a less than triumphant return

i had a picture in my head of what it would be like to skate on a skating floor again. 


Big shout out to Charlie for becoming a new patron this week, thank you friend, love you lots. 

Heads up this weeks episode is another one about some mental health stuff where I’m not exactly kind to myself, but kinda figure it out by the end. Please take care of yourself friend

My name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining

By now we’ve probably all seen that super shitty meme. The one that basically says you’re a piece of shit if you’re not hustling your way through the pandemic. That meme made me SO angry. Like obviously surviving this shit is victory right. Whatever gets you through it is the right thing. Maybe that Is learning new skills or hobbies. But also maybe that means eating ice cream and watching Netflix and crying a lot. It’s all valid. 

For my part, I definitely did more of the eating ice cream, watching Netflix, and crying a lot part. 

This week, I’m officially vaccinated. I hit my two weeks past my second shot. I am FULLY aware this isn’t a license to stop caring about the pandemic. I’m still wearing masks inside or when I’m not sure if everyone around me’s been vaccinated. But public health guidance does say some new things are safe now. 

I can be around other folks who are vaccinated. I can be around unvaccinated folks if they’re not otherwise high risk. The data we have seems to show that once you’re two weeks out from your second of a two dose shot, it’s very unlikely that you’d transmit the virus. 

So I’m kinda able to start doing some pre-pandemic shit right. And the question of whether or not I’d wasted the last year punched me in the fucking jaw this week. 

I decided it was okay to skate inside for the first time in well over a year. 

The last time I put skates on inside a building would’ve been in February or March, right before everything shut down. We still had lots of questions. If I remember right, we hadn’t had a confirmed case in Cincinnati yet. But we knew covid was a thing. And we knew it was probably going to be a big deal. 

The only guidance we’d gotten was that we were watching things closely. But there was definitely a foreboding sort of feeling. I think we all had the sense we wouldn’t be doing this much longer. 

I remember the practice was a jammer practice. We had them once a month. We’d get together and have one of our best jammers coach us on doing all sorts of cool spinny shit and fancy footwork. It was a lot of footwork that night. I don’t remember it being a physically tough practice. I remember just feeling like I got a solid workout, learned some new things, and had some fun. In retrospect I’m glad that was the last practice I went to. It was a fun one. 

That weekend we had a big international women’s day celebration at a bar in town. We got to have drinks and talk about roller derby. It was amazing. 

I had a little too much to drink that night and missed practice that Sunday. And that Sunday was, I think, the last practice our league had. It began with a series of “we’re cancelling this practice, we’re not sure about the next one.” Our games were cancelled one by one, and we entered pandemic life. 

There’s a non contact derby skating skills thing that happens every Monday. I have complicated feelings about the fact that it’s been happening for sometime now. But I have complicated feelings about a lot of things. I’m still working out how to interact with the general public again after seeing how many people just seemed to not give a single fuck about the pandemic this whole time. If I opted out, I’d never leave the house. Those call are gonna be hard to make over the next months. 

Anyways, this derby skills class thing isn’t affiliated with the league I play for. We have this whole set of guidelines we have to follow before we’re allowed to start practicing, and we’re just not there yet. 

But I want to be ready for when we are. And I know I’m protected. So I decided to start going to this Monday night skate. 

It’s not like I haven’t been on skates. But trail skating and outdoor rink skating is just….different.

It’s especially different when you’re just having fun with your friends, as opposed to having a coach directing you to sprint laps and do squats and shit. And friends…I was NOT ready. 

Turns out wooden floors and concrete feel a lot different to skate on. Who’d have thought. Weird. 

I ended up hitting the skating floor later than I wanted to. I forgot to grab my indoor wheels before I left the house. I was really hoping to get some good floor time before we started the hard shit. And that just didn’t happen.

These sessions always start with a 5 lap sprint. I have the phrase burned into my head. Whoever is running practice yells “5 laps around the outside.” And you know I’m a pretty sound focused person anyways. So hearing that familiar phrase in a familiar voice felt GOOD. And I took off. I dug my toe stops into the floor and sprinted out. 

I was hoping for a triumphant return. A quick 5 lap sprint. Feeling alive. Feeling the wind move past my face. Feeling my head get hot under my helmet, my quads burning, but the good kind of workout burn. The sound of my skate wheel bearings spinning. I LOVE that sound. 

And that was all there. 

But it was also immediately clear how out of shape I’ve become over the last year. We did our stretches and grabbed some water while some cones were laid down on the floor. I had a feeling I knew which drill was coming. 

I HATE what these are normally called, and I promise I’m only using this word for it because it’s generally recognized, but in middle school sports we always called them suicides. Like you’d sprint 5 yards then back, 10 yards then back, 15 yards then back, and so on. So it was that except on skates. I think the right name for them might be shuttle runs? I’m not sure. 

My body was PISSED. I used to rule at these. My quads were screaming, my lungs burned. I was gasping for air. I felt my feet slip and almost fell once or twice. 

This was not the triumphant return I was hoping for. I always say being on wheelie feet is my happy place. And it’s still true. But that particular moment didn’t quite feel it. 

I was already anxious because most of the people there were not people I knew. I don’t wanna be vulnerable and bad at this in front of new people. I’m fuckin Ursa Maimher. I made the charter 20 in my first season. I was the jammer blockers would be nervous about. I felt like a has been. 

Was all the whiskey and weed and ice cream worth it? All the laying on the couch instead of exercising? All the times I thought “gosh I should at least do a little moving around” and didn’t? Was that all worth it to feel like this? I was beating myself up HARD. 

This is honestly where I have to give it up to my therapist. She’s very good at calling me on the fact that I won’t give the grace to myself that I give other people. 

Of course the answer is yes. Whatever it was that I did. The long nights zoom partying with my friends with various substances and snacky things. The time I chose to rest. Yes. Absolutely those things are worth it. Because I’m still fucking here. I made it. 

I’m not sure id say I’m in an altogether good place, but I’m okay. I’m coping. I’m dealing. And so yes. Again and forever. It was worth it. 

My therapist reminded me that there’s no reason I can’t just do the whole getting good at skating thing all over again. This time around I have the advantage of knowing what it takes. I have a head start. I still have most of the skills, it’s just the strength and endurance I’ve lost. And I can get that back. 

My therapist once suggested I try to personify my anxiety. She said it’s a thing that helps some folks. They give a name to the piece of themselves that is their anxiety or depression or whatever they’re struggling with. And some folks find it helpful to name it like “my anxiety is named Kenneth, and Kenneth is a fucking dick and I argue with him all the time.” 

At the time I told her I honestly didn’t know if I would find that helpful or not. But I’d give it some thought and maybe try it out.

I thought about it and I realized in these moments I kinda am having a conversation right? Therapy has given me the tools to challenge these thoughts. The anxious stuff, the beating myself up. And I’m not sure if that’ll ever go away. But what I have developed is a rather loud voice that can challenge those thoughts and short circuit them. It can rob them of their power. I still feel bad and ask myself shitty questions like “well was it worth it?” With all the implied judgment that comes with. But what I have now is another piece of my that can confidently say “yes, actually the fuck it was.”

Im still not sure if I find it helpful to personify my anxiety. Because I definitely see my anxiety as a part of me. And it’s an extension of a thing that is normal and healthy, it’s just turned up too loud. So im not sure if I want to separate that part of me from the rest of me. It’s all still me. I dunno, that’s all a work in progress. 

And so at the end of practice, I was still able to smile. It was brutal. My muscles were on fire. My lungs burned. I knew tomorrow the soreness would be even worse. But I was still able to smile. I held out. I didn’t quit. I pushed myself through to the end and came out on the other side okay. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. 

We’re all going to have some hard stuff to work out as the world around us opens back up. We’re going to have some really valid anger and trauma to work through. Lots of us have already been re-evaluating our relationships with people. And that shit is real and intense. But if you’re listening to this, it means you survived. Whatever it is you did to try to get through, it worked. You’re here, and I’m so very glad you are. 

Thank you my friend for listening, ig you want to help support the show, please consider heading over to patron ,com / queersplaining and making a per episode donation to support the show. Another great way to support is to share the show with your friends, share it out on social media, text a friend, buy a billboard, whatever works, it all helps and its all appreciated

Before I go I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared, if you feel like no one cares and no one understands, you need to know there’s a community out here that loves you, cares for you, knows that you’re capable of amazing things and that you are worthy of love. If you’re struggling please don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friend, my name is Callie wright and this is queerplsinianh 

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