I must confess I have anxiety concerning this GypsyNesting stuff. I have strong ideas about the way I want to live my life, but by nature I’m not exactly the bravest person around. I’m a bit of a worrier.
Okay, a lot of a worrier. It doesn’t help that half of our family and friends think that this whole GypsyNesting thing is quite mad.
In order to alleviate my fears, I decided to take a self defense course to fight the urge to cop out and just “grow old gracefully.” I wanted to be able to protect myself in that dark alley that was setting up roadblocks in my mind. I saw huge growth potential there.
My friend Kate was on board with me, which was great, because when Kate gets on board about something she gets balls-out on board. A close call in a dimly lit parking lot last summer gave her more incentive. Her husband, a karate guy, knew of a class at his gym, so she signed us up.
I didn’t think that I would need to go so far as to order protective gear for this class, but I decided to check it out just in case.
Our instructor was Alda – beautiful, slight, middle-aged. My first reaction was “gimme a break with this women – even I could kick her butt.” We started off with some breathing exercises and Alda told us that the first line of defense for any women is to run away.
This made perfect sense to me — by nature I’m not a hitter, I’m a runner. We worked on body awareness, muscle memory and strengthening exercises. We talked about trusting our instincts and keeping our cool. This was good, this was very “me.” I found myself comfortable with it.
But this Alda chick was a wily one – as the classes progressed I learned some surprising (and slightly disturbing) things about myself. After throwing Kate to the mat in a rape-simulating maneuver, I found myself looking down at her in stunned confusion. Prior to this exercise, Alda had told us to use the momentum of the maneuver to spring to our feet and then run like crazy.
This was not what my adrenaline-charged brain and body want to do at all. All I wanted to do was rush at my fictitious rapist and kick him in the face. How DARE he treat me like a victim! Luckily for Kate, I absolutely adore her and I ultimately decided that kicking her in the face was not the nicest thing to do. I have manners, after all.
Being the card-carrying, militant pacifist (wimp) that I am, it was a total shock that I can have such a violent reaction to a circumstance that would normally turn me into a puddle of melted Jello. This was not the growth I expected. Honestly, I didn’t know I had it in me. It rocks, actually.
More importantly, in terms of growth, I am more confident about trying new things, being in new environments and stepping outside of my comfort zone. These are the gifts I most prize from the experience. And I don’t need to be afraid to kick a little butt if I need to.
But Kate may want to reconsider having me as a sparring partner.
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