Just 10 months ago, I was a disgruntled wife and mother from Normal, IL, just moved to Baton Rouge, LA with a lot of anger and no self esteem. The past 24 months of sacrificing myself for the good of the family made me boil with rage, but left me with shame when I realized that my family is not enough. Can never be enough-I need myself, too. I never thought I could crawl out of that dark dank endless feeling of nothing. Consumed with domesticity and alienated from other women because of my low self-esteem, I had no friends. I was alone with my husband, who loves me, but does not seem to always know me-especially when I sometimes don’t know myself. For awhile, I would actively try out different lives-I would try different hobbies, jobs, hairstyles-you name it, I tried it all and hoped I would feel that spark of recognition.
It was just 5 months ago that I timidly found my way to a Tuesday night derby practice and I was stunned to see a glimmer of myself that was true. It was like I recognized these 40 other women with the same or similar misfit histories. These women are somehow completely different than me, but the same. We are alike in our quest for authentic individuality. I first laced up my skates for practice 5 months ago, and it has been a worthwhile uphill battle every since.
J, my husband, doesn’t yet know what to think about derby. He is cautiously resentful of it since it keeps me away from him and Immy, my 2 year old daughter. In theory, derby sounds like a good idea to him since it is a sport and it keeps me active, but because I am so consumed by it, he is weary. I imagine it is because he is unsure how and why a woman would want to be passionate about anything outside the domestic sphere. For example, he fully supports my love of cooking and declares it a “good“ hobby, but my love of fishnets and spanky pants is a little suspect to him. However, even he can’t deny that roller derby satisfies both of our goals: I get to hit some bitches and be myself and he reaps the benefits of after-practice endorphines in the form of delicious, athletic sex. However, it’s an ongoing process to convince him that I am a better person now that I have found something where I get to be someone else for a couple of hours a week. Or maybe not someone else, maybe someone or something more essentially me….and that is the biggest challenge, the most exhausting thing of all.
Of course It’s impossible to argue this with him because there are no words for the wonderfulness that is roller derby. Literally, there may be no words to describe the unique and outright physical bonds that result from roller derby-they are so starkly different than anything I have ever experienced. My response to my husband’s inability to understand the epic-ness of roller derby? Draft him to be a ref. Then maybe he will see.