Getting Beat Up by the Roller Derby Blues

Photo by montanafreshe (Ebay)

Photo by montanafreshe (Ebay)

You know how when you ask someone “why do you blog” they say “to get shit off my chest” or “to work things out” or “because I am just a sad sad sad person who needs to feel sorry for myself in a public forum”?  Well, tonight I am that kind of person.  I hate writing these kinds of posts, really I do, but I’m really struggling and I’m hoping that someone out there can either 1) give me some sound advice, or 2) slap me upside the head and tell me to pull my skate laces up and be a big girl.  Or maybe both.  I don’t know.

So yeah, about roller derby.  I’ve been busy (full time job, school, volunteering), and I have told my coaches and some of the Board members that I’ve had to cut back on my attendance, volunteer hours, meetings and all that stuff.  Initially, that helped me restore a little balance in my life and relieve some of the emotional investment I’d been making in derby.  I’ve been trying to go to two on-skates practices a week, but lately, it has been harder and harder to go, and I’ve been dropping down to one practice a week, or no practices (uh, like where I should be right now).  There are many reasons why, and I’m trying to sort them out.  Among them:

  • Instead of feeling invincible, I’m feeling invisible.  I’ve been skating for over a year now and I still don’t know who my people are.  I don’t know who to hang out with at practices or at events.  I always feel awkward when I try to join in with a small group of people having a chat after practice, for example.  There are plenty of ladies I like in the league, but it feels like everyone has their set of friends and doesn’t need another one.  This awkwardness has resulted in me not going to our league’s events (skating or social), which I realize does nothing good for helping me to find my people.
  • My skating has improved A LOT in the past year.  However, I’m feeling pretty fucking defeated by my skills (or lack thereof).  It seems like I will never get my 27 in five; in fact, I’ve gotten worse over the past few months, going gradually from 24 laps to 21.5 laps.  WTF?  My cross-overs are getting stronger and I’m trying to skate the diamond more, but I’m just as slow as a turtle.  In fact, this has been bringing me down to the point where I get really nervous to do the 27 in 5 (or the 50 lap killer, for that matter).  This anxiety does nothing for making me want to go to practice.  And, like my point above, I recognize that if I keep skipping practices, my skills will never improve.
  • Related to the above, it seems like I’ll never get to the point where I’m cleared for bouting.  I’ve only scrimmaged once – it was awesome, but the beginning and intermediate skaters are not given very much opportunity to do that in our league.  So what’s the point?  It feels like I’ll never get “good enough” to play, so why do I put myself through the anxiety and stress of practices and meeting all the requirements for leveling up?
I'm in the penalty box during my first scrimmage.

I’m in the penalty box during my first scrimmage.

Whine, whine, whine.  It’s easy for me to be super hard on myself, which is always self-defeating.  I do have depression and anxiety issues, for which I’ve been getting treatment for a number of years now, and roller derby easily triggers so many of my issues.  Yet there are so many things I love about derby as well.  I want to improve, and I’m happy that I’ve gotten better over the past year.  I really do like the people in my league, but I don’t know where I fit in, which makes me feel like a big freak.  I want to be involved, but when I was more involved, it was just so stressful (for a few reasons that I’ve not listed above, like league politics and requirements, etc.).

Is it time for me to quit?  I think about this every day.  I don’t want to give up, but I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.  I’ve invested so much of myself in roller derby, but I need some support and I just don’t know where to get it, hence this sad, whiny post.  Any advice or ass-kicking would be much appreciated.

Gritty Cat (a.k.a, Marci)

Related post:  Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

Ok, right up front, I am telling you that I’m NOT quitting roller derby.  However, the last couple months have been tough.  For various reasons, I’ve considered hanging up my skates, even though I’ve only been skating for not quite a year (it will be a year at the end of April, so that’s close enough for government work, right?).  I’ve certainly seen other ladies come and go in the league over that short period of time, I’ve come to terms with my social anxiety issues (well, I’m working on them…), and I’ve made a few friends (just fyi, I’m a horrible friend, so if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you’re my friend, but I love you anyway so you’ll just have to put up with my horribleness).  I’ve survived a year’s worth of derby drama (what? Roller derby drama?  No way!!!), and I’ve worked really hard on my skating skills (I advanced from the red to yellow skill level – hooray!).  I feel like derby has changed my life.  But, and this is the part that is hard to admit, derby is not my life.

I’ve read so much about women who’s “souls were saved by roller derby”, and who just won’t give up for anything, no matter what the pain, what the circumstances, what the obstacle.  It’s hard for me to admit that I am not like these women, although I think that when I started derby a year ago I wanted to be…and in that respect, that’s where I feel like I have failed.  I have started feeling like a slacker in the derby girl department.

Don’t get me wrong – I love skating, I’ve seen personal growth, and have made some achievements I’m proud of.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that being a competitive derby skater is probably not sustainable for me at this point in my life; the work-life-derby balance is way off.  I just turned 40, am going back to school, have a stressful 40+ hour a week job, and I don’t have the time to beat myself up about not making attendance, volunteer hours, all the meetings, and any other requirements it takes for skaters to become green-level and bout-cleared.  And if I’m really being honest, even if I continued busting my ass to make all those requirements, I’m not sure I’ll ever be green and bout-cleared; I’m just not sure I will ever achieve that skill level.

But here’s the thing – I can’t quit derby.  I love skating too much, and it’s really most of the exercise I get.  I love the camaraderie.  I love how supportive the women in our league can be.  My assistant coach, Next of Ken, has been my personal cheerleader and has helped me achieve so much growth and success.  But if I go to drop-in status, I feel like I’ll lose a lot of those things that I love about derby.  So my compromise: I will still be a dues-paying member and will do my best to attend all the on-skates practices (and off-skates and meetings when I can).  I will have to accept the fact that I probably won’t make my attendance and volunteer hour requirements for the time being.  But I hope to stay connected with the ladies in the league that I have grown to know and love.  I’ve talked with my coaches and the BOD about my situation, and they seem supportive and understanding, and for that I am very thankful.

Frisky Sour recently posted on her blog an article called “Quitting Roller Derby“.  Her last paragraph really hit home for me:

People pop in and out of retirement all the time. Roller derby isn’t going anywhere. It’ll hold while you go have a baby,  finish your degree, catch up on your Netflix, learn to make beer, or spend a year in Budapest – whatever it is that’s calling to you.  There’s a whole, big, beautiful world out there. Roller derby definitely exposed me to a number of experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it prevented me from experiencing a lot, too. There’s only so much time in your life. Do what you want to do. — Frisky Sour

I’m not heading towards retirement yet (heck – I haven’t even really busted my scrimmage cherry!), and I’m not quitting.  At this point, I’m happy that I’ve gotten to experience roller derby – it was on my list of things to do.  But there are other things I want to do too, things that I have to do.  I just have to recognize that it doesn’t mean I love derby any less, or that it hasn’t made a positive impact on my life, or that it won’t continue being a positive force in my life into the future.  Because I’m still skating, and getting up when I fall…and for now, that will have to be enough.

Taking Bets Now: How Long Will I Last in the 30-Day Ab Challenge?

Recently, several of the ladies in my roller derby league (the Storm City Roller Girls) have been doing 30-day fitness challenges. Last month it was squats.  This month: the 30-day Ab Challenge.  To be sure, off-skates strength and endurance training are an important component of being physically fit and will make you a more successful skater for your team.  So why did I join this month’s challenge?  It sure wasn’t because I love situps.  Maybe it was the camaraderie?  A temporary moment of delusion and hope?  I can’t figure it out.

Anyway, here is the challenge.  Today is March 3.  My 30-Day Ab Challenge to YOU is this:  successfully guess how long I last in the challenge, and you will win a prize.  The prize will most likely be a virtual box of kittens (all the cute, none of the poop).

Some things to consider:

  1. It’s day three in the challenge, and I had to do days 1 and 2 (in addition to day 3) today.  I might not be the most dedicated person taking part in this challenge.
  2. I might be somewhat pessimistic about this challenge.  In fact, I might have to call shenanigans on this whole thing.  Because if I make it to the end of the month and my abs don’t look like the ones pictured in the challenge, I will be crushed.  Someone will have to pay for my lost time and dashed hopes.
  3. This is generally how I feel when I do situps.  I’m the one on the right:

So join in the fun and maybe win a box of [virtual] kittens!  Leave a comment with the date you think I will get to in the challenge; i.e., if you tell me that I will last through the 10th, the 10th will be the last day I actually do the exercises.  Rest days don’t count – pick a day with actual exercise.  And because I can be somewhat sporadic, but still in it, I will keep track and let you know at the end of the month how far I got into the challenge.  Ready?  Go!!!