Recently, I called up a friend, who I hadn't seen since early 2003. He and I think a lot alike. Aside from Holidays and the like... it us also when I have a serious deep life question about myself... Well, I check in with him. I have to say, I trust practically no one with certain types of questions. Why? I want an outside, unadulterated answer, even if it's brutal. Because from him there is no emotional attachment, it's just what I want ... sheer honesty.
He now has lived many states south of me for over seventeen years. He has guessed things about my thoughts, that no one else could construe. Not even my now deceased husband of over 36 years. Norm however, sort of knew when I needed to call this friend south of us.
So the recent phone call was about decisions I had made in becoming married, having/raising children, and what I gave up to live the life I never could have imagined. I asked him, "Did I do the right thing for society? Instead of serving after the military into law enforcement as a life I'd decided on.... and never live the married family life that I did after the military. Something is not done." I added, as I queried to him. He has known me as someone who does not have regrets... because I go for it. I jump on every opportunity, knowing that if I don't I will regret it.
So, marriage came by... And it was go in law enforcement after my military time or get married and have children. It was a difficult choice (ultimatum laid out by the man that wanted to marry me). For I'd dreamed of being part of righting the wrongs. Protecting the unprotected. Quashing the potential harms to the helpless. I asked, "Was it selfish of me to become married, raise children?" His not so often quick response surprised me. He emphatically said, "No. No way. You're questioning this because of the level of stress you're dealing with." I was stunned. I was ready for a 'maybe'. Perhaps a debate for repentance.
Something maybe I would have to work on living with over the next few years. Years before, November 2008, as I sat in an airport in Fort Worth, Texas... after a sickened disaster at a National Championship race... a failure. After over 32 years of all sorts of racing, I was broken, stressed and beside myself. My flight was delayed, I'd just gotten off the phone with my husband and our two daughters. I'd gone into the 24 Hour Championship race just days after bursting an ovarian cyst and bleeding out on our laundry room floor. Sounds silly, but when you've trained all your life to be a champion, you do NOT give in to anything History never regards excuses. And being me, I know too well for that to be true.
So, here I was telling my friend, then my ultra-marathoning coach what my husband wanted me to pursue athletically. I didn't think he'd be keen on it. He agreed with my husband. I was stunned. He said, "If anyone could pull this off its you." I thought he'd laugh, thinking it was a preposterous idea. Instead he was a secret fan of 'no-holds bar' fighting, unbeknownst to me.
In the midst of this fantasy talk that day... I was dealing with a much more dangerous reality. And I was stuck until my current situation of a crime about to be committed would be quashed.
Just a few months later, the crime was thwarted, by none other than Divine intervention. That opened the door to a new athletic endeavor. Which in turn would bring about intense scrutiny. Scrutiny by mostly non-athletes, relatives, egocentric individuals, and those who trained in fighting, yet never had the gazoncockles to actually take a legit match... medicals and all included.
It took eighteen months of training, but I arrived to my first MMA match. I'd only competed in Grappling matches, yet trained 98% of the time with men. My fight coach would torture me with crushing pressure before my grappling matches. When he saw I was not only willing to compete against anyone he told me to... including young men, because at times they were closer to my walk around weight. He'd seen me compete with a fractured collarbone, partially separated shoulder, and a dislocation of the collarbone... I guess he knew I could handle fighting an amateur MMA Fight, even sliding towards age fifty as my competitors would be 18-32 years of age.
Although I'd lost most of my amateur matches, usually by decision. I'm a messy, raw fighter. A promoter once bet his partner in a promotion that I would take a fight with girl over thirty pounds my weight. Of course I did. Her coach was shocked... they accepted with three days notice. Plus it was Boxing. I'm more of a puncher anyway. So, Phil and I knew this was a good move for me. Well, within eighteen hours, two days before the fight. The girl's coach calls back the promoter, "No way. I saw her box another girl. I'm not putting my girl in the ring with that animal."
I was a tad upset. I was usually a last minute entry ... kind of like a backup quarterback ... I could be 2nd in line when someone bailed last minute.... or 8th in line...bottom of the barrel to fill in for a fight. My fight coach had a slang term for it... I called it, being a 'scab'. You covered the wound the promoter could've had, if he couldn't find a fighter for the hometown girl who'd sold more tickets than God.
My coach and I would have these talks, "You know why they're paying for you. Don't you?" I'd reply, "I'm the lamb for slaughter. To make her look good, cause I'm raw and I lack talent." I'd be near a giggle.... "But I get to fight." He'd reply, "Yes, they expect you to lose. You're a fighter. They don't get why anyone so old, and too small, would fight. But you out work everybody. That's why you get the opportunities. You're always ready to fight."
And I can say every job, everything I've ever done it's just my way. Work till I drop. It's partially a pride thing.... but it actually goes back to my childhood. A fear. A fear of being lazy.
As much as I feel it may be unhealthy to have a fear... Well, that fear has gotten me places. I've been the main event with others at least five times. Two times were my professional fights. Again, I was picked bottom of the barrel for two young women. Both were top ten in the world of professional fighters. They were legit. The first one had been fighting professional longer than I'd been training and fighting. She was ranked top five in the world and was considered a beast. I was the 8th call by the promotion for the fight out in Colorado. Katie Couture called up my coach and we took the offer.
Not until after the fight did I know that people gave my fight coach heat for it. I showed up 103.3lbs for the 105 fight. She struggled to get under 109 the day before at weigh-ins. I didn't care People were calling on my coach to not allow me to take the fight. I took it, came out swinging. In the end I lost to an arm bar in just under a minute. She was slick, and I knew it would be her ground game that I would lose to.
Later the next day after the fight, he asked, "How did you know to block that head kick? She wanted to knock you out and call it a night. You know that?" I replied, "I assumed as much that is what anyone would go for on me. So, for the past three years I practiced at home late at night as the family slept, 500-1,000 blocks to my head while throwing a cross or a jab. Cause I decided it would the only thing that I could control."
Over the next twenty-eight months tragedies struck in and around our lives. Things we just couldn't predict... outside of my being busy with work, maintaining fight readiness, writing, wifing and raising children. He was forced to move out west...a business to help save his life, as we saw it. I had my own traumas to deal with, then recover. With then practically no fight coach training me for sixteen months, a professional fight was offered to me. We took it. He would meet me in Montana. We had one training weekend eight months before.
And once again, I'd face a kid who'd fought professional since age sixteen, having all her fights in Japan and Korea. She'd been fight training practically her entire life. As well, she was ranked top ten in the world, I was the third competitor invited for her as the main event. And again, I came out swinging and lost to an arm bar in two minutes.
What I will not be is a follower. What I will not be is a person who gives up perfect opportunities to gain experiences... and complain about NOT taking them later in life. What I will not be is someone who douses another's dream. What I will not be is someone who mourns losses and doesn't see the positives. What I will not be is someone else's misery, that's filled with jealousy because they didn't takes the risks, nor apply themselves. For the world is filled with jealousy for the things that people have allowed to pass them by. And many times are filled with excuses, NOT hard work. And it hard work ALL the time, whether we recognize or not.
I was training at one in the morning while you were sleeping. I got less sleep, so I could be there for our children/family. Did the lack of sleep, rest, eating, drinking, socializing hurt me? Overall in hindsight, No. It taught me to do without It taught me, how to feed the children for better health. It gave me stories that enriched the children and some adults. It gave me better health, better defensive skills. It made me more thick-skinned. It gave me a more creative way to see things. A broader understanding of humanity and much appreciation. Again, if you're too busy condemning, you will never grasp the messages life has in store for you.---Jody-Lynn Reicher