Today I won. Today is the end of the longest battle of my entire life. Roughly 20 years ago, I was born. I was born 15 weeks (3 months) premature, and had a stroke at day 2. The stroke damaged, among other things, the germinal matrix; the part of the brain directly responsible for fine and gross motor skills. To give you a scope of it, doctors originally said IF I were to walk, it would be with a cane. However, while the effects weren't quite as severe initially, they controlled my life. I didn't play sports at recess, opting instead to play by myself off elsewhere. Why bother trying to kick a soccer ball, if I wasn't even sure if my leg would hit it? I could stare all day long at that ball and kick, and have no guarantee I'd touch it. I hated writing as well, with teachers always telling to use capitals here and not there, or to write cursive and not "chicken scratch". And even while taking physical therapy, progress felt minimal. I still couldn't run or jump or kick or climb or swing or do anything it felt like. So I never tried. I grew up thinking I wasn't just different, but damaged. Like a shiny new penny with a big gash across the face. And in middle school, I was scared. Scared to resist and fight back. I knew I couldn't do anything physical, so I let the bullies hit and push and call me names. What could I do? Run? PE class consistently proved that wrong, my fastest time on the mile being 10:30 and only being able to do 18 pushups at best. I could either stop trying and be bullied for being weak, or try as hard as I could and still receive the same treatment and called the same names for not being good enough. Pussy. Weak. Scrawny, bitch, fag, loser. And so I learned to hide. To never try, because what good was trying if I could never win? All I'd ever do was be reminded I couldn't succeed like everyone else. And so all throughout high school, I never tried. I hid. I tried as hard as I could do disappear. Carried a switchblade, and clung to the only measure of security it could bring me. I'd later learn that security too, was another false facet. Time to hide even more, to never get better because how can you get better when you're already the worst? After high school, I found a speck of light in a dark, dark place. Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. And as I struggled with that, I grew. Mentally, physically, emotionally. But after 6 months and only tapping others out twice, I grew very frustrated. No matter how much I trained, pumped iron, or thought, I couldn't win. Each time sparring was just another walk to the gallows. So I tried Kali, the art of stick and knife fighting. I found this much easier; I just needed to see the line, and break the time. To see the blow or slice coming, and beat the other guy to it. It felt natural, something nothing else ever had. And so when I picked up Muay Thai and boxing, I could apply the same timing and thought process to them as I did with Kali. I stopped lifting weights, and started lifting myself. Nothing but bodyweight exercise, nothing but working with myself and my own weight and muscles. And so today, after sparring in class, my Sifu was helping me with timing. To see without looking, to feel without touching. He then turned to my dad on the bench and told him: "You can't tell me he doesn't have motor skills now." And then it hit me like a wall of bricks. My eyes welled up, and my throat closed tight as I choked back sobs. I did it. I had no excuses anymore. I had no reason to hide, to be scared, to not try. I had overcome a 20 year struggle with myself, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had finally won. I had proven every single bully, teacher, therapist, doctor, test, and everyone else who ever doubted me or underestimated me wrong. I wasn't damaged anymore. I wasn't sick, I wasn't weak, I wasn't inferior, I wasn't worthless. I was strong. I was whole. I was the victor. I had finally beaten the ultimate struggle that had plagued everything I did in my life from day one. Today I won the longest, hardest battle of my life. I felt like I should share that with you all, in the hopes that this will help another who is struggling.