Breaking Up (With Your Roller Derby League) is Hard to Do.


Let’s get this started properly, then.

So this is my theory: That you can love a thing or an idea or an ideal SO MUCH that it’s just like loving a person. You and that thing, that idea, that ideal–what you have is a relationship. And that can be wonderful, sure. Or it could be not so wonderful. Like so many relationships that seemed so promising at first blush, like so many boyfriends or girlfriends who seemed so exciting and wonderful and perfect in the idyllic beginning, that thing/idea/ideal that you love can ultimately prove to be Not What You Thought, and that relationship can slowly grow toxic and twisted. But here’s the difference. When you break up with that shitty boyfriend or girlfriend, when you end that overwhelmingly unhealthy relationship, sure, it’s painful. But you can turn to your friends. You can vent on your Facebook, if you’re of that mindset (I’m generally not, but more on that later). You can talk it out, hug it out, you can tear up old photos, you can declare it’s Margarita Monday or Ice Cream Anyday in honor of the occasion. You can vent. You can cry. You can let people see it. You can mourn. And you probably have close friends who were praying for the day when you’d break free from your Not A Healthy Relationship bonds, and are waiting in the wings to help you with the breakup aftermath. Not so when you break up with your roller derby league.

When you break up with your roller derby league, it’s lonely as hell. People who have never played derby or been part of a league don’t get it, so you don’t talk to them. You can’t really talk to your former leaguemates without them feeling like anything you say about the league is also an indictment of them, personally (or at least, that’s the fear… and let’s face it, a lot of them ARE part of the problem with your broken-up-with league, or at least they aren’t part of the solution). You are so very alone. At least, I feel so very alone. And it’s no good. So thank god for the internet, I suppose. Here, I don’t have to worry about the board of my (former) league having a meeting in their secret Facebook group about how anything I say is going to hurt the league’s reputation and blah blah blah. Here, I can voice my complaints and not worry about being branded a crybaby or out of touch. Here, I can be outraged about how thoroughly I have been let down, about how something that is SUPPOSED to be about sportsmanship and inclusivity… isn’t. Wasn’t. At least, not in my (old) league. And how I was thoroughly unprepared for that.

I want to make a few things perfectly clear before we go any further. Roller derby changed my life. It was more than a sport to me. I still love it. I really miss it. I am in no way dinging the people who still get to play, or those who are out there in happy, non-dysfunctional, non-exclusionary, non-sexist, as-drama-free-as-they-can-get leagues. I’m just a girl who is here to tell stories, and hopefully get over the worst break up she has dealt with in her thirtysome years. That break up just happens to be with a roller derby league instead of a person.

After five years, I have a lot of stories. Some good. Some bad. Most of them involving really ridiculous nicknames so I can get around accidentally identifying anyone In Real Life. And my big hope is that if I get all of these stories out, if I blurt everything that is in me to blurt (except, of course, for the Story That I Must Not Ever Tell [Ever{No, Really}]), maybe I can get over this break up. And even if I can’t, at least I won’t have everything bottled up anymore. And maybe that will be enough.


And if it isn’t, I have other options…