Just Shut Up


My name is Jane and I am a karateka. No, scratch that, I am a black belt karateka.

Most karate fighters have heard, a least once, that ‘Your belt does not show how good you really are at karate. Your skills define your karate’. But I must humbly say that I am good. Very good.

I started karate at the very old age of 15years old. I had just started my first year in the university and I was ‘trying new things’. I stopped my search for new things when I started karate. It gave me the highest sense of fulfilment I could ever imagine. I went from my classes to the dojo and from the dojo to my bed. Even on my bed, I would practice my kicks; yoko geri, mawashi geri, mae geri. The basics.  My mind was never really where I was. My mind was my dojo outside my physical dojo. I was go over and over my kata in my mind, perfecting it, itching to get out of class or a bus in order to practice what I was thinking about.

Soon, I was noticeably good. My sensei would sign me up for competitions; I would fight with senior belters and wow the judges. I started to hear that while some people hoped never to spar with me, others used me as a standard; a challenge. It felt really good and I developed my self-esteem around karate. I would pray every day to God to keep my body from any accident that would cause me to stop karate.  My male friends would ask me to walk with them through the notoriously dangerous streets in school just so that if anything came up, I would protect them. I was that good. I was fearless

I met my husband just immediately after my final year in university and it was a perfect match. He was very intelligent and he could counter all my arguments. I acted like I hated it but I didn’t. I had never met anyone like that. I had always been the know-it-all who had all the perfect comebacks. He made me feel like a fool every time we had a conversation. I didn’t care because he was so funny. Plus I was grateful that I had come down from my high horse. He showed me I was not all-that. Little did I know that that was the beginning of my long history of abuse, domestic violence and every emotion that came with.

In the past, when I heard ‘domestic violence’, I felt a short-lived pity for the victims, which was instantly followed by relief. The relief usually came from me knowing that no man, woman or hermaphrodite on earth could ‘violate me’. I had my karate. I had my courage.

Now when I hear the word ‘domestic violence’ or ‘abuse’, my mind doesn’t need to travel so far. I feel like I should be on the cover page of any book, article or magazine on abuse. I suffer the worst form of abuse (in my opinion); verbal abuse.

He would come to the kitchen and tell me to ‘at least take a bath’ (as I make his vegetable soup laden with LOCUST BEANS: as he likes it). He would tell me he didn’t get married to this ‘fat pork’.

In the past, to calm myself and zero my mind, I would count from 1-10 in Japanese. I tried this, but it never helped.

*Ichi* ‘You still do karate? One would think you’ll lose some weight’. *Ni* ‘So, I got talking with some random girl on the street today and I must say; her arguments were as shallow as yours always are’. *San* ‘Thank God we have no children, you would make a pretty bad mother’. *Shi* ‘Look at her, she’s trying so hard to look pretty. Right?’ (to his friends). *Go* ‘Now dear, let me do all the talking. People like to listen to intelligent people’. *roku* ‘I, sometimes wish we never met. Sometimes’

I no longer have the energy to retort. That’s what I tell myself. But deep inside I know that, slowly, these words are devouring me. They kill me every time I hear them. I’m starting to believe I’m a good-for-nothing embarrassment of a woman (if women would even accept me as one of them). I still fight karate. But I can’t fight off these demons that attack my soul every time my husband talks to me. I need help. But I’m not even sure anybody would want to help a useless person like me. That would be like… wasted efforts?

It’s really so confusing. There are some days when he is extremely nice to me and then there are most days.

One of my closet friends told me to repeat Psalm 139:14 (I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.) every time; in the morning, when I look in the mirror, when my husband painfully hurts me with his words, when I feel less than human… But all I really want to say, repeatedly, in a loud voice, damning the consequences, is ‘JUST SHUT UP!’ I want to tell that to my husband… and to the voices in my head. But they seem stronger than me… They sound so sure of what they say about me.

“The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm. Exactly as it is with our words.”   – Source Unknown

*Image gotten from wiggle777.deviantart.com’

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