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Another thread about fears, puberty and how to know if your kid is done...

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gracyomalley

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Had a heart to heart with DD new (4 months) coaches and DD yesterday. Turns out that after the optional program went from 10 girls to 35 this last 2 weeks with another gym closing, things are necessarily getting stricter and girls getting less individual time and wiggle room with assignments and move up plans. I had seen this coming for a few weeks as DD, who had been starting to feel comfortable at new gym after the first few months fell apart with the influx of new kids, most of whom came from her old gym, where she had an emotionally difficult year with past coach. The previously promised (literally) move to L8 is now in serious question.

DD, who placed in top 5 at state in both several individual events and all around as a Level 7 2 years in a row, and had been slated as a L8 since state, both at old gym and this newer one, has been gaining and then losing her L8 skills all summer, and several glaring holes in her skills have come to light with better coaching. However, its her fears and lack of confidence that are keeping her from moving up at this point.

She does most L8 skills in privates, although vault has had to be set back to FHS as old coach never taught her to vault on a setting higher than a 1....or let her know that would have to change in order to take her flipping vaults (both tsuk and chenko) off the trainer....new gym has high move up standards, but is also flexible - her friends with much lower scores as L7s and poor form are moving up because they are fearless and willing to chuck things left and right, thriving in the new environment - DD has been a mess for the last few weeks - crying over moving her giants to real bar, afraid of doing the same series on high beam that she competed successfully for 2 years with mid 9s and tons of medals, afraid to take her full out of the pit, etc....but in one on one sessions she is doing her back tuck on beam, pirouette with light spot, bails with spot, etc. Old gym had very basic L8 requirements, and she had those skills last year even (with exception of giants) but "stayed L7 to build confidence and up train". At old gym there simply was no uptraining that occurred, and although she felt great about placing high in 3 events and all around at state, that confidence has fizzled as soon as she realized that there was so much she needed to learn to make it in a more competitive gym.

Here's my real question. DD just turned 12. She is a tiny, strong, physically more mature than most gymnasts and intellectually gifted girl (which feeds into her intense fears, perfectionism and overthinking of everything). She grew a quarter of her body height in the last 18 months. She told me that she doesn't really want to quit but that she feels like she's exhausted from being so frustrated with being frightened and not being able to make herself do things, disappointing her coaches and friends, etc. She doesn't want to compete at all but did say that the pressure to have skills by certain dates (something this gym does but old gym never did - in fact, she never had her routines/skills down at this point before - but pulled it off with grace in meets by January....), is overwhelming to her. She can't figure out how to break things down herself, so when she fell on a pirouette when doing it on her own, she has stopped doing them at all for a month - even though when we talked her coach went through a way to do one step at a time and get back slowly to full pirouette - DD cannot do this without someone guiding her through it - and there are suddenly 10 L8s and 8-10 L7s, 18 L6s, - even with a coach per event, they can't guide her and just see her miserable.

She only developed fear issues a year ago - before that she fell and jumped back up as easy as the average young, want to be in the gym 24 hours gymnast. In the past she's been a hard worker at gym, and always a good team mate. Her times of not working hard this summer all come down to her fear and confidence issues - and being "lost" with the crowds, not understanding the system, etc. She loves her coaches, and team. She doesn't want to "sit around and do nothing" with the 20 hours a week she's been spending at gym. Her friends are all there - and her brothers compete and train 16 hours a week.

On the other hand, I can't say I think its at all fair to others for her to compete as a L7. Coach has a history of keeping kids back a third year in these circumstances (inadequate training at other gyms and puberty/mental issues) and making it work - 3 of the present L9s did 3 years of L7, and 2 of the L8s....This gym does a lot of up training and fundamental work with all the girls, and although she has hardly progressed, she has upped her vault setting to 2, gotten those giants on pit (just didn't do them at old gym as she had 10 start values without), learned a front pike and almost a front half, trained a tsuk (which old coach was going to have her skip due to her size and good form - felt yurchenko only was the way to go), etc. Other holes are being addressed and need to be. The kids who stayed back a third year in past are good gymnasts with great form now - and the oldest kid at the gym is only 15 - so we aren't talking about no chance to make L10....but I do know that one who did a third year L7 last year because she wouldn't giant had a miserable comp season, and although she learned a lot up training in practices, she scored worse than the year before in meets...partly due to adding skills (which I'm cool with) but more due to not wanting to be there in the first place. The coach talked about DD doing essentially L8 routines as a L7 (full, FP-FLO, series with flight - hopefully BHS_BHS, B dismount, pirouette on bars, etc...)but not having the pressure of being a "L8". Sounds great in theory and I have living proof in the gym that it worked for some girls....

DD doesn't know what she wants. All the girls she competed against and consistently beat last year are moving up except 2 who were new L7 last year and don't have 10 start values on bars. I have 2 other kids to pay for in gym and other things - I want to keep her in gym if she can get the love back - she's a beautiful, talented girl and I hate to see puberty, fears, and my not realizing how inadequate her coaching was ruin something she loved so much for her. But I too am tired/sick of her being miserable. Tired of watching her cry/struggle, only do one series on beam a practice (and I don't watch more than 2 hours of 20 a week....).

Anyone know of kids who did a third year and ended up the better for it? Or just trained for a year and cheered the team on? I'm not expecting her to suddenly get back her elite dreams - they were never realistic anyway - but if she's never going to go further I'd rather she start finding something else that feeds her in a good way. I am not super patient by nature and it was hard enough watching last year at meets when she did the same exact skills for slightly higher scores than the year before...I really can't do it again - and could save 2000 dollars by her not competing. That's a big chunk of change....she wonders if she should compete 7 to help her team - but again, that's a big chunk of change....coach said she understands that its a financial hardship for us to go this route - but honestly thinks its best and is likely correct - if DD can up train in such a huge group, needing to be aggressive about getting in her turns, etc. They said she'd have to do her L7 stuff first then could work on L8 - I just don't think she'll get to it that way when there are 10-12 kids in her group...

I wish this were a sport that a kid could take 6 months to a year off and then come back to....that's probably what she needs.
 

profmom

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Is there any way they would make an exception to the usual rule and consider moving her up midseason? I know that's not ordinarily done at most gyms, but it might be the right call for her.
 

vagymmomma

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Agree with profmom's thoughts on midseason move. I am so sorry for the both of you. The growth spurts can really play some mind games. Skills that were easy before just feel really different (went through some of that earlier this summer). L8 felt like a big step up from L7. It sounds like yours has mastered L7. It's ultimately a coach's decision, but my thought is that if she's competing mostly L8 routines, then why not compete L8? Also, I was surprised last year how many L8 girls still did a FHS vault. A good FHS can easily score mid 8s, so it's not catastrophic to AA. I've seen 3 years at L8 work well. Haven't seen it at L7.
 

gracyomalley

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Coach said she could move mid season if it came together. Is being very kind about it. I agree that 3 years of L8 seems more beneficial than of L7, but I also know lots of kids quit at this point. I'm pretty sure its not about scores but about her self confidence - she could easily compete basic L8 now and score 32-35, would likely do better scorewise than the friends who are moving up.....if she felt confident - as I mentioned she's always pulled it off in comps before even with fears on series last year. She never felt so bad about herself before though....and that's what the coach is trying to rectify.
 

Amber

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I agree with prof mom. Maybe she could start the season at 7, then move to 8 when she's ready? I would think a gym would consider this if it's the 3rd year at a level. It doesn't matter about whether it's fair to others...if she's not ready, she's not.

As for burn out, maybe cut down her days. Let her go 3 days a week for awhile. Especially if she's doing 7. Don't even bring up gym at all. My DD used to talk about gym all the time...in the car, at home, etc. Now (at level 7), when she gets out of gym, she is mentally checked out. I'm ok with it. At first I thought she wasn't enjoying it. But I think it takes a lot of mental fortitude at those higher levels, and they just need to keep all that mental and physical effort at gym only.

I also have a 12 year DD doing Gold. I understand the puberty issues. My older DD is average height (4'11), but now feels like she's a giant on the bars. She's scared to do her fly away because she feels like her feet will hit it. We're doing some privates to overcome this.

Maybe you and DD could talk to some older girls who had the same problems and get their take on it? How did they overcome fears, blocks, etc?

I'm sorry it's so hard right now! Gym is expensive and time consuming! As parents, we are always wondering whether we are making the right choices. I hope it works out.
 

Gymsanity

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'The kids who stayed back a third year in past are good gymnasts with great form now'
That pretty much says it all for me.
You can't compare your child's progress to that of others, they all move at different speeds. So if it takes 3 years at L7, then so be it. Support that, and more importantly, her. Gymnastics is a personal journey, and has nothing to do with so and so doing whatever. I find very often that when I take the pressure off of a child about a level or skill, they achieve it much sooner. Sounds like there is a lot going on in her gym world right now, and a little patience and understanding (on her part, too) would really be beneficial in both the short and long run. Good luck to you both. :)
 
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Ali'sMom

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I don't know a whole lot about the optionals levels, but I have an almost 12 year old (L4) who has been going through puberty and mood swings, and I've seen her stressed and upset, and not sure about quitting (well, never wanted to "quit", but not sure about staying - she says that's different - LOL) So I send hugs and good thoughts for you dealing with her being unhappy.

My own take, (again, based on being a compulsory mom), if you like these coaches, and they are trying to do what's best for your DD for real, and they have girls who did a third year of L7 and have improved with great form, I'd say do that, if DD is willing. Train and compete L7, and keep working the L8 skills, and see what happens. I know it's a lot of $$$ to be in a "try it and see" phase, but if DD doesn't want to quit, that seems to be the best course.

(we had to think about this a few months ago. My DD couldn't get her kip (essential for L4), and we considered that she might repeat L3. She and I talked about how it would make her a much stronger L4 when the time came if she repeated L3. On one hand, each of us was a little unsure when she did get moved up, because we were kind of focusing on her being able to focus on perfecting and getting stronger as a repeat L3. But of course, she's thrilled to have moved up. Me, on the other hand, I've already got knots in my stomach thinking of the meets and where she might be deficient...)

Whatever you do, good luck!!!! In the end, only you and DD and coaches can make the right decision.
 

Sasha

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I'm just a compulsory mom, but from where I sit, what you have described is a LOT of adjustments for a young lady to make, in a still very short time. 1. physical growth 2. puberty 3. new coaches who train differently 4. new team-mates 5. old team-mates coming back weirdness 6. bigger team/less attention 7. new gym philosophy about levels, dates, and attainments 8. new equipment settings...9. maturing mind more prone to fears/blocks...

Yikes! It's really not surprising that her emotions are a wreck with all this change - especially, as you said, she has a perfectionistic, high-achiever personality. It does sound like these new coaches know what they are doing, and have her best interest in mind, and the success stories to back up their plans. If she, and you, can dig deep on patience and relaxing expectations (famous last words, I know) and defining success differently than maybe she has in the past, maybe she can eventually find her groove in this new and different set of circumstances. Easier said than done, though, I know, to change how you look at your own success, how you compare yourself to others, to come to terms and face struggles you never had to deal with before, to force yourself to be bolder and assertive to have your needs met, etc. I guess these are all life lessons, but still hard to go through when you are first facing these big ones at the ripe old age of 12.

She never felt so bad about herself before though....and that's what the coach is trying to rectify
Repeating whatever level doesn't sound bad to me if she is truly able to uptrain at a pace that suits her, and have the possible choice to move up when she gets her groove back. 4 months still seems like not much time to me with all that change to expect smooth sailing yet. The anxiety, fears, emotions all seem pretty understandable given what you describe. So I get what the coach is trying to do and it does make sense in theory. On the other hand, your DD may be better off just competing L8 if that is what is going to be the bigger boost to her personal 'success metric' and to ensure she does get time to practice her L8 skills enough. I don't think either way is right or wrong, but my personal feeling is that if the coach is willing, let your DD decide which level she wants to take on, and work within that with appropriate expectations. I know you say she doesn't want to compete at all right now due to all the other stuff, but when forced to make this choice at some point, hopefully her input will be considered.

Sorry all this is happening and wishing your DD and you clarity and emotional strength!
 

leotardmakermum

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I'm so glad that you have such wonderfully supportive coaches. I have no further wisdom to add other than to say imagine how much harder it would be if you didn't feel they wanted your daughter to succeed. I hope that you are all able to make wise decisions. Best wishes!
 

bookworm

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I agree with prof mom. Maybe she could start the season at 7, then move to 8 when she's ready? I would think a gym would consider this if it's the 3rd year at a level. It doesn't matter about whether it's fair to others...if she's not ready, she's not.
.
12 is such an awful age and it's when a lot of fears start but this about says it for me...if she's not ready, she's not ...and if she won't do her giant on the competition bars, then she's still not ready for Level 8...

Do you think her angst about it all is her way of trying to ask your permission to leave the sport? I'm not saying she should or shouldn't but you say her brothers are there many hours a week and so is she so maybe she doesn't see any other way to p0roceed than to continue with gym, even if she's miserable, because that's always how it's been....could you ask her if she wanted to take a few months off and let you know when she's ready to return (if ever)? We had a friend who did exactly this because her daughter was similar what you are describing and the girl never went back to club gymnastics but went on to be the star of her high school team and played lacrosse and did cheerleading...so there may be other options for her if this is indeed the end of the road....
 
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Tbrov

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My advice is to remove all pressure possible. Reassure your daughter that it's all going to be OK. It really is fine if she competes 7, or 8. Both would be OK - both will have challenges and successes. She has a lot she needs to work through; the transition in gym environment and re-learning her post-puberty body. She needs to be supported through this, told she's wonderful and she can do it and to be patient with herself. The level will work itself out, and shouldn't really be a focus; she can focus on day to day training, overcoming fears, building skills, getting used to the new environment. Trust that the coaches will have her compete at the correct level. Try as much as possible to focus on gymnastics for gymnastic's sake; the thrill of doing it, the fitness, the pleasure, the goal setting, etc. and every good thing she gets just by going every day.
 

gymdog

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If she doesn't want to quit, she shouldn't quit. I think she should regroup and go into level 7 looking to refine level 7 basics like giants and BHS on beam, vaulting on 4. If she isn't 100% confident in these basics then she is going to rightly have fears on everything.

It doesn't matter what the level is. She is not even in high school yet so all that matters is she keeps progressing in her basics. Now she is in the environment to do so and this should really be looked at as her first proper year of level 7 because things like giants and vaulting over higher settings should have been an expectation that the training was centered around. It's not about the scores either.

At the end of this year when those basics are mastered, then she will be ready to move forward. No one should even be talking about a flipping vault if she was vaulting on 1 previously...it is going to take more time than that. After a solid year doing the drills and vault on the proper setting, and the giants in the pit and later on the real bars, she will be ready to move forward consistently with those skills.
 

gymjunkie

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The level is irrelevant. What matters now is that she tackle the challenges in front of her and conquer them. Otherwise, what is she going to do as a grown up when she faces her first difficult/scary obstacle in life?

I would not have her skip the season. First of all the quality of her coaching will decline because she will become low priority until April. Second, she will not be able to stay motivated if she has to wait 15 months until her next meet.
 

profmom

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Doing another year at a level as an optional is really different than doing so as a compulsory. People should understand that no matter how well a gymnast is performing the skills for one level, a fear issue or other block even just on one event can be good cause for a person to continue competing at a level that she's already mastered. I agree -- if you can help her take the pressure off herself to move up and help her understand that there's very little at stake in what level she competes, she may stop having trouble with the skills she sees as the gateway to L8. Confidence is such an important thing, especially for giants and flipping vaults.

She is a gymnast, not a performer. What percentage of her gym time does she spend working on skills and routines versus performing them in meets? What matters is what is happening in the gym.
 

my4buffaloes

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My dd went through a similar set of circumstances after level 6. Major change at the gym, had a rough year at level 6, couldn't decide if she wanted to keep doing gymnastics or not - in general just a lot of upheaval in a young child's life. My dd made NO gymnastics progress that summer - even the owner of the gym after testing them in March after states and then in August at the end of summer summed it up nicely when she said "what the hell have you been doing all summer you made zero progress in anything?". it was a rough summer. BUT what was going on was that she was adjusting mentally and figuring out a lot of stuff about herself and her desires and life in general. She got it together that fall and took off on the skills and hasn't looked back since.

I don't know if repeating level 7 is the right thing or not. But sometimes the kids just need to maintain for awhile while their body and mind adjusts to all the new things going on. Good luck!
 
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gracyomalley

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Thanks for the input. Her coach does have a good plan and her best interest in mind. Yes, I am sure that having the boys doing gym also (and her older brother deeply in love with it, as she was until this year) makes it more complicated...nothing to be done about that, though - the "rule" in the family is you do a sport/physical activity until high school - not that you do gym - its just ended up this way:D. Being homschooled also means that gym and music are her main social life - but I think by L7/8 that's true for many gymnasts even if they go to school.

I don't really know if she wants to quit - she feels very beaten down right now, absolutely no pride in what she has accomplished in this short time. I see improvements, and I see that its more about the long term, personal growth, but she sees only all the things she's scared of. She is unlikely to become the kid who jumps up for a 2nd and 3rd try at things if there are others waiting - and she is wired to really care what others think of her - socially with friends and with adults. She is focused on the fact that she has disappointed everyone. She admits that her previous coach did her a disservice by how she approached her training, and is processing a lot of stuff with regards to that, but neither she nor I had any idea that she had so many things to learn before she could really keep progressing. Old coach really only wanted kids to be happy short term and love her....as well as liked having the "best" team locally...her long term goal for most of the girls was that they make it to L8/9 then quit and coach for her...I wish I had seen things sooner - but with her doing so well in competition, being strong, tight and graceful, its understandable that both she and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Of course she feels bad about herself now!

Her giants on pit are lovely, and coach says they are ready for competition bar. The rest of bars is strong, CHS very consistent, pirouette was there if she can get over the fall, free hips are to 30 degrees below vertical handstand consistently, sometimes has hit HS. Her back tuck on low beam also pretty consistent and she competed BWO-BHS last year and can do so again either way, her fulls in pit look great, and half front as well but she's very frightened to get them onto the floor - her vault setting is up to 2 already, and her front tumbling doing great, has FHS-FP-FT and close to changing the FT to a FLO. Flexibility improved, switch leaps on beam and floor, working C and D leaps with the group, learned front and back levers, getting better at rope climbs, etc. But she still hangs back, feels like the other girls deserve to take more turns because they "can make themselves do things and I can't", and has trouble finishing skills assignments in a timely fashion. She rarely does more than 1/2 of the numbers assigned - and I think this was the case before too. NOT with conditioning,or dance, she never cheats there, just with "scary" skills. When working in the group she does fine. First meet wouldn't be until mid Jan at the earliest, longer than she has trained at this gym so far. Either super suped up L7 for a few meets, or first year L8 with FHS vault is very reasonable - but only if she can get her confidence back. I think its just too much too fast for her personality, but I wish she could just focus on the baby steps of getting toward L9/10 skills instead of the short term stuff she's used to focusing on....and I wish she and I hadn't been so sure (for a year) that she was a L8....or that doing well mattered. Hard mindset to change, though....

I guess this is a cautionary tale to all the parents out there whose kids are doing great, learning new skills, moving up fast and winning without really focused, experienced coaches....sometimes its easy to see - the kids with bent arm vaults, and bent leg archy giants at L7, etc....but sometimes the kid does what they can do REALLY WELL, but hasn't got anything else in their arsenal....
 
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gymjunkie

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I feel like you are dwelling too much on the past, and in doing so, allowing her to do the same. The training she had in the past doesn't need to handicap her for the rest of her gymnastic days. Don't let her develop the mindset that she will always be "handicapped." From what you have described, it is very likely that thinking that is the problem right now... not the fact that she came from a gym that did not plan ahead for higher levels.
 

Ali'sMom

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So much for a 12 year old girl to be thinking about.

Have you considered taking her to a sports psychologist or that type of person to work through her skills fears to start moving forward with more emotional tools? (we actually had to do that with my DD just for staying at gymnastics alone. The counselor gave her some key words and thoughts and tools to move forward, even when she was scared. Those tools have helped her also when she was behind in a skill, and feeling defeated. She was able to work mentally to push past the fear and tears. I'm not saying that what my dd went through is the same, but, if she gets some extra emotional tools to get past the fear and the reluctance to try again, then it could change her whole season. I know the coaches are trying to help, but sometimes (more times than not), it works better for an outsider.)

And my hope is, like in most things, that 6 months from now you're going to look back and think "Wow, who knew we'd get past that!" with smiles.
 
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LizzieLac

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First, understand that most of us can relate and we feel for your situation.

Second, I think others have responded that she needs to focus on the here and now. DH and I have tried to read a bit about the mental side of sports and on thing we have been trying to reinforce to our children and the kids DH coaches (baseball) is the concept of W-I-N.

What's Important Now

Athletes need to focus on the moment, both in competition but also in practice and training. What happened in the past is over and dwelling on it only leads to a downword spiral. We learn from the past and then we move on - focusing on the present. The now is about current training, current goals and current focus. Letting go of the past and even not paying too much attention to the future (i.e. I want my DD to be a level 7 or 8 at move ups) is liberating and it allows the athlete to focus on what needs to be accomplished today.

I think your DD sounds very talented level 7/8 at 12. Sounds like letting go of the past struggles are inadequate coaching will also help her find some joy in the sport again.

It took my DD a year to get her BHS on beam, and trust me there were plenty of frustrations and tears and worries (probably more me). The best thing was to stop talking about it and to just take one day at a time in the gym. It helped her stay positive and happy.

Good luck to your DD!!
 

mpkbt

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I wonder if the deadlines that they gave her is causing the stress? My dd gym did this and I understand the reasons for it but I think for some kids it has the opposite effect. Take the pressure off. My oldest dd wanted to quit when we moved into a new region and she knew it was one of the toughest. I told her she didn't have to compete out of state if she didn't want to. By the time the meet season came she was more than ready and the fear was a distant memory. Taking the pressure off let her remember the joy of gymnastics. Now on the flip side my younger dd started having fear issues at level 7, did 2 year progressively getting worse scores and finally decided she just didn't enjoy it anymore and quit. She didn't quit because of fear and has never regretted her choice. In this sport there is so much external pressure. Remember the joy. Tell her to take it one month at a time and re-evaluate in a month. Try not to make it about the money (i know this is hard, it is expensive) The only way to walk away from this support without regrets is to never quit when it is about fear only when it is about not loving it anymore. If she really doesn't want to do it anymore it will become obvious!
 
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