Thursday, October 8, 2009

Moving Forward

After a month of sulking, eating candy at night like it’s my second job, and reading a handful of articles about unconscious self-sabotage, I’ve come to the revelation that there may be no resolution as to why I fucked myself up so much in the month of September, rendering myself unable to attend Regionals, finish my home season, or just exercise like a normal person. As of late, several things have become apparent to me: I’ll never know why this happened, so I should stop fixating on it, and this self-deprecating environment I’ve vacationed in for the last month is about as useful as keying one’s own car (which, coincidentally I did back in college one drunken night to “see how it would feel to have your car keyed”). It’s time to move on.

Derby has been my outlet for nearly 5 years, and when it hasn’t been my outlet, running has. Rendering myself unable to do either has been extremely difficult, but I have learned a thing or two from being in this situation.

First, although it does about 80% of the time, derby should not define me. I’ve let this happen, and I live a very unbalanced life because of it. Just like you shouldn’t let your job define who you are, you shouldn’t let your hobby do that either. If you let your job define you and then you get laid off, you lose yourself; if you let derby define you and then you cannot skate, you lose yourself also. Although derby’s a big part of my life, I need to pull back and make sure I’m not using it as a crutch for not doing other things. For instance, over the past few weeks I’ve been panicking at the idea of no longer skating (even though I plan on skating next year). When I was finally able to get to the bottom of “why”, it was because I’m afraid that I won’t be as successful at anything else as I have been in derby, which, when I really thought about it was really disturbing, because I’m not even a “great” skater. I work my ass off to be mediocre on my travel team. I do derby because I love it, but I don’t not do derby because I’m scared not to. I need to evaluate what other things I want to accomplish in life, and if next season is the last for me, then I need to be prepared to use the same fierce attitude I have with derby with whatever else I choose to pursue.

Second, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Being mildly non-ambulatory is no excuse to give up the things that I say I love, like exercise. After weeks of whining to myself that I couldn’t skate or run, so I couldn’t do anything to stay in shape, a friend of mine popped into my mind as I was strapping on my air cast one morning. This friend has had chronic medical problems since birth, wasn’t expected to live past childhood, and has even landed himself in critical condition in the hospital several times since we met over ten years ago. He, too, uses something like an air cast (a leg brace), only he uses a brace on both legs every single day of his life. He’s also one of the buffest motherfuckers I know. He technically can’t run or skate either, and he has the further disadvantage of having a brace on both legs, so why the hell can’t I think outside of the box and employ strategies other than skating or running to keep my physical fitness in check? There’s no reason I couldn’t have done pushups and crunches and all sorts of upper-body exercises while I was on crutches. I’m currently at the point where I can use the stationary bicycle at PT, which means I could use one at the gym too. I need to start incorporating movement I can do back into my life, so I’m no longer a prime-time zombie with a part-time candy-eating job.

Third, it’s easy to stay in a slump, but there’s no good reason to do so. I could continue to beat myself up about being a couch-surfing laffy-taffy hog, but what does that do aside from encourage me to perfect my ass-groove and hate myself even more than I did the day before? For some reason I lingered in this state way longer than I typically have, and I don’t know why, but it’s time to put those ways aside and resume enjoying life and respecting myself.

Fourth, I need to learn to adapt to the unexpected inconveniences in life. This past month proved to me that I need to be more flexible in how I do things and how I feel about doing things that may be different than I’m used to. Just because I can’t do 100% what I want doesn’t mean I should do nothing at all. I’m a pretty selfish person. I have no kids, I have a good job, and I pretty much do what I want when I want and how I want, so you can see how having to adapt how I do things could throw a monkey wrench in my mental expectations of how things should be. This need for flexibility without emotional turmoil is actually something I learned from my mom. The day I sprained my ankle, we planned to go out for my birthday and I was so upset that our plans were ruined. My mom’s casual response of “that’s life – just deal with it and move on” seemed very out of character to me at the time, but I eventually realized that she has probably learned the hardest way there is that life doesn’t always go as planned, so you’ve just got to roll with the punches – no use in letting things out of our control upset us.

So, it’s time to move forward. Skating’s still out of the question for 6 weeks or so, and by then we’ll be in the middle of our off-season break anyhow, so I’m just going to plan on coming back in January like everyone else taking a break. I’ll run when I can, and I’ll try not to push it (risking re-injury, which would be a royal bitch). In the meanwhile, I’ll walk and maybe do the bike at the gym. I’ll try and stick to my original goal of using time I would have spent at practices during the off-season to write. And perhaps most importantly, I won’t obsess over or dwell on why things happen or what if other things happen in the future (like immediate re-injury of my neck or ankle once I’m back on skates). And as for that part-time candy-eating job, I’m resigning just as soon as I get home this evening – wish me luck, because you know how hard it is for me to give up responsibility.


DeadpanAnn said...

Just discovered your blog a few days ago, and love it. Very inspiring. I was athletic in my younger days, but I've been lazy, overweight, and depressed for the last 10 years or so. (I'm 30.) I recently decided life's too short to be a couch potato, especially when you know that's not who you are, and I started working out again. THEN discovered that there is a roller derby team that practices 2 miles from my house. I'm already addicted.

Keep your head up. This too shall pass.

Midlife Crashes said...

"I need to evaluate what other things I want to accomplish in life, and if next season is the last for me, then I need to be prepared to use the same fierce attitude I have with derby with whatever else I choose to pursue."

Thank you for that sentence--and actually for your entire 10/8 post. It really hit home. I'm glad I have your blog "favorited" cuz I will be coming back and reading this a lot.

You rock.