When I was 8 weeks pregnant, I went with some friends to a 3-hour women’s self defense seminar offered by a local Krav Maga studio. I put a name tag on my belly that said “baby” so nobody would grab me around the waist, and enjoyed every minute of it. They gave everyone a coupon for a month of free classes, but I didn’t want to push it as my pregnancy progressed.
When the studio offered a summer special on classes, I decided to take them up on it. I’ve been wanting to learn self-defense for awhile and need to get the baby weight off. Though most people I know do Zumba, my mood right now is much more towards fighting than dancing.
During my first class the instructor told me, “you’ve got a lot of aggression and fight in you.” No one has ever told me that before. I immediately knew it was coming from all the frustration of trying to fight something that can’t be conquered. The only reason I was even able to take the class was because I was no longer pregnant. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change that fact. I can’t bring my babies back. Suddenly I was slammed by a wave of grief and anger. The lump in my throat strangled me far more than my partner’s practice choke-hold.
The next day I argued with myself over what I had gotten myself into and whether I should go back. I hate it when my grief catches me off-guard in public, and was afraid of losing it in the middle of class. I forced myself to go back at the next available opportunity, knowing that if I didn’t face the fear immediately, I would find an excuse never to return.
Towards the end of my second class they did a drill where they exhausted you and then had you fight off an attacker with pure instinct and adrenaline. I was ready to give up and the instructor and two other students kept telling me I could do it. It reminded me of being in labor, when I’d be convinced I couldn’t go on and everyone around me would encourage me. But the difference was, there was a wonderful reward at the end of all that labor. And the last time I had been pushed to my limit like this, there had been no reward. Nobody to cheer me on. Just silence, and the remains of my babies to be buried. Another grief trigger. I managed to fight off my opponent but I couldn’t stop the tears once the class was over. They probably thought I was nuts.
It’s amazing how raw emotion rises to the surface when you’re pushed to the limits. The ache in my muscles is nothing compared to the aching chasm in my heart, and no amount of Advil can touch it. Right now I’m faced with two choices: keep learning to swim in this ocean of grief, or allow myself to drown in it. I’m coming to terms with the fact that sometimes the only way to heal is simply to fight through the pain.