“I want you to do 20 sit ups and punch the pad as you come up. I want you to do it as fast as you can,” said my sister, my instructor, on Tuesday morning during self-defense class. It had been a very physically demanding class. This was the last exercise of the day.
(In my brain) Um, what?
There it was again. That same old discomfort and fear. I can’t do a sit up on my own. Not yet, anyways. She offered me her hand and started by pulling me up hard. About halfway through I think I was just holding onto her hand and pulling myself up. I barely hit the pad as I came up. I did 19 more and was so tired by the time I was done. I laid back on the mat under me. I was tired — but elated with my accomplishment. I was satisfied with my sister, my instructor, being proud of me.
When you have lived a trauma- filled life and are in an almost constant process of healing, you’re inevitably asked to do hard things. There’s a common theme of emotions and counseling. Then there is healing and triumph of some kind.
In self-defense, it’s the same idea. I am constantly being challenged to do the hard things. I’m challenged to push myself. I feel the same discomfort and fear at least once during class. There are times when it’s a lot tougher to overcome, because PTSD is involved. I start to cry and really think I can’t do it. It isn’t just the normal discomfort. It’s flashbacks and memories of things that my younger mind had buried to protect itself. Or it’s the present day reality of my divorce and what my ex-husband put me through. It’s feeling the hard things and doing them anyways.
I am a firm believer that this is how I get my grit and determination to never give up. I believe it’s how I stay resilient. I remember the impact I can have on others by my example. They may never see me do the hard things. But I know they will be impacted by what I do every day. I’m acutely aware of how to lead by example. People don’t know what I’m like on the inside. I am often fighting my “demons,” unbeknownst to most people. I often feel I’m almost in a constant state of dealing with and overcoming things. I have learned that I can’t overcome if I don’t try. I might fail. But I don’t give up.
I don’t care how many times I fall. I will keep getting back up. Because I have to do the hard things. Otherwise I won’t be able to help others get back up and keep fighting. I am fighting for my life. I am fighting to win. I believe failure only happens when someone gives up and stops fighting. I have done that many times. Fear always ended up winning. It made me ineffective. It made me weak-willed.
But buried deep down was the fire that never quite goes out. Buried deep down is the fire that keeps me from giving up entirely. It keeps me going even when I think I have reached the end of what I can do. I have found there is always more I am capable of. There is always more I can do.
But when I know it’s time to stop, I do. Because pushing yourself is very important, but so is letting yourself rest. Being satisfied with what you’ve done is very important. There are days when what you’ve done may seem like so little. But it’s every bit as important as the days when you do a lot. As long as you are consistently fighting the battles and doing the hard things, it will be enough.
So do the hard things. Feel the fear and do it anyways. You may find yourself resilient and you’ll deal with fear in a more direct and determined way.