One year ago I was playing with our league's travel team, chairing a board position, coaching fresh meat and a part time ref. Since then I have:
a) Gotten injured. Busted my tailbone when I fell on my skate during a warm up for a game. It is as painful as it sounds. For the record, I still played the game. I think I might have been in shock. But we won, yay!
b) Did no contact practices for a bit and focused on learning the reffing better. Spent non-derby time trying to figure out how to sit in chairs without actually having my ass make contact with the seat.
c) Returned to active duty. Then got sort of overwhelmed and angry. With everything and everybody. And my ass still hurt.
d) Decided I needed a derby break. That lasted about two nanoseconds. But I did manage to not run in the next board election. Actually, that's not true. I did run, became VP and then had a panic attack at three am that night worrying about having to do it all if the president quit. It's not an irrational fear. Our presidents should go on the endangered species list. I resigned at four am.
e) Resigned from the travel team as well. Played a couple games with our B team. Love those ladies.
f) Decided I needed a derby break again. Found fresh meat another coach and resigned from the B team. That lasted about two nanoseconds.
g) Became a full time ref. Filled my head with all sorts of finicky bits of rules and protocol until I couldn't be near the track without nearly having a nervous break down from the continuous infractions committed by players who seem blithely unaware that they are breaking the god damn rules all. the. fucking. time.
h) Realized that reffing was turning me into an anal retentive middle manager and that is exactly not why I'm in derby so decided to take a break.
i) Which lasted two nanoseconds.
j) While retaining the reffing break, I was somehow convinced to start coaching fresh meat again and play a game with the B team. I heart fresh meat and missed their innocent, unjaded optimism.
k) I learned that 'unjaded' isn't a real word.
So, here I am, transitioning from ref to player again. I feel a little like what it must be like for a cop who was framed and sent to jail. Except for all the ass raping. I hope. I mean, my ass did hurt but for an entirely different reason. Sorry to put that all into your head.
The point is, as a ref, when I said you done did wrong, they had to pay a price. As a player, when I point out the broken rule, they just say, 'Suck it, bitch!' and do it again.
Not. Fair. I get distracted by my rage at the injustice of it all and fail to protect myself. Never mind actually play the damn game in any sort of half-ways effective manner.
As a ref, I learned to deal with an infraction by yelling at it and sending it off the track. Given that this is my normal sort of reaction in everyday life, I feel quite comfortable doing this. I'm what you might call a natural hall monitor.
Remembering to react physically by, oh I don't know, hitting somebody back, is more challenging. Especially this is the second bloody time I've had to do and it's not any more intuitive now than it was three years ago when I was fresh meat.
Thus, the work now is to go through my head and root out all those parts that feel hard done by and indignant and pissy about what is happening around me at the moment. In other words, I need to learn to let go.
People say that when you play a sport it never gets easier no matter how good you get because you are always moving up to the next level and making and meeting new challenges. I think in roller derby, particularly for women without sports backgrounds, we not only have new challenges but we end up having to redo our old ones again with a different mind. Because our brains are filled with all sorts of imprinted self-regulating social garbage and the lesson isn't truly learned until we can develop new instincts that don't involve us invoking feelings of victim hood.
I have no protocols on how to do this. I just need to stop itemizing every little low block and directional before I lose my mind. All I can figure out is to keep going to practices and work on shutting my face and moving my feet instead whenever I see a penalty happening. And to give myself a thousand burpees whenever I make the WTF arms at a ref. Honestly, I've wanted to do that to players for awhile now anyway.
I am trying to approach it all again with a beginner's mind - clearing away all that I think I know so that I can react to what is happening at the moment, without judgement, and just play some derby.