Posted on February 13 2019
My Therapy of Choice: Jiu Jitsu
Almost everyone will tell you that jiu jitsu has saved their life, or at the very least that it has changed their life. This is a fact I can and never would want to deny. Jiu Jitsu came into my life at the exact time I needed it most, but more than that jiu jitsu gave me exactly what I needed in my life. Jiu jitsu came into my life at a time I was lost; I was trying to find something I didn’t know I was searching for.
In order to tell my story we can’t start when I found jiu jitsu. That wasn’t when my story started, that was when my story was redeemed. I grew up for most of my life in Wisconsin. I had a relatively worry free childhood. I had a loving, nurturing, and supportive family whom I was never appreciative enough of. It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly everything changed. I cannot say with any definitiveness if I changed because of what happened to me or I changed beforehand. Overtime I started to see myself as a victim, as someone who bad things happened to. This was my life and I accepted it; I didn’t know how or that I could break the cycle.
When I explain what has happened to me, I become monotone and matter of fact. No emotion, just facts. This is what happened to me. At fifteen, I was sexually assaulted and forced to give a guy I barely knew oral. But this was 10 years ago, and victim blaming was very prevalent. Instead of blaming my attacker, I blamed myself. At seventeen, I was raped by my boyfriend at the time. I was naive, and thought, how can your boyfriend rape you; it must be my fault. The cycle of being a victim and blaming myself continued. At eighteen, I met a guy. I thought he was the most amazing guy I had ever met. That was until he started abusing me physically and emotionally. Anyone who has been through emotional abuse knows it isn’t as clear cut as physical. I didn’t see it and I didn’t realize it until I was so deep; I wasn’t even treading water, I was drowning. But the realization was what I needed. I left, no I didn’t leave, I ran. I was one of the lucky ones. I got out alive. A few months later I moved to Texas and a few months after that I discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
At first jiu jitsu was just something fun I liked to do. It was something to get me in better shape. It was challenging and difficult but I loved it, and it was mine. Overtime I realized it was changing me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It was changing me from the victim mentality I had accepted into a fighter. I realized I was strong enough, good enough, and smart enough. That me being all of and only me, was enough. I now have self-confidence I have never known. They say when you join jiu jitsu you’re joining a lifestyle. Maybe that is a cliche, but for me it was true. I started choosing me; I started choosing life. I started to feel safe, in power, and surrounded by people who would do everything to keep it that way. It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t even happen in a few months, but I kept coming to the gym. I trained, day in and day out, I started to compete, and jiu jitsu became a monumental part of my life. I started taking care of myself and eventually it wasn’t a choice I had to make; it was who I was, who I had became.
Jiu jitsu isn’t a magical cure all. My life isn’t and will never be perfect. I still have panic attacks and I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but jiu jitsu is my way to cope. It became my way to believe in myself when I desperately needed to. Jiu jitsu became my therapy. It gave me the ability to control my breathing and an outlet for all my frustration and anger at the unfairness of this world. It gave me something to work towards and strive for. Forget for a moment that jiu jitsu is a great self-defense mechanism, jiu jitsu also helps build a defense emotionally. Jiu jitsu may not be for everyone, but for anyone who wants it, jiu jitsu will be there.