One day, I was talking to my adult son about a significant life situation in which I felt helpless to alter. He looked me in the eyes and with a gentle, earnest voice he said, "Mom, no one is coming to save you. You have to save yourself."
Those two short sentences, spoken with wisdom beyond his years, pricked something deep in my soul. For days I rolled them around in my mind like an old cat batting at a new toy. "No one is coming to save you." Well, logically I knew that. But did I have the tools to save myself from what seemed like a helpless situation? I knew I did not. I needed to do some tool shopping.
As I reflected on what kind of tools I might need to aquire, I was surprised by the direction my mind went. For most of my adult life, I have been plagued by horrible nightmares. In them, the situations are varied but my role, is always the same. The helpless victim. In my waking life I am a mover and a shaker. A problem solver. A doer. I am not a victim! I never understood why I wasn't as badass in my sleep as I thought I was when awake. I used daily self talk and mantras to try to convince my sleeping brain that "I've got this" and I would write new scripts of those nightmares and rehearse different outcomes in my mind. To no avail. And then it hit me. If I wanted to be able to defend myself physically in my bad dreams, like any actor I needed to learn and rehearse the actual moves of true self defense. So I started asking around and a friend mentioned a class that she took at Bellevue College and I found Joanne Factor of Strategic Living.
Though my finances were tight, I knew I had to find a way to get to class. I set my sights 3 months out and started to save money. It wasn't a logical expense at the time. It was a sacrifice and it wasn't easy. My boyfriend was critical of my spending choice. "You don't need to take a class babe, I'll take care of you" he said. But he didn't understand how deep this went for me. I rarely felt physically unsafe in my awake world. I was intentional about making sure I didn't get into situations where I felt unsafe. I always went out with friends in groups, avoided shady areas of town at night, walked with undistracted awareness to my car when I was alone, and held my keys as a weapon if anything felt even remotely unsafe. I wasn't afraid. This was simply how I was raised to think. To not be a victim. But I needed more tools, real tools of self defense to rewrite the script in my nightmares. I was so excited when class started! I was there to learn and nothing would get in my way!
The lessons Joanne taught were interesting, engaging and practical. Between classes I read the homework assignments, watched self defense videos on YouTube and practiced what I learned with my son.
A few weeks ago I was leaving the gym and another member (male) followed me out to the parking garage. I stopped walking, turned to the side and said, "I'll feel more comfortable walking behind you". He looked at me in surprise. I'm sure he was just going to his car without any thought of me, but I was really uncomfortable alone in the parking garage like that. Thank you Strategic Living for teaching me how to use my voice and instincts!
The classes I took at Strategic Living were life changing! Since taking the course at Bellevue College I can count how many nightmares I've had on one hand and I feel empowered and prepared to handle anything the waking hours bring too!