This is Part I that I wrote earlier tonight. It’s best to read Part I before reading Part II, but it’s not necessary. I promise you I will return to the subject of my mojo by the end of this entry.
Another thing that came up in my last therapy session was how the hell am I going to be self-supporting? I talked about doing editing, which is fine. However, I’m not sure it’s the only thing I want to be doing. She mentioned…first, a little background. I have a thing for bartender. I have no idea why this is, but it’s become an inside joke with my friends. If I mention I find someone cute in a bar, my friend will inevitably say, “The bartender!” Anyway, my therapist and I were talking about my thought of being a barista/server ten years ago. She said, “You should bartend.” I thought she was half-joking, but she really wasn’t. She said my affinity for bartenders is what made her think of it, but then it actually made sense.
My immediate thought was, “I can’t fucking do that.” It was immediately followed by the thought, “Why not?” I confess that my immediate reaction had to do with the reaction I imagined from my parents if I told them my decision. However, this is something really common in families where someone wants to do something artistic for a living. Parents are rarely supportive of these endeavors for various reasons. My therapist pointed out that I had to reframe the issue from, “This work is beneath me (legacy from my family’s class issues)” to “This is what people in my community do to make a living.” It’s true. Performers, artists, musicians, and writers alike have done mundane jobs in order to have a bit more freedom to pursue their creative projects.
I couldn’t have been a server/barista ten years ago. I could be a bartender today. Plus, I hear the sexual shenanigans are pretty outrageous in certain bars. I would get hit on, and I would have to deal with that. I would get to hear people’s lives stories (I tend to elicit that from people, anyway), which I could then harvest for my fiction. I could work nights and sleep days, which is my preferred sleep schedule, anyway. I don’t drink much, so it wouldn’t be a temptation in that way. I would have to deal with the noise factor, but that’s what earplugs are for.
To my amazement, by the end of the session, I was actually seriously thinking about it. My best friend, Kiki, had mentioned the idea awhile back, semi-joking, but not really joking, either. It has a lot of merit.
Then, today, in Taiji, Choolie showed me a variety of ways to disable an opponent. Some were designed to maximize pain while minimizing actual damage, whereas others were designed to break a joint or kill. There is one set of techniques, called Chin Na, that I especially like because they involve very little effort to execute (though they take practice to learn correctly) and they exert an excruciating amount of pain. I know because Choolie did them on me (holding back, of course), and while I have a very high tolerance for pain until I actually feel it and then I’m a wimp, these were pretty effective in reaching past my pain threshold. The thing, though, that I realized about ten minutes into Choolie demonstrating the techniques on me is that while I could have withstood more pain before tapping out, there was no reason to do so. I mean, Choolie wasn’t giving me gold stars for the amount of pain I could bear, so why try to be so macho? Because it’s my way of operating. I had learned at an early age to turn off my pain receptors (or ignore them), which was good at the time, but ultimately detrimental to my health. Now, my ability and/or willingness to ignore pain has diminished, and not with much effort on my part. Plus, as I said, the Chin na techniques are designed to inflict a great deal of pain–so much that the only thing you can think is, “How the fuck can I stop this pain?” And, it’s instantaneous. To paraphrase Choolie, Chin na is about dislocating someone’s joint and then putting it back wrong.
She mixed in some Taiji, too. She taught me a drill that is designated to break someone’s arm. We did it really slowly because the space between PAIN but essentially OK and broken arm is very small. If done correctly, it takes minimal effort to execute. And, yes, I giggled when she told me the application for the posture. For some reason, the nastier the application, the more I giggle. She says that’s common, though, so I’m not too worried about it. In part, it’s because I’m marveling at how easy it is to totally break a body. It’s amazing, really.
Anyway, as we were practicing the drills, she told me that much of what she was teaching me wouldn’t be allowed in tournaments. I asked why, and she said because she was teaching me street fighting–how to maim and/or kill. Tournaments were strictly for style points. Understandable, really, as it would be a major nightmare if someone got killed in a competition tournament. But, I had no interest in doing tournaments. When I walked into Choolie’s class a little over two years ago, I had one goal: Learning to defend myself. The reason I chose Taiji is because it emphasized health as well as defense; I liked the integration of the two. Never once did I think that I would like to compete in a tournament.
Choolie also told me of a story with a black belt in karate who killed a guy in a bar fight. The judge gave him a stiffer sentence because a black belt in karate is taught how to control himself and to hold back when necessary. At first, I was a bit dismayed by the judge’s ruling until Julie gave me a few more details of the case. In essence, the black belt killed someone in a situation where his life clearly wasn’t in danger. He could have just as easily shut down the guy in other ways. This was an anathema to me because I would never think about using Taiji just to show off or be macho or anything like that. I wouldn’t go looking for a fight, and I certainly wouldn’t use it at any flimsy opportunity. For me, there would be only one reason I would ever use Taiji: Because my physical well-being was threatened, and I had no other recourse. In other words, it would be a last resort, and it would be me or him.
I still have trouble with that realization. I am a pacifist. An incredibly angry pacifist, but a pacifist, nonetheless. I am staunchly against war, and I don’t enjoy any kind of physical altercation. OK. I have to amend that. Sports. That’s my one hypocrisy, and I don’t like the ultimate fighting sports. At any rate, I don’t like violence. I don’t like watching it, and I certainly do not want to participate in it. If someone was mugging me, I would give him my purse and be done with it. In the past, I thought I was one of those, “I would let someone kill me before I harmed him” kind of people. Two plus years of Taiji have made me realize that nothing could be further from the truth.
I have been the victim of sexual abuse twice–once as a child, and once as an adult. Neither was a one-time incident, and both have had devastating consequences on my psyche and my being. I am damaged in ways that may never be healed. I will never let that happen to me again. This is what Taiji has helped me realize. I will kill or be killed before allowing any man to do that to me again. And, I don’t feel guilty about it (though, true to my nature, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty). I don’t think I could survive another attack like that again, so frankly, I would rather die in an attempt to fight it then experience that particular horror yet again.
Do you know how hard it is for me to say that I would kill someone, no matter how extreme or theoretical? It completely changes my view of myself and the idea of who I am. This has happened a few times in the past year or so, and it’s jolting to me each time. Something I thought was at the core of me–isn’t. It’s not true now, and it may never have been. And, per my mind, I am obsessing over what it says about me that I would have no qualms about killing someone who was attacking me.
So. This brings me back to my mojo as mentioned in the last entry. You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? I don’t blame you, but I didn’t forget. I have two things to say about why I might not want to get my mojo back, one I just thought of as I was typing the last paragraph. I’ll tell you the one I figured out earlier first.
I have absolutely no road map for my life now. Depression made everything comfortable, predictable, and ostensibly safe (though as I noted before, being safe without the possibility of joy is just another form of hell). I didn’t like being depressed, but I knew who I was in the frame of that context. I have no fucking idea who I am now. And, the things I crave, a place of my own, self-sufficiency, a performing/writing career all seem like impossible goals to meet. It’s gonna take a lot of fucking work, and as I have stated before, I am a lazy person at heart.
I feel lost right now, and I don’t have the faith that I can do what needs to be done. That scares the fuck out of me. I hate trying and failing. I know nobody likes it, but I hate it to a pathological extent. I’m also feeling incredibly sad for the life I’ve wasted. I’m also physically incredibly drained.
This brings me to the second reason I’m not rushing to reclaim my mojo, the one I just thought of. My demons are back with a vengeance. They are pulling me into the abyss again. I am not far enough removed from the pit to be confident that I won’t get permanently thrown down there again. I feel myself inexorably sliding in that direction, and I don’t know how to stop it. And, this links to what I said earlier about kill or be killed. I don’t know how to kill my demons–and I would rather die than go back to the abyss again. I remember all-too-well what it felt like being in there. I remember how worthless, ugly toxic, disgusting, shameful, grotesque, hideous, elephantine, stupid, and utterly pointless I felt I was. I can still feel with complete clarity the hopelessness I experienced while in the abyss.
As an aside, my mother has similar OCD tendencies as do I. I would watch her pretty much talk herself out of any right answer to a problem, and while I realized just how insane it is as I watched her do it, I can’t recognize the same insanity when I do it myself. When I am in the pit, I shoot down any possible way of getting out of it. Therefore, even if it’s only a foot or two deep, I will not pull myself out.
Right now, I am in the space where I can go either way. The demons are dragging me to the abyss. My loved ones are dragging me away from it. Unfortunately, the demons have the advantage because they live inside me and were spawned by me. They know me so intimately, and they are bringing out the heavy artillery. My friends have told me the demons are redoubling their efforts because they know they are losing me. While that may be true, the constant assault is having its effect on me.
I’m starting to listen to them again. I am starting to believe them when they tell me that I am fat and ugly and worthless and better off dead. The colors are leaching from my world again, little by little, and I hate it. With every step forward I take, they drag me back three. I’m finding living to be an effort again, just as it was in the lost years. I don’t want to get out of bed even though my sleep is shittier than ever, and honestly, if I didn’t have to take care of the cats, I would have given into the impulse by now. I am falling asleep as I drive, and I am having to put a huge effort into doing the little things. I find that I am still retreating into my shell even after my mom left to go back to Taiwan.
My mojo is gone; I have no idea how to get it back or if I even have the will to do so.