Monday, August 19, 2013

I don’t have to be "in shape" to use my greatest gifts

As verbose as I am, I am challenged to summon up adequate words to express my gratitude for the IMPACT Core program. It was a life changing experience for me; helping me to heal a past experience more than 8 years of talk therapy did. I truly know now that the "only way out is through". And that no matter how much I talked about what happened to me in the past, nothing helped more than re-experiencing it in my body with a different outcome. 

I was so scared to take the class that I put it off for years. Through the patient and supportive communication with Leslie, I signed up and then still waivered back and forth. Her loving boundary of telling me that there were other women waiting to take the class helped me commit.
I had thought that I was mostly scared because I am in the worst physical shape of my life having gained over 50 lbs since the 2006 rape to try to "protect" myself from others. With the expert pacing of the teaching and gradual learning of the skills, my body experienced that it can do way more than I thought it could. I learned that I don’t have to be "in shape" to use my greatest gifts of my hips and legs. In fact, my weight added power and strength. I now am so grateful for my hips and legs.

Adrenaline became my friend as Margaret so exquisitely taught us to "use" the feelings of fear as fuel. This was perhaps one of the greatest lessons. I had thought previously that fear would cripple me into paralysis because that is what I had thought it did back in 2006. But I learned, through my body, that fear is a gift and that I can use it to make a choice. It was Mark, one of the male instructors, who so sensitively explained to me that fear did not cripple me in 2006. He explained that because I felt fear and made a choice not to fight; not because I couldn't do it but because a part of me knew that I was in so much danger that the choice was not to fight. I realize now that my fear about taking the class was because I had internalized the false belief that I was a "failure" because I didn't fight my rapist. Mark and the whole team taught me that I am a survivor because I lived through it. I am alive because of my fear. My fear was a gift that told me what to do to protect myself from getting killed.

Today, I feel confident that I would make many different choices should that same or a different threatening situation arise. This class was about so much very more than just the physical skills. The verbal boundary setting skills and practice are priceless. Learning to know when to say no is something that every woman needs to learn. We can talk and analyze about it ‘til the cows come home but there is nothing like the gift of actually getting to practice it in a safe setting. Margaret's coaching in my ear became paramount to me. I needed to learn how to breathe, assess and know what I want and don't want.  

Heidi, 2013 IMPACT Chicago graduate

Upcoming IMPACT Core Program: September 20, 21, and 22 (Friday 5:30-9:30pm ; Sat/Sun 9 am - 6 pm) , TRIBE, 1819 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL 60657.

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