Monday, April 27, 2009

self-defense

Did I mention I've been taking a self-defense class? Tomorrow night is the last of a five week session. I am now a firm believer that every woman should take anger management and self-defense (probably in that order :) The class is at the karate studio where my girlfriend takes her young son. She and I and another friend have been attending it. It's been great fun hanging out with them every week! The class itself was really hard for me at first. My gf thinks we have body memories. I don't know if it's true or not, but I'd already worked through a lot of brain memories in therapy, so I wasn't prepared for my reaction to implied physical threat. Without a lot of detail, there's been some violence in my past and remants of it have carried over into my present in the form of intimidation. So a few posts back, i mentioned the boogey man in the corner, well he has a name and he knows our life, so he's got a good idea when Steve's out of town. I've known for years that I will one day die at his hands. It's just how it will be. A couple therapists have tried to talk me out of it, until they realized the truth in my knowledge. Some years ago, I did get fed up of living with this over my head and I told him I was sick of it, so if he planned to hurt me then come on and let's get it over with. Otherwise I was plain old tired of him threatening me and I wasn't going to take it any more. Well, that gave me some relief as I felt like I'd taken part of my power back, but when I started this class, I seem to have lost all that mental control. I've not slept well since the class started. Until last week.

Last week, husbands and friends came to class. Steve was working in another state, not that it mattered, as he'd already said he wanted no part of angry women kicking his gnards (I think he was mixing my classes!) :) Anyway, in my line was my gf who is small but tough as nails, a tiny woman about 4'10" and maybe 90lbs, me and a 19-yr-old gal who holds a black belt. At the front of our line was the Kung Fu Panda, 6'1" 280 lbs, mostly in the belly, if you know what I mean.

First we laid on our backs and he sat on our bellies. We were taught how to buck up to throw him off balance, elbow him in the groin 3x, toss him off us and kick him as we got away. (no wonder Steve wouldn't volunteer.) Anyway, the 19-yr-old was crying after her first try. The emotions get to you. I don't know her story, but I do know she hates her dad, so I put two and two together and gave her a big hug. Amazingly, I did fine. We went through the circuit four or five times each. Panda was getting a little sweaty, but he was determined to help us be safe in the future, so his fighting us was very realistic. Next they taught us how to get away if he had both our arms pinned as well. I was first in line. My mind was scrambling and I was trying to talk myself down, I lay still with my arms raised and as soon as he grabbed them, I lost it. I was sobbing and panicking and he immediately let go of my arms and let me up. My gf touched my shoulders and my cheek and helped me slow down. Panda took on the next gal, a little shaky himself. All too soon, it was my turn again. I laid down and raised my arms. This big man says, "I don't have a face." I asked him how he knew I saw a specific face. He said because I had looked him in the eyes before i got scared. He said, "I don't have a face, so you do whatever you need to do to get away from me." And I did! I got away. I bucked him off balance and I really got away. I made him swear to me he wasn't being easy on me and he wasn't. I got away.

When it was my turn again, the instructor came over and he took me aside to work with me himself. After Panda, he was a lightweight! It was much easier to throw him off balance. We stood up and he told me how proud he is of me for working through the internal chaos in these last weeks. He said he has seen me grow stronger and he's very pleased with me. Sometimes healing comes when we least expect it.

At the end of class, I thanked Panda profusely for the gift he gave me of working through my fright in a safe environment. I could tell I brought out the dad or the protector or whatever you call it in him, as he thanked me for being brave.

The instructor asked everyone how they felt. Every week the women say things like, "great!" or "empowered" and I never understood it, because I felt uncomfortable or even nervous. But I heard myself say aloud, "I feel good."

Through out the next day I cried or laughed at inappropriate times. It was an over-whelming rush of emotions anytime I slowed down enough to think. The boogey man will still come for me, but I will be ready. I will not die. I know now, for the first time in my life, when he comes, I will win.

1 comment:

Sayre said...

I'm so sorry you have a boogey man in your life. That truly sucks.

I took KenPo for a year (as specialized self-defense) partially for stress relief. After I'd been slammed to the ground many, many times, I realized that the stress reduction portion of this endeavor wasn't really kicking in. And I was getting hurt - a lot. I probably would have been better off in a short course taught by someone like your teacher rather than by an ex-Seal whose main concern was being able to take on multiple assailants at once. It was more about his ego than my safety.

So I quit and took up Tai Chi.