Trigger Warning: Roller Derby

The pit of my stomach turned, I could feel the anger boiling up inside of me and the tears I was suddenly fighting back.

That was the start of my week, looking at Instagram during a break at work.

To say roller derby had been a big part of my life for three years would be an understatement – roller derby was my life for three years. Like most, I quickly grew to love the sport, even if I had no idea what was actually going on for quite some time. I loved the support, the encouragement and the understanding. I gave my league my all, rarely missing practices, regularly attending events and holding various positions throughout the seasons. I missed spending time with close friends, spending time with my nephews before they moved, spending time with my best friend before she moved, meeting the daughter that I will now never get to meet, time with family… the list goes on. But despite it all, roller derby was my outlet, my place. It was something I worked hard at, on and off skates, during practice and in my free time, working out five days a week in addition to the two practices we had.

Part of my identity became being part of that team. My heart, soul and a whole lot of sweat went into it. As did many tears.

Each day this week there has been some great memory pulled up in the daily look back. Scrolling through them I could feel my brief smile fade away as tears began to well-up. My stomach turns and my mood drops (hell, even just writing this I can feel the changes happening). Over the last few days, my last three years of memories have all included roller derby.

The shot of me warming up with my team, a fresh newbie skater, three years ago.

The shots from when my brother came to watch me play with my dad and stepmom two years ago, when he called me a rockstar.

The Facebook post from two years ago where I had the side-by-side photo of me in the wheelchair and me as jammer.

The post from one year ago, when my team took home the win after our last home game of the season, our last game in that venue, where I got MVP.

It hurts me to my core that looking at these photos and recalling these memories leave tears rolling down my cheeks. I miss the time I smiled. I miss being that happy. I miss feeling like roller derby could be part of my life.

The knot in the pit of my stomach and wave of anger tell me I may not be ready yet.

Looking at the photo on Instagram earlier this week, I was conflicted with feelings of hate, betrayal and jealousy, while knowing that none of them were valid. Even still, I took everything in me to not send a snide passive-aggressive message – but, what good would that do me? Why would my first choice be to demonize a friend for going back to something she has loved and missed? Why would I hold it against her that people were excited to see her and invited her back, but no one has me? Why would I be mad she didn’t tell me she was doing this, when I said I wasn’t ready?

With the change from summer to fall comes a new wind; a new breath of fresh air into my old team. Hopefully with it, the tides will be changing…

I heard you left the league, part of me wanted to reach out and wish you the best of luck and another part of me wanted to thank you because now it may be “safe” for me to return. My heart would only be in one of those messages, so I declined to send either. But, it wasn’t just you and to place all the blame on you or a handful of others is unfair. Sure, your loud barks had the most direct impact. Sure, the comments you made left me driving home in tears. Sure, I felt like as I progressed the coaching I received regressed, among all the other things. But, the rest of the league sat back and watched it happen. Certain people told me to sit down, shut up and get on board, or get out when I voiced my opinion about the errors of the leagues way.

The league failed me. They left me feeling like a used, wrung out rag that was tossed aside, betrayed, damaged, unwanted, unappreciated and having have fulfilled what they saw as my purpose. I am bitter and angry. As much as I want to go back, I also want them to lose; I want to see them fail.

The therapist had previously asked me what my triggers are. Roller derby is my trigger.


Footnote: despite all of this, I have been able to keep things together and have not fallen down a dark path – hooray! The blurred edges and cloudy haze has begun to lift and with it, the warmth of the sun seems to be coming in.

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