Stronger Than You Believe

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford said that and it came to mind today because something happened that stirred up a lot of emotions within me.

I work in a volatile environment. The Emergency Room is an environment where a lot of emotions can get heated, and the atmosphere can change in the blink of an eye. Hospitals were once considered a place of safe haven, but in reality, they not really a “happy” place to be for most people. People usually only end up there because they’re sick or because they were injured … sometimes severely. So you never really know what can happen.

The workbooks from my classes.
The workbooks from my classes.

It is because of this that I, as well as other Health Care workers who work in volatile environments, are required by JCAHO (Joint Comission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization) to be able to prevent violence in the health care setting. So … the solution is to mandate their employees to attend training to be able to diffuse violent situations, or to protect themselves should we/they become a victim.

I was in a class today, my second one in two weeks, but for a different place of employment (I work in two different hospitals). It’s funny how in my first class, when the instructor asked, “What would you do, if you were in a situation with a violent individual?” and the majority of the individuals, those that knew me, all jokingly (??) responded, “I’d go get Row.!” Really? And then again today, I was in a class where I knew only a few people, yet someone who only knows of me remarked something similar, that they had been forewarned about my “skills.”  Wow.

It was during my class today that I had an epiphany of sorts … something happened that reinforced my belief in myself. I was in a class with a nurse who was afraid.  She was afraid of what would happen if a situation (violent, irate patient) were to really spiral out of control; afraid to let herself get into a situation where she would have to protect herself or her staff.  I felt her apprehension. I felt her fear emanating from her. Our classroom setting was FAR from real, but her fear was palpable and I didn’t like it. So, while in the middle of her voicing her over-reactions, I told her not to worry, to just run, to get herself out of that situation. I’m not sure that she liked my comment, I could see it in face, but I went on, telling her that she was making the situation worse by being so fearful and letting on that she was scared. I told her that it was okay if she was afraid, that it was okay to call for help, but she had to leave the situation.  My comment was not intended to come out mean, or condescending, but I wanted her to know that she had to leave the situation because if I could feel the fear from her in a non-threatening classroom situation, imagine how heightened her fear would be in a real life situation.

The thing is, is that although I’m small, I refuse – REFUSE – to be a victim.  I’m small, however, I am so much stronger than I let on. I am not a fan of women who play small and meek. Stand up. If I’m ever in a situation where someone is trying to take me down and wants to hurt or kill me or someone that I love, you better believe that I’m going to fight. I’m going to do whatever it takes – WHATEVER THE F#@K IT TAKES – to get up.

So … I train. I train because I am afraid. I train because I don’t want to be afraid. I train to get rid of stress, anger, anxiety, to look good, to escape, to live longer, to be stronger … I train because I don’t want to look like a victim. I don’t want to be that small, meek woman who’s a easy target.  I want someone to look at me and think, “Let’s go mess with someone else.”

During my training, it was amazing and empowering for me to hear things like, “You’re strong.” “Don’t mess with Row.” “Watch how she changes when she gets into fight stance.” or “I was warned about you. Mike Miller (one of my training partners and instructors) told me about you.”

During my training, I was used as an “example” during the hands-on portion of the class. My reaction times are quick and I’m not afraid to be placed in situations. It’s during this time, when I enter into “fight stance” that my demeanor changes and I become someone or something else. The more you practice and train, the more comfortable you become. With that being said, if you are not comfortable, it’s okay to be afraid and to get yourself out of that situation. It’s okay to call for help. I would do the same if I knew that I could not control the situation. I’d still call out for help just because I know that there is power and safety in numbers when in a dangerous situation. The goal, my goal, is NOT to look like a badass. My goal is to get out alive, safely. My goal is to go home to my family in ONE piece.

I don’t believe that it serves any woman, or anyone for that matter, to play small. I know so many women who don’t own their power. OWN IT. You are so much STRONGER than you believe yourself to be. Never believe that you can’t or that you’re not able to do something … When that thought first creeps into your mind, you’re DONE and you don’t ever want to be DONE in that situation.

**Note: The classes that I took for my jobs were both for NON-VIOLENT techniques to diffuse a situation. I would NEVER jeopardize myself, my license, or any patient in the workplace setting. I would protect myself, yes, but seriously, my jobs don’t care about my self-defense or fighting skills. They want more to make sure that everyone is safe, and I understand that. The goal is to go home in one piece, remember? 

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