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the blade inside

another awakening. another integration of multiple selves. i didn’t realize how fragmented i’ve been. i never knew so many different pieces of myself could come together in this way…

oh, gatka. how wonderful you are to me. these classes mean more to me then: beautiful movement, self-defense, other-defense, strengthening my body, connecting with others, pain management, limit pushing, skill development. they mean: total integration of self. they mean finally landing fully into my body and into all of who i am.

i have always felt a blade inside. i watched it and didn’t know how to relate to her. she came out in certain areas of my life. the further i dived into nonviolence, the less i knew what to do with her. confusion ensued. more like – fragmentation of self. very rarely, this ferocity would come out. once when a woman was being hurt. other times when i would encounter someone who i felt was abusing their power. i would feel so angry, so self-righteous. i would lash out verbally. it was hard to come down afterwards. it hurt so much to discover how much hurt could occur in the world.

and then last year, it happened to me. more directly then ever before. i was attacked. and nothing came out of me. no ferocity, no inner blade. nothing to stop the tide of violence. the confusion inside myself only increased. afterwards, i found myself able to make and take the space i needed for healing. aware and open to my own tides of sorrow and hurt as they rose up and eased away through the healing process. this part i knew how to do.

what i didn’t know how to do was how to stand up for myself. narratives of forgiveness and understanding competed with the shock. i never imagined that i would react the way i had. years of cringing in the presence of anger, of being taught how to be a person who is a woman in this society had solidified into a moment of defenselessness that was wide enough to let someone else through.

i had always brought up the problem of politeness in workshops on conflict transformation. politeness can be one of the most insidious forms of conflict avoidance, of dishonesty, of acquiescence to power imbalance and injustice. it can also be a way to demonize the expression of emotions like anger, frustration, etc. which is handy when you want to shut down attempts to address conflict that actually challenge what is happening.

i don’t want to be polite anymore when someone is invading my space. i don’t want to think about what their needs are, and how embarrassing it might be for them if i called them on their behaviour (honestly, these are some of the things that go through my mind when my space is being invaded). i want to have a level of skill that will allow me to use exactly the amount of force (whether through body language, words, or actual martial technique) that is required to disable the invasion. to use it with restraint, and not from a place of anger or retaliation, but out of a sense duty to myself, and actually, to the other person as well. out of respect for their highest self, which (for whatever reason) they are not able to act from in that moment.

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