I’m going to start out this post talking about Dark Souls because one, I love the series and will talk about it whenever I can. Two, I had a realization today about why I’m shit at parrying (in Dark Souls), and I wanted to muse on it a bit. Yes, it falls into the Wellness category because it’s about mental health manifesting in a physical way.
Brief primer: Due to a traumatic childhood, I have an extremely high pain tolerance. I’ve mentioned this in the past that when we do chin na (joint lock) techniques on each other in taiji class, I have to be very conscious about when it’s reasonable to tap out rather than do it when I actually feel pain. In the beginning, I could only practice with my teacher because she didn’t trust that I wouldn’t get hurt else-wise. Part of that is natural flexibility in certain ways, like I can yank my thumb towards my wrist without even flinching when others jump after a little tweak. Most of it, however, was me training myself not to react to anything because I would get yelled at as a kid if I let one iota of a negative emotion show.
Come to think of it, that’s probably why I don’t talk about my depression much with anyone or I downplay it. I was either told I wasn’t feeling it when I was a kid, ignored, or scolded about it. When my mother actually did something about it, dragging me to a therapist when I was fourteen, it was at a local very religious school, and he had nothing for me. Yeah, it was a man, which only added to the problem.
I was also heavily bullied in school, and my mother gave me the age-old useless advice of ignoring it because that always works so well. The only two times I got a bully to back off (and both girls for what it’s worth) was the time I cried when a much older girl was bullying me. Her face immediately changed, and she complimented my hair and never bothered me again. This was when I was six, and the only thing I took away from that experience was that it was so embarrassing to cry in front of someone else. Much later, I realized she was probably in a not-great home situation herself, but six-year-old me couldn’t understand why a teenager would want to be so mean to her.
The second incident was in high school. There was a girl (and I still remember her name) who used to pick on me every day in science class. I want to say physics, but that detail is fuzzy. My stomach would twist in knots every time I walked into the classroom because I knew the second I stepped into the room, she would be on me. Why? Who knows? Probably because I was easy to target as an outsider (fat, Asian, smart, and not knowledgeable about American culture at all). Remember, I was also deeply depressed at this time and probably had anxiety, although I didn’t realize that I had anxiety until much later, and the last thing I needed was some bitch picking on me in class.
I snapped. One day, she started in on her usual bullshit. I grabbed her hair, yanked it back, and told her if she ever bothered me again, I would fucking kill her. She blustered something about me thinking I was so big, but I didn’t. I was just fucking tired of her picking on me every goddamn day and no one doing anything about it. She never bothered me after that, and you would think the lesson I learned from that incident was that a bully doesn’t like to be bullied, but no. I was mortified at how I acted, even though I was pushed into it.
That’s part of the problem of constantly put down–you believe it’s what you deserve, and if you stand up for yourself (the general you), it feels wrong, even if the result is positive. It’s a vicious cycle, and it keeps someone who is downtrodden firmly under other people’s feet.