A post about context and culture that ends in roller derby.
I’m very VERY scatter brained, and that’s not the only thing that I have that could easily be seen as a flaw or an inconvenience, you could call it/blame it on being ADHD, the way I was raised, a family attribute, all of the above, something else, but the fact remains that i’s a deep part of my way of thinking. I’m clumsy, extremely forgetful, what’s common sense for a lot of people completely goes over my head, I lose/break extremely important things all the time…I’ve spent my life being like that, and trying to work with and around it, trying to establish routine and habits (two things that do NOT come naturally to me) to not be a nuisance or a danger to myself or others. I also sometimes, just like “normal” people, have really bad luck. Once I burned my kitchen down and it was something that could have happened to anyone. (Of course because it’s me, people like to pretend I’m just bad luck and continue to project on to me that I will “never” change. Thanks for that.)
I also have a tendency to guilt-trip and self-shame (I have really high expectations for myself y’all) which is not a good combination.
However I also have a masters inSpiritual Psychology which means I’m a black belt in Emotions and self discovery, in explaining and owning things. And my own interest in understanding myself and others made it so that I learned to surround myself with people that were constructively positive. People that curved behavior and would help me be better and accept how I was. “ok now that this has happened, what can you do it about it?”
I became flexible and adaptable, which were great qualities to have, and surrounded myself with people that knew how to handle the curve balls life threw at them, and didn’t find my way of being a huge inconvenience. Either because they too were the same, or just because, you know –that’s life: Unexpected. I was able to be gentle with myself, because people around me were gentle with me. I came to a point of self-love that I had never known before, and felt free.
And then I came to France.
Now, I will never tell you that you should take a tiny portion of the population anywhere and then assume that it’s how an entire land is because that’s ignorant and close minded. And even within a giant population of the same, I have found beautiful exceptions of the stereotype.
But as a general stereotype, that gentleness and adaptability and flexibility that I had found before, is pretty hard to find here. It’s taken constantly being vulnerable to show people that they can be vulnerable with me, then landing flat on my face when people walked away from that. It’s taken picking up the pieces and then doing it again…and again..and again. It’s taken relearning to not feel rejected. Being independent in a whole new way while still investing in friendship because, no, I will not close myself off from people and call it “healthy indepence” (it isn’t, and I will fight you on this.) It’s taken being treated and talked to like I’m not intelligent, like I’m not aware, like I don’t have amazing experience and knowlede worth listening to. And remembering that whether others see it or not? I do, I am.
I’ve had to go grazing in the fields of thistles to find the wildflowers. I have a friend or two that I can call when I am being knocked down by what I consider to be a natural hardness..Even harshness sometimes, in the way people respond. Having to relearn to accept myself when I know that I don’t, and never will, comply to the expectations that my family and some good friends have of me.
And you know what? I’m having a really really hard time doing it. These past few months have felt like one blow after the other. But I said that I rather have a hard time in France than anywhere else, and I meant it.
So I joined roller derby. And there are no soft landings in roller derby. There is no crying in roller derby.
It’s a girl sport, a TOUGH girl sport. And God are those girls tough. But they’re still GIRLS. They’re still warrior goddesses, it’s still femininty, and thus the best way to learn how to BE tough, despite being emotional. A great place to get kicked in the ass metaphorically and physically, yet extend your hand out and know that the same person to just knock you down, wasn’t actually trying to hurt you, and will help you up. A new perspective! It’s curving my strengths and discovering toughness within me. And I would’ve never told you that I was a tough girl before. I wear my heart on my sleeve and try as I may I can’t seem to hide how I feel unless I just hide completely. I get sad a lot, which I don’t like because I’m a happy person.
I gave myself a physical challenge to help me accept the emotional blows of living here. I might be a total cry-baby, but on that track, I’m going to learn to skate it out, and take the physical blows. Physical pain is nothing, compared to emotional pain. It’s a joke. So, while hard, and painful…I’m grateful for the culture here. it’s pushed me to find a new way to adapt, one that I love, one that I look forward to. A challenge that I KNOW I can handle because it depends completely on me and that I believe in myself.
Vulnerability is a strength. Hear me roar. In any goddamn language.