Stages of Grief

I am angry. I spent two evenings this week at the dojo, first watching the grading and then last night watching the seminar. I am royally pissed off fucking angry that I have to watch people who were white belts when I had already earned my brown belt, approaching the same rank as me and surpassing me in the next year. It’s strange that I am bothered by this because I am not a competitive person, but I am. I’m angry. Why did this happen to me? Why is it my body that breaks?

My whole life, I have felt like I am not quite the same as everyone else – left-handed (if you are right-handed, you have no idea the small constant challenges that face a leftie so don’t shrug at this one and assume it’s not so bad); lactose intolerant; IBS; wrist and thumb constant injury; legs not the same length (more than is normal in the majority of the population) which throws out my hips, my back, and my neck; metal allergy; asthma – and at the dojo I often felt like I had to struggle to achieve things that came easily to others. I don’t mean the basics of the martial art – those have always come quickly to me and I have prided myself on my ability – I mean things that involve endurance or strength. My body always seemed to be not as strong as everyone else’s, and my endurance was always less. It was frustrating to watch people do things effortlessly that I could not do at all. And those days that I felt like things were finally started to click and my body was finally at a level of fitness and strength that I could do things that others could do – those were the days I got injured. I hurt my knee last year. I rolled my ankle three times. My wrist would stop supporting any weight.

And now, when I was gearing up for black belt and starting to feel like I just may be able to get through that grading in August, my ACL tears and I’m benched for an unknown length of time. I’m angry. Others come to the dojo and do their best, and toddle along from belt to belt, not showing any struggle. (0n the outside – of course who knows what goes on in the inside?) So why me? Why do I always break? Why am I always the one who is different? Why is it always me that has to struggle to get anywhere?

Some days I feel acceptance. Some days I realize that things just happen and it is not about being deserving or not. There is no malicious force in the universe making things hard for me. I may feel like there are lots of things wrong with me but maybe everyone else feels the same way. Or maybe, it’s not really that bad. I’ll have my surgery, do my rehab, and go to Trinidad in my own time. I will wear a black belt around my waist one day.

I say that and the anger surges back, because there will be others who started after me who will now stand ahead of me in the lineup. I know it seems petty but there are so few things that I am good at, physically, that I always took pride in my martial arts. I started when the school was small and I skipped belts every grading. I achieved a brown belt after a year and a half of study. I was good. I took pride in my place at the top of the line. Sensei considered me to be a part of the first group that achieved their black belts – now, I won’t even get to stand beside them in line. It makes me bitter.

People were happy to see me at the dojo, telling me how they missed me being there, as an instructor and a fellow student. They said all the right things and had all the right vibes. And underneath my pleasant exterior seethes this bitterness and anger and I don’t want to go back to the dojo if I don’t have this under control.

Originally published at idle musings. You can comment here or there.

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