I’d been meaning to go to IMPACT for years before I actually went. When I looked at the classes online though, something always came up to prevent me from signing up. I’d find out about a local class right after it passed, it was too much money, my ankle was acting up, I didn’t want to do it alone, I was out of shape.
I suspect it was more a matter of giving myself permission than the stars not being right. Nothing bad had ever happened to me so the thought of spending so much on an occasional worry seemed foolish.
Except... that worry wasn’t as ephemeral as I liked to think it was. Who hasn’t ever felt that uneasiness walking out to their car at night? Or tried to not look concerned when a strange man stared at them on the bus? Or remembered-after trying so hard to not think about-that one morning as a high school freshman when, while walking alone to school, they encountered a flasher?
Okay. That last one was probably just me.
In retrospect, nothing bad happened. The man - a jogger at first glance - just played with himself and then left. I went to school and told no one. What was there to tell? Nothing happened.
It could have.
And if it had, what would I have done? I didn’t know.
So, permission. It was okay to remember, to admit that I didn’t know. Maybe it was time to find out.
It was with that past that I signed up. I couldn’t say why I needed to do this aloud but it didn’t matter. I hauled my out of shape butt into the Impact class and waited to see what I would learn.
And learn I did.
I kicked, I yelled, I made the padded assailant hit the ground. I could never do anything to soothe my fifteen year old self’s worries but I could make my thirty-something year old self feel safer. With every kick, I retook some of myself back.
I also hit the ground myself. That aforementioned ankle? It gave out on me on the second day, right after I’d just gotten the padded guy down.
Moments after I fell, though, I yanked my shoe off and threw it at the guy. After years of not being able to let myself remember that moment, that fear or anger, I now couldn’t hold it back. He’d come after me. I was still pissed.
It was that no-I-won’t-let-you-do-that-to-me-again spirit that surprised me the most. I would have thought I’d run or crawl away. When given the chance, I didn’t. I wanted to make sure he couldn’t go after me or anyone else again.
Perhaps that wouldn’t have been the best thing to do to the flasher from long ago. Maybe just getting away from him and reporting the incident would have been better.
I like knowing that if he returned, I’d behave differently, though. I like knowing that if someone tried to do more than simply flash me, I’d fight for me. That, even if I got hurt, I wouldn’t stop. I’d kick and scream and, if push came to shove, I’d yank my shoe off and hit him with it.
And I loved knowing that, after I threw my shoe, I still had another one.