Monday, January 16, 2012
I've got a brand new key. **trigger warning**
Tomorrow morning I will lace up my skates and reconnect with the sport that changed my life five years ago. A sport I took a break from over the past year and a half. A sport that I now recognize as being an important piece of my parenting.
Six weeks after the birth of my second child I went a little crazy. I am pretty sure that the act of giving birth to Sweet Bubs knocked something loose in a remote corner of my brain--a dusty little corner previously fixated on keeping my mental self separated from my physical self. That jolt filled me with an overwhelming faith and pride in my limbs and core. I *knew* I could do any physical task I set my mind to--so I joined the Austin Rollermoms roller derby league. And that one little act probably saved my life, and my daughter's life.
Let me backtrack a bit, to my tortured suburban adolescence. Like many overachieving, privileged, mildly-depressed teenage girls I became fixated on controlling the amount of food I consumed. Through discipline and cunning I got to the point where I ate three oranges and a serving of sugar-free jello every day. Nothing else. I went to the library during lunch period at school so as to avoid food, I had my boyfriend pick me up early in the mornings to get out of eating breakfast, and I took the family dog for hours long walks in the evenings. I did two hundred crunches in my bedroom every night.
My proudest moment was when the scale read 98 pounds. I lost 30lbs in a few short months. And still I showered in the dark; got dressed while staring at the ceiling. I did everything I could to avoid acknowledging that I had a physical self.
When I had a daughter my biggest parenting fear was that I would pass on this very special version of eff'ed-up-ness to her. It took decades for me to get over my own food issues and I was determined to model healthy, normal behaviors for my own sweet girl. Roller derby gives me the essential tools I need in achieving that goal.
Firstly, I am proud that my daughter sees that I am a part of a community. Through my league I have 80+ friends--women from all different ages, all different backgrounds, all different life circumstances. Our sport brings us together and makes us equal on the track. We support each other through job loss, injury, weddings, break-ups, births and deaths. Disordered eating is a solitary pursuit and you cannot maintain isolation when so many friends are there to pull you into the light.
Secondly, roller derby is a full contact sport. You cannot avoid being connected to your own body or the bodies of your teammates and opponents. Every practice and every scrimmage is a new opportunity to feel my own strength and the strength of my leaguemates. We lean on one another, hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder, and marvel in the beauty of that contact. And then we knock each other down.
Thirdly, roller derby is a sport where women of all sizes can succeed. From the biggest blocker to the tiniest jammer, every physique has a place on the track. This is revolutionary. Because of this sport my daughter sees that no one body type or size is "best". You can be healthy and strong at any size, as long as you invest in fueling your body with the best choices available. Good food, good rest, good activity.
The stresses of the last year made me lose sight of the rewards of being part of a team sport. I can tell I am at a place now where I need the structure and support of my league more than ever. I need to sweat and move and crash into other bodies. Every practice makes me stronger (body, mind, heart) and every practice makes me a better parent.