[Warning: slightly depressing novel of a post.]
You know those times when there's a truth that you're fully aware of, and acknowledge publicly... and then someone else acknowledges it publicly and it's like they punched you in the stomach?
I'm aware I'm not that great at Quidditch. Really. I'm aware. It's not a big deal.
But you don't have to shove it in my face. Really. You don't.
I know I shouldn't let other people's opinions/thoughts/feelings/words/actions get in the way of me enjoying my life. But, unfortunately for me, I tend to get offended a little more easily than I'd like. I take things personally. Little things, even offhand comments, get under my skin and eat away at me for days.
It. Drives. Me. In. Sane. (Yes, I know that's only one word.)
I have the potential to be an awesome Quidditch player. I have the bone structure to be hella fast. I have a super accurate arm, and I can throw DAMN hard when I'm "on."
But you know what?
It's so bad. It drives me crazy. It drove my coaches crazy, in high school and in what I call 'pre-college.'
I know that fulfilling my potential is going to be hard. And, unfortunately for me, I don't like doing hard things. I don't like working out. I hate working out. Gross.
You wanna know how much Chris works out?
Now, granted, I do have a couple of things that he doesn't. I'm faster than he is. (No, really, I am. Even in Toms.) I could probably juke the kid straight out of his shoes if I tried.
BUT FOR SOME REASON,
there's this mental block.
I can't take a hit.
If my ankle starts to roll, I immediately scale it back.
I can never seem to give it 100%.
Now this... this is not because I'm lazy.
Many times Chris and I have talked about how my inability to 'play with reckless abandon' boils down to injury. He has never suffered a major injury. He ended his collegiate athletic career by choice. Mine was ended for me, when my hamstring nearly snapped in half.
You didn't know that, did you?
July 17, 2008. Probably the worst day of my entire life.
It was the last day of BYU track camp. I had been working pretty closely all week with 'Coach Z' and the head coach, Mark Robison, on my possible future high jumping for BYU T&F. We were having a mock meet that day, and it was my goal to jump 5'2". If I could get this, then over the next 10 months I'd work with my own track coach and the coaches at BYU to try and get second at the State meet in May, (there was this girl named Lauren who set the state record for high jumping... at the Region meet my junior year - her freshman year - she jumped 5'10". To think I could beat her was laughable. I mean, one of the main points of a goal is that is be reasonable, right?) and then I'd get "officially" offered a spot on the team.
I'd been jumping like a champ all week, especially considering how I hadn't worked out a lick since State. I was so stoked to show my stuff.
I opted to start at 4'6". It was the highest I'd ever started at, but I was feeling pretty confident.
My first attempt... something went wrong. My leg did not work the way it was supposed to, and I didn't even clear the bar. I lay on the mat for a second, pissed. I had NEVER not cleared my starting height on the first attempt. Then I realized that my leg sort of... twinged... kind of painfully. My heart sank into my stomach. 'Crap,' I thought. 'I know that feeling.' But I hopped off the mat and walked as normally as I could back to where the other jumpers were.
My second attempt was even worse, and as I lay on the mat that time, I knew something was definitely wrong with my leg. This time I got off the mat more quickly, because I was super pissed now. Mostly, I think, because I could almost feel my dreams slipping through my fingers, and there was nothing I could do.
Coach Z came up to me. She saw me grimace as I got off the mat and walked back to the other jumpers, this time with a noticeable limp. "Are you okay?" she asked. She had this fantastic Brazilian accent, and it was tinged with genuine concern. "I don't know what's wrong. I'm better than this," I said, fighting to keep my temper in check. 'Stay classy,' I kept thinking to myself. "Do you want to go to the trainer?" "No, I'm okay, let me take my last attempt, I should be fine."
I wasn't. My third attempt was the ugliest. I wish I could say that you could hear an audible snap from my poor hamstring as it gave way (mostly), but you couldn't. You could just hear my body crashing through the bar and my whimper of pain as I lay on the mat, unwilling to move both out of pain and shame. I rolled to the side, sat up, and slid to the ground to discover that my left leg refused to hold my weight. I closed my eyes as they welled up with tears, partly out of pain but mostly out of disappointment. My college track career was over before it had even started.
I literally hopped to the trainer's cart and said quietly, "Um, something's wrong with my leg." The trainer asked questions and with gentle hands examined my leg. "Well," she finally said, "it looks like you've torn or at the very least badly pulled your hamstring." I closed my eyes as fresh tears came. 'Be strong, Jen. Be classy,' I willed myself. "I can wrap it for you to keep it mostly immobile, but you'll need to go see a specialist as soon as you can so they can do some more diagnostics." I nodded, eyes still closed, biting my lip, and she quickly wrapped my leg. When she finished she said, "sit here for a minute, I need to go grab you some paperwork." I did as asked without a word, and sat, sipping on some water, and trying (at that point, mostly successfully) to stem the flow of tears. Then I heard that voice I knew so well. "Well, what is wrong with you?" Coach Z asked. My face contorted into an ugly frown as I tried not to cry again. "My hamstring," I choked, "is torn." Coach Z's face was unchanged. "Well that's okay, you will get better, and you will come jump for me!" "But it's my jumping leg..." "So? It will heal!" I looked up at her, admiring her for her optimism, but I could see in her eyes that she knew what I knew - it was over.
Then Coach Robison came over. He put his hand on my shoulder, which he had done a lot. I adored Coach Robison. My eyes welled up again. "So, what's up?" he asked. "It's over," I said, trying not to blubber like an idiot. "My hamstring is torn." He frowned. "Ah, Jen, I'm so sorry. It's not over though. You can recover, and we'll still be happy to have you. If it takes longer to rehab, you're welcome to walk on. "
'You're welcome to walk on.' I knew he said those words to comfort me, but to me it just felt like death.
And, in a way, it was. State track the following year was a joke. After ten months of rehab, several months of the hardest work I've ever done, and the worst track season I've ever encountered, I didn't even qualify for the meet. I came as close as I possibly could have. I took fifth at Region, the top four automatically went to State. I jumped 4'10", the qualifying height was 5'. My team was thrilled that my fifth-place finish bumped our team to second place at Region; to me, it just felt like my life was mocking me.
Since then, I have to say I pretty much just quit. What was the point in working my butt off for my dreams if my hamstring was just going to tear at a crucial moment? They say 'no pain, no gain,' but I had plenty of pain, and jack squat to show for it.
So now, there's Quidditch. I love it, almost more than I loved track. It's exhilarating, fun, exciting, and probably one of the best things to happen in my life.
But I can't "leave it all on the pitch." I can't sink into that low position and run into that 200 pound guy running towards me with the Quaffle. What if I break a collarbone? What if I twist an ankle? What if I get knocked out when I get slammed to the ground? I am so utterly terrified of a repeat of what I called "The Great Hamstring Disaster" that I can't bring myself to be reckless.
I often think that if I were at my physical 'peak,' I would be a lot less afraid of getting hurt. I'm not alone in thinking this. But I don't know if I can get there.
Sometimes, I wish I could just take my brain, and shut it off. Well, the thinking part. The doing part, the reacting part, the 'catch the Quaffle when it's three inches from your face without even looking at it' part... those parts can stay.
For now, I just have to keep on keepin' on... and pretend like I don't care that I'm not the best girl chaser in the West.