Why didn’t you say hi to me the other day? Who do you think you are, hanging out with the pretty girls?“ I am eight years old. Asghar, a classmate I hardly know, towers over me. Next thing I know, the blows rain down. When I come to myself again, I am a bloody mess. Alone. I remember crawling home, and never telling a soul. I carried that bruise inside for decades.

““…When you are a helpless child, full of inevitable pain you shut down your emotions to protect yourself” The blonde angel’s words hypnotize me. Decades have past since my encounter with the bully. She is talking about that pain I have been carrying all this time. Then she talks about the solution for it: connecting with yourself to become your own best friend. I feel like a parched man who has finally found water. I ask to work with her on the spot.

“I am pleased to give you your Aikido black belt” and with that I complete a 9 year journey. As unbelievable as those words sound, I know I have earned it. After all I had finally reached resources in myself that would help me accomplish any goal. Gone are the days that I would run away from confrontation. Gone are the days that I would stand there and get beat up. The little boy who just stood there helplessly has grown into a powerful man who stands his ground and speaks his truth.