Would You Mind Repeating That?

No, no, I don’t mind at all…I HIT HIM. I HIT HIM. I HIT HIM!!!!!!

In fact I gave him a bloody nose and for a short time his hand didn’t really work because of where I punched him.

The bloody nose was an accident, but the point is I punched him.  Not once or twice, but again and again.  I didn’t need him to threaten me or even dig deep into my inner anger, I just did it.

I got to the park and Arete was there.  He said, lets go and I was like umm, what, ok.  He started throwing punches and I did the normal blocking deal and then when I saw a chance I hit him.  It wasn’t pretty or super hard, but I hit him without provocation, other than then the fact that I was getting hit. After the first hit, I smiled and I thought, that was easy.  As the training progressed I got more comfortable and hit, punched, blocked, kneeded, you know all around kicked butt.

When he is ready to fight he puts his fist up which means I should do the same because he doesn’t always wait for me to do so before he starts hitting me.  Towards the end he put his fists up, but not like he was really prepared, so I punched him in the chest and said, “You should have your hands up.”  So, he smiled, put them up and then I punched him in the stomach and said, “A little slow.”  He smiled again and then came at me. I did take a beating for that, but it was so worth it.

His punches were harder and faster.  I am not so fond of getting punched in the stomach, but I totally took it.  I end up on the ground a lot, but I am getting faster and avoid it more often and once I end up there, I am getting meaner. 

After my cocky smack talking deal, he grabbed me and picked me up to throw me on the ground.  Normally, I fight to get a way, but this time I grabbed him into me, pulled him down on top of me and pushed(I suspect he helped launch himself as to not completely crush me)him over my head.  Unfortunately, I pulled him right on top on my body and the weight of his body landed right between my breast as I hit the ground.  I heard some cracking and thought, Huh, that hurt.

I did have to take a tiny little second to lay there.  He asked if I could breath and I said yes and I only needed about 30 seconds before I was back up and ready to go.  Thinking it is gonna hurt tomorrow.

If I leave my one foot out in front of the other one, he steps on it.  Annoying,  so one time his foot was out in front of the his other foot and I stepped on it.  I think I ended up on the ground.  He said, “Hey, I haven’t taught you everything I know.”  I said, “Don’t care, if I see it I am gonna try”.  “I would rather get the crap kicked out me then be afraid”.  I got a high five.

Did, I mention I HIT HIM?!

School Meeting

Last Thursday we had a meeting with the superintendent of our children’s school district, but when we arrived, there had been some mix up on their end and we had to reschedule.  Today was that rescheduled meeting.

I want to say again that both my husband and I are very happy with this district.  We like the teachers and the education our kids receive.  We have always felt like a team with them and like the things we were concerned about did get addressed.

My husband and I got called back, but the superintendent was otherwise engaged and could not meet with us, so we met with the head of Public Relations and the head of Safety.

Very nice people.  The meeting began with the head of safety telling us not worry.  He told us that the school district has a plan and all is well.  I said “Great, what is that plan?”  He informed me that due to safety concerns I could not know the plan, but that there was indeed a plan.

I said , OK I understand that you do not want to divulge the ins and outs of your plan, but lets say there is an active shooter in the building of one of my kid’s schools, what are they, the kids, to do?  He never really answered the question.  He said that he and the principal work very closely with the sheriffs department and that each situation is handled on a case by case basis.

I tell him my concerns.  I tell him that often times by the time the police show up the whole thing could be over or a lot destruction has already taken place.  He disagreed.   He told me statistically school violence in the form of bombs and shooters is low. I told him I understood that, but stats didn’t mean much to me.  I told him my children are in these schools, so I would like to know what he and his staff are telling my children they should do if there turns out to be a real live shooter in their school.  What are the teachers telling the kids during these drills (He told us they conduct 2 lock down drills and 2 evacuation drills a year. )? 

Basically, I got more, we work on a case by case basis and very closely with the sheriff.  He felt the sheriff was very proactive in dealing with these issues, but I couldn’t get him to answer what “proactive” means. Pretty much the kids are told in the event of an emergency they are to do what they are told by the teacher which is, to be quiet and not use cell phones.  We were told that the teachers know what to do and we should trust that.

I tell them that it is mine and my husband’s responsibility to assure the safety of our children and when we decide to temporarily intrust their safety to someone else, it is still our responsibility to know if the person or people we are handing them over to, can in fact keep them safe or at least have a plan to do so and I would like to know what the teachers are told to do, generally speaking.

My husband adds, You say the teachers are trained.  How?  Do they know they have been trained?  Do they actually know what to do?  If we asked them would we get the same answer from each?

We were told that they have meetings on safety.  They are required by state law to conduct a safety audit and from that they can determine what needs to be changed or improved.  He said they have committee meetings and in those meetings they discuss how to handle a variety of issues and that there is a manual.  My husband asked if the manual is on a shelf somewhere in the teacher’s room or is it a well worn out book that has been referenced again and again.  He asked them if we sat down with each of our children’s teachers, would they know where the manual was and what was in it.

Both administers felt that the teachers would know what to do.  They explained that some of the teachers participate in drills on the weekends with the local police to run through different scenarios.  They actually conduct these at various schools.  I liked that.  All the schools except for the elementary school  have one armed police officers on campus.  I did not feel like we were getting the run around, but I also am not satisfied with the answers we got.  I do think they have a plan and I do think they take it seriously, but I never did an answer on what my specific children are being taught and what exactly they are to do in a bomb threat situation or an active shooter event or even if there is a fire. 

The safety person kept telling us that the principal and teachers know what to do, so I told him that I have been a substitute in this school district for 3 years and I have no idea what he wants me to do.  I told him I have a plan, but I am not sure my plan meshes with his.  I explained that I have never once been told what to do in any of those situations.  He did admit that is a weak area and they are planning on working to fix that.

I did not expect to get satisfactory answers and I did not think one meeting would be enough, but it is a start and I feel good that we called for the meeting.  I did ask how many other parents have called for a meeting on this subject and the answer was very few.  They did say they were open to ideas, suggestion, and ways to improve.  I gave them the article by Greg Ellifrtz.  I told them I did not expect them to incorporate anything, but that I thought it was a good article and wondered what he thought.  I mostly want to see if he reads it and if he will respond to me.  If he does that will give me some indication that he takes our concerns seriously and is at least willing to actively dialog with us and not just pat us on the head.

Not entirely sure where we are going to go from here.  I do know we will be asking each of our children’s teachers what the plan is.  My husband suspects we will get 4 or 5 different answers.  I also plan to do a better job of debriefing my kids after each of the drills are preformed.  Asking them what happened leading up to the drill, what they were told to do, what they actually did.  With my older children, I will ask what the people around them were doing, specifically the teachers, but also the other children.  I am also going to reach out to other parents and get a feel for how they think the school district is doing and if any of them have ideas, concerns, suggestions. If any of them have thought about it at all.  So, step one complete.

More From The Good Colonel

I am going to have a lot to say about the things this man writes.  Fascinating book!

Yesterday’s post touched a lot of people.  I was honored to read so many emails from people sharing their stories.  Thank you for those who reached out to me.  I was blessed and touched that you trusted me with intimate and personal parts of your life.

Lt. Col. Grossman says this…

“Very often what they(in this case military people he interviewed) shared with me was something that they had never shared with anyone before…I have been taught, and I hold it to be a fundamental truth, that when someone withholds something traumatic it can cause great damage..there is therapeutic value in the catharsis that comes with lancing those emotional boils.” 

I have found that to be true in my own healing as well as in the healing of those who share their lives with me.

The Colonel talks a lot about conditioning and how things we learn in our childhood most definitely affect how we view violence and determine whether we fight, flight or submit. I find his view on submitting endlessly fascinating and I am going to talk about that later, but the flight or flight model, at least in his research, is flawed.  He argues that understand the culture(both personally as in our homes and in general, as in the greater society) in which we were raised aids greatly in understand and eventually overcoming our conditioning.

So, I am starting to do that.  I am starting to look deeper and see more and more how my conditioning led me to fully submit, but also how it is keeping me from moving forward in some of my training and my mindset.

As I have said before, I didn’t know I had any issues with my childhood until last March.  I was happy, calm, confident, good to go.  I knew I didn’t talk or cry, but I never saw it as a problem.  It was just how I dealt with tings that were hard and I viewed it as me being strong.  I could cry for others.  I cried on 9-11 and for weeks after.  I cried when our friends were killed.  I cried at the news or those stupid Kleenex commercials that come on at Christmas. 

Crying for myself is a much tougher thing to do.  I like to be in control.  I have seen out of control and it almost always ended with me covered in welts.  For me anger is bad and it is dangerous and I have never known how to handle it, so I learned not to be too anger or too sad and never out of control. It has worked very, very well for me.

I think a lot about training. A lot.  I am sure it is annoying as all get out to read week after week about how I am going to punch and how I want to punch and then I don’t punch.  I promise you, it more annoying for me.

Sometimes I stand in the mirror and I practice punching.  I try to see what it looks like, what it will feel like. I try to imagine getting mad and angry and punching Arete.  I am alone, no one is watching me and even then, hitting into the air, I just stand there with my fists curled up, until I drop them to my side in frustration.

I don’t know what will happen if I let go.  I don’t know what will happen if I let myself feel and get angry about that day about any day.   I have started a few times to get mad, if you have been following me for a while then you have seen those posts.  I have come very close, but I always pull back. I don’t even know if it right to get angry and then hit someone?  A bad guy, of course, but a trainer…can I do that? What if I do get anger and what if I fight someone who isn’t a bad guy, what does that make me?  Oh my god, that’s it, that is the problem.  I am afraid I will be like my parents. I am afraid of becoming violent. It’s not about the good/guy bad guy thing, it’s about being afraid that I will become them. Holy shit…I just this very second realized that.  Huh.

A Conversation With M

M- Mom did you write a post?

Me- Yes, I did.  I talked about you.

M- Can I read it?

Me- It has some language.

She giggles.

M- Thought you didn’t believe in coddling. 

Me- Funny.  There is a difference.  Not everything is appropriate for a child to read or hear.

M- I know.  Can I read it?

I let her read it. 

M- That is a really good post mom.

Me-  Do you have anything to say about what I wrote about you?

M- Like what?

Me- Like maybe you could give yourself a break.

M- No. How will I get into a good college or get a sports scholarship if I don’t work hard and make sacrifices.

Me- You won’t.  You do have to try and work hard and make sacrifices, I am just saying that maybe if you do all that and you fall short, it could just be something that stinks instead of an attack on your character.  You don’t have to be perfect to BE perfect.

M- I know.  I am not a perfectionist, I just don’t like to make any mistakes.

I giggle.

Me- Have you looked up the definition of perfectionist recently? 

M- So today at school Billy was flirting with  Suzy and Mary was upset because she likes Billy and I thought why do girls waste their time on boys at this age… She spend the next 20 minutes telling me about her day. 

It’s Not Moral

I have recently had the revelation that I attach moral value to ideas or situations that do not require a moral judgement.

I have known for a long time that I was a rule follower and that I took that behavior to the most literal and extreme measure.  I didn’t analyze why or question it, it just was who I was.  I didn’t just follow the rules though, I believed that not following them was morally wrong and made a statement as to the kind of person I was.  I was completely perplexed by people who claimed to be moral, but broke rules or laws.  I had totally acquiesced my thinking to some made up set of standards that hang on the walls of every kindergarten room.  My parents, the schools, the government told me what to think and how to act and I never questioned it.  Not once did I say, is that true for me?  Do I believe that?  I did believe it, to my core, but it was not based on anything that came from me and it never occurred to me that I could reject their standards.

For me there is a long list of reasons why.  I was in an abusive home. A very abusive home.  My mother liked things a certain way.  An EXACT way.  She didn’t just say the hair brush goes there.  It went in a specific direction at an exact angle and if I or my brother were off just millimeter the price to be paid was high.  Unfortunately, my mother was an alcoholic so often times she would forget the angle she told me. Our conversations might look like this…

Mom- Why the hell did you put the brush there?  How many god damn times have I told you that fucking brush doesn’t go there?

Me- But yesterday you said…

Mom-Don’t question me. Don’t ever fucking question me.

Followed by some kind of beating probably with that same brush.

Guess who learned very early not to question even if I knew the person was wrong?  Guess who grew up hating cussing and violence?? Guess who craved peace and calm so much she just learned not to feel?

I didn’t have the luxury of being a rebellions teen.  I didn’t get to explore in college and figure out what was real and what wasn’t.  I was grown up by the time I was 10.  I graduated high school a year early and went to college.  I needed out of my house and I was committed to never returning.  I was a college professor by the time I was 26. I was very focused and very serious.  I did exactly what I was told because the consequences were to great for me not to. 

For me morality was what I was told it was even though the people telling me clearly were not behaving in a moral fashion.

Much of the craziness that has shown up in these posts over the past year stem from me placing a moral value on my actions, actions that have no moral standard. I, for the first time, began to question what I thought I knew.  When I realized that I had no idea what I believed to be right and wrong, I made a conscious and concerted effort to figure it out.  I questioned everything and in that process I waivered.  I might stand up to say a rude anonymous poster and then take it back when someone said I wasn’t being compassionate.  I realized right away that I wasn’t sure if I should have stood up or not.  I wasn’t looking for approval, I was honestly lost and anxious. The anxiety didn’t come from someone disagree with me; it came from my own sense of not knowing what I believed to be the right thing in that situation. The lack of foundation caused me to question, but I didn’t question my beliefs, I questioned my worth. I had placed a moral value on a non-moral situation.

In my awareness of my own tendencies, I have started to notice when other people attach moral arguments to their behaviors or that of others.  My teenager is famous for this.  She has what I would call a very high moral standard, the problem is, it is totally misguided.  She doesn’t get disappointed that she got a 98 instead of 100, she decides she is a total failure at life because of it.  No matter how many times my husband and I tell her, she is doing fine and that it is her honest effort that matters, she never hears us.  She has so internalized her belief  that anything less than perfection is a moral failure that she can not conduct herself in any other manner, no matter how hard she tries. 

I have often heard people say, it doesn’t matter what other people think.  You have to do what is best for you and not worry about others.  I have heard it and heard it and it’s true, but I don’t think that is the problem.  I don’t think any of us care what others think.  The problem isn’t that we care what they think, it is that we falsely believe we know what we think.

I don’t care what others think of me. Approval from others is a vale covering my own uncertainty. It is the conditioning of my mind so deep that the set of values I instinctively react from are essentially not actually the ones I believe in and that contradiction is where the problem lies.

I had a conversation with a lovely, lovely woman on FB this morning.  She told me she respected how I can tactfully have conversations with people who disagree with me on gun issues and that she wished she had more of that.  I am not going to get into the specifics, but she felt like she should be more forthcoming with that fact that she carries a gun.  Her ultimate argument was, “I was raised to believe honestly is the best policy.”   Her conflict isn’t that she is looking for approval or trying to please others, it is that she believes she is conducting herself in a manner that is contrary to her beliefs about being honest. I would argue it is her beliefs about honesty that are the problem and not her behavior. She has attached a moral judgement to a non-moral behavior.

Her courage to decide for herself what is best for her and her family and sticking to that truth, that is the moral behavior not whether or not she is “honest” with her co-workers about something that is none of their business in the first place. I would say, morally speaking, her behavior is right on.

That is the moral standard to which we all should be true.

 **NOTE** Please know that I truly have no problems associated with my childhood.  I promise you I have long sense dealt with those issues way back in my late 20′s.  The attack a year ago has brought to light things that I need to work out like not being able to fight and in my efforts to overcome years of conditioning I have been able to find and pin point things from my childhood that contributed to that mindset, but there is no pain in doing so.  Those wounds are healed.  I share as a way to help you understand my journey and how I got to a place of total compliance, but I assure those memories are not a source of pain for me, quite the opposite.

The Work Post

On Saturday I got up at 4:30am like I always do when I work.  I hopped in the shower and when I got out my hubby was waiting there with a cup of coffee…heaven! 

John has another person who works for him, Ryan.  He has been working for John a while, so he knows the ins and outs of the operation very well.  Originally he was suppose to show me the ropes, but the first few weekends I worked he had conflicts, so I went it alone.  This weekend I finally got to meet him.  Lucky me.  He doesn’t read my blog, so I can say whatever I want and get away with it, but truly he is a good guy.  Smart, funny, nice, confident…  We spent a lot of time together just talking because while John is teaching the classroom portion Ryan and I have nothing to do.  We talked family, guns, war movies, guns, actual war, self defense, military, John(but don’t tell him), guns, and I think guns, oh and books.  He is the one who suggested I read On Killing by Lt. Col. Grossman.  If you have to spend 12 hours a day with people, it should be people like the guys I work with.  Had a blast!!

The day started out hot.  By 8am it was already 80 degrees.  Outside, all day with little to no shade in high heat and humidity made for a long day.  I love the heat and the temp didn’t bother me, but I was pretty sweaty and sticky.  My pants felt 5 pounds heavier by the end of the day.  Our class was a mix of men and women and a variety of skill levels as usual.  I keep waiting for the complete jerk to take a class from us, but so far, we have only had the best folks.  This group was a little more sedate than the past groups, but still good people to hang with for 2 days.

We had a young girl, 18, that blew us a way.  I am not sure of her experience with guns prior to taking the course, but her accuracy was scary good.  Her dad took the class with her, which I loved, and he was bursting with pride.  She was quiet, but when the class was all done and people were standing around chit chatting she came up to talk to me.  She was talking very fast and she could not stop smiling.  She beamed!  Good stuff. 

Each student has a neat stories of their life and I like hearing what brought them to our course.  I truly enjoy that part of the job.  I enjoy every part of my job, but you know that.

One student usually stands out though.  For me it was a woman about my age, had no experience at all and I mean none, didn’t really want to be there and was terrified. She was smart and had common sense, but it was hiding under all that fear.  She had about every “issue” a new shooter could have and no matter how many times she was reminded to say, not put both index fingers in the trigger guard she just couldn’t get her brain to engage.

I love the brain and I love watching it work.  I could clearly see that she was so heavily concentrating on one aspect that she had nothing left to be able to address any other issue. I would say that she was the student that has present the greatest challenge in terms of getting her mind into the game.

Typically after students get the first few shots off they relax and steadily grow in both skill and confidence.  This was not the case with this lady.  She was never able to relax. By the end of day 1 we had made some progress with her, but she was still very shaky.  Before she left for the day, I gave her a little pep talk as did John.

One of the things that was most rewarding in dealing with her is that we had to think outside the box and find unique was to relate to her.  Trying to help her simply understand the skill we were trying to teach her and at the same time finding ways to get her mind to be able to hold on to the information long enough for her to perform it correctly and build those precious neural pathways. I was able to aide in this, almost instinctively.  That was pretty cool.

I worried a bit about her that night and hoped that she would return for day 2.  She did and while still nervous, she relaxed enough to be able to better focus.  She struggled to keep up with the class on day one, but day two she kept pace.  By the last drill she was on fire.  Cool, calm, collected.  She rocked it!  It was amazing to watch.  At the end of the day I saw her smile for the first time all weekend and she came to give me a huge hug. 

I would say it was easily the most exhausting, thrilling, rewarding time I have ever spent at work.  I can’t wait to do it again!