• DeAara Lewis

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Living Life on the Defense…My story of learning to fight back…

I’m currently taking an advanced fight class in addition to the training I already do.  I underestimated the anxiety I would feel actually taking a punch.  See, most of my training, we’ve used pads and used the shoulders in place of the face.  However, in this class, I have to wear head-gear, a mouth piece, a cup, and shin protectors as well as keep my stomach tight at all times because it’s no telling where I’m going to get hit.

The first time I took a hit in the face, it was surreal.  My anxiety went up and all I could remember thinking was, “Damn, I really got hit in the face!”  Then I got hit on the side of my head, then my stomach, then back in my face again until I finally accepted that I was getting my ass kicked.    Every time I tried to take a hit, I had left myself wide open and my opponent would take another shot at me.  In the streets, I probably would have been beaten to a pulp.  But in class, we have to fight with restraint, but it still hurts though and my anxiety level was at an all time high.

In spite of the anxiety, for the past months I have been fighting, my confidence has still grown immensely.  My mother even commented that the way I walked even changed.  She said I just have this confidence about myself that she has never seen.  So now I was in this advanced class, I got to show what I could do, and I got shut down pretty quick.  I was totally bombed out.  I did have to put some things into perspective, I was one of the few people in there who was still Level 1, everyone else was Level 2 and beyond so they were much more experienced.  Also, this was my first full-out sparring class and most of my partners are men (and yes, this does make a difference).

Even with that, this brought up some old feelings for me.  Part of me wanted to check out, just stick with what was comfortable.  But I had already paid for the class, so that really wasn’t an option.   Another part of me wanted to just work on defense and that I did.  Anytime I got hit, I focused on defending myself, I really wouldn’t fight back because I was afraid of getting hit in the face.  It didn’t always work, but I tried.

I realized how my fighting style mirrored much of life.  I lived a lot of my life on the defense.  Part of me afraid to take a shot for fear I would get hit and knocked down.  So I mostly focused on defending myself or doing nothing at all out of fear I would make things worse.

I talked about this with my life coach and he remarked, “So you think that is all to you, heh?”  I responded, “Well, no, but I’m not sure.”  He then reminded me of the times I’ve been attacked and another part of me emerged that would go on full offense, without mercy, to the point that after I calmed down, I would feel ashamed.  I realized, that was a part of me I kept caged in for so long that when it is unleashed, it can be diabolical.  I further had to admit that I was afraid of it, because like Jean Grey’s Phoenix, in X-Men, I didn’t know how to control it.   When pushed to a certain point, it would just take over and it would be like an outer body experience for me, I was truly afraid of it because once it calmed down, I had to clean up the mess that it had caused.

My life coach encouraged me to embrace it and find out what it wants to show me, what is it that it is trying to tell me.  And I did that, and this part of me, which I call “Mal” showed me how many times it has wanted to help, but I caged it in.  Over the years, it grew more and more anxious and more and more untamed.   When I got picked on, targeted, singled out, “Mal” was ready to step up and handle it, but there was another part of me that was so afraid of the consequences, that I just held her back.

And you know what happened?  I lost a vital part of my life force.  I tolerated situations that I should have never tolerated.  I battled depression and anxiety for a great majority of my life.  I cut people off instead of dealing with the problems because I was afraid of the conflict.  And I didn’t know my own strength – physically or emotionally.

When I finally listened to that part of myself, I cried like a baby.  She wasn’t this monster who was trying to destroy my life, she was actually my ally.  It wasn’t a coincidence that I started fighting.  She told me that was the only way she could come out, so she would send me signals until I eventually gave in.  I realized that she has shown up more times than I gave her credit for.  I was attacked a few years ago by a former family friend and once again, and as if I was in an outer body experience, I was able to protect myself.   As afraid as I was, “Mal” came out and told me to step aside, she had this.  And as strong as this person was, when “Mal” fought them, their strength felt like that of a toddler.  I didn’t how physically strong I was until that day.

My life coach also suggested I change “Mal’s” name to something more positive, since I named that part after I watched “Inception.”  I still haven’t come up with a name that fits yet, so I use “The Phoenix” because this part is not good or bad.  It protects me, by any means necessary.

A couple of weeks ago in fight class, after I had this epiphany,  I noticed the difference in my style.  I was still getting hit, but said, “Fuck it,” and started hitting back, regardless of whether I got hit or not.  One of my opponents then went on the defense.  And that’s when I realized the balance.  Sometimes you’ve got to defend yourself and other times you’ve got to offend someone else.  That’s what “Mal”/”The Phoenix” has been trying to tell me all these years – that there’s room for her too and she’ll never lead me astray.


5 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed this one! So far, it’s my favorite (next to “When I Loved a Vampire”). I’m digging the whole alter ego thing! Looking back, I see that in you now. One minute you are as sweet as pie but if provoked, you come back swinging. Lol! I’ve always wondered how you could just switch like that, but I do understand if you fucked with long enough, a person can leave you with few options.

    And I know you aren’t just talking about physically fighting back, you’ve always had a tongue like a razor and few people were safe from it, no matter who they were, if they came at you the wrong way. You know I get like that too, so I understand.

    Glad to know you are making peace with that part, so it can really help you instead being irrational when attacked. That’s never good.

  2. Hey DeAara! Great blog! Like Elle, this one is my favorite so far (trying to comment more instead of just reading 🙂 I see you are an X-Men fan, cool analogy. You hit home when you said that another part takes over you and you feel like you can’t control it when you get angry (Hulk, maybe?). I’ve been there too, living life on the defense. But you’re right, sometimes you have to defend yourself, but sometimes you’ve got to go on the offense if that person doesn’t get it and go H.A.M. Other times, you just walk away.

  3. Thanks Elle & David! I think we all have this side of us, like a panther backed into a corner, you know. I think many of today’s most violent crimes happen as a result of not making peace with parts like this. Denial of anger is a dangerous thing.

  4. Dee, I’m glad to see you finally coming into your own. Just because you’ve had some setbacks doesn’t mean that you still aren’t moving forward. I watched you struggle to pull yourself back together after everything that happened and I’m truly inspired by how you rebounded.

    Don’t let anybody make you feel ashamed of who you are or how you express yourself. Your openness, vulnerability, sensitivity and cockiness is just who you are, I wouldn’t want another version of you. You love hard and are loyal to a fault. You’ve always been outspoken and don’t let what a few people who don’t know you determine who you are. You’ve got an entire family rooting for you all the way to the finish line and it’s no doubt in my mind that you will make it! Love, Big Sis.

  5. Hello DeAara,

    reading this has made me feel like you ara kindred spirit to me. I’m going through something almost identical to this and it’s fresh, it’s hurtful and it is killing me… Please get into contact with me via email if it isn’t too much to ask…

    Thank you

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