I finally heard the bell. This is MY round.
I’m no prize-fighter. I’ve had my share of scuffles, but my record likely swings the wrong way. I tried my best for a while. But, life hit me with a sucker punch at 15 and I tapped out.
I was only ever a mediocre fighter and led with a glass jaw. It seemed that my fights came one right after the next. No sparring. No rest. Rapid-fire fists right to the face. I was kind of a bleeder, and I’d set myself up against a life that was a brawler. Not a good way to live. I fought. A lot. The unknown foe. The unseen opponent. I was hit with so many combinations I couldn’t tell where one ended and the next began. I thought I was fighting, but I was merely taking my eight count over and over. I was not a contender, not even on the fringe.
That sucker punch set me on a bad path. I spent the next 30 years trying to bob and weave, stick and move my way through life, never quite getting my footing back. I looked to my cornerman for help. Every time. Always the cornerman, as if I couldn’t figure out how to fight on my own. I would lose confidence in my cornerman when he sent me into fights out of my weight class. I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t want to disappoint him. At times my cornerman was my strongest foe. It’s tough when the safe place you’re supposed to retreat to for rest is the place you fear most. I lived life on the ropes, backed myself into impossible positions, I faded. Life came at me with a jab, then a low blow, never pulling a single punch. I couldn’t give it the slip.
For many years I played possum, trying to stay below the radar. I was tired – tired of fighting, tired of losing. There were times I was ready to throw in the towel. I can’t keep taking punches and not want out. I’m not proud, but I took a dive a time or two. I thought I’d get a better purse out of it in the end. I never did. I just lost respect – from others and from myself.
It wore me down and I tapped out – gave up. But I never left. I never stopped fighting. Now I was trying to fight from the wrong side. I was trying to live the life of a fighter from outside the ring. It doesn’t work that way. You’re in or you’re out. You can’t reach over the ropes every now and then and try to be effective. You’re going to get tired. And you’re going to get beat. You can’t be declared the winner from outside the rope. You can’t raise your hand as the champion.
But, this time I heard the bell. The ropes parted and I’ve stepped back into the ring. My cornerman is strong and sure. My gloves are tied and taped, well-worn but firm. I’m ready to go toe-to-toe with life. I took time to learn the footwork. I paced with the bag. Throw your jab, your hook, your cross – I can take it. I’m ready this time. No rabbit punches! I’ll fight if it’s fair. I’ll step away if it’s not. I’ve learned my lessons. I’m still not a contender, but, I will go the distance. Every fight. Every time.
All the pain and the truth
I wear like a battle wound
So ashamed, so confused
I was broken and bruised
Now I’m a warrior
Now I’ve got thicker skin
I’m a warrior
I’m stronger than I’ve ever been
And my armor, is made of steel, you can’t get in
I’m a warrior
And you can never hurt me again
(Warior by: Andrew Maxwell Goldstein, Demitria Lovato, Emanuel Kiriakou, Lindy Robbins)
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