Fear is a natural thing. People don’t usually think it is but it is. Fear is a natural reaction to something that could bring harm or is considered dangerous against oneself or others. Most people spend the majority of their lives trying to avoid fear, as though it expresses some level of weakness to be afraid. It starts quite early in life, with parents trying to convince children not to be afraid of the dark, what may be under the bed or in the closet. As adults, we acknowledge that these fears are pointless because we’ve grown and come to learn that there’s nothing to fear. Children haven’t had this benefit at so early an age.
None of this stops us from trying to rationalize and dismiss one’s fears, children or otherwise. And while it may seem normal to get frustrated with a child who may be afraid of the dark, what happens when some fears penetrate into adulthood? Worse yet, what happens when an adult develops a new fear based on experience? Should it still be rationalized and dismissed? What if it disrupts or damages something within your adult life? Sometimes it can be easier to ignore a problem than to deal with it. But as adults, we need to use that logic to figure out an intelligent solution to our fears, as opposed to ignoring them.
As some of you may have recently read, I suffered an injury back in early April. This injury included damage to my rib cage as well as the muscle wall covering said ribs. It happened in karate class while training through a weekend seminar and as much as I’d like to say that I should recognize that it isn’t a fuckin’ knitting circle, it’s a combat art, I have to admit that getting hurt IN karate is something that I’ve not only never experienced before, it’s caused me some apprehension in going back.
I really didn’t think it would, at first. I spent weeks on muscle relaxants and pain killers, trying to heal and get over the injury. I lost several nights’ sleep and spent most of those nights curled up in a cold sweat, crying out the pain. Despite having trained for several decades, I have NEVER been injured to this extent while training in karate. Oh, I’ve been injured and required recovery but never anything like this. And never as a result of a karate class.
As the weeks have trickled past, I’ve recovered slowly, able to move easier, breathe easier and finally able to get some sleep without crying. I made a point of acting tough at work but it had a profound effect. I kept telling myself that I would soon be ready to return. But recently, I came to realize that despite being completely healed, I felt an intense level of anxiety and stress at the thought of returning to class. It’s been debilitating and has had me finding every excuse in the book NOT to go to class. I have no fear of facing the other black belts; we understand the risks and potential injuries that come with training. This is all me. This is all in my head.
Considering I was badly injured and needed almost two months to recover, my fear is not irrational. I know that. But my anxiety over reintroducing myself into the dojo is. And eventually, I’ll run out of excuses. When that time comes, I’ll need to decide whether I hang up my belt and move on to a different chapter of life or if I stick to my plan of continuing my martial arts journey and continue to learn. As a family man, I have an obligation, now more than ever, to maintain the ability to defend myself and my family. I also need to continue working towards maintaining my health, especially if I expect to live long enough to see my grandchildren. Food for self-thought… ☯️