Returning to bouting post break – the day after.

When I wrote my last post, I was travelling back to Nottingham sat in a car, I couldn’t wait until I reached home to write. I was full of emotion and happy and on a mega derby high! When we got back, I filled my belly with lots of food and then had a bath (after letting the food go down of course!) Laying in the bath, soothing my bumps and bruises and resting my wankle, I reflected on the days events.

As I sat there, it all hit me. I was well and truly overwhelmed thinking about my day and playing for Team Metal Legs. I won’t lie, I cried. But it was a happy cry. For the first time in a very long time, I felt proud of my achievements on skates.

In the changing rooms before the game, our TML captain Rosie gave us a pep talk and she had us each go round the room and say what we wanted to do today, our own little goals. I was not too sure what I really wanted out of the day, as my first bout back post break and first real time to get stuck in as a blocker and a jammer, I mainly wanted to survive the bout. At which point a few who didn’t know it was my first time back were so lovely and were both nervous and excited for me which made me feel in good company, one who really helped me out had played in the last Team Metal Legs game, and that bout was her first bout back post break so it meant a lot to have her support and understanding! My other goals were to be able to block hard and work together with people, as well as get my confidence back up to jam. I have lost a lot of confidence and belief in myself recently with some down days and unfortunate situations, so the nerves were definitely there, at one point in the warm up I suddenly thought that I could not do it, I simply could not play, I was not good enough to be there and I was going to let everyone down…. just a maddening sickening rush of thoughts. But we went on, warmed up, skated out, got ready in first line ups. As I sat there waiting in line ups, it hit me how lucky I was to be skating alongside these ladies. Each girl was filled with so much positivity and excitement, the support was more than I could have asked for, and without Team Metal Legs that day I think I would have found it much harder to come back mentally to the game.

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I started out blocking, finding my feet again, digging down and getting used to hits again. Some of the ladies had played together in the last TML bout together, some of us were new to the team, but the way in which we all found a way to skate our own way but together as a team was actually pretty damn beautiful. We were all able to talk to each other, listen to each other, do what the jammers wanted us to do, do what our bench wanted us to do, all of this whilst skating to our own individual strengths, the way in which TML came together as a team was just amazing to be a part of. Off skates for TML we had the lovely LUM Charlotte, who had stepped in last minute for us, thrown together last minute line-ups with new additions and changes as well as keeping us rowdy bunch in check throughout the game! And our surprise bench Mimey who had simply come to watch and support the team! SURPRISE BENCH! Big love to Phoenix our original bench who had sadly had to take another trip to hospital, serious love to you and I really hope that you heal up soon and we see you lovely!! Early on, Charlotte handed me the jammer panty. I was nervous about jamming, but as a team who had few specialised jammers, it was only fair that we all did some time. So I jammed. And it was incredible! I felt so comfortable and at ease, letting my instinct as a skater and jammer take over, my laterals, spins and turns were there, I even managed to push the opposing blockers – which is pretty hard when you are playing Hulls Angels A Team! I have to hand it to H.A.R.D, they have a strong blocking line-up and they really gave us everything they had with no letting up, so to be able to push three blockers along the straight (and even watch it on video!!) was something that I had been trying to build my confidence in and have in my arsenal. After my first jam, Charlotte threw me the jammer panty quite a bit more. And I have to thank her for doing that. I needed to remind myself, show myself that I could jam. The feedback from my teammates also hit me hard, the fact they supported me and gave me such positive feedback about my performance just made my heart swell. With a strong blocking team who held H.A.R.D’s jammer back and gave me some amazing offense, I was so proud to say I was part of that team! And being able to block with these blockers, help our jammers out, working on my offense and defence, making sure I was communicating and listening to my pivot and teammates to make sure we were a unit, it all helped me to really strengthen my ability and skills as a blocker. Of course there are moments I look at and wish I had done different things, been better, played a little bit smarter, I had a few learning curves but as Rosie said, it was for funsies. We played for funsies and I came out the other side with more than you could ever realise.

It was just an amazing hour of roller derby that really did finish way too soon!

Rainbow Smite, Rosie, Skye Bruise, Bob, Mother Mercy (or Hammer, depending on where you look!), Dr Jean Knockout, Hurrikane Katrina, Shock N Awedrey, Greek Frightening, Feral Fairy, Pyscho-Sis, Charlotte & Mimey. Thank you all for believing in me when I didn’t even believe in myself, thank you for being there, thank you for the support and the love, thank you for just being you. You badasses.

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So to you, my Team Metal Legs teamies, I have this to say.

You are a group of absolutely beautiful ladies, who are way too modest, who are so genuinely friendly and welcoming with wide open derby arms, who have endured and fought through the physical and mental hell that has been thrown at you, you have conquered the world to return to the sport that we love so passionately even when it doesn’t always love us. You are not only amazing people, but you are all badasses on track. You ladies inspire me. You inspired me when I saw you play for the first time as Team Metal Legs, two weeks after I got my cast off, two weeks after I didn’t think I would be able to brave skating again, the two weeks it took me to have hope. And you inspired me even more when you skated alongside me, supporting me, screaming for me. The fact I also got to do that for you too, meant the world to me, I felt like I was able to give back what you gave to me. Many of you were there for me when I was broken, you read my messages, my rants, cried with me, made me laugh, posted crazy cat photos and told me bad jokes, and when you told me that it gets better. You never lied to me, you always told me that it isn’t easy, but coming out the other side makes you a stronger person. And you were all there for me when I came back. You made my heart swell a thousand sizes on December 14th 2014. That day will stay with me for a very long time. The day I returned to bouting, the day I got my derby back, the day that it was all down to you ladies.

Team Metal Legs, I freaking love you.

Team Metal Legs.  I freaking love you!
Team Metal Legs – I freaking love you!

Let’s do it again yes?

Getting back up again, physically and mentally.

3 months of healing, 3 months of fighting against your own body and mind, 3 months of emotional turmoil…. my break experience lasted 3 months. I broke on the 13 July 2014, and was back on skates on the 14 October 2014. Throughout those 3 months, I knew I wanted to return to derby and skate again, train, scrimmage, bout. Yes, there were wobbles on the darkest days of those 3 months, but as soon as I was physically able to and allowed to, I skated. I worked hard to get my body back in a position to return to skating, 3 months of lost fitness and stamina, 3 months that I had to really make up for.

I have since returned to skating as though my break never happened, yes… I am healed. But I’m still figuring things out mentally and emotionally.

Physically I feel strong and comfortable, my fitness and stamina is creeping back up and I keep pushing myself to keep going, breaking through the walls. I now know my body again and I have really learnt to trust it all over again in the last month. I have set goals and targets, small and big, in a bid to get to where I want to be. And when I get there I intend to keep pushing further and further.

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Mentally and emotionally? I am not really finding any middle ground just yet, more or less highs and lows. When I came back, I had so much determination and motivation and passion, and it showed as another skater friend commented on my determination. It made me feel happy and strong knowing that my want to be better and work harder showed in a positive light. At first when I returned, I was a little cautious. I think that was a completely natural way to feel post break, but it wasn’t really caution in the sense that what if I get injured again, it was caution in the way that I did not know how my mind would react to situations. What would happen when I got back in a pack, when I fell, when I took a hit? Things I would come to learn to deal with as and when they happened. The main positive about my break was that I had no muscle damage, bones heal stronger and quickly, whilst muscles can be a waiting game – so I knew physically, I was fine. Physio Jen would not have let me return if she had not thought it safe too, and with her track record working on other skaters in my league I fully trust her judgement. And I’m glad I did!

I knew coming back would be difficult, I didn’t lie to myself about it and I was not naive about the process, in fact I surprised even myself at how quickly I was able to pick it all back up and jump into scrimmages and drills again. Of course there have been moments where my wankle (bad broken ankle side, most commonly known in the UK-Derby-Crips world as a wankle!) has been moved in certain angles, that before I would not have thought about, that I have suddenly thought more about and over-concerned myself with the new feel to it. I find myself thinking that this feels weird, but then I wonder how it actually felt before I broke? I never paid attention to it before? I think it is similar to the way I process and tend to over think things, for instance in training I am always thinking how to improve what I’m doing, what I need to do to get a move right, how to correct something I did wrong, being over critical even when I do something good…. then in scrimmage? I just play, I am relaxed and at home and I just do everything that our TC have been working on with us in training sessions just so naturally.

I find when I play that during a bout or scrim, I am focused and fairly centered. But post bout or scrim? I fall really hard. I immediately start to put myself down and look at everything I did wrong or could have done better. I generally tend to brush off anything positive people have to say about me and act like it’s just people being nice and trying to cheer you up. I know at the end of the day that this isn’t true. The women I skate with are very honest and genuine people who won’t turn around and sugar coat things, but they also won’t turn around and just straight up tell you that you did bad. Mentally, I have never felt as though I am good enough, I am thankful every day I get to train at the level I do with the people I do.

Since returning, the biggest mental block I have dealt with has been an odd one. The feeling of not being good enough and being unwanted. Part of me feels like now I have been damaged, I’m not the same and I’m not good enough or wanted now, even though I’m actually ok and any damage has actually made me better after the experience. I feel like I have a lot to prove. Before my break, I was working hard and aiming to skate alongside some of the top members of our league, I had just had a taste of what it might be like and that the opportunity may have arose to do so!  I was also at a point where I was not happy with my skating, not happy with my ability as a blocker and as a jammer. Coming back I had a fire in my belly. But I still had a large sense of self doubt and self confidence. I know I have rebuilding to do, and I am working hard to do that. I guess I’m more or less saying it is ok to not be ok. I keep beating myself up about the way I feel, making myself feel more babied than I probably am being. I know people are looking out for me and have best intentions at heart, I think I sometimes take it to hear too much and feel like maybe something is wrong with me.

Be careful what you think!
Be careful what you think!

I am going to continue to work hard physically, but I think I need to begin to balance that out more. I need to pick out something good I did, something that helped the other blockers on track or helped my jammer get through. Even things like saving my point or keeping my communication strong on track. I don’t want to ignore any negatives, but I don’t want to focus on them either. And more often than not, you wake up the next day and think, why? Why did I beat myself up so much over that, because it was no-where near as bad as you thought at the time. I’m lucky to be part of a league where I am surrounded by genuinely fantastic ladies and fantastic skaters who I get to learn from and skate with every week. These women push me to be a better skater, motivated to skate & play harder and stronger. And I intend to continue to do so. I am also lucky that I can call these women my friends. Friends who tell me to keep my chin up, give me that hug, grab my padded pants, laugh over tiny pots of jelly, give you positivity and confidence, and just generally help remind you that you are not alone. These women are there on track with me, they are there off track for me, they are women I will fight tooth and nail to be there for in return.  These are my bad asses.

Derby girls keep fighting

I don’t this particular blog post has too much of a direction in what I am trying to say, this is more of a mental blurt? I think if I had to say that this came with a message, that the message is this….

It is ok not to be ok, you are only human, filled with emotions and thoughts that some days we cannot even begin to understand. There are days you feel amazing, and there are days that you have the horrific urge just to cry with no warning or reason. You are not alone. No matter what happens, you must always try to love yourself, the world is a mean enough place without you being mean to yourself.

Love yourself
Love yourself

Til next time little blue monsters xx

Why breaking my ankle was a good thing

Yes. You read that right. And no. I’m not saying go break a bone!

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I guess the better way to word it is that breaking my ankle turned out to be a good thing. By that, I mean that I personally took a lot of positives out of the experience.

For one, I took a step back from derby. For me this step back wasn’t good in the way that I missed everyone, missed practice, missed skating, but that it pulled me away from it all and made me take a good hard look at everything in perspective. It made me want everything so much more.

Yes. I couldn’t walk and lost most of my independence. Yes. It sucked big time. BUT… It took me to a place where I found a new fighting spirit. Firstly, I appreciated being able to walk and do simple things again, I took great satisfaction and enjoyment in being able to do all the small things. But secondly, I worked my ass off.

To get back to skating, I went to physio, was given exercises, and I worked hard. I had so much determination to be able to walk again, go up stairs normally, and skate again. Mentally I grew stronger as my body dealt with the physical side of things. I am lucky to have league mates who are not only friends, but inspire and drive me to do better, be better. And to be happy.

The first time I was able to walk normally upstairs, not on my bum, not facing sideways, but facing forwards bending each body part every way I was meant to, I realised that the harder I worked and the more I trusted my body, the quicker and better everything would come back to me.

I was determined to be able to skate the day the doctor said I could. Nearly three months to the day (broke 13 July – skated 14 October) I skated. I listened to my physio and trusted her to do what was best for my body. The hardest thing was for me to learn to trust my own body again. Know that when I put weight over my wankle I would be fine. Hard work had so far gotten me up the stairs, had walked the dog, had gotten me through gigs. And hard work would get me through skating.

I even carried on my physio exercises right up to the point I physically put my skates on that first time. To the point I did my first drill based practice. And when I scrimmaged for the first time.

Hard work has gotten me this far. But behind hard work has been determination and motivation.

When I broke, I had been lucky enough to have been deemed suitable for the A squad and B squad. A fantastic place to be, I was going to skate hard to show my team that I was worth the chance. The week before my first Harlots bout, I broke my fibula. Having come so close to representing my league hit me hard, but it also started a fire. I was so close to doing what I wanted. And it was taken away from me. Ripped away leaving me with little hope.

I was angry, upset, depressed. Then I accepted everything. There was nothing I could do to change the situation. But I could do something about coming back. Other skaters had come back from worse. From the moment I realised how far I had come since breaking and how close I was to being able to skate again, I had a huge fire in my belly. I had a hunger and determination to get back to where I was before I broke. Then to surpass that and be better. Be able to work with my team as well as stand on my own two as a blocker and jammer. If I can solidify my own ability on these roles, I can better support my teammates on the track. And if I can work better with my teammates, the better I can support my team.

I have scrimmaged. I am gradually getting back to where I was step by step. Back in training. Back in squads. I have worked so incredibly hard to get back to this point. And I am not about to stop here.

I continue to set goals. I continue to strive to be better. I am doing ok at the moment, but I know deep down that I can do better. And I will.

Watch this space little blue monsters!

Til next time xx

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