Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bad Habits

I was ready to have a great day today – I really was – but then I had All Star practice and now I feel like my happy mood of early morning is nowhere to be found. I’m frustrated – very frustrated. The practice itself was great. My performance in it was not. I learned a lot today about how many bad habits I’ve accumulated (and in some cases perfected) over my derby years, and I feel like no matter how hard I try I just cannot break them.

I know they say quitting smoking is hard. It wasn’t for me. What is hard? Aside from my natural inclination to eat the portion size delegated to a family of five (I think I’ll always have to watch that – I like food), there are certain things I’ve always done in derby that are wrong. Not “differing in style”, but just plain wrong.

Part of me realizes I only have myself to blame. When we started our league we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, and we taught other girls to do things wrong, because we were either told by someone from another league who was also ignorant or we flat out made it up – not to hurt anyone, but because we didn’t know any better and we honestly thought what we were teaching made sense.

There’s another important and often overlooked aspect to the story here. Not only did we instruct and be instructed to do things wrong, but also there was a hell of a lot we just never considered and didn’t know we didn’t know. Shit, it was LAST YEAR that I learned to crossover in a way that maximized all my strength and speed. There were basics that I was never taught, that I never thought someone should have taught me, or that I never knew to teach anyone else. I feel responsible for not only playing a part in teaching the wrong things, but also for not knowing we weren’t training our ladies in a well-rounded manner.

Now, here I am – nearly 5 years later. I’m still doing (and in some cases NOT doing) shit that is not effective, not helpful to me, and worst of all, I can’t seem to get those basic reactions and movements to change. Today, I know FULL WELL what I SHOULD be doing, but it’s not natural and my body falls back into “we’ve always done this in response to that, so we’re doing it again” – a “fuck you” from my body to my brain. Great.

There is one bad habit that I’ve always had that was again present at today’s practice, but it wasn’t one that’s exclusive to roller derby. No, this is a problem I have throughout my life, so I should not be surprised it reared its head at the rink this morning. I get frustrated. Not just “gosh, darn it” frustrated. BLIND RAGE frustrated. Where if I can’t control the snowball effect of the frustration, I’m either gonna cry or flip out. Not to mention that it consumes my brain and body, and I cannot perform the simplest derby task you’ve asked me to do, because I’m so worked up. My body repeats its old mistakes because of this, I get even more frustrated because I can see this cycle happening, but that only continues to fuel the fire.

Today? An asthma attack. I can’t say that my frustration directly caused the attack, but I was pretty fucking frustrated when it happened. Maybe the frustration manifested itself in a part of my body that was already weak (still getting over the spring cold and it’s humid as all hell in Baltimore right now) – I wouldn’t be surprised.

I need to learn to control myself.

I know first hand that remaining calm and clear-headed in the pack does wonders for my performance. I’ve seen glimpses of this (it could be two jams a night), but they aren’t consistent.

It’s so hard to have such a strong desire to want to change and become better, only to sideline yourself with your own bad habits. If I can’t kick these things, I won’t play much with the All Stars. I wish I knew what I needed to do to break these physical bad habits quicker. I know I need to practice mental control to break perhaps the worst habit of all. I guess I’ll start there.

I remember when I was 17 – the first time my mom had me join Weight Watchers. At 17 I was naturally frustrated at the lack of perfection I saw in the mirror, but when the “plan” didn’t work as quickly as I thought it would, I got that same feeling of blind rage and utter failure that I had this morning. I had only lost 3 pounds. I don’t know how many I was thinking I would lose, but 3 was completely unacceptable in my mind.

I came home, kicked some shit, cried, and ate a whole hell of a lot to “show them” (the Weight Watcher’s women behind the scale). Productive, I know. Later that day, after I had calmed down, my dad brought me a plastic grocery bag filled with water and tied off at the top. It weighed 3 pounds. Having seen it put that way, 3 pounds didn’t seem as small as it did in my head earlier that day. It was heavier than I thought, and the volume was greater. Maybe all the hard work I did during the week had paid off in that 3 (measly) pounds.

If I had vacation time for each instance I allowed myself to get to the point of feeling utter failure and blind rage because of frustration, I could probably take a whole year off work. It’s a waste of time, and I’ve wasted a lot of time over the years. How much time have I wasted on the track? Just about an hour today.

It’s hard being an adult and being responsible for yourself. I no longer have someone to hand me that bag full of water – I have to do it on my own, which I haven’t fully learned to do yet. Oddly enough, I don’t think I would have “gotten it” – the fact that I need to learn to self-regulate myself to conserve time – if I hadn’t went through the process of writing this entry.

Writing this blog has held me accountable. Usually I shame myself into being accountable by telling you all publically what I need to do, and then I know I’ll look like an asshole if I don’t follow through, so I do it. This is different. This entry is more a connection that has allowed me to access some of the knowledge I learned at a different time, and I’m thankful for that.

Today’s takeaways: self-control, practice, and patience. It’s unrealistic for me to think I can unlearn so many bad habits RIGHT NOW. I just need to take the time to repetitively practice the new skills and recognize that over time they will replace the older, incorrect ones. Time’s not necessarily on my side, but I only push my final realization of making the new skills automatic further away when I allow myself to lose control. This is true for so much of life, not just those portions of it I spend on 8 wheels.


Allie Gator said...

As a fellow "big girl skater" and someone who has always had issues with her weight I can empathize.
I think the key for me is setting long term and short term goals that are realistic. It doesn't do me any good to make a goal that sounds great and grandiose and then fail at it and beat myself up over. Hang in there Cindy. You rock my socks off!

Wow Kelly said...

I got frustrated a lot my first year(I'm on year 3). I had life stress, relationship stress, new athlete stress and big girl stress. I just cried all the time. I often told my coach I was probably going to cry. Sometimes that's all it took to keep me from crying. I don't think I had the energy to care what anyone else thought about me. Sometimes I cried on the track while doing drills and sometimes I went to the bathroom. Becoming tired of my own weepy mess, I learned (with the help of professionals) to manage my stress better - all of it. And I got stronger, which helped. Crying for me means I'm testing my limits. So I say go ahead and do it. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes and I come back feeling better.
Harriet of Fire
Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls

No Tobacco said...

Quitting smoking is the MOST important decision you'll ever make in your life, for you and your loved ones. It is better to start Now, because the longer you stay on it, the more damage it will do to your body.