The Last Straw

When enough is

It has already been a difficult year. I found myself consumed by work, and pulled in different directions in my personal life. I had a couple of sprains and strains, which also kept me out of the gym. I felt unhealthy, exhausted and unhappy. I couldn’t find much success in any one thing. That’s what happens when you spread yourself too thin.

With the holidays just a week away, I was ready for the break. People at work had given me some holiday gifts centered around my favorite things. My Muay Thai partner suggested that I open her gift and then join her for a class. I hadn’t worked out in a while.

I figured that I could. Classes wouldn’t be full so close to the holiday, and I could try to see how my injuries were healing.

The instructor that day was every bit intimating. He’s a professor fighter, tall and dedicated to the sport. Outside the ring, he’s a sweetheart. Inside the ring, he takes it seriously.

The coach smiled and welcomed me back after a long absence. Then he addressed the class. To my horror, we were going to spend the next hour sparring one another. Including him.

There’s two kinds of sparring in this gym. There’s technical sparring, where you lightly hit your opponent, working on moves and defenses. Then there’s just good old regular sparring, when you just hit your opponent with just enough force to practice and feel the effects of your own skills (without knocking someone out or injuring them).

Sparring involves a certain level of athletic ability. It involves a clear mind that’s motivated and ready to go. I had neither.

It was disappointing, because prior to this year, I had worked on doing well in Muay Thai. My coach drilled me endlessly on footwork, speed and different combos. I am very short, so I had to develop good footwork and angling. I had to have different combos in mind and I had to be fast. I worked hard, and I was good at it. I became a good technical student. My cardio could always use work, but I could still keep up.

But that was a while ago. As I stood in that class, I became worried. I had stopped going to class months ago. Because of my crazy work schedule, I wasn’t eating the best. My injuries were healing, but not enough for sparring. Whatever athletic ability I had, had diminished in the months of “taking it easy”.

Each round was a struggle. Each round chipped away at my self confidence. My classmates were always amazing. Consistent training only made it better. I was getting hit more often than I was used to. My combos were not as fast as they used to be. Each blow to body was a blow to my ego.

After a few rounds, it was my turn to spar with the coach. I am under 5 feet tall. The coach is over 6 feet. As a professional fighter, he’s on his game. As a professional office hobbit, I wasn’t.

My mind had already betrayed me before my round started. The coach continued to help me as we sparred.

“Good fast legs. Stop looking down. Try harder. I’ve seen you faster than this. I seen your combos. That’s good, now try hitting harder..”

His words, though encouraging, broke me. I already felt the heartache from my previous rounds. I didn’t feel confident. The shame in my heart was so heavy, that I couldn’t bear to look at him.

Then, it came. While drowning in my own self pity, the coach swept me; his muscular leg expertly hitting my rear supporting leg. I didn’t see it coming, and down I came.

It felt like one of those slow motion moments in your life. Everything that had been eating away compounded, and I felt everything just unravel. As I fell flat on my back, I was stunned. The final slam was the last of it. I had enough of it all.

The coach coaxed me to get up and continue fighting. Slowly, I got up and tried to look at the clock. How many minutes were left in this awful round? How long before I could run away?

The coach told me to stop looking at the clock. “Keep fighting! Don’t look there, look at me. You keep going. Just. Keep. Going!”

But I couldn’t. That fall was it. Any confidence or motivation that I had was gone. With tears in my eyes I struggled to keep going. When the bell finally rang, I retreated to a nearby bench and bawled.

It was hard to explain to anyone how I felt. I feigned back pain and sat out the rest of class. I could have left the gym completely, but I was ashamed.

Once class was over, the coach came by to comfort me. I bawled again. I mumbled about being a quitter and failing. He thought I was only referring to class. He didn’t know to what extent things were affecting me. My teammates also continued to support me, but my mind had already been made up. I was a loser.

I left the gym, wondering when I would ever return. The holidays soon followed and things got busy. That incident turned it to my one of my very last Muay Thai classes. A month and a half later, I discovered that I was pregnant and had to abandon those ways for a while.

It’s been two years since that fall happened. I can’t look at the mat or the coach’s face without some guilt. I never made a return to redeem myself. Now, I’m so far from a healthy lifestyle that I wonder if I’ll have ever a chance again. Maybe…someday.

14 thoughts on “The Last Straw

  1. Things always look bad by the night but by the day they look bright and shining. I shall pray to god that the new year turns out amazing for you and happy too. May God give you lots of strength to streamline the life and make it healthier.


  2. I hope you get the courage to try again. I know it’s hard but don’t give up! I know you can do it. When life gets hard you just have to push that much harder. Thank you for sharing your story, that’s courage in itself!


  3. I’m sorry to hear about this 😦 I bet it felt good to get this all of your chest. It’s time to channel those frustrations into getting back on your A game 🙂


  4. I’m sorry that the class ended that way, and that it ate at your self-confidence too. I can relate to this because recently when I was stressed at work I didn’t perform a task well, and my manager said (but in an encouraging way), “Patricia, that’s not YOU.” I was so angry and ashamed at myself for disappointing her and I do struggle with self-hate. However, one thing that I have realized is that we are all human and there is at least one thing we are not good at. However, I’m sure there are many things that you ARE good at, such as writing. You write so amazingly! Cultivate that, and don’t let the negative inner voices stop you again!


  5. This is such a great story and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. I think you can definitely go back and try again. It might be hard, but it is definitely worth it.


  6. I too do Muay Thai. I trained hard for three years because I really wanted to fight and the coach told me I was getting close to ready. But I was a full time college student and working 40+ hours to pay for my upcoming wedding. So I took some time off. I thought it would be just a few months but I got pregnant just a few months after the wedding. Well five years and three kids later I found myself really missing the gym. I was so out of shape and kept talking myself out of going back because I knew it would be so hard. The first day I walked back in that gym I was in the middle of a full blown panic attack because I was so nervous. But I went in anyways and saw some familiar faces who welcomed me back. I was older and slower but it felt great! Don’t let the bad memory and the concern about what type of shape your in stop you from something you loved. So much of Muay Thai is a mental game. I feel like a lot of days it’s you against that voice inside that says you can’t go another round. But push through and you feel great about it, even if you’re about to pass out on the ground. Maybe 2018 is the year you go back and show yourself just how tough you are! After all, not that many women have the balls to try Muay Thai on the first place. You got this!


  7. Exercise is just as much of a mental game as it is physical. I too have found myself in tears on more than one occasion in the gym. I’ve found it best to use that energy as fuel toward working harder in the future


  8. I understand all of those feelings. I feel like a loser and a quitter sometimes too. I’ve started so many things, but have never seen them through. Like all those years ago when I played soccer in middle school, I wanted to sign up for it for the year, but halfway through, I was done and wanted to bail. I wasn’t good enough for the team. Then I tried basketball in high school. I’m over 6 feet tall so everyone said I would be awesome at it, but it sucked, my teammates sucked, so I did quit halfway through the season. At least, being pregnant, you had a valid excuse. I had none other than wanting to quit.


  9. Ah I genuinely didn’t expect your article to end in the way it did and I’m so sorry to hear that you’re feeling those negative feelings. Has writing about your experience helped you feel lighter about it at all? I’m sure you felt amazing when you were at the top of your game, don’t you want to get back there? You’re the only one that can do it! 💚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.