a bit graphic —

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Matthew Dykeman Hampton Falls New Hampshire

Today in class I got triggered…I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I felt teary and shaky inside. We were doing an irimi nage and Ron asked us get inside nearer to uke that I like to. I like to take their balance earlier to avoid the intimacy that comes from a closer in throw.

When I was 24 a really big guy, about 6’6″ who must have weighed at least 350 pounds knelt on my shoulders and shoved his penis in my mouth and down my throat. I thought of him in class while the panic attack was starting. I felt my body disappear and the trapped feeling come back
.
In the past I have stayed on the mat when these feelings come up but today was different. I did not try to deny the feelings. I noticed them. I gently observed to myself, “Oh, you feel nauseous…are you going to cry?”

Next, I felt my feet on the blue mat. I noticed the other people in the dojo…There was Jocelyn. There was Anne. I see Ron.

I breathed deliberately in through my nose and out through my mouth several times. I kept moving. I attacked when it was my turn to be uke. I consciously asked questions through the panic that was hovering about a correction I received as nage. I felt my hakama with my hands; I felt the inside of my mouth with my tongue. And I could not feel my center.

Near the end of class Ron had us a do a centering exercise. I told him I could not find my center. He reminded of an exercise we do to explain centering to someone who has never met her center.
He told me to place my hands on the outside of my abdomen just below my belly button. Then he asked me if I could feel my hands on my abdomen. I could.

He said, “Go inside your body with your consciousness just between your hips under your where you can feel your hands. He asked, “Can you feel your center?” I could. I lost my center when I took my hands away but I found it again each time he reminded me how to do it again. It took three times before I was able to keep my center. I asked him for help all three times. He patiently reminded me how to do the exercise.

I am writing this because I have been training in aikido for 30 years. This simple centering exercise still helps me. A better way to say it is that it saves me. I don’t have wander about anymore in a panic.

Techniques help.
Trusted people help.

I can help myself with a little changed behavior like noticing how the mat feels to my feet on the floor. The panic attack subsided. I was able to stay in the now; accepting that, yes, a big man hurt me when I was 24 and I don’t have to hurt myself today.

Matthew Dykeman Hampton Falls New Hampshire

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