Cry on the Inside like a Winner

I would have never used the word “strong” or “feminist” to describe myself in the past. I depended on people I loved to make me feel happy, give me a reason to be alive, and to push me through things I wasn’t sure I could do. I was warned, a few weeks before starting derby, that feminism will take over once I get into the community. I didn’t believe it because how can a bunch of girls in fishnets and short shorts (sometimes tutus) be feminists?

A few days ago, I had cramps. Really bad cramps that made me weak in the legs and unable to walk without excruciating pain. I rested on the bed and my husband approached and patted my back. When I turned over, he seemed surprised and said “oh, I thought you were crying”. I thought for a moment and said “I want to play derby. I can’t cry.”

Derby has taught me that no matter what ways my mind tries to psyche me out, I can do anything. At practice, when we think they are telling us to do the impossible and yet we manage to do it with little injuries, the coaches say “see, you didn’t die”. This is my mantra now.

I can’t do it. Oh, but just try. O-m-g I just did it. See, you did it and didn’t die.20160212_172628-1

As a woman, we are constantly told we aren’t strong enough for anything tough. Sure, we can play sports but not something as dangerous as football, and even if we could, they’d “be easy on us”. Girls get pummeled in derby, its, essentially, the entire point of the sport. Then, we go home and take care of our husbands, wives, human children, and/or dog/cat children. We work our various jobs, go to college, make things with our hands, and just be awesome on a daily basis. While guys just play sports and depend on us to make everything easy.

And that’s when the feminism kicks in. Look at my busy life while I still have time to put 8 wheels on my feet and jump over piles of bodies just to score some points. I have skills that I cultivated just through sheer determination and practice. In the words of my husband after I complained of post-practice pain combined with cramps: I am a warrior. And being a woman made me that way.

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Teach Me How to Derby

The past few months, but especially the last two, I have been reinventing what it means to be Christine. For several years since my bipolar diagnosis, I’ve let my mental illness be that thing. Why didn’t you come to my party? Cause I’m bipolar.

This year marked the first time I claimed a New Year’s Resolution: To stop making excuses, make friends, and be nice. For someone like me, these things are harder than losing weight or giving up alcohol. And last year, I could do nothing but complain about how no one liked me or wanted to be my friend like a spoiled rich kid who pays people to hang out with him (sorry John DuPont). This year, I would be better and be someone who I don’t hate on a regular basis. But really honestly, stop using my mental health issues as a crutch.

Within two months, I’ve gone to two concerts, did the 5K at Disney in January, and joined a roller derby league which I am absolutely excited about. Sure, I hurt and wish that I wasn’t such a weakling in comparison to these girls who have rock hard quads and nice butts. But now when people say “Roller derby? Isn’t that like really dangerous?” I say, “Yeah, it’s pretty much the most awesome thing you could ever do.”

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Under my pinky…small but painful!

I may not be able to stay upright all the time, I may have bruised my palm from falling in only the 2nd day of practice (who bruises their palm?), and I may look nothing like the veterans that skate around on banked tracks and slick floors like they’ve been doing this since birth…but, I became my own hero the day I showed up to practice and put every ounce of effort I had into doing this.

A few days ago, depression was trying to push its way back into the forefront of my brain. It makes you yell at your wonderful and supportive husband and tells you that you have no business even trying anything new cause you’re just mediocre. So I put on my skates and gear, and let derby hip check those thoughts right out.