Debriefing the debrief.

Cool-friends-wise, I’m punching way above my weight lately. It’s awesome, although it also kinda makes me feel like I ought to hand out disclaimers when I introduce myself to people.


In response to the last blog, Nick, who does pew-pews and more, and is really good at spotting where my language use lets me down, pointed out that:

We don’t unfuck people. If we’re good at what we do, we can give them tools they can use to unfuck themselves.”

You can’t think the physio. Well, you can, but it doesn’t achieve anything. Funny how I’m perfectly good at conveying that concept to others, but struggle to apply it myself. Hmm.

Also, there’s no way in hell I want to be responsible for anyone’s self-defence or lifestyle choices. I am constitutionally incapable of being someone else’s adult-in-charge. I know precisely how much I’ve fucked up, and how much I’m fucking up. But I can totally live with putting down a set of tools for people to pick up or ignore, whatever they feel like doing. Within that mental frame, maybe I can write and teach.


Maija, who does swordery and strategy and soup, pointed out two things:

  1. My framing is fuck-awful, and exceptionalist. If anyone else in the whole wide world had an accident and afterwards looked after themselves in order not to get re-injured, I’d call them ‘smart’. When I do it, I call myself  ‘chickenshit’, and that’s on a good day. My inner dialogue can get quite colourful. That’s several shades of fucked up. I object strongly when I see other people doing that kind of thing, but when I do it is different, because my exceptionalism ought to be treated special. Very recursive, very unhelpful.
  2. In self-defence (and life) there are options. Things are only black-and-white if you look at them that way. The opposite of  ‘strong’ may be ‘weak’, but there are plenty of other things one can be instead. Smart is one of them. If I lump everything that is not-strong together and chuck it all in the bin, I’m really missing out.

Realization afterwards: I appreciated deviousness a lot more when I didn’t need it. I’ve always been happy being a Kender (Dragonlance-style). Now that I need this shit, I resent that need and I devalue said shit. Not helpful.


Razorbones, who’s good at lifing (and if you don’t think that’s important, then you’re either in a better place than me, or in a very bad place indeed), pointed out that maybe, just maybe, I’ve got things somewhat backwards:

Regarding the end part, might I suggest that now coming to feel that you DO have something to lose is actually a major piece accomplished of unfucking yourself?

So when you say “My third reaction was to wonder why I can unfuck other people, but I haven’t been able to unfuck myself yet.”–that “yet” matters. It means that the process is incomplete. And I can’t really think of a single person, myself included, for whom the process is EVER complete. (But what would be missing from life if there was no area left to grow in?)

But at the same time, you HAVE achieved a significant positive paradigm shift! However good, that doesn’t always feel positive; it’s new territory, and the unfamiliarity can be intense and stressful on the path to becoming at home there. Scared is normal and scared is hard. You’re someone who learns and grows–you might not see a clear path in this territory right now, but you will find your way.

At which point I did the mature, sensible thing: stuck my fingers in my ears, and started going LALALALALA as loudly as I could to drown her out. Don’t you hate it when people throw reality right at your face?

(Note: while there’s nothing inherently wrong with demi-romanticism, if it takes you 42 yrs to start developing the basics of self-love and self-care, you might be taking it a bit too far.)


Aside from reinforcing how cool a group of associates I’m managing to string along, this has also made me realise that I kinda wasn’t talking about self-defence training. Or rather, that I didn’t see the issue as starting and ending at the dojo door. For me, these days, self-defence training is a litmus test. I use it to see where my head and body and other relevant bits are at. There are much better litmus tests out there, like this list from Rory, but I find it hard to bullshit myself when someone’s about to punch me into next week. Much as I enjoy good-quality training as a game, it’s never not real to me. If I suck in training, I’m probably sucking in life. If I’m timid in training, I’m probably being timid in life. Whatever’s sucking the joy out of training, etc.

(Note: more and more, I worry that I’m being a poor training partner. That I’m wasting people’s time. I’m less wary of training with strangers in case they hurt me, and more because I don’t want them to miss out on a training opportunity. Rory reckons it’s impostor syndrome. I’m not so sure; I think it’s that I’m really failing to meet my own standards. Which isn’t to say that I’m right; it’s just as likely that my standards are inappropriate. Maija’s suggestions will help there. Less Wolverine, more Antman? I can live with that, I think. Additional superhero suggestions gladly accepted.)

I also know that none of the realisations matter a fig if I don’t actually do something with them. Getting socked in the face brings that home in a very special way.


2 thoughts on “Debriefing the debrief.

  1. For the record, if you want to know who you are, look at your three closest friends. In this post, look at the sheer quality of the people who are throwing their insight into the mix. I’ve met all three of them (and you) and it’s a damn fine group if you need a slap of truth upside the head.
    And, someday, not for public consumption, maybe you and me and Maija can get together with a bottle of Irish whiskey and share the bullshit we get from the voices in our heads. It would make a fun, dark contest. “My voices make your voices look like F’in cheerleaders!”


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