Sunday, December 10, 2006

Identity Crisis

He loves martial arts, likes fighting, loves his job and deep down I think he loves teaching... when he's not in dry-mouthed sweaty terror at the thought of teaching.

He volunteers to teach, speaks well with a group of other instructors, but I can guarantee that if he is scheduled to teach, I'll get a call in the middle of the night as he talks about his issues and tries to work out the fear. I'll play counselor for the phone call, but frankly, it's starting to get old.

Then on The Day, it's hard line: You're teaching.

"No way. You make me teach and I'll walk right out that door."
"Then do it, but never pretend you want to be a teacher again. Always remember you ran away scared."
"This isn't my choice. I have issues."
"Running away like a scaredy-cat little girl is always a choice."
"That's not fair."
"Scaredy cat."

There's something fundamentally wrong about using grade-school insults to motivate a middle-aged tough guy cop. But it works, so I'll keep doing it.

So he teaches. And he does well. And he asks me how he did and I say, "Very well" and he says, "No, really, tell me the truth..."

It's getting old.

I understand there are phobias, real phobias. Jeff hit an acute acrophobia (heights) episode traversing a pit in a cave. But when things are this dragged out, this scripted, I can't help but feel that the person is protecting their identity- that they have told the story in their heads so much that losing the fear would involve a major change in their self-image. People will do almost anything to avoid change, even imaginary change.

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