In 7th grade I had 2 friends: one who stabbed me in the back repeatedly, and the other who did homework during recess.
Even earlier, in grade 4, I had no friends. Everyone just teased me relentlessly. I was an easy target. I never stuck up for myself.
Both times, my mother considered switching my schools, though it really would have made no difference – I was the bullseye for any bully.
I cried easily. I still do. I never retaliated in words as I felt they would just fall flat and I’d be laughed at more.
Thank god I didn’t grow up with the internet. This was bad enough. I got nasty phone calls, I got dogshit on my doormat, I got evil letters in the mailbox, I had rocks thrown at my house.
I lived one block away from my elementary school, and rode my bike back and forth, especially at lunch time, to escape the other kids more quickly because once we were out of the classroom, I had no safety from the teacher.
I felt like the most pathetic girl on the face of the planet. I was a nice, creative kid, yet no one seemed to want to be around me, and I could never figure out why. I wasn’t that weird early on – or maybe I was? Maybe I just had more imagination. Maybe I just didn’t follow the popular kids, though I tried for a brief time, not that it did me any good. The popular girl was my friend in grade 6, only to turn everyone against me the next year, one of the worst times of my life.
Being 12 is hard. But then there is high school.
I know I’m not alone, and things could have been much worse. I don’t envy kids today and the bullshit they have to deal with in terms of the internet and phones and all that- but it still destroyed me, and it still impacts me. It shaped me.
I’m glad it happened.
High school was way worse. It seemed to have potential at first. No one bothered me but that didn’t last long. Everyone was just finding their way, and then of course all the rumours spread from the old school to the new, except now there were 10 times as many people, and way more free time between classes, there were lockers to deface, and people were much more bold in class and now I had to deal with it IN class as well as outside of it. So I simply started to skip my classes and do what I wanted, which was listen to crazy music and write stories.
Any stories I’ve ever really been into have been about bold, fierce, strong women, or rebels, or survivalists. Everything I was not.
This NEVER changed. I still obsess over these things. But unlike back then, when I couldn’t even punch someone in my IMAGINATION (I always missed), I now believe I can do anything I want. I now believe I am strong, capable, and ferocious.
It started percolating in grade 10, when I simply snapped and began looking darker, being weirder, and actually raising my voice. Actually, once in grade 8 I slapped a guy who was about to tell my guy friend that I wanted to fuck him – in the middle of class! Not only a lie, but I was 12! So I hit him, and everyone was aghast – “Did she SLAP you?!” And then he slapped me back. The teacher clearly had not arrived yet. I didn’t cry, and I felt so proud of myself because I didn’t – he even slapped me twice! My guy friend looked disturbed, but he never found out what happened as far as I know.
But in grade 10, I became a bitch. I had to. I had no choice unless I wanted to be harrassed and pushed around for the rest of my life. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just started to be drawn to harsher things – maybe this was my way of putting up a wall, I don’t know, but it worked. People started to leave me alone. I cultivated a fantastic bitchface that I’ve never been able to get rid of. It has caused me a lot of problems in my life, but I’d prefer that over people taking advantage of me, or picking on me, or seeing me as an easy target.
I always wanted to be a warrior, or at least someone people wouldn’t fuck with. I never wanted to feel weak again – but I still did, for a long time. I still felt it deeply, though on the surface I intimidated people. I was still mushy in the center. I was like a dog who barks ferociously but that could never bite and would just cower in a puddle if something truly bad happened.
This lasted until I was about 30.
When I was 26 I saw Kill Bill and wanted so desperately to be that badass. But pfft, I was 26! That’s too old to start martial arts! And I lived in buttfuck nowhere, a Canadian surf town, where the hell would I learn Kung Fu, let alone anything else?
I didn’t even check to see if there was anything nearby where I could learn. My belief was that I was just not cut out for it, that it was too late, that I was too old – that it was something I’d never be able to do, unless I trained for a decade and then maybe I’d be half-decent and that wasn’t good enough.
Okay so then a decade went by. If I’d actually started back then I’d be fantastic at Kung Fu by now – but I’m not, and it’s all because I didn’t believe I could do it. I was still the little girl who couldn’t picture myself throwing a punch.
I also was super identified with being a victim. Poor me.
In my 30s that all changed when I focused on getting truly healthy, which in turn raised my confidence so much that I was like a different human being. I realized I could choose any other label other than “victim.” I didn’t ever have to be the little girl with no friends who got picked on, I didn’t have to be the reactive bitch from high school who felt so damn alone that I just got used to it – so used to it that now I prefer it but still envy people with really close friends – I realized I could do anything I truly wanted to do, if I only believed I could do it.
And so I started martial arts when I was 35. I don’t care that I started so late – I am getting older no matter what, so I might as well learn something substantial in that time. And not just for MY OWN sake. YES, I want to be able to defend myself if necessary. But I also want to inspire and teach other girls that they can stand up for themselves too.
Not just physically, though that is so important. You’d think such horrible violence against women would be rare these days but it sure as hell isn’t, and while it is NEVER the woman’s fault, we need to learn some basic, effective, sneaky, nasty techniques to ensure we SURVIVE, because these are our LIVES at stake. We want to LIVE. I sure as hell do – I lived in a state of angst, despair, and horror most of my life. I’m so fortunate I never had to deal with much physical harrassment, though I’ve had a taste, and I can’t even fathom any more than that. I don’t want ANY woman to deal with that. Or any man, girl, boy, or transgender person. NO ONE.
The amazing thing about martial arts is that I felt like I couldn’t do it, that I would just suck. Almost everything I’ve ever attempted, I just thought I sucked and soon gave up. The only things I’ve ever stuck with for life are writing and drawing.
And now this. Ninjutsu has consumed me in a way I never thought it would. I think about it all the time.
I didn’t need confidence to start. DOING IT GAVE ME CONFIDENCE. Even when I feel like I’m doing terribly, I keep going because I have the motivation to get better, and it’s not just all about ME.
There is an event every few years where women in this art teach other women their skills, and these will be skills we can’t really learn from men – there are things we have to deal with than men don’t – in general we don’t have as much physical strength, we are more targeted for sexual violence, and we are subject to harrassment on a regular basis.
Ninjutsu and martial arts in general tends to attract mostly men, which is why this event is special.
I implore you to help me with whatever you can spare, so I can learn more skills from these women, and so I can raise up OTHER women in the future by helping them become fierce and capable as well, because damn does this world need more fierce, amazing women.
Please help me become one of them.
Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org