Photo by Jovan Edwards
I guess you could say that I found two true loves in 2012. The first, of course, being my husband; the second (and it's a very close second,) is roller derby. The first Valentines gift Josh gave me was my first pair of skates, which was really giving me the gift of derby. In April of 2012, I joined Salt Lake City's Red Rockettes and was instantly enamored of the culture of derby. I found myself surrounded by talented, powerful, intelligent women that inspired and pushed me to be more than I thought I could.
I've now played on three different leagues and I can honestly say that I've learned something from every person with whom I've had the privilege of sharing the track. I've learned to be patient and calm when everything around me is in chaos. I've also learned that it's okay to be loud and passionate and to let myself be a part of the chaos. Most importantly I've learned to push past my mental and physical barriers; to throw myself willingly into discomfort, trusting that it can only make me better.
I've found that derby can be frustrating, painful, and incredibly challenging. More than once I've thought about just turning in my skates and giving up, but I don't. There will come a day when I can no longer play derby, but today is not that day.
Of course I can, and often do, but the bruises fade, the sprains heal, and the blood dries. Every time I step onto the track, I risk physical injury, because I have yet to find anything quite so therapeutic as hitting and being hit by people I respect.
Every time I get up after being knocked down, I get a little braver. Every lap I skate after thinking I can't possibly keep going makes me a little stronger. Each practice brings on a slew of 'can'ts' and each one I overcome teaches me trust myself more.
Roller derby also offers a respite from daily worries and struggles. Every Sunday and Thursday, I have a full two hours where I don't spend a single second thinking about bills or jobs or deployments.
"How are we going to pay the rent?" is replaced by, "How am I going to get through those blockers?"
"Will my car make it through the winter?" gets lost beneath, "What can I do to make my wall stronger?"
How powerful it is to have something that wraps me up so completely that it drowns my anxiety and stamps out my petty fears. How lucky I am to have found a safe space to be completely myself.
So, yes, roller derby hurts, but it's a worthy sacrifice I make. I'll live with muscle aches, sore joints, and big bruises, because they remind me that I am so much stronger than my 'can'ts.'