What It Really Takes to Live with Violence, and Forgive it Part I – Heidi MacDonald

What do you do when your worst fears are realized? When a scenario that you work on in your self defense training, actually comes to life? If you survive it, how do you process, get over it?

I wish that I could give you a simple, easy answer that could be of immediate benefit. I wish that somebody had been able to guide me, give me those answers…But it was kind of one of those things where you had to discover the answers for yourself, without anyone’s assistance.

Learn the Hard Way, 101.

I am the daughter of two insufferably, messed up human beings. My father had run-ins with the law and drugs, that resulted in a felony conviction with hard time to serve. My mother was a physically abusive person who also had issues with alcohol and drugs, that were never concealed very well. Long story short, I bore the brunt of her wicked short fuse for a good part of my life.

The end result was that I grew up and made choices in my romantic relationships, that were not always healthy or positive.

I chose one person who was emotionally unavailable with a heavy drinking problem, to boot. I stayed long past this particular relationship’s expiration date, because I thought I should prove myself worthy enough to love. I put this person on an incredibly high pedestal, and myself at the base, basically.

After exiting that, I then chose another person who caused a spectacular level of damage to my life, that I never thought was possible. He was charming and charismatic, but exhibited dangerous traits of narcissism and psychopathy. I didn’t quite understand until it was too late. Instead, I ignored it, and made excuses for his behavior, even as I was self-destructing under the weight of his demands. The end of the relationship was sexually violent and left me suicidal, cut off from friends and family.

 Why? Well, for one simple reason: I did not believe in my own worth as a person, as a woman, and in the face of doubt, I put myself through an endless cycle trying to please everyone.

See me, look at me. Tell me that I deserve to be loved

I hadn’t yet learned that I should not have to grovel for love and acceptance, and most certainly not from darkly flawed human beings who had nothing to offer but psychological mind screws and violence.

Do you find me weak so far reading this?

I am not a weak, simpering female. Once upon a time, I may have thought that of myself. But now? Far from it. Don’t fool yourself if you’re a male self-defense/martial arts instructor reading this, and think that what I discuss here, does not apply to you your teaching, or your life.

Quite the opposite. I am one of you.

I am a black belt, and a women’s self defense instructor. I’ve been on the path exploring how to prevent physical violence to myself and others for about 15 years.

I am roughly 120 pounds, and pride myself on being a scrappy groundfighter, despite my five feet, 4 inch height & size. The problem in my case, was that despite all of my training learning preventive techniques against violent action, I simply did not learn or understand how to defend myself against psychological games. How to spot predators of the intimate kind. And equally as important, if not more so – how to have confidence and value in who I am, as a person.

Do me a favor, and try not to immediately scoff & think,

“Pfff, this crap would never happen to me. I can spot psychos from a mile away. How stupid is she, an MA practitioner of all things, to get involved with someone like that?”

Because..he was one of us. A member of our world of Self Defense, Martial Arts practitioners.

The details of what happened, I don’t think are really important anymore. I’ve lived it, and re-lived it a million times in my head, spent time on both the shrink’s couch and did the pop psychology reading. Going back and recounting it, can sometimes put me in a dark place, that I’d rather not go back to.

What is important, is the process that came after.

Two years ago, I found myself at a very personal Ground Zero. I was pretty much broken in every way you can think of: emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially. And yes, there was a dance around the edge of suicide, too. Believe me when I tell you, that is a damn scary place to find yourself on.

Nobody ever thinks they could go that low, that dark, that far, until it actually happens.

At a point that is that void of hope, that desolate, one of two things can happen: You will either die, or you will rebuild. I like to think that the foundation of all my years of dojo training kept the will to live in me burning, because I chose the latter, to rebuild.

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