“If you fall or get knocked down, just get up quickly and start skating as fast as you can.” —Annie Oops, Assistant Coach for the Cen-Tex Sirens Roller Derby League
Fall or get knocked down? Yeah, I know all about that.
Get up quickly and skate as fast you can? I can do that, I thought, I’ve had some experience with this technique.
Weeks ago, I found out about a local Roller Derby League that was having open recruitment, something I’ve always wanted to do. So I went. And needless to say, I’ve fallen in love. I feel like a teenager that’s all atwitter with the endorphins of a new crush, hardly able to sleep, eat, or simply go about my day without it taking over my thoughts. Aside from some hard earned bruises, sore muscles, and a new collection of really cool fishnets, I’ve also gained a new perspective on things.
For the last few years, I’ve been struggling to “get up” after being knocked down by the death of my husband in December of 2007. I went to therapy, I got out of the unhealthy rebound relationship that I jumped into in an effort to dull the pain, I moved closer to my family, and I tried to focus on making the best life I could for our daughter and myself. I did this the only way I knew how — stumbling along the way, trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. My whole life I had been a leader, full of focus, direction and drive. And then, like being hit by a Mack truck, I was on the ground — dazed, confused, and with my confidence shattered into a million pieces. All I could think about was what if something happened to my daughter? What if I got into another relationship and he leaves me, too? How would I manage? How would I survive? I was no longer focused on anything other than my insecurity, my loss, and the lack of passion that now defined my life.
Not only had I lost my husband, but I lost my toughness. My swagger turned to a slump, and I struggled to keep my shoulders pulled back. My type-A overachiever attitude turned to a go-through-the-motions, get-through-the-day routine. I found myself being much more apologetic… about everything. I worried more about what people thought of me and went out of my way to let them know I was a nice person — so that hopefully they would see, and I just might believe — that maybe I didn’t really deserve what happened to me after all.
Three and a half years may not seem like “getting up quickly” — but I know for certain I’m ready to roll now. By no means am I saying I’ve got my toughness or swagger back entirely, but I feel like I’m faking it pretty good. I have faith that eventually it will just be who I am — defined entirely by me and not what happened TO me. I have an incredibly loving and supportive man by my side. My daughter is healthy, happy, and as well adjusted as a mother could hope for. I have absolutely nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for.
So I’m ready to play again.
I’m ready to compete again.
I’m ready to be a part of a team and have people depend on me for support.
I’m up, and I’m ready to skate as fast as I can, knock somebody else down and not have to say I’m sorry.