Take a self-defense class.
I recently took a free self-defense class to learn some skills. In my abusive relationship, I never fought back. I was used to shrinking down and going into a non-threatening posture when he was yelling at me or acting physically aggressive.
I knew it would be difficult to go through the training and to imagine fighting back instead of taking the abuse.
I was able to speak with someone who happened to be a survivor before we started and she advised me to sit down if needed and work through the emotions instead of leaving the room if I felt triggered. Just hearing her experience of taking self-defense classes and how it helped her gave me a little more confidence that I could make it through.
My partner was an older, smaller woman but I still felt intimidated by the idea of punching the padded shield she held. At first, my stikes barely registered. After feeling how hard she hit the shield I began to feel more confident and hit harder. We laughed a lot as we worked through the exercises.
At one point the man who was teaching the class came over to help us. When it was my turn to fend off mock blows from him with my forearms I told him I thought I would cry. He asked if I had been in a situation and when I said yes he assured me we would go slow and it would be okay. I am glad I worked with him skin to skin for this exercise. He was kind and had obviously worked with other survivors and knew how to coach me through it. At the end of the exercise I was laughing.
I did cry a little as we worked and didn’t participate in one of the exercises that was a little too similar to what had happened to me.
The physical work of learning to kick, do hammer punches, and defend against someone who was trying to attack wore some of the feelings out of me. I was able to complete the class and left grateful for the experience.
Once I was back in my car I spent a few minutes crying before I drove home and had a good cry there. For the rest of the day, I felt angry with my ex for how he had controlled me and kept me locked up from my own life. I also had to face how I had come to a place in my marriage where I lost all of my power. I never want to feel like that again.
I think the physical act of training and learning to feel strong and confident in my own body through this training will help me on my healing journey. I will be attending another class that is taught by women for women. I also might pursue this training as a powerful form of mental and physical exercise. I want to feel at home and in charge of my body. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way in my life and it’s time to do it.
This experience has shown me how much I am still affected by trauma and how much work I need to do. It has also shown me that I am not ready for a relationship yet. I need to feel free to be myself before I invite someone to take an intimate place in my life.
If you have a chance to take a self-defense class I would highly suggest it as a way to help you heal and see how much work you have left to do.
If you have taken a class do you think it helped you go further in your healing journey? Do you have any words of wisdom on how to make it easier for the rest of us?