I've never identified as one, and definitely didn't want to be one. I wanted to be a peacemaker, kind, gentle, meek, submissive, quietly wise, and never NEVER violent.
Last week, I had physical therapy for pelvic floor issues, but she spent most of the session doing trigger point releases in my neck. During the session, my whole body started to shake and I just felt sad. I cried a little, but couldn't identify what caused the emotion.
Several times over the last week I have had panic attacks. I didn't show my panic, but just felt it. My chest was tight, breathing was difficult, I wanted to cry but couldn't, and ended up walking out to the horses to see if that could help.
Today I had therapy, and was sharing the experiences with Wendy. She asked me to breath into the tension I was feeling.
I felt sad and tired. The thought was, "I'm tired of fighting. I've fought so long and so hard, and I feel tired."
I had two memories flash in my head.
- When I was 16ish, and my dad was forcing my sister to go to church by picking her up and throwing her in the van. (She was 8ish.) I stood up to him, and told him it's not okay to treat people like that just because you're bigger and you can.
- The only time I fought Larry. The only time it looked like rape looks like on tv. My memory is still from the corner of the room, as if I'm an outsider watching him rape another person.
The emotions for both memories were similar. I felt guilty for fighting. I knew I shouldn't. I couldn't help it; something in me had to fight. I had to stand up to protect my sister. I had to fight for myself against Larry (even though I later apologized for fighting and making him do that to me. I never fought him again. From that point on, I held my own legs out of his way. But that night, I HAD to fight.)
As we talked, I felt so much energy in my arms. Wendy has pushed me to do this exercise before: we stand facing each other. She puts her hands up and braces herself, and then I push on her hands with all the energy in my arms. In the past, I couldn't really do it. This time, as I pushed, my arms shook. For five minutes my arms and my whole body vibrated. As the energy dissipated, all I felt was pride.
Proud of the way I've fought. Proud that I'm still here. I'm alive because I'm a fighter. I fought for what I thought was right as a kid. I fought for myself with Larry. I fought my way out of the marriage. I fought my way out of the church. I fought, because I wanted more. I didn't always know what that meant, but I fought for it anyway. I've fought for my health; I've been to doctor after doctor after doctor (and then more doctors and physical therapists and more doctors). I wanted my life to be better, and I've fought for it. Up until that moment in the barn (I see my therapist at the barn with horses around), I was ashamed of the fighter in me.
There have been so many outside forces pressuring me to give up that fight. My parents (entirely unintentionally), the church, its teachings and it's leaders (mostly unintentionally), Larry, and other abusers all told me to quiet, or change, that part of me. I prayed and hoped and wanted that part of me to change or go away or die. I couldn't kill it, and I couldn't stop it. For the first time ever, I am so damn proud of the fighter in me.
I'm a fighter.