Friday, December 2, 2011

Twisted Sense

I have this habit of... well, it depends on who you ask.  If you ask me it's being truthful.  Others call it self deprecating humor and I'm sure there are plenty who think it's just a bid for attention.

In the last few years I've noticed sweeping changes in the great Who I Am.  In my grade school days I was never one of popular crowd, often teased, picked on, forgotten about and fantastically invisible.  Some of that was a product of my own perception but ingrained perception like that comes from somewhere solid, know what I mean?  As I got to the college years I had a dawning realization of having gained the title of Doormat (bred from an overwhelming desire to please and like everyone and have them like me in return), yet I found it nearly impossible to find the strength of character, the self value to change that status.

A few years ago my world rocked enough for me to put my foot down and grow a spine.  I had to unmake a difficult decision in, unfortunately, a very ungraceful way and I had made a friend who ultimately made me realize I wanted to be anything in the world but like her.  These two large events, combined with the beauty of growing up, drove me to change my fundamental operations in the choices I made, the people I associated with, the things I thought and said, how I treated others and most importantly how I treated myself.  At first I didn't have high hopes that I could actually change myself so drastically, it had been so hard in the past, but this time around I was surprised at how easy the changes were.

The biggest and, in my opinion, most notable change had to be in my self assurance and esteem.  I have struggled to evolve from a weak willed, insecure person to something better.  And I do mean struggle.  Yet, here I am today a much, MUCH happier, thankful, optimistic, peaceful and strong, though with it remains a bit of residue from the past.

A few months after I first started training capoeira I traveled with our instructor and some fellow students to New York to what I call our "sibling school".  We have no direct affiliation other than being from the same training style but geographically we're close-ish and travel back and forth to support each other.  I was very green and the workshop that was being given was geared toward slightly more experienced capoeiristas.  It was apparent in moments that I was bad apple of the bunch.  Being overweight and out of shape I often struggle in highly active environments.  Exercise induced asthma, terrible joints and unforgiving muscles compound my weight issues, but by gracious, I try!  I try as hard as I can until I struggle for air and my body screams and it is NOT a pretty thing.  My fellow capoeiristas at home are far more forgiving than they were up north and I realized if I had tried to learn capoeira -any-where else I never would have returned after the first class.  The New Yorkers were more intense, less forgiving and quite obviously made it known that I was That Girl, the one no one wants to get stuck training with.  Quite soon I shifted myself to the furthest corner of the room as I could, like a pariah, hoping no one would notice me and I could survive the rest of the workshop in silent efforts to keep myself from sobbing.  Naturally I was discovered by a graduated student who pulled me to the middle of the room, in front of the Masters, where I floundered in hot, red-skinned mortification for all to stare at.  For the first time since I'd made my great change my new foundation of self-assurance almost broke out from under me.

Before that trip, and certainly since then, I suppose I've made it an unintentional point to make sure the populace knows that I am not delusional.  My commentary is met with responses generally saying I'm silly and over exaggerating, but there's method to my madness:

1) At the very least to me it is truth.  I am overweight and out of shape and usually when I struggle in my physical activities it's because that is my fact.  Ex: the other night in training I took a foot to the arm, not in a painful way but enough for it to shake my balance.  Afterwards I thought about how I missed seeing her kick, I had been staring at her (upside down and between my legs) before I realized my backside is big enough to cause a sizable blind side.  I don't say that because I'm trying to have someone tell me, "No!  You look great!" or think I'm just being whiny, it's because I have a wide load!

2) Something about saying it out loud guilts me into trying to be better about doing something about it.  If I get angry enough at myself for struggling so much with the simplest things then maybe, just maybe I'll take bigger and better steps to fix it.  Believe it or not every time I acknowledge my wide-comings I have the desire to eat a salad and hit the gym.  I don't always follow through and DO those things but my track record is improving, albeit sloooooowly.

3) I want to beat someone else to the punchline.  This one stems the most of childhood years being picked on and tears over not understanding why or how to make it not hurt.  Someone telling me I'm fat would hurt, a LOT, even if it is true.  If I say it first if leaves less ammo for someone else to use.

What I can't figure out after all of this pondering and analyzing is whether my mechanism helps or hinders me.  I'm sure it's a little of both though it certainly feeds my strength to feel calling myself out leaves me firmly in control of the situation, and that, in some twisted sense makes me feel stronger.


  1. You think too much. You're perfect, amazing, beautiful, funny, confident, energetic, cozy, happy, helpful, understanding and wonderful person. Not just any person, but MY person. My best friend, my love, my world. You're the guiding starlight on top of my Christmas tree and your eyes sparkle like the twinkle of each Christmas tree light. I love you with all of my heart, and I continually look up to you and admire your strong will, honesty and compassion.

    Baby, you are perfect. True story.

  2. Holy Cow. Kinda at a loss for words after reading this, especially because the brutal honest truth is so refreshing to read. I can relate on so many levels, but I'll focus on one for this comment. Capoeira is extremely hard, and having limited flexibility and zero strength made it rough for me. I struggled with not feeling welcomed, which added to the discouragement. During one of the only workshops I ever attended, a mestre forced me into a stretch and then made fun of me when I almost started crying. I was mortified and so sore the next day. Unlike you, that sealed the deal for me. I am impressed and perhaps envious of your determination to stick with it, no matter how hard it is for you. It's a place where insecurities are laid out for all to see. I'm glad your group is so kind and you have the positive environment to keep training. I think you are an incredible person, and I wish it hadn't been years since I last got to see you.