People take a leave of absence (LOA) from derby for many reasons. Injury, work, family, mental health. My LOA came about unexpected but needed.
I have been playing roller derby for two years. I started six months after having my beautiful little girl. Deep in the new world of parenthood, I began this derby journey lost and searching for myself, searching for a new me after becoming a mom. I was looking for a way to redefine myself, and I wanted to become a better person so I could be a better mom.
Derby did just that. I learned every week. I learned new skills every week. I met new people. I made new friends. I found a group of people who opened my eyes to confidence, strength, courage, and compassion, all while learning how to skate and bumping each other around on a concrete track. We faced fears, we jumped cones, and we skated an entire practice backwards (which solidified one of the best derby friendships I have right now).
I was learning to be comfortable with myself. I began to love this body that could do amazing things. I took chances. I was loving the life. I remember passing my skills test in February 2015. I remember that feeling I had when I found out I had made the Vigilante team. I remember my first bout. I remember my first MVP Blocker award. All those memories bring me euphoria.
But not long after all those wonderful things, I started losing sight of the real purpose of derby. I can remember that happened around October of 2016, shortly after Mitten Kitten and shortly after I sprained my ankle in November. I began to get terribly hard on myself (more than just the usual). At the beginning of this season, I thought I was in a good mental space but I came to find out that I wasn’t, and I just wasn’t admitting it. I was placing all kinds of unwanted and unneeded pressures on myself.
Early in the season, my wonderful captains set aside some time before one practice to bring up concerns that they had and what other teammates had expressed through observations. On the outside, I blew this off like no big thing, but inside I was falling apart and wasn’t ready to accept it or more importantly admit it.
I continued through the next few weeks, when my husband and I were fortunate enough to take an unexpected trip to the Czech Republic and Germany! It was great, but it also took me away from derby, missing practice and missing the first few bouts of the season. Long story short, I needed to step down from my team roster. I know it needed to happen and that I was following the guidelines. It was the right thing for me to do, but I really didn't handle it well.
My attendance at practice from late April to June was on and off, when I finally admitted to myself that I needed to take some time off and focus on me. Focus on my family, and focus on my issues around self-doubt, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Most of all, I wanted to deal with anxiety issues that were limiting me more than I really knew. I was fearful to take LOA because I wasn't sure if I would return.
Admitting this was so incredibly hard. It was a punch in the gut. It made me feel powerless and useless, but I know without this league, I would have never pushed myself to take this step of taking care of myself and seeking professional help. Without that initial conversation with my captains, I might never have taken those first steps to work on me. So to you both, thank you for being wonderful and supportive captains.
A2D2 is so strong and open and supportive of each other. Of physical health. Of mental health. I'm not sure I've shared how much, how important, and how essential this league has been in me reaching out and admitting I needed help and really identifying what anxiety looked like and how to deal. I'm an observer, and I've seen so many leaguemates grow their strength and confidence in the few short years I've been involved.
I cannot thank this league enough. Making my return this month hasn't been easy, because life happens and mentally I'm still working on things. I'm still figuring out how to be OK with me, and how to deal with the anxiety that controls me on a daily basis. But like always, my leaguemates are supportive. They offer hugs when I need it... and the occasional encouraging hip check on the track.
In my short time playing derby, I've found myself, lost myself, and am learning to redefine myself as I embark on a journey to a better me.
Kaboom is a 30-something year old Bank skater for A2D2, mom of a 3-year-old, wife, crossfitter, and physical therapist. She loves all things duct tape, Harry Potter, Disney, and the occasional Aqua song.