I learned fear before I learned to sing my ABCs.
The fear began with a fear of letting down a man I thought loved me. It morphed into fear of all the confusion and pain I was feeling. Then fear that I would be murdered in the midst of my trafficking. Next came the fear that no one would ever believe me. Finally, I began to fear I was beyond justice. Beyond help. Beyond hope.
Fear was familiar to me. I’ve lived with or in fear since I was 4 years old. Fear became an old friend of mine that was constantly in the back of my mind. Fear and I did life together.
When I began working in advocacy, the fear that bubbled back up in me was not alarming. I knew it like the back of my hand. Tight chest, lump in my throat, shaking hands. It was a part of my identity that just felt like home. I leaned into it, embraced it, and let it govern my interactions with my advocacy. I knew these worries. What if I let them down? What if they didn’t believe me? What if I got hurt?
I addressed these fears head on. I knew how to walk through them. What I didn’t expect was how my fear was received.
You see, the organizations I worked with faced my fears head on, too. They walked through them with me. They helped me process them.
All of the sudden, my fear was gone. This old friend of mine dissolved into nothingness and I did not miss it one bit.
Thanks to an organization fighting to eradicate human trafficking, fear is no longer my friend. It does not consume me. It does not rule my life.
I’ve been free from my trafficker for over a decade, but for the first time in my life, I am breaking free from the fear he suffocated me with for 20 years.