By Beau Stetson: An avid avoider of gluten; you could say it is due to being Celiac born and (anti) bread. I eat Paleo, because it feels good and right for me. ( Also, I have an unfortunate propensity towards accidental arson when cooking with fire.) My views on self-preservation are very simple: Life is unpredictable and there are moments beyond anyone’s control; my mind, my heart, my soul are my own. I decide the perspective. I control my own filter. These things can only be touched if I allow it. As for physical self-preservation … this is why I come to train. 🙂 When asked if I think outside the box I reply, “There is a box?” (The sweet irony of this is my cubicle of chaos at a bureaucratic government job. Life has a definite sense of humor.) I am a plant loving, tango dancing, animal lover with ADHD that believes with all my heart in ….. Squirrel!
M y path towards empowerment has not been a straight line of simple choices, instead I had been sleep walking a maze. My route a twisting pattern laid down by a powerful, generational cycle of abuse. The walls of which were built high with the history of our family filter of “normal”. My awakening came at the end of an abusive relationship. I was twenty and my mother had recently passed. I was living on my own, but painfully shy. I had always found it difficult to meet other peoples’ gaze; speaking to and with strangers was frightening and painful. I was proud that I had stood my ground and left my boyfriend. That quickly turned to horror when he stalked me at my job. Later that evening he attacked me from the bushes outside my apartment where he had lain in wait for hours. I managed to get away from him, but realized I could not go back to my job or return to my apartment. Neither was safe. The irony of being beaten outside the local jail so darkly humorous, I found myself laughing. Then I did what most people do when they are in trouble, I called my father. I was crying and said I was in danger. I was hurt and needed to come home. His reply, said so calmly, was like a shock of ice water in my face. The tears dried as I heard the words followed by a dial tone,
“I have no room for you.”
That was the turning point. Every illusion of safety was shattered. I realized I was completely alone. I was adrift and terrified. I had no skills to deal with this situation, who could I turn to if my own family would abandon me? How would a socially awkward and inept person get out of this? I was homeless. I made a decision then and there. I was a new person, not the me I had previously known. I would be reborn, I would be my own mother, my own rescuer. I changed my last name. I wanted to be alone and do it all without help. No ties to my past or names associated with the ownership of man. I was brave, independent and embarking on an exciting adventure of my own choosing. At first I was just acting, but acting a thing is living a thing, and living it makes it real. I learned a lot about myself at that time, and so much more about others. Looking back it was a strange and beautiful blessing; I would change nothing. I was asked if I have a cheat sheet for self-preservation. I gave this deep thought, and the following are the things I felt got me through my ongoing journey thus far:
- Always trust your gut instincts. If someone, something or a situation feels wrong …. it is.
- Own all your feelings. Do not second guess yourself or let fear and shame paralyze you. Your mind is your first defense, be alert and allow for new things. In other words…. Be Aware instead of Beware.
- Boundaries are healthy. People who love you will respect and honor them.
- And my hardest lesson, the one I need to practice more than all the others. Abusers isolate and silence is a prison. So …..Tell someone. Trust someone. Words can heal. When we share our stories we escape the shame of silence and find we are not alone.We are stronger as a community.
I am still learning how to feel confident, how to be kind to myself. When I walked into Four Elements Fitness with friends interested in asking about their program, I was sure that I would be out of my own element. Out of place. Instead, I found a place I felt something I so rarely let myself feel… safe. And not just safe, but excited that here was a new leg to my journey. One were I could grow; grow stronger in mind, body,emotion and spirit. The four elements essential to finding I am truly Home within myself.