I have to preface this in ways I don’t want to, because it’s relevant but also not relevant. I was sexually abused at a young age, for a long time. We are not going to have this “zomg you are so brave” or any other conversation like that right now. That part isn’t actually relevant. It was a lot of time and therapy ago and I’m pretty much good to go, see what I’m saying?
But it is still relevant to the issue I’m addressing here.
I came to fire because I was looking for a place where I could express and hone my power around people who were also powerful. I came to firefighting because I needed a heroic context in which I could express my own heroism and also in being surrounded by heroes, be safe.
It didn’t work out.
Fire didn’t fail, I did. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t believe in myself in ways I needed to, and I didn’t actually understand what “strength” and “hero” looked like.
I went to the wrong people for the wrong things, and worshiped false idols. I’m still grateful to the men and women who brought me in, tried their best, and followed my command anyway.
Hockey was the real proving ground. I started at absolute rock bottom, where I was fat, depressed and didn’t know how to skate. When I got to the place of real prowess and strength, I’d walked the actual path and knew my success, knew my ability, knew my failure intimately. I’d learned my lessons of self-isolation from fire, and stopped pushing people away. So the people around me helped me, coached me, pushed me.
I remember being on the ice, guys skating around me politely when I sat there asking myself if I even had the strength and balance to make it back up onto my skates.
I remember later, a guy spending an entire pickup hour harrying me. Harrying me, jostling me, elbowing me, and finally rapping me so hard I lost my skates and hit the boards. Yeah, a check. I fumbled at first and was startled and then I started pushing back and then I really started answering him.
I remember him at the faceoff, to his center: “you take the puck in. I’m going to lay out their winger.”
It was one of the hottest things anyone’s ever said to me. Ever.
By the end of that hour, I knew I could take a hit. I knew I could take a hit or an elbow or a full on check and keep in it, not be rattled. I knew because he’d given me the opportunity to test myself that I’d take any hit a guy could give me out there and just get harder, more determined, stronger.
These are lessons.
That guy watched me like a hawk out there, mostly kept his comments to himself but I felt his gaze and knew he was invested in my progress.
There have been people like that along the way, who have pushed me without relent or remorse, or who have encouraged me or both.
They have earned the right to knock me sprawling, and I’ll thank them for the attention.
This is about respect.
I am an imperfect creature. I usually have to wind up to something by doing a lot of pissing, moaning, and crying. My toughness is sometimes uneven. Swearing is an essential part of my process.
I am so fucking grateful for the people who put up with my shit and see me for all of who I am. Good and bad.
When I’m comfortable around people I open up, I flirt, I say outrageous things. I close distance. Because you’ve made it safe to. Because you see all of who I am and accept the entire complicated mess.
Because you get the larger picture.
Context is everything.
I can do 240, 310 pushups in a day because someone put a challenge in front of me and then told me I could do it. I follow through because there’s people there with me every step of the way, success and failure.
I am not alone, but more so I am known and in that place, I can ultimately do anything.
If anyone made comments like I get from friends on Fitocracy cold in the real world, I’d punch them. Flat out. Male or female.
You have earned the right to be that close to me.
That’s what I’m saying.
Not everyone gets to be there.