About two years ago, I lost my voice. Not literally of course, just figuratively. All of the words inside of my head shriveled up and slowly died like a forgotten about garden behind an abandoned home. What was once blooming with life was suddenly gone. It had been left behind, the beauty all but choked out by the overgrowth of weeds that descended upon it. All of the joy that had once burst forth from my heart when I sat down to write crashed at my feet in a thousand pieces. I stared at a blank page and recoiled. I felt taunted by the nothingness where I once would have seen nothing but possibilities.
It’d be easy, or maybe not so easy, to attempt to figure out just when I had lost my voice. Although, I don’t know that it does me any good at this point. It doesn’t matter when or why my voice slipped away from me, only that it had. And I went with it. Whether I liked it or not, I went with it. I slipped away too.
I thought I could be ok there. In that strange in between that didn’t feel like home. In that place where nothing made sense and the things I once loved seemed so far away. In that place, all the people I loved felt so out of reach. And for what? And why exactly? Who said I wasn’t worth it anymore? Who told me I didn’t have anything important to say? That I wasn’t a good enough person? Or that I should cower and hide from the world? Who said I couldn’t do the same things I used to because now things were different? Who? The enemy.
My enemy? It lives inside of me. There are two parts of me, the light and the dark. And over the last two years, the dark, the enemy, nearly stomped out all of my light. It buried me so deep under ground I thought I’d never see the light again. The enemy lives in my head, in my heart, and in my soul sometimes. It starts as a quiet whisper in my ear but grows and grows, until it is an all consuming scream that I can not block out. The enemy wants me to believe I have failed. That I am not loved or even liked. That I don’t deserve to be happy. That I am unworthy and unimportant. That what I write is junk. That I have trashed the beginnings of my writing career already. That I have nothing to offer anyone. Oh the enemy tried to get me to believe so many things; and I did. I foolishly believed so many dark and damaging things about myself. And I lost my way. I truly lost my way. These slash marks on my wrists bare witness to just how far gone I was. All the ink in the world can not cover up the truth. I disappeared and went nearly silent.
Last year, still in a debilitating downslide, I saw a Facebook post about roller derby tryouts. It seemed like a ridiculous idea. I went rollerskating once in the fourth grade and I wasn’t any good at it. But my days and nights were long and lonely then and I needed something good to focus on. I needed something for myself. Anything. And I couldn’t bring myself to write or run because it was too much like the old me and I was this new dark me now. So I needed something new. I decided it had to be roller derby. I was terrified walking into that roller rink for the first time but something inside of me knew I needed to try. I needed to throw myself into it. And try I did. It was hard and it hurt, but I loved it. Pushing and fighting my way through a crowd of women that wanted to stop me, made me remember how hard I used to push in real life. Dropping low and preparing my body to get hit hard, over and over, by a woman that wants through made me remember I have always been able to take a hit and keep going. I came back in glimpses, the darkness fading just a little bit at a time. Roller derby made me feel strong and brave and I had forgotten that feeling. I had relinquished my power in this life and gave up in a lot of ways. In a sense, roller derby was me learning to try again. I had to give even more when I felt I had nothing to give. I had to (literally) pick myself back up off the floor no matter how hard that hit was. I had to find that drive, that will, that strength to dig deep. The power was cumulative. It snuck into other parts of my life. I started to get back up, in a hundred different ways. I started to run a little bit at a time again. I started to write in an old notebook, just for myself. This quiet and methodical rising happened when I wasn’t even looking. Because I knew I wasn’t ready then, but today I am ready now.
It is time to get back up. It is time to write again. It is time to live again. I will not hide any longer. It was a long, hard fall, and it took me much longer than I would have liked to stand back up, but here I am. Eight wheels brought me back home. Eight wheels brought me back to myself. And it is good to be home again.
Today, June 21st, is National Skate Day. I will be celebrating on those eight wheels that have taken me places I never knew I was brave enough to go. #Yayskateday