Conflict is not Abuse
This is the distillation of almost 10 years of experience in the rope scene and enough trauma to kill a decent-sized elephant, and it’s time to get it off my chest. Note: the article title is based on the book Conflict is not Abuse by Sarah Schulman, which I intentionally references here. I think the rope scene would benefit a lot from more people reading this and considering the perspectives she shares. We have a number of loaner copies in our studio now.
I’m going to be talking about conflict and trauma in this post, and what I’m going to say is probably going to earn me a lot of vitriol and hate, and that’s ok. You don’t have to like me, you don’t have to agree with what I say or do, and you don’t have to associate with me. I’m here to build something meaningful and fulfilling to me, and attract people who are aligned with that vision. The way I want to do things is not for everyone, and that’s ok.
This post is for the niche of people for whom my thoughts resonate, and locally for the smaller niche of people who would consider coming to my school to learn rope from me and my team and to be a part of the community we are building. Lots of people won't like it and will have nasty things to say about me, or no longer want to work with me. They may quit the school, or decide against ever coming. I support those that decide to make that choice; I (or we) have realized that HK can’t be for everyone and that is okay. We’re all just here to find our particular niche of compatible people and try to create a life with them.
I think much of the conflict and drama in the scene is because we try to connect with people we aren’t compatible with, and hold on to that for too long until it blows up. Many of us have incompatible needs, boundaries, values, communication styles, traumas, etc. that make engaging in community together, or any interpersonal dynamics, challenging. I would like to cultivate an attitude in my life and in my rope school that we honor those value differences while acknowledging that at times these differences are too great and it’s in everyone’s best interest that we gracefully extricate ourselves from each other’s lives, and wish each other the best in a future of peaceful, distant coexistence.
For all the people I have had unproductive conflict with in the last 10 years and cut out of my life, even if I feel you harmed me and didn’t acknowledge or apologize for that in the way that I needed, I wish you the best and hope we can honor that we are not a fit for each other’s lives and not continue to seek to harm each other.
With that said, I hope that people I have excluded from my space or life can understand and support that that is about my boundaries and my needs, which I have the right and necessity to protect, and I have not acted from a desire to cause you harm.
Also, I view this post as a screen to sort people who are aligned in a way that is compatible with the way I need to run my school and my life. I know that there is no perfect way to word this. Some people will think this is insensitive, or victim blaming, or flouts accountability, etc. The people I want in my life and in my school are able to perceive each other’s good intentions, factor in the intent behind words as well as the impact, and don’t obsess over the bleeding edge of what’s now considered the only acceptable way to phrase a thing. These people understand that this is all hard, that we’re all doing our best, and that we should meet each other where we are with some grace and compassion. I hope my words resonate with those people, perhaps inspire a few of them to study with me or check out my school, and help everyone else decide that neither I nor my school is a good fit for them.
Anyways, onward to what I really came here to talk about.
To preempt criticism that I should not be talking about trauma if I don’t have the lived experience, let me present, for your consideration, my Trauma Credentials:
I am diagnosed with major depressive disorder and PTSD. I grew up in a house with an extremely volatile and verbally abusive, occasionally physically abusive, Vietnam veteran. (My therapist suggested that the inability to assert boundaries as a child is probably why asserting boundaries in my school is so critically important to me now, as I’ll cover later in this writing.) My parents were social workers, and we ate enough and had a roof over our heads, but we never had money for much else; I learned as an adult that the one hobby I was permitted was actually paid for by my grandmother, because my parents didn’t have the disposable income for me to join the local martial arts school. I went to college at a state school on full academic scholarship and worked full-time while I was in class full-time to be able to cover my living expenses.
In my early twenties (about 15 years ago), I was sexually assaulted by two significantly older male teachers with whom I was studying, who either used money or their control over my life to put me in a vulnerable and coercive situation where they could make unwanted sexual contact with me.
Since I’ve been in the rope scene, I’ve gotten death threats, experienced attempted blackmail, and experienced a level of intentional and knowing sexual consent violation that meets the legal definition of rape. I had a widely known male serial sexual predator who got called out in my local community make a fake email account, posing as a woman, accusing me of rape and abuse, in retaliation for me being an outspoken advocate for his victims and doing the work of getting him banned every time he popped up to teach in a new place. I took that course of action because he dismissed my attempt to talk with him about the physical and sexual harm he had caused, saying, “oh, you know, it’s just fragile women in the rope community.”
I’ve been in individual therapy for 7 years with various therapists in different states, I’m in psychiatric care and I take medication for PTSD and depression (it helps a lot). I do talk therapy, EMDR, anything my therapist suggests. I have done couples therapy on and off as needed.
So, I know a bit about trauma.
I will not use the term “community” from this point forward unless it is intended to refer to a local, in-person network of people who have substantial in-person relationships and have a set of values and approach to conflict resolution that binds them together and functions coherently on some level.
What we have on social media, I will call ‘the rope scene’. I do not think it is a true community.
In the almost ten years I have been in the scene, I have observed a dramatic and much-needed cultural shift. There was a time when community leaders felt emboldened to sexually predate in their community with impunity, where victims faced shaming, social pressure, and ostracization for coming forward. That shifted in 2015-2017, with a wave of abuse scandals that ripped through social media involving a lot of high-profile community leaders. I was a vocal supporter of a lot of those fights and knew the people involved, and still have writings on my personal page in support of all of that. As noted above, my local advocacy earned me some incredibly traumatic retaliation from our friendly neighborhood serial predator.
The work to address this is far from finished, and many of us are still aware of many serial predators in the national scene or our local scenes who have not faced consequences or accepted responsibility for their actions. I don’t know what the answer to that is, but it's fucking awful.
Unfortunately, in these years, in the course of this important process, we have developed what I find to be an extremely dysfunctional discourse around concepts of accountability, restorative justice, conflict, harm, and abuse. This discourse results in these words not having a stable or clearly definable meaning, and therefore constantly being weaponized by people who are experiencing ordinary interpersonal conflict and want a way to easily 'win' without acknowledging the responsibility they justly bear for the conflict.
In many cases, the approach seems to be that whoever proclaims the most hurt, the loudest, and first, stakes out a position as “The Victim.” The party they feel hurt by is hereby “The Abuser.” Now, because we don’t want to be like previous kink/rope generations who failed so many people who were hurt so badly, we reflexively center them, treat their experience as sacrosanct, accept their narrative as the ultimate truth, and acquiesce in and support any list of demands or ways they wish to express themselves and not question them at all. That would be invalidating, victim-blaming, gaslighting, or any other entries on the list of new social sins we have compiled.
These hurting people need support and care, absolutely. In the cases of serial predation, of rape, of domestic assault, and other criminally nonconsensual levels of behavior, that approach is completely justified.
However - not all conflict is abuse. We seem to have lost the ability to distinguish abuse from ordinary interpersonal conflict where people have incompatible needs, incompatible boundaries, just aren’t a fit for associating with each other, or have some sort of typical, everyday hurt that has transpired that one or the other person doesn’t want to let go of, or doesn’t want to apologize for for whatever reason, or both.
These things are an inevitable part of human interaction. This is healthy and normal. We are not all a good fit for each other; we do not all have to like each other; and in most situations, none of us are entitled to anything from each other apart from respect for our basic human rights and personal boundaries.
Just because you don’t get what you want from someone does not necessarily make them a bad person; it is possible to just peacefully coexist in shared online or physical space with people you don’t particularly care for or don’t feel aligned with in terms of how you personally live your life.
There are people on social media, over the last year, who have felt entitled to my school or to my knowledge, entitled to something they did not get from me, or fundamentally did not respect my right to set policies and boundaries in the school that I founded and own and worked almost my entire adult life to gain the expertise and experience to build.
I can certainly empathize with their frustration - I have extensive shitty experiences with venue owners around the world.
For example, I am indefinitely banned from a major international rope convention, after I reported one of the staff event organizers to the owner for what I experienced as some really excessive, inappropriate, and unfair harassment and exclusion of me during the event. The owner responded (and this is all the exact language from the email I received, with no editing other than for privacy of all involved. I just pulled out the most relevant and illustrative phrases):
“It is not my duty to mediate between the two of you… It does not matter to me who is right and who is wrong here… [staff name] is an important member of our team… [their] presence at [event name] is much more important to me than yours… you are the one who has to go”
Now, that was unbelievably hurtful. It was unfair. I did not deserve that. A person in a position of power was using that power unethically and unfairly against me and harming me as a community member, and the owner basically told me, “too bad, you’re not as important as they are.” In the US, people would probably go to war on the internet over that.
I chose not to. Now, I don’t think what they did was fair. I think the people who made those decisions have shitty values and ethics. But it was important to me to be fair and just in how I handled it – even if they could not behave in alignment with my definition of fairness and justice in their treatment of me.
I could have flamed them on the internet and posted a big angry victim post. But what would that accomplish? It would create a lot of drama swirling around me. It would almost certainly not get me back in the event. And if it did, it would be super awkward and a lot of people probably would not think well of me because of how I handled that.
If I made a public attack, that could unleash who knows what toxic internet and social media forces and reactions, and I could end up harming or destabilizing a bedrock event that I know is deeply beloved by hundreds of people and the highlight of many people’s year.
My desire for retaliation or vengeance, or whatever more palatable motives I might try to believe that I have in that moment (“accountability”, “restorative justice”, etc), does not feel like it’s worth all of that.
Also, when I look at what I was reasonably entitled to in that situation, it turns out, it really isn’t anything. It’s their event. They get to set their policies. They don’t have a policy anywhere that says everyone gets to come no matter what. They feel that the most important thing is having a good staff running the event smoothly, and they’ll throw out anyone who gets in the way of that.
I happen to think that's unfair and shitty, but I respect their right to do it and I won’t get in their way, which is why I won’t name them here. They’ve built a thing that made a huge positive impact on a ton of people’s lives, and my hurt is really not important in that context. I believe it is more important to be a person that suffers unfair treatment and manages my reaction, accepts it with grace and compassion for people who are probably stressed, overworked, emotionally worn out people trying to do their best, than to act on my worst impulses and potentially cause a massive amount of hurt and social disruption to a lot more people.
Similarly, there are venues in the US where I got into conflicts with the owner about how they were handling sexual criminals who just got out of jail and were active in the local scene, or men who had emotionally abused people in the local scene and had a court record of domestic violence. I did not think strong enough action was taken against them and did not agree with how it was handled. We also had conflicts about how their communication style was not in line with my personal boundaries. Eventually, I ended my friendship with them after the boundary-violating behavior kept occurring after the boundary was communicated, and wasn’t acknowledged or apologized for. I asked that person to go to mediation with me. They didn’t want to, so I ended the friendship and stopped talking to them.
That was super hurtful and not the choice I would have made in their situation. But hey, that’s their life, that’s where they were at, that’s what they had capacity for. I don’t like it, I wish it wasn’t like that, but I accepted that and peacefully moved on with my life without starting a war over it.
Not once did it occur to me to take to the internet to try to harm them, a person doing their best, or their venue, a beloved community institution, to get back at them or to process or vent my hurt. That’s not fair nor just, I believe that it harms the community, and I won’t do it.
Even though these situations were extremely challenging for me, contributed to and activated my PTSD, it is important to me to maintain the perspective that my PTSD and my reactions are no one’s responsibility but mine. It’s my job to work with my mental health care team and make sure I have strategies and resources to cope with my trauma, and to make sure that I don’t project it on other people, hold people inappropriately, unfairly, or disproportionately responsible for my PTSD reactions, and perpetuate unsustainable cycles of trauma and harm in the community. In situations where I can’t be confident in my ability to effectively do that, it is my job to learn to identify and avoid putting myself in those situations.
I continue to wish them the best and hope things go well for them, whether or not out paths cross in friendship again. If you know me or my history and can guess who I’m referring to, please don’t out them, confront them, or judge them for it. It’s in the past, I’ve moved on, and whatever their faults, I believe they are doing their best and doing important work for their communities.
These are conflicts. Conflicts are best resolved through a collaborative and constructive process where mutual effort is made towards finding a shared narrative, acknowledging both parties’ needs and experiences, acknowledging the validity of everyone’s boundaries, and plotting a course forward. This could include reparation and repair, or could include recognizing and honoring that we are not a fit for each other and peacefully going our own ways.
These experiences meant that I withdrew from spaces that previously meant something to me, and caused me some hurt and grief. But that’s part of life. I don’t feel that that experience entitles me to weaponize my hurt and seek to burn down anything I can’t have the way I want it, or use threats of damaging internet callouts to coerce people into handling the conflict to meet my needs without regard to their own.
When these experiences happened, I chose to privately work on that hurt in therapy and with loved ones and accept that those places were not a fit for me, and either move forward and find better fits, or create what I wished existed.
As it happens, I have now created the space I wanted to exist, with the culture I want, and the conduct policies and boundaries that I felt could make me feel safe and comfortable.
The school I created, Heartland Kinbaku, is incredibly successful, and within only 1 year of operation we have served 300-400 people. A significant portion of those people end up committing to long-term membership, which requires coming at least once a week for 6 months, and on an ongoing basis thereafter as members of our advanced classes. We have a solid group of people who have been members since the day we opened last August and still attend multiple times a month and enjoy our advanced classes and intensives.
We have core curriculum classes 2 nights a week, running two concurrent 6-month cohorts; we have 1 night of advanced class every week; and we have 2-3 days a week of open studio practice/support time that is free for studio members, where they can use the space or get 1:1 help as part of their membership.
We are honored that a number of these members have made the studio the centerpiece of their entire social life. There is an incredibly rich and diverse community that has grown from what we established here. Our Discord is incredibly active, with people regularly organizing practice meetups, dinner parties, clothing swaps, boating trips, trips to concerts and theater, etc.
We also have the most gender-, body-, and racially diverse community I have seen in the entire world. I have never seen more women, trans, and nonbinary-identified tops in a community - especially in a context of ‘elitist’ Japanese semenawa rope such as that inspired by Akechi Kanna or Naka Akira, on which our curricula are based.
It is difficult and expensive to access that education, and we bring it here to the US and offer it on a very affordable membership basis, with a ‘no one turned away for lack of funds’ policy. Every cohort has people on scholarship. We have people who learn to bottom for some pretty hardcore suspension rope who are all shapes and sizes, from as young as early 20s to some who have learned to bottom in their 50s or 60s. No one is too big or too small, too old or too anything.
My school has several pages of conduct and behavioral policies that comprise among the highest behavioral standards in the rope world. I know for a fact that some people opt out of the school or opt out of certain classes that I teach because they don’t agree with the conditions I’ve set for participation. I honor them for recognizing their own needs and our incompatibility and graciously making that decision.
The overwhelming majority of the people who come to the studio are great, thoughtful, reasonable, gracious humans. There are plenty of times when something my partner @ClaraRosa and I did or said has rubbed someone the wrong way, and someone reached out to chat about it, or submitted a feedback form. In all of these cases, a friendly and caring conversation took place that addressed the issues and planned adjustments for the future to accommodate everyone.
We acknowledge that in a school this large, where we have tens of thousands of individual interactions a year with a huge diversity of people, we are sometimes going to say and do things that land badly, and other people are going to behave in a way that violates our clearly written school policies, which everyone has to affirm that they have read and agree to before they come here. As I said, in the vast majority of the instances where that happens, we sit down and talk it out and it’s all good. That is the culture that our policies are written to produce.
However, a small minority have chosen not to do that. They feel entitled to behave exactly the way that they want, and fundamentally do not respect my right as the owner of this school to set policies or boundaries on how people behave here. Sometimes in these cases, people respond to being told that they have behaved in a way that is not appropriate or acceptable here by escalating their grievances and lashing out at us privately and/or publicly, often presenting a narrative that feels markedly discordant with how we experienced those events.
This is not a healthy way for a group of people to address conflict. Whatever our shortcomings and mistakes and harm caused, we at this school never do anything to intentionally harm someone, and never act maliciously. Ever. Malicious conduct that is not directly followed by taking ownership and performing repair work will always be grounds for an immediate ban from my school. Fucking up is ok; being vicious and causing intentional harm you refuse to address will never be. Anyone who behaves that way is not welcome in my life or in my space until they are ready to do repair work. I will not engage with that.
We are always willing to accept feedback, to apologize for negative impacts that we are reasonably responsible for, and to collaborate to find the best way to move forward together (or apart, if that’s what’s best).
Again, conflict is not abuse (this a great book, if you haven’t read it, and I’m totally stealing this line from the book of the same name). Using the internet as a weapon if one doesn't get exactly what one wants with no compromise or acknowledgement of the issues in one’s own behavior, is malicious. It is emotional extortion. Conflict is not abuse, it's a normal and healthy part of human interaction, but only if everyone handles it in a grounded, graceful, and compassionate way.
I have done a lot of work in therapy over the last 7 years, particularly this year since the studio opened, with relational therapists, individual therapists, and an excellent (but costly) psychiatrist, to look at all these issues and try to find the right way forward. In the past, my therapy always focused on dissecting every little thing that happened, showing the therapist all the texts, describing the situation and context, and beating my head against the wall about what I could do differently to avoid that outcome.
I had to switch therapists this year after my previous one left the state, and once the new one got caught up and got a sense of everything, and saw what was happening and how much it was traumatizing me, she started asking me why I even cared how these people behaved, why I felt it was my responsibility, and why did I think I could or should control it. She asked, what if I just accepted that in kink/sex positive communities, people often have a lot of trauma, are moving through a very emotionally activating and challenging space together, and sometimes lash out in some really volatile and unreasonable ways, and accepted that I can't control that - that it's not my burden to carry?
I've spent the last 5 months thinking about that, and I think she is ultimately right. The trauma I experience comes from trying to control something I truly can't control.
While many people can and have shown up to this space and co-created a beautiful space together, and my school is a deeply enriching part of a lot of people’s lives, a small number of people didn’t align themselves with the conditions they agreed to when they joined, and when boundaries and policies are reiterated to them, they have responded with vitriolic private and public attacks.
The last year has been the worst year of my life, and I have reached new depths of depression, panic, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and burnout that I never imagined possible. When I talk to other friends who are veteran educators and venue owners, most of them have similar experiences, albeit varying in degree in accordance with the nature of the precipitating incidents. We are all fucked up. We all suffer permanent psychological damage.
Most of the last year, I haven’t been able to have sex or pick up my rope other than to teach, and that’s been enormously painful and hard for my partner and our relationship. I hate that I’m like this and wish I could have more to offer her.
It is not sustainable, or good for anyone who cares about kink or rope, for educators and venue owners to live like this. Creating something of value for people is fucking hard. Running a venue is hard. For a super-technical discipline-like rope, I have studied nearly 8 years to reach a professional level and be able to offer the most world-class, high quality, most accessible rope education possible for the people who come to me to learn.
I have heard that some folks have concerns about HK’s budget, so I would like to address them here.
Between 2018 and now, I have cumulatively spent almost a full 1 year of that time overseas - sacrificing time with friends and partners, missing opportunities, barely interacting with my family - because that’s where the best educators in the world are and I wanted to learn from them. I’ve spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 pursuing this education prior to opening a school big enough to generate any significant revenue.
It took about six months to open the studio and get it up to a baseline operating revenue, during which time revenue was about $20,000 and costs (rent, insurance, equipment, rigging, supplies, payments to our teachers, etc) were around $35,000. We were not only not paying ourselves for our work, we were financing about $15,000 of costs personally.
Our school is just starting to do ok by kink standards. We generated maybe $85,000 in gross revenues in its first year, which sounds pretty good. But rent and fixed costs are about $30k a year; we had start-up costs; and I continue to spend 1-2 months a year or more overseas studying with my teachers, Akechi Kanna and/or Riccardo Wildties, who are the best in the world in their respective lineages and empower me to offer my students the best possible experience. Best-in-the-world private rope instruction is, rightly, expensive.
So, with all that, for the first full year of the school being open, my partner and I did not pay ourselves – at all – despite both devoting nearly full-time hours to this every week. All of our revenue thus far has been reinvested in the business. It looks like we can start paying ourselves now, but who knows. Public drama hurts our business and cuts our revenue.
We have chosen not to run this studio in the most profitable way in the short term. We could make more money if we sold tickets to drop-in events, reduced the amount of scholarships we offer, or lowered our standards – but we choose not to do that. I want to build a beautiful community of people who are really aligned with my vision for how we show up for each other. We also value intense dedication to serious study of rope as an art form and discipline that takes many years to master, and our courses are set up accordingly. We do offer a 4-week beginner series for people who just want a taste, but really we are geared towards attracting people who want to go on a 3-5 year journey with us, while becoming lifelong friends in the process through good times and bad.
So, we’re not making a ton of money off this. To date, we have made none. We will continue to invest in the studio scholarship fund. As the studio grows, if things go well and if we aren’t destroyed by drama on the internet, between my partner and myself, we could maybe each make about what a high-school teacher makes for doing this work. For something that took me 10 or so years to learn how to do, required years of uncompensated time and $50k invested, and has turned me into a broken shell of a depressed and traumatized person, that seems fantastic, right?
@ClaraRosa and I do this because we love it (or I did, before I became too traumatized to feel much of anything), we want to create this for the community, we see how much it benefits people’s lives to have this available to them, and we wanted to create something good and beautiful in the world in a pretty dark moment of human history where it’s hard to have much hope for the future.
We do not deserve to be publicly attacked and shamed over interpersonal conflicts that are too messy and nuanced for anyone on the internet to really make sense of.
As my therapist has helped me realize, if I work in this environment, that’s just going to happen sometimes, and I think I am ready to learn how to make my peace with that. I hope that with the support of my friends and my inner circle students, the incredible friendship and care that my teacher Riccardo has honored me with, therapy, and the enormously helpful PTSD medication I started this summer, I can get to a place where these internet crises break and pass, I ignore them, and they become background noise in my life.
What is actually more traumatic than being attacked on the internet is the way that, through my own internalized beliefs and the pressure of people behaving like many people in the rope scene have, I have held myself responsible for something that I can't control. One of the most common things I get in these situations is the explicit or implicit suggestion that I should be appeasing these people — that I should sacrifice my boundaries, my policies, my sense of justice and fairness, because these people are going to react so badly if I don’t, and I should do anything necessary to de-escalate and appease them.
Feeling like I can't even enforce policies in my own school - because I'm constantly held hostage by people who see themselves as perpetually victimized, who will behave any way they like, project their own shit onto other people, and then demand everything be handled exactly the way they specify or they will try to burn us down with on the internet - this is the most traumatic experience I’ve had this last year. Having people in my life who act from that place, consciously or subconsciously, and feel I should behave as though I am responsible for things I am not, fucks me up more than anything else.
Being told that I need to sacrifice personal boundaries, organizational policies, my own emotional needs and sense of justice to appease people who crossed my boundaries creates this futile narrative of illusory control that is completely unsustainable, and this novella is my way of opting out of it.
All of the 'accountability' systems we set up just end up imploding. I can't think of a single high-profile case in my peripheral social circle where this sort of thing worked well; every single one just ends up destroyed by bad faith actors. It's not sustainable for people doing work like what we do in my school, and it's not sustainable for civic-minded community members trying to serve on accountability circles. It just contributes to this dynamic of our community primarily being an echo chamber where all we do is pass trauma back and forth to each other in a never-ending cycle.
I am always open to good-faith feedback and criticism, and always open to taking constructive suggestions for adjustments to the organization's functioning that I think make sense and are justified. However, I won't negotiate or engage with anyone who is acting unreasonably, irresponsibly, and unjustly.
My organization has very clear policies for acceptable behavior and conduct, and I plan to continue to work to refine them and make them clearer. It already says in those policies that if you violate the policies and refuse to address that in a constructive way, that you will no longer be welcome here, but I'll try to make that more clear. We currently have a professional mediator on retainer to accept reports, pass on feedback to us, and offer mediation services if they can be helpful. We’ll try to make sure we always have some paid professional to assist us in that capacity.
We will not use an “advisory board” model going forward. Although we experimented with this approach, it did not succeed. This is not a criticism of those individuals or even of this model for other studios, but it is not a good fit for us. I will not put others in the position of having to defend my reputation or otherwise exposing themselves to the same unreasonable negative conduct that has been directed at me.
What I have concluded in therapy is that I have to do what I think is right, ethical, and fair. Hopefully, that attracts enough people who are aligned with that vision to run a sustainable space and business. Those unable to find a way to align themselves with that are not welcome in the studio or in my life. That can take the form of a peaceful agreement to agree to disagree and go our separate ways. If they are malicious, aggressive, and hostile,I will block them and move on with my life. It’s beyond my control, and I will deal with whatever comes.
HK will no longer engage with attacks or social media conflict coming out of the studio. We may make exceptions if particular circumstances require it, but in general, we are just not going to engage in what we feel is a broken and harmful system that accomplishes nothing good for anyone.
With 300-400 people coming around a year and being intensely involved in the community on a daily basis, conflict is going to come up, and things will blow up periodically as they have this first year. I will do everything I can to minimize that, but I will not compromise my boundaries, policies, or values. I have earned that right.
I believe I have developed specific multi-lineage skill sets through extensive world-class training, and that I have used my experience and expertise to design an educational system that can take people of all ages and body types from absolute beginner and rapidly increase their skills. We hope that offering a service people can't get anywhere else should help attract people even when there is drama.
It is unfortunate that we exist in such a toxic environment, and no one should have to live like this or deal with what the HK community has dealt with this last year. But this is the world we live in. If this course of action causes the studio to lose so much business that it's unsustainable, I am perfectly fine with that outcome and would have a much less stressful and higher-quality life without it.
I am not ready to quit yet, and think the course my mental health care is on will allow me to find some peace with this arrangement.
Going forward, I am here to build something meaningful to me, to pass on rare knowledge that improves a lot of people's lives, and to attract people who can operate emotionally, socially, and communicatively on the level I demand. I have worked almost my entire adult life to build the expertise that I have. I invested thousands of hours, tens of thousands of dollars, suffered enormous hardship and sacrifice, and I feel completely within my rights to conduct myself and my studio in the way that feels emotionally sustainable to me. Anyone is welcome to disagree and to not associate with me and do their own thing.
If you have read this entire writing, I thank you for your time and attention. If this resonated with you, I hope you reflect on how you can move through your local community with more compassion and grace, and how you can make life even a little more gentle for those with whom you share physical and digital space.