The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

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This week has been one of the most uplifting, fascinating, and emotional ones of my Second Life. There’s so much swirling around in my thoughts, but I’ll try my best to let brevity reign. I just wish I could express how much it means to me that you’re taking a few moments to read my words. ♡

The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most
Please click for full size.

When I wrote about personality types the other day, the site 16Personalities.com was remembered to me as a wonderful place to get some insight into the facets lending themselves to the unique personality brew that makes us who we are. And in all the personality tests I’ve taken over the years, I have always been unpeeled and revealed as an INFP: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. This summary encapsulates the type beautifully:

“INFP personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better. While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, INFPs have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine. The risk of feeling misunderstood is unfortunately high for the INFP personality type, but when they find like-minded people to spend their time with, the harmony they feel will be a fountain of joy and inspiration.”

It was especially timely this week for me to remember and rediscover my INFP roots, as the wonderful Kess Crystal wrote a post on Thursday inviting her readers to find the feeling, pass it on. “[We] often appreciate people for their work in Second Life but so rarely find time to tell them,” Kess wrote. She encouraged people to IM those they follow, but may have never spoken to, on SL social media, and offer them sincere appreciation for their work and efforts. I thought this was such a lovely idea; maybe the loveliest idea I’d heard in a long time. But as I sat there in-world, my fingers dancing a slight tremble in their hovering pose above the keys, anxiety gripped me around the heart like a cold embrace. I couldn’t do it, and I knew exactly why.

***

“Buried deep as you can dig inside yourself,
And hidden in the public eye,
Such a stellar monument to loneliness …
And the grave that you refuse to leave,
The refuge that you’ve built to flee,
Is the place that you have come to fear the most …”

It’s difficult to write about your childhood troubles and traumas without sounding overwrought, and because so many of us had difficult times going up, it feels indulgent to delve into them too deeply; mine were no more important or deeply felt than anyone else’s, after all. But I can distill it down to growing up as a curious, idealistic girl who always looked for the good in others and the world, but still felt inescapably lonely. Both of my parents struggled with mental illness, and disappeared (emotionally or physically) for stretches of time. So I tried to be stoic as a lighthouse, while finding myself equally as solitary. Books were my refuge, fictional characters my friends. I was misunderstood emotionally and physically, looking older than my age (always taller and more “developed” than the other girls), and apart in appearances too: all red hair and freckles, with skin so pale it betrayed my every blush, much to my torturous schoolmates’ delight.

As I got older, I also discovered that love given freely can be twisted and abused, so trust became a barrier reserved for a modest few. Yet I still had hope, and a gullible naivete, that I wore like an onion skin armor; I felt like I was protecting myself, but it was really just an easily-permeable membrane that let the wrong ones in, time and again. And it brings me to the moment that leapt to the forefront of my mind when I was trying to send off those IMs Kess encouraged.

When I was 18 and fresh into my first semester of college, my home burned down. I blamed myself entirely (it was sparked by an untended candle in my bedroom), and it spun me into a vortex of depression and guilt. After a few weeks of desperate searching, we found a new home to rent, but it was far afield of the school I’d been attending. Getting there meant a 2-1/2 hour commute on foot and bus, but I was determined to keep attending. Even if it meant trudging the deserted, often snow-laden sidewalks of my Upstate NY town in the dusky pre-dawn morning, the inconvenience was a non-issue; I had earned it. I didn’t know how to atone for indirectly destroying our home, so every chilly footfall became a penance willingly paid. I didn’t know if my mom would ever forgive me. I didn’t know if I’d ever forgive myself.

Then one morning, as I stepped carefully through untrodden snowfall, a car drove up beside me. Two young men starting calling to me: “Hey pretty girl, what’s your name?” “Hey baby, need a ride somewhere?” I didn’t know what to do; I was alone and felt under siege, they were insistent and unrelenting. Finally, one of them held his mobile phone out of the window and waved it at me. “At least give me your number, baby?” I hesitated, then moved closer, thinking if I put my number into his phone, they’d go on their way. But as I approached, the phone-waver withdrew, quickly turned to his side, then hauled around and hit me full in the face … with a milkshake. Sticky milk filled my eyes and vanilla flavoring coated my lips, and they peeled off with triumphant yowls of laughter piercing the morning air. “Fuck you, ugly c*nt!” the milkshake bearer yelled as I stood in stunned silence.

I walked the mile or so back home, went down into the basement and stripped off my sodden clothes, then sat naked next to the washing machine and wept with bone-deep anguish. (I’m even tearing up as I type this; amazing to think this was more than 10 years ago now.) I just kept asking myself: Why do people do this? Why would someone lure you in with kindness, only to give you abuse? And what is wrong with me that I can’t see it coming?

When I offer my support to people on Flickr, I do it with such ardent, heartfelt appreciation that I sometimes worry and wonder if it ever comes across as feigned; like our wavering mirages here in the desert that seem real, but when you get up close, you discover it was just an illusion after all. But I mean every word I say, and it comes easily to me in comments, where there’s a “safety” in knowing that the other person feels no obligation to respond. In an Instant Message though, you never know what – if anything – you’ll receive on the other end. Might I be laughed at? Ignored? Will the other person feel undue pressure to say something pleasant in like kind? It’s amazing the thoughts and considerations that swirl around in our heads when we reach out to someone that first time.

But … I’m going to try. I have to try. Because SL is a place filled with unique, fascinating, thoughtful, creative, and often very like-minded souls, many of whom probably fall within the Introspective/Intuitive personality types themselves. Stephen Hawking said that “quiet people have the loudest minds”, and I think so many of us in Second Life are singing on the inside while we whisper our way through the world. And it doesn’t need to be that way.

So if you have very graciously and thoughtfully read all the way through this post (what was that thing I said about brevity again?), please take a moment to consider Kess’s wonderful idea and get in touch with someone in SL to let them know that you admire their designs, appreciate their photography, whatever it may be that sparks you. Because she so sweetly and compassionately reached out to me, I met my bestie/soul-sister/virtual-wifey (we haven’t quite worked out the ideal definition yet, much to our shared delight) in Chloë-Dakota. And there have been so many others with whom I have beautiful connections because of their thoughtful, caring gestures. So to those I’ve not yet had the bravery to send a message to … I’m coming for you. :) Perhaps more as a gentle wave than an avalanche, but still: you deserve the be appreciated for all that you do. People like you make Second Life the colorful, creative, amazing, and awe-inspiring place it has come to be. ♡

Look

Body // Lara Mesh Body v3.5 by Maitreya
Head & Skin // Melissa by Genesis Lab
Ears // Steking Ears Season 5 by Mandala
Hair // Karee (Essentials HUD) by Elikatira

Pose & Inspiration

Pose // Sit 026 by !Bang Poses
Song Spark // Dashboard Confessional – The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

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25 thoughts on “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

    Gia Swizzle said:
    May 28, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Okay, I teared up and felt a connection with a lot of what you wrote; beautifully written by the way. As an introvert myself, I have been told in honest moments with friends that it can come off as being arrogant, but of coarse once they get to know me, it is just not the case. I too had some guys that picked on me in my teenager years, one in particular was relentless and has effected me to this day.
    Ever, I just loved this post and appreciate your work! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 28, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      Thank you *so* much for your beautiful words and for sharing what you’ve been through, Gia! It’s so fulfilling to know that you share these things with others; it really helps to not feel so alone. Introverts are so often misunderstood, but like that Stephen Hawking quote, we often have the loudest minds. I feel so blessed and appreciative for your comments, Gia. You’re wonderful! ♥

      Like

    colleen Criss said:
    May 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Has anyone told you lately that you are a wonderful human being. I’m glad to know you. x

    Liked by 2 people

      portiapexington said:
      May 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      It’s been so many years since I’ve taken the personality-type test myself but when you write, I see a lot of myself in your words. What you did today was unspeakably brave and, believe me, I didn’t think it was possible to admire you more, Ever, but I do.

      It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of styling, blogging, and maintaining the high standads we set for ourselves; sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s time for much else. Sometimes there isn’t. (Even now, I’m typing this response one-handed with my three year old nephew on my lap and I don’t anticipate a change of position for the next hour or three. ;) )

      I think it’s important to make the time to say something when it matters to you. Honey, this matters. You took a big risk this morning and I can just imagine the effect it will have on people who read what you’ve written here, spreading out like ripples into the future.

      As for those young men, I wish I could say why they acted as they did. People can be cruel. People can also be wise and kind and brilliant. Given the choice, and there’s always a choice, I know which I would rather be and I think you do as well. Keep sending that warm and loving energy into the universe, honey. I know it’s coming back to you. I’m sending some to you right now, actually. <3

      ~ Portia

      Liked by 2 people

        Ever Afterr responded:
        May 28, 2016 at 9:14 pm

        You are so beautiful and full of positive, radiant energy and light, Portia! Your words helped me so much the other day when I was struggling to take a picture, and they help me once more as I try to be brave and not always acquiesce to anxiety and the unknown. Knowing there are amazing, kindhearted people like yourself in the virtual world is such a gift and a blessing. ♥

        It’s still not easy for me to reach out to people in real-time. Comments feel so much gentler and forgiving; we can always delete and rewrite, erase and rewind. And there’s always that silly, niggling worry: what if I send a message and they’re busy? Or AFK? Or have no interest in friendly chatter and banter?

        But we can bury ourselves under “what ifs” if we forget to embrace the “why nots”. Life is short, right? SL itself may be fleeting with Sansar on the horizon. It’s amazing souls like you who inspire me and remind me to get out from the “shell” in “shelter” and really start experiencing all this amazing virtual world has to offer. So much warm, loving energy for you too, dear P! ♥

        Like

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 28, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Awww, Colleen! You say so much in two lovely, heartfelt sentences. I appreciate you so much, dear lady. You’re beautiful inside & out. ♥

      Like

    CM/TW said:
    May 28, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    This is from the heart, you can tell just by the intimacy you have created with the words. I’m so sorry you went through something like this. Portia said so eloquently things I would love to have said myself but couldn’t find proper words. I strongly believe in Karma and I think you put out there the very things you get in return. Those men who did what they did and made you feel the way you did, I hope Karma has come back to bite them in the ass hard.

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 28, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      You’re so very thoughtful and kind, Ty. Karma is a concept that resonates deeply with me because I so believe in the concept that we create our own reality and get what we give. The challenge is understanding why then bad things would happen to good people, and vice versa, but the universe works in mysterious ways. It’s like those beautiful ripples that Portia mentioned: sometimes the simplest words and smallest gestures can come back to you in riotous waves later on. We just have to recognize them when they come. :)

      I would love to speak to you more in-world; I love your photography and have found your blog (which I confess I read top-to-bottom) to be really intriguing. Thank you so much for reaching out to me. You’re a wonderful soul. ♥

      Liked by 1 person

    Moz Loordes said:
    May 29, 2016 at 4:12 am

    The bullies of this world can bring you down but ultimately they never prosper. I see this the older I get, the things we do and the results of them – even decades down the line, it’s the rules of the Universe. But if you keep that inner person who is bright and thoughtful and beautiful in the innocent witness state where you don’t react, then it’s you who has won. <3

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 29, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      Beautifully said, Moz! The “innocent witness state” – I really like that. Kind of like surrounding yourself in a cushion of positive energy to keep out the negative vibes, letting unkind words and actions bounce off as best you can. And you’re right, the things we put out into the world can go a long way to creating our experience. I’m not sure if you’ve read “The Four Agreements”, but your comment really reminded me of that wonderful book. It’s a very inspiring read! ♥

      Like

        Moz Loordes said:
        May 30, 2016 at 6:17 am

        That looks good, thanks for the recommendation <3

        Like

    Astrid de Manyet said:
    May 29, 2016 at 5:51 am

    ♥ I have no words that can express what I feel. I’m a survivor of vicious domestic abuse. Your words mean the world to me. Know that you make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 29, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      /me hugs you so tightly! ♥ You and me both, dear Astrid. It’s something we carry around with us, but as long as we never let it define who we are, we can rise above. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, I appreciate you so much! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

    Miya said:
    May 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

    One of the facets I love about blogging and taking pictures, is that it is a wonderful medium from which to let the inner out. It is healing. It lets us talk about issues that are buried depth and stored in our inner self. Being bullied is real. I remember an incident that help fused my thesis on ethnicity when I was working on my Masters. My dad had accompanied me to the doctor. Both of us were smoking a cigarette (it was our time together, as it was frown upon for a Chinese girl to smoke XD). A cyclist rode close to us and spat on us, and called us “Chink”. I remember turning around and in anger curling out a string of profanities, using every street guttural I did not know I even possess. My dad touched my arm and in his quiet voice told me to “stop”, that I could not change the racism that exist, and that by cursing him, I was no better than he. I was angry at my dad’s response, and that was what motivated me to specialize in ethnicity and education.

    We all have insights and experience, and I am glad we can express and share via our Second Life blogs:)

    In Second Life, I have a wonderful family…sons, daughters, grandkids (yikes!), and sisters I care deeply about. Their journey in SL is an outlet from a wide spectrum of the mundane to the tragic. In Second Life, we can be renewed, and in so doing find our higher selves. Each blog, take pictures, or express in SL. I am lucky to have met the wonderful friends and family I have in Second Life, and I can only hope all have a positive and wonderful Second Life where we can be simply ourselves, without blinders, without hiding.

    Big warm hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 30, 2016 at 12:00 am

      Big warm hugs for you too, Miya! I’m so grateful and appreciative that you shared your story here and on your blog, and I’m so sorry for what you went through. It’s always difficult to remember that racism, prejudice, intolerance, and similar are all just byproducts of fear; when you’re in that moment, you feel like *you’re* somehow the unworthy one. I’m so glad that you transformed the anger you felt into motivation to go into your educational career. I hope it’s been really worthwhile and fulfilling for you! The world needs more compassionate, forward-thinking teachers in all mediums to help continue pushing our collective enlightenment forward. ♥

      Like

    Miya said:
    May 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Wrote this for you….thanks for the inspiration :) https://miyarpjournal.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/forever-ever-afterr/

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 29, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Thank you so much, sweet Miya! I responded there in length, but I just have to say it again: you’re truly wonderful, and I appreciate you so much. ♥

      Like

    themaravillas said:
    May 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    There is nothing I can really add that hasn’t already been expressed in the comments..thank you for being so open and allowing us to be moved through your words and reminding us that there is more to the person then just what we see in the pictures and words. Continue to shine your light.. those who need it and are open will receive it.

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      May 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      Your words are so kind and beautiful, Alexa. I truly appreciate it so much! I know not everyone is fond of wordy blog posts, and would rather just get to the lovely fashion and information about events and destinations, but sometimes I’m a wordy birdy and there’s just more I feel like I want to express. I’m so thankful and grateful that it’s appreciated, and I thank you so much for leaving your lovely words here for me! ♥

      Liked by 1 person

    Hope « Happily, Ever Afterr in Second Life said:
    May 30, 2016 at 8:54 am

    […] as the company you keep, and I’ve had some truly wonderful conversations since I wrote my very personal post on Saturday morning. I even managed to see my instant messages cap for the first time ever, which […]

    Like

    love77777 said:
    June 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Life can be really cruel sometimes. However, if you can walk around with kindness in your heart, after the bumps and bruises that life gives us, then you truly win against those bumps and bruises. Each one tests us and leaves us stronger, but they also leave us so completely changed too. I understand the apprehension of meeting new people. However, there’s much to be said about dusting yourself off and moving forward. Be strong and be brave Ever. Your kindness also touches hurt hearts too–and your warmth has not gone unnoticed. It is not done in vein. Big Big Big Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Afterr responded:
      June 5, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      You’re so amazingly thoughtful and kind, Violet! I truly appreciate you so much, and you said it beautifully: dusting yourself off and moving forward is the only way to go, otherwise we remain in stasis and never grow as a person. Thank you for for the big big big hugs, and I’m sending lots your way too! ♥

      Like

    love77777 said:
    June 6, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Aww thank you Ever!! I needed big hugs tonight too! I’ve had a lot go on and I invite all the hugs :)

    Liked by 1 person

    *starry* Stellar Moonwinder said:
    June 15, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Ever, thank you so much for this blog, and i apologise for only getting to it now. I am one of those type too, the quiet, often mistaken for being cold, introspective types, and I must admit when you first started commenting on my posts I wondered what your “game” was. I’ve been known for trusting too easily and it’s only in recent times I’ve become more suspicious of people and their intentions, but with you I can clearly see that there was no need for my earlier trepidation. You are a wonderful human being, and I truly enjoy the comments you leave on my pictures, they make me beams. Don’t ever stop being who you are, you’re an inspiration xx

    Liked by 1 person

      Ever Amaranthine responded:
      June 17, 2016 at 3:56 am

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Stellar! I’m a little bit sad that it initially came across that way, but I completely understand why that would be. A friend and I were just talking the other day about how encounters in SL can create mistrust and have to be handled with caution. I’m just glad that my comments are received in the warm way I intend them, and I really do think your pictures are wonderful. :) I hope you have a marvelous weekend, dear lady! ♥

      Like

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