ninja_kitty_kicks_dog“YES!” I cackled through my mouthguard and high-fived the fifteen-year-old boy who had just kicked me in the head. I was proud of him that he’d gotten one over on me and proud of myself that I was becoming more aggressive and adept at sparring with the guys in class. He flashed a confused braces-lined smile and we slapped our cotton-padded paws in the air. A few minutes and another blow to the head later I had a realization.

Head Shot Thought Part I – Three points!
I got hit because I crouched. For some twisted reason I thought I could duck the kick rather than standing up straight and throwing up a block. I realized that it was not only a very poor sparring tactic, but it was also reminiscent of an old habit I thought I had begun to break.

I’ve lived in fear and shame as long as I can remember. Flinching, cowering, crouching–those are all lifelong habits that have plagued me since childhood. I let so-called friends, boyfriends, loved ones and strangers bully me because I was too complacent to walk away. When I tried to fight back I was just humiliated and beaten down even further so why bother? I thought I was lower than an animal, that in some sick way I deserved the abuse, that it was the only kind of attention I could get, that I didn’t deserve any better, and when I tried to fight back I was just ridiculed, humiliated, and abused even more so why bother? Mingled with the hatred toward my abusers was the hate I felt for myself, and I have finally started to chip away at it over the past few years.

Apparently I still have a little more work and healing to do to do.

My crouch wasn’t self-defense. It was an apology for existing, it was a statement of unworthiness. The up side is, though, is that it doesn’t upset me to realize that. In fact, I’m thankful that my self-awareness has skyrocketed and I can quickly identify these pockets of pain, self-doubt, or “resistance’ as my law of attraction friends would call it. The more quickly I can find them, the more quickly I can smoke them out and cut them off at the knees. Try and keep me back, you little bastards.

Another Head Shot Thought – Three points!
The other thing the blow to the head did was wake me up. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I felt alive, even elated, something that has been elusive lately. It was a shock, like being thrown into a body of icy water…sorry, another cliché. Ever since the winter weather settled in I’ve been nipped at the ankles by boredom, restlessness, an uneasy discomfort that I can’t quite pinpoint. The depression I’ve kept on lockdown is trying to worm its way back in under the guise of winter blues and loneliness. I start questioning the point of it all, whatever that means, whether I’m at home folding laundry or at work clicking through emails. Days seem to drag by and when I finally crawl into bed I read a book as long as I can because I don’t want to be alone with the silence and my thoughts. The only time I truly feel fulfilled is in taekwondo class.

Maybe I hoped that blow to the head would give me the same “full emptiness” I felt when I had a concussion nearly a year ago after a minor car accident. I was completely aware of what was going on, but I was relaxed and laissez-faire about the details. I didn’t bother with worrying about the small stuff. There simply wasn’t space for it in my head. So far I haven’t found a way to create that feeling again. I’m too much of a straight arrow to venture beyond legal means. Meditation just seems to increase the mind chatter.

So here’s my new challenge–how do I hold onto that joy and focus that I feel in class? How can I find the same fulfillment and sense of meaningfulness in the rest of my life? How do I constantly live in what Eckhart Tolle would call a state of being “awake”?
How can I be a taekwondo person, the one who has a strong spirit and perseveres, when I’m going about my daily life? My LOA friends would say find ways to feel good now, and I know that works because I’ve done it countless times with very positive results. I know that fulfillment and happiness is already available right here in my heart. That gives me hope.

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