(Cherri Boom recently changed her derby name)
Nausea and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I hate throwing up. A lot. Last week, after two hours of struggling through my first contact practice, I was battling the urge to hurl, hard. My legs were jiggly, my stomach was churning, I was salty, crusty, and sweaty. Full disclosure, I booked it out of practice fully expecting to lose my lunch in the parking lot.
When I got home, I rinsed the skate sweat off my body, put on my PJs and crashed. But the nausea kept coming for a couple of hours. I finally dozed off, waking at about two in the morning and didn’t get back to sleep for the duration.
I had pushed myself hard, really, really hard, and had still come up lacking. I felt it, literally, in my gut. I wondered, not for the first time, if maybe this derby thing was out of reach for me after all.
For the next few days I was emotionally wobbly. Every time I thought about derby I had a mini panic episode. I love to skate, be in the league, take on the challenge of learning new skills, but was this more than I could handle?
I fell back on my coping tools: derby tutorial videos, inspirational reading, k
ick-ass playlists. But by the time I was in the car, headed to my next practice, I was forcing myself to sing “Unstoppable” and fighting back tears and anxiety. I was NOT unstoppable. I was a ridiculous middle aged woman clutching a pair of roller skates.
I got to practice early, hoping to have a chance to pull myself together before practice started. I was breathing, mindfully gearing up, being in the moment. By the time I was ready a couple of other girls had arrived and I started feeling a little more normal. It was beginning to look like a small practice on a stormy night and something about that combination began to work on me like an environmental antidepressant.
It was as though the derby gods were bestowing mercy on my troubled derby heart. The pace of practice that night was deliberate, almost zen. Fish served the skills, plain and simple, on a no-nonsense plate of derby knowledge, and suddenly, before I knew it, I was rocking a few new skills and feeling “great-full”.
At the end of practice, Fish dished out a little more wisdom, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. It went something like this. Paraphrased, of course:
Derby is hard work. We each bring to it what we have, no more, and hopefully, no less. Some days you just feel like you suck. You can’t do anything right. On those days, you have to accept that your all is less than you wanted, but it’s what you have and it is enough. No amount of criticism, whether from yourself, or from others, is going to squeeze any more blood from that turnip. So, accept that you did everything you could, and next time you’ll be able to do more. No matter how you feel, you’re here. You worked hard. You earned the right to be here. You belong here.
I think everyone at practice collectively breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed like we had all been holding our breath, waiting to hear those very words.
That night after practice, instead of running for the car, hoping I wasn’t going to puke, I went out with my girls. We were a team, eating ice cream, laughing, and talking about all the things we love about roller derby. And that night, my eyes were closed before my head hit the pillow. I don’t remember what I dreamed, but I’m pretty sure I was hitting my new roller skills and laughing and chatting with my derby peeps about how cool it is to be a derby girl.