I would like to preface this post by saying, this is NOT a ‘woe is me’ post. I experienced some major mental hurdles at this time and I am here to share my experiences of that – haters be dammed!
After being cut and stopped, followed by back to back fights against Farida, I was feeling the weight of my losses and I was not coping well. I was struggling financially and had no choice but to continue fighting in order to pay my rent and to feed myself. It was the first time since my move to Thailand where I was fighting for money. I was in desperate need of a break but continued on in my flat, semi depressed state.
Once my opponent was announced I was flooded with messages about her; the long list of people who she had fought and beat and how excellent she was. I was about to fight WBC World Champion, Buakaew. As much as I tried to block it all out, it just seemed impossible. All I could think about was wearing another loss.
‘I can’t lose again’. ‘I just can not lose again’. The words just circled in my mind.
In the camp leading up to this fight, I had moments of motivation where my negativity spurred my training sessions; I was determined to get back on the board. For the most part though, I was unmotivated. I did everything that was asked of me, but it was done without purpose. In between training sessions I locked myself away in my room, paralysed by the thought of having to socialise. A part big part of me was questioning if I had given up my life up for nothing.
My family was visiting at the time and I desperately wanted to put on a good show and get the win for them but it wasn’t enough to shake me out of my negative mindset.
When the fight night came I felt nothing. It was not the same calm sensation that I usually experience. I was numb. The only thing I could think about was my losing streak.
Round 1 begins and I am extremely tentative. I can’t focus myself at all, even despite the fact that my opponent was much smaller than me. While my defense was good I was unresponsive and slow.
Teresa comes to my corner and tells me that I am doing well and to keep doing what I am doing. I still can’t focus and my mind is flashing through my previous losses.
Round 2 commences and Buakaew starts winding up. I can see how confident she is and it weighs on me. She catches one of my kicks are takes me down easily. My confidence falls even lower. I try to push forward more but I am pulling my punches and my kicks are falling short. After completely nailing me with leg kicks, some checked, some not, I walk back to my corner shaking my head. The fight was getting away from me.
Teresa assures me that I am still doing well but now the trainers want me to clinch and this is what I can’t get past. Everything I have been told about Buakaew has something to do with how amazing and strong she is in the clinch and to be wary about not getting taken down.
We move into round 3 and I go straight into the clinch but in the back of my mind all I can think about is not getting taken down. The result – I’m hesitant to throw knees. Everytime we clinch she is controlling me and getting me into positions where I don’t know where to go. My striking is ineffective and I know that turning it around is going to be a tough feat.
I get back to the corner and they are instructing me to move faster. ‘Be first. Elbow. Jab jab, teep’. I nodded my head vacantly as I tried to remind myself to just go for it; pull the trigger and go; trying to will away weeks of negativity in one short minute.
As we move into round 4, I still attempt to move into the clinch. I am not tired, but neither is Buakaew and she is still out muscling me. I catch one of her kicks and attempt a foot sweep, failing, and responding with a knee far too late.
While I felt like I was getting closer in the rounds, I realised it was too late to score enough points to win but still head out into the final round, attempting to not succumb to my thoughts of defeat.
While I push forward, Buakaew uses her skills and experience against me, keeping me at bay, utilising her excellent safety techniques. I know it’s over and fight until the end, bitterly disappointed by what I believe to be my worst fight this year.
After having my gloves removed I remember feeling an overwhelming amount of embarrassment. I just felt like I was constantly letting my team down and this time, my family as well. My niece tried several times to come and talk to me, but I couldn’t face her.
My team has never pressured me to win and have always supported me each and every fight but I couldn’t help but feel like I was a poor representation of my gym. My families support equalled my team’s but I still couldn’t face them.
I stayed with my family that night and decided it was time for me to go home. There was no doubt in my mind that I was a failure as a fighter and would never reach the peak that I was working so hard towards. I am missing out on my niece growing up because of my need to chase a pipe dream. It just didn’t feel
like it was worth it anymore. The sacrifices now outweighed the love and the joy.
I let my close friends know that it was time for me to go. The echoes of support and encouragement sparked an emotional response in me but my stubborn mind was made up. I gave up my fantastic life, walked away from the man that I loved, tortured by body, wasted almost a year and a half of my life away from family and friends – all for nothing.
I took some time off with my family. No training. No Muay Thai. Just quality time with my family. The mental break was just what the doctor ordered.
While I was still not convinced that this was the right path for me I decided to give it one last try. I reminded myself that it wasn’t always about winning and looked back at how much I had grown in spite of my losses.
Taking a break gave me time to heal, mentally and physically, and I could not have done it without the love and support of my team, my family and my friends.
A huge shout out to my sponsors, Kombat Cafe and Manage My Media. To my team and family at AKA for sticking with me through this rough patch and for always believing in me.
I couldn’t be happier with my decision to stay as my next two fights were the best of my career. Blogs and videos on their way!