Moving in the Right Direction

A lot has fit into the first few weeks of the year!

I am absorbing the impact of my official autism diagnosis and what that means for me. I’m still the same person I’ve been my entire life, just with more knowledge. The doctor gave me some insights that I hadn’t thought of before that I am trying to learn to work with.

That same week I had a whirlwind 3 day trip to Paris to compete at the European Championships. It was my first major event as a white belt and felt like a full circle thing making it my first major event as a black belt. I did not know what to expect at all and was just thankful to be there – which is what I expect to be the common theme for all competition events this year. There was doubt I’d ever be able to safely compete again so get getting my toes on the mat out there again was such a meaningful thing that I was tearing up through the entire process (I also threw up before from the nerves). There are a lot of movements that I am not able to do yet, but my surgeon said I’m not in danger of damaging the repair work he did in my knee. It will be another 6-8 months before I start to feel “normal” again with it but in the meantime the more I keep trying to work with it, the better my final result will be.

I just did another competition event this past weekend in Atlanta. I definitely was slow and made strategic errors that would have given my coach a stroke if he had been able to be there watching. It’s going to be a long process of learning all over again and it really sucks because I know I’m not performing at my potential – but I also know if I don’t push through and put myself out there I will not get over it either physically or mentally.

Having a supportive team and extended bjj family makes a world of difference for me – and I love our bjj community, even people from other teams cared enough to check in or give me a lovingly stern talking to about some stupid thing I did. Coach was not exaggerating when he told me that he didn’t feel like he even started learning Jiu Jitsu until he got his black belt – it feels like I’m a white belt all over again. I’m working hard to keep myself in a teachable headspace and open to learning new things – at the same time I’m trying to be the best example I can be to our new students.

I will be competing again this next weekend in Memphis – because the only way I can get over fear is to just push through it and not let it win. Right now I’m trying to get my competition mindset aligned, at the same time as trying to convince my body that it can do movements that I have been guarding against for the past two years.

Synopsis: I’m super thankful to be getting back out on the mats again. It’s a process that I am trying to enjoy because I know that while it sucks, I’m moving in the direction I want to be going and am surrounded by people who care about me as a person.

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