In one week I lived both my dreams and my nightmares.
At the venue of my biggest fight to date I made a decision to let go of the need to control the outcome and put myself in a state of utter enjoyment. Effervescent presence. Nerves evaporated, excitement ensued. I had won an hour before the first bell...
Fox sports cameras highlighted my utter enjoyment but failed to share the significance of this personal victory. I won the fight, retained my title in the 2013 fight of the year recipient but more importantly I had finally won over myself. The result was overshadowed by the personal enjoyment of the adventure.
Adrenaline can keep you up all night. It did that night, and three of the next five. Only one was the after effect of my pugilistic performance.
I had a respectful fear of my older brother, particularly since he had become addicted to ice. He was the one person I never wanted to fight.
When I returned to a written threat and vandalized car Sunday after the fight, my alertness amplified. "Ripping someone's throat out" one would assume was an exaggeration. But to the mad man that was my brother, maybe not a stretch. Police would do nothing about it though until action ensued. They wouldn't have to wait long.
While preparing to spend a few days at a friends house until everything cooled down it finally hit boiling point.
First the loud yelling in the distance, violent threats. Then the loud banging that was the sound of our uprooted mailbox being used to smash the front side of the house.
Promises of decapitation, disembowelment and skull stomping madness made the house sound like a horror movie scene. The locked back doors with the keys now missing added to the horror... The keys it seems he had stolen to ensure our capture. We were trapped.
The only way out was the front door. Thankfully after he experienced significant blood loss while attempting to crawl through the broken front window, he opted for the back door which meant we could escape.
My friend (and Innocent bystander), my dog and I escaped through the front door and ran for freedom hearts beating out of our chests, like our lives depended on it. It seems they did.
He spent the night locked up as we checked out the damage. Broken windows, my door kicked down, glass and blood everywhere.
I wasn't even discontent. I was still as intensively present and light as I was one hour pre fight. A few of my trophies had been smashed and there was a hole in my wall where he threw a chair, but nothing insurance wouldn't take care of.
I was aware of how dangerous this situation might be, but not burdened at all by fear. If anything I was overcome with gratitude for every single thing that had ever happened to get me where I was, which was 'now'. I was who I wanted to be and was doing what I loved. One week out of home was enough time to fix the windows and get security screens in case he came back.
On my first night back home a familiar noise paralysed me. Outside there was a loud, aggressive, masculine shouting. He was back to finish what he had started. Everything stopped.
Fight... Or flight?
I couldn't move. Where did all the energy go?
I froze. I gave up.
Turns out the noise was not my brother, just a shouting match across the road.
As soon as I realised I was safe I burst into tears.
I was out of calm and deep in fear.
A restraining order didn't stop the death threats, a boxing rematch seemed a welcome distraction from my life. When the adrenaline finally wore off I was a fearful shell of a once promising fighter. Every noise through me into hypersensitive states, after 8 weeks my adrenal glands were exhausted and the once proud self-image I previously identified with seemed fictitious. I did not feel like a fighter, or a winner.
And then it was one hour before the fight again.
Okay. Smile to keep up appearances!! Inside there was no one home. I tried to trick my brain into lending me some of my previous energy. Nope. Warming up was almost too exhausting.
Let's just get it done. I didn't want to be here.
I was still the deer in the head lights. Trying to keep everyone else happy. Trying to pretend that I believed in myself. Tired of living in fear. Tired of trying to recapture the past.
Anyone with eyes could see I was a ghost.
Just like I had every time I heard a loud noise or opening gate for the last two months, in round two I froze. I was no longer a title holder. Nationwide the avatar I had decidedly labeled as "me" was shockingly stopped, 2 rounds into an 8 rounder. An upset, a tough and significant lesson on a big stage.
It was only through the disillusion of who I was not, that I could start to find out who I really was. I was not these mind made stories.
The next month my mother found and cut down her dead son who hung himself in his kitchen. No mother should have to go through that.
The to do list on his bench highlighted that his intentions to harm me hadn't passed.
The impermanence of form exemplified.
As this one chapter ended another begun. Then another and then another. Some were filled with love. Some heartbreak. But they are all part of this beautiful story we call life.
I wear my scars proudly on this wonderful journey. They have helped me realize who I am not.
Thankfully I am not my failures and pain, nor am I my achievements and joy.
I am more, and I am glad...
An Excerpt from Brent's Story for our new Men's project Made By Scars.
If you have a story of your own - send it to firstname.lastname@example.org