Today’s article brought to you with barely a solution..... and that’s pushing it... so sorry in advance...
When I did my black belt test in karate a few years ago my literal only goal was not to cry. I wasn’t concerned about the, “I am in pain, cry,” it was more the, “I am super frustrated with myself and my performance,” cry. I barely managed.
Its not even the big things that set me off, it’s usually a small, off the wall issue. I have had these discussions with several women in martial arts, it truly is pretty common so I want to bring the realness forward to let other gals out there know if you suffer from this, you are not alone. I also want to tell you up front I pretty much don’t have a solution either. So… yeah…
A friend of mine that tested for her black belt in Krav Maga during the Unlisted training this last weekend had the same goal. We talked a couple days after and she told me of certain instances where she was doing her damndest trying to choke back the waterworks. It sucks because once that first initial tightening of the throat happens your brain goes into even more of an overdrive and now instead of thinking of the movement or the drill you are now driving all your energy trying to keep those tears from falling.
I wish I could say it was the cool scenarios that usually set me off, it’s not. It’s the small simple things that snap this camels back leaving me assessing whether I am gearing up to cry or having an asthma attack. This last weekend I had just been thrown into a couple walls, sported too many bruises to count, had rolled around and been crushed on the ground by three men twice my size who were astronomically stronger and more competent in groundwork than me, when we changed drills. I was put with another large behemoth of a man for a rather simple boxing drill. I was exhausted, beyond sweaty, and all this guy told me to do was to change the positions of my arms for better defense; I internally lost it. I looked at him not hearing any other words out of his mouth and felt the frustration tears rising up. To the outside it looked like I was doubting his expertise, I wasn’t, but my brain was short circuiting and screaming at me a thousand different things:
You are failing! This is beginner crap Christun! Wait, I was told by another person to put my hands here…. This has worked before. This is the third way I have been told to do it! Well then someone is doing it wrong…. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. You had better breathe or you WILL cry. No Christun, those gloves do not absorb tears well. Oh gosh, is my nose running now? The room is going to think you can’t hack it. Maybe you CAN’T hack it…. Oh gosh, what IF I can’t hack it? Throat is closing tighter, it could be asthma…. do I have my inhaler? Will I look weak going for it? Nope, not asthma. Oh gosh, I am so frustrated and angry with my lack of self control over the fact I can’t stop the tears. This will look bad for women everywhere if I lose it all over this guy in a blubbering mess because then it creates a kid glove mentality…..Now I will be judged by my lack of self control….. and so on forth, this list becomes an infinite reel. Its obvious at this point I am not even capable of doing the drill when my head is so full and still concentrating on drying up the tears.
Likely I wasn’t even defensively doing what I had hammered into me in training. Later when my head had a chance to catch up without being knocked around I found out he was actually telling me what I naturally do, but for some odd reason my freaking hands were clear off doing their own thing with my palms flat to the top of my head. This was probably because I decided, after seeing who I was paired with, I was just going to default to fetal position and piss myself….. he didn’t smile at all and I was too tired and the pace too fast to try and cajole it out of him. Literally all the guy told me to do was keep my hands near my face. That’s it. I had been beat down all morning and he made me cry by telling me to protect my face.
But that’s how it works, I have been in another class and was tired, working very simple stuff after doing a grueling workout and been told to do sprawls. My head made the decision for me of, nope, you are incapable of doing this basic burpee with your pelvis ground to the floor. That time I couldn’t suck them back up and did go to the bathroom hoping nobody knew. I am sure they did.
It’s not pain, very rarely does pain make me cry; I am more likely to drop the F-bomb a few times, unfortunately most likely when my two year old is present, while breathing heavily writhing on the floor. I am dramatic, I do know this.
But the tears? It’s against me, this is me fighting myself. If you struggle with this issue this is you fighting yourself, and guess what? I have no answer for you on how to handle it other than the solidarity that you are not alone. I can’t even tell you whether you should just let those tears fall right then in a full blown meltdown and keep fighting, or reign it in as hard as it is not concentrating on the task at hand. Hell sometimes I will have the best training day, a hard one, but the best. My head will be pleasantly full, my body just tired enough, I will get in my car and start weeping for no damn reason. It is humiliating. It sucks. Usually I then just turn on an emotional song and ride the wave with my sobs.
Some researchers claim that crying is how your body expels stress-related hormones. It has also been shown that tears may trigger the release of endorphins that can help reduce pain and make you feel better; much like saying a really good string of cuss words has been proven to help with the agony of stubbing your toe. Though honestly the last thing I want to be doing while sparring is glaring at my opponent with tears streaking down my face as I hiccup, not exactly promising for psychological warfare.
On Saturday I overheard one of the teachers for Unlisted, Aaron Jannetti speak of an idea I put to the test Sunday. He is a coach, trainer, and owner of Endeavor Defense and Fitness in Hilliard, Ohio. He also has some very resourceful and motivational videos you can check out on his Facebook page. Now I likely butchered this method because I was totally eavesdropping on the conversation, but I did find it helped me if I had a few extra seconds. He explained that when box breathing, in for 5, out for 5, it is not helping to lower the heart rate and anxiety faster. Not saying its bad, but when you are trying to calm your nerves you need to breathe in for 4 and out for 6. The exhale must be longer than the inhale to slow the panic. I tried this with the tears and it really did help. Did some leak over? Yes, but it helped with the throat constricting.
I am pushing optimistically that the tension makes it worth it. Goodness I hope it’s worth it. I don’t want to end up crying because I am crying and it never improves. The struggle to overcome both the tears and the conundrum will hopefully cause growth. Victor Frankl said, “What man actually needs is not a tension less state, but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” Problem solving creates strength to solve harder problems. I guess I can live with that. I will continue to look for solutions and knowing I am not the only one hysterical in her car sometimes is a comfort. But man, it is embarrassing
#imnotcryingyourecrying #selfdefense#waterworks #ugh #deepbreaths#maynotwork #ughagain #frustrationtears#angrytears #fightingmyself
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal