Living?
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

My first word was "ayaw," meaning "no" in Filipino.

My identity crisis began around age two or three when I learned to articulate my feelings.

It was bedtime, I was being told that we had to be disciplined because we were loved.

I looked around the room, I remembered seeing a framed crossed-stitch angel (for a good night) and feeling upset.

In response, I quietly expressed my belief that one shouldn't hurt those they love.

Dramatic, perhaps,

but at three,

tough discipline made me seethe.

Watching dramatic scenes seemed more effective in getting a point across.

(I wouldn't let most friends or family read this. Maybe a few non-judgmental ones; it might aid content engagement.)

Those who knew that despite my relatively sheltered life,

I felt fractured and fragile,

as if I had lived for a long time.

As a toddler, I memorized the poem "El Viaje Defenetivo" (The Definitive Journey) in English

. I would have my dolls reenact the line "and the people who have loved me will pass away",

from the perspective of someone who had gone first.

Perhaps this poem subconsciously imprinted on me the idea that,


I might go first,

and I wouldn't feel bad about it.

Or maybe I would. I loved the poem because I related to it,

yet I was irked by that fact.

Later in life, I disliked being called an "old soul",

by family friends from academic circles who also became my friends. While meant as a compliment,

it affirmed my feelings that I might not have much time.

An irrational thought nagged at me as a child,

and persisted,

despite my efforts to thwart it.

Like Phineas and Ferb's summers,

my torment seemed endless.

Every day,

I woke up remembering the first days of school,

thinking I never wanted to progress beyond nursery, kindergarten, and so on,

because maybe I would live longer.

Perhaps other children felt the same, viewing primary school as a joke

and preferring to play, knowing most of what would be taught.

I felt burdened with the knowledge that life was finite,

spending much of it in school.

Then, I took a different approach,

immersing myself in learning and people to drown out inner thoughts, making the years feel less like a prison.

I honored the patient me who saved me from dangers,

knowing life,

in some form,

would continue.

Without realizing,

I finished the first draft of this at 3 am,

on December 9th,

the anniversary of my first accident at 6 years old when I got hit by a swing.

A scar in the shape of an asterisk remains on my forehead.

It's almost imperceptible now,

but at the time, I knew I wasn't going to die.

I even argued that what hit me was a slipper and not the swing.

On the operating table,

I even cussed out the doctor stitching my forehead,

because I wanted to sleep or go home, not have a chit-chat.

This is paradoxical, maybe ironic,

because I love my life now.

I continue to study, rarely succumbing to societal and peer pressures,

irrationally fearful of being spontaneous,

for me to live longer.

You might think of me as a narcissist,

but I've spent nearly every waking moment savoring the glimmers I find. It's how I affirm myself,

stuck in a flesh prison growing at a glacial pace.

That these glimmers, no matter how mundane,

help me get through my fear of living.

surreal poetryslam poetryperformance poetryhumor

About the Creator

Karina Thyra

Fangirl of sorts.

Twitter: @ArianaGsparks

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Comments (2)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran4 months ago

    I'm just so glad you're better and love your life now! Sending you lots of love and hugs! ❤️

  • The Dani Writer4 months ago

    This is deep and resonant. I enjoyed your sharing and smile because there were definite intersections in our respective lives in how we viewed the world and life.

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