Jamie Lewis, founder of JLEW Bags, cold-emailed asking if I’d like to be involved with an upcoming event called “Girls with Guts.” Last I checked, I’m a girl. I have guts. Sounded awesome!
I’d share the stage with professional and Olympic boxers, MMA fighters and a badass Spartan racer. Still sounded cool, but where did I fit in? Didn’t matter. Fancying myself a special breed of fighter and wanting to rub up against these amazing women led to a quick and enthusiastic, “Yes!” Reaching out cold was a bold move (mama likes) and once we spoke, we knew it was a fit.
This was an opportunity to begin opening up about my brain injuries. I’d had a decent understanding of my situation for 10 months. Deep into a variety of therapies, I’d realized the gravity of what my head, neck, jaw, career, life – you get the picture – went through, and how keeping my sanity intact was it’s own phenomenon to be proud of. Talking about “all this” might be therapeutic. A predominantly female audience, to include 10 of my friends, was the place to start the dialogue about getting back up after being knocked down. A topic with which anyone, fighter or not, can relate.
On stage, I blended with the babes sporting the Boomboom Athletica and looking pretty darn fit for someone who’d been out of the game for 15 months and just came off a couple surgeries. But my fight du jour is certainly an outlier, and for that, a special patriotic pillow to match my special situation was in order. Details! I love them. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I believe in making the most of what does happen. There is no “reason” I got knocked unconscious and somehow got plopped in front of the world’s worst neurologist, but “it” happened. Making the most of the situation involves fixing “it” no matter the cost, making sure others can get access to fixing “it” as I know how hard that is, and proving that “it,” nay nothing, can stop the show.
Let’s face it: To be female is to be labeled emotional and it’s assumed we run on feelings. I found this especially true in the military and government care following active duty where the symptoms I repeatedly sought treatment for were continuously blown off as “emotional problems” or “physical problems stemming from emotional problems.” Just like a broken foot or torn labrum – I’m very familiar with both – an injury, or several, to the brain can often be fixed. I fought, hard, to get to the root of my problem and even harder to get in front of some amazing providers who believe in me. The thought of someone in the same situation, not being heard, living it out in a state of perpetual confusion, is too much to bear. If I can help one person learn the value of self-reliance and the importance of not giving up, I’ll be happy. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing what resources are available.
Every problem I’d ever had was a sparring match, all training. The big fight is the past two years. I’m between round 11 and 12, certainly sucking wind, but I’m going the distance. This ain’t a GGG vs. Canelo bullshit draw. I’m staying undefeated.