Saturday, October 25, 2008

Forgotten Dreams

I spent pretty much the whole day up until 2:00 without power. I was kind of frustrated not having power, especially for so long. Not having power did give me the opportunity to try and unpack some more though, so I spent about 2 hours in our spare room (also known as the room that has most of the boxes that still need to be unpacked in it...and it has TONS of boxes...) and actually went through a lot of stuff. I found some things to sell at the yard sale, some things to throw away, and things that now have a place in our home. I also found many memories.

One of the reasons that I have a hard time getting things unpacked or ever throwing things away because most of the time I start going through things, I find stuff from a long time ago and start reminiscing. Today, I found a box FULL of my old skating items. Competition results, letters from the USFSA, competition programs, news articles, etc. Some of the things I had no idea that my parents had copies of...and I'm assuming this box came from my parents house when my mom sold it after my dad passed away.

As I got to going through this box...I was overtaken with a feeling of nostalgia. For 11 years, I dreamt of going to the Olympics, and I spent 8 of those years training hard, several hours a day, to make this dream come true. A few of those years, I was a singles skater. But the last few, I was a pairs skater (which was what I had always hoped to do). My partner and I worked hard...and we had potential.

A lot of the times when I tell people I was a figure skater (I don't really tell them is a part of my life that I defined me for so long, that I wanted to be known as something else, rather then "the figure skater girl"), the first question I get asked is "Were you good?" I've always hated that question. You say yes, and people think you are stuck up. You say no, and well, you might not be telling the truth. I started answering it with, we had potential.

My partner and I metaled twice at the National level...winning the Junior National Pairs title was our highest achievement. We competed Germany, Canada and Russia. We were considered the up-and-comers. We firmly believed that we would go to the Olympics in 2002. And for 5 years, everything we worked toward was with this goal and dream in mind.

Figuring Skating is a tough sport though. Especially when you are a pairs skater. I ended up with several injuries...herniated discs, a severely twisted ankle the week before Nationals one year after my partner dropped me, whiplash in my neck after I went head first into the boards...the list goes on. I was lucky that he never dropped me on my head or face as happens with some pair girls. My back was the worst injury, and the one that never healed (I still have back pain today). Sometimes the pain would go down my leg. But, I digress. The point it, that even through pain, you continued to work hard and focus on your dream and your goal.

As a pair girl it is also expected that you stay thin and work several hours off the ice to stay thin. I didn't have a problem with staying thin until my grandfather passed away. I gained a few pounds and everything spiraled from there. My eating disorder ended up being the end of my skating career, and the end of my dream.

I grieved the loss of the Olympic dream for a long time. When you focus on something for so long, and it is suddenly no longer a part of your aren't sure how to let go. I watched as the people we competed against...and had beaten, went to the Olympics instead of us. I was jealous and sad. It was supposed to be me.

For some time, I tricked myself into believing that my dream wasn't really dead, and I would start skating again and eventually go to the Olympics. When I finally realized that skating was probably not an option, I thought maybe I'd go in something else... The Olympics will always hold special meaning to me. I still long to go. When it is an Olympic year, I love to watch the coverage...the opening ceremonies, everything. Although it typically makes me sad as well. But in the past few years, I've pushed that dream away and realized that my life is different now...and my dreams have changed... Sometimes though, it is sad to remember the ones that you have given up...or have been forced to give up because of circumstances...


Blue said...

My favorite sports to watch (actually the only sports I genuinely love watching) are figure skating and gymnastics. I was never good at either, though I wished I was and tried hard to take advantage of any opportunities to participate in either sport. I never had lessons or training, so my skills were enough to get by and bring personal satisfaction, but nothing to look at by anyone's standards.

But YOU! I think it's so commendable that you were able to do something for so long, and do so well at it! In all the world, you're probably in the top 1% of skaters! Of the billions on the planet, such a minuscule fraction of humanity has ever been able to do what you've learned and done on ice. That's mind blowing!

I've never had ANYTHING in my life that I really excelled at. But I have had dreams and hopes that seemed within reach, that I thought were on track to be realities in my life, which were snatched away from me and there's been nothing I can do about it but make the best of things. Those are heart-rending times. It takes ages to make peace with situations like that; to re-group and find your new soul purpose(s). I'm still in that process right now.

I love your writing. I love your stories. I love your way of being with your world. Thanks for the peek into your life. It's a beautiful view.

(who's still on a break)

Anonymous said...

Wow, very talented! Yes...I know what you mean about sports where you are pressured to stay thin. I was a gymnast growing up, not to the calliber of you as a skater-but still that pressure to be thin is there. I have an inner debate w/ myself sometimes for when I have kids of whether or not I'll let them do sports such as gymnastics where the chance of an eating disorder is so prevelant....

Anonymous said...

I'm w/ Blue and her last paragraph!

Aleta said...

I felt the love of the sport with your words and the pictures is beautiful. I'm so sorry that you had to depart from the dream, but think of all you accomplished. It's worth the memory and worth the experience. I admire what you've done as it's something I never could do, nor most women. As you said, it IS a difficult sport. I love watching figure skating and find that I hold my breath to see how they do, as if I'm right there on the ice.

Imperfect said...

Oh goodness, Wolf. I can totally relate to the what-do-I-say-when-
they-ask-that-question issue...and the pressure to stay thin. I trained in classical ballet at a professional ballet school for almost ten years. Both my teachers and I thought I had potential...dreaming of companies in New York wasn't too far fetched. But years of pressure--as a 15 year old!!--and crazy hours in the studio caused the dream to lose its luster and I burned out. Four years after leaving it all behind, I still really miss it...especially after attending a performance. But I do think it was the best decision for me.

Knowing the decision was the right one doesn't lessen the hurt any, though, does it? Thanks for sharing a peek into your past. Your passion for the sport is so evident!!!

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