10.14 Setback

In my youth, I was a competitive figure skater. As an athlete, my training took on many forms. Sometimes I was ahead of the game, sometimes I was far behind. If I were to be honest, most of the time, I was just trying to keep up.

I got the odd injury, shoulders or back or in one case a broken nose, but I remained relatively healthy. The setbacks I experienced as a skater were more of my own doing. I could really be terrible to myself. My competitors really didn’t have to do much, I should have gotten a gold medal or two for defeating myself.

There was one time though were the entire season lined up. It was one of the first times that I felt ahead of the game. My training was getting better everyday and I was completely in synch with my coach. At the competition, I had a steely gaze - I was not fucking around. I landed every jump and nailed both performances, making my goal of qualifying to the next level.

However, pretty much every time before and after this particular competition, I just couldn’t get my shit together. The setbacks were made up of roadblocks that I paved in front of myself. I just couldn’t get out of my own way.

A few years ago, I was in a terrible car accident. I have no idea how I survived, let alone come away relatively unscathed. Sometimes I think I died in that car and am a ghost haunting my former life. The problem wasn’t so much the physical injuries from the accident. In a way, after experiencing something so traumatic, there was the expectation that a lot of time was needed to recover. And I did need that time.

My body healed, but it was my mind that took a while to heal. I like to push myself, and have trouble resting. Especially when I started to feel better - I’d think I was capable of doing more, and I’d push myself, only to set things back a few weeks.

It’s this psychological part that I have trouble with accepting. I thought the last couple of months were better. I felt myself getting better after feeling broken, used up, disrespected, and generally made a fool.

I took a break from life for most of January, but I pushed myself. I told a story that was important to me to share at the January Stories We Don’t Tell. My mantra became - “Just take things day-by-day.” And day-by-day, I was getting better. New opportunities started to present themselves, I became more social, and I was laughing again.

It’s funny how one message, one sentence, can completely set you back. As soon as I saw the message and its contents, it’s as though I felt my mind being consumed with feeling of insecurity, embarrassment, and looking like a fool. I grasped on to my mind, trying not to let it go, trying to hold it in the place where I had gotten it over the last couple of months.

And I almost succeeded, but it slipped out of my hands. I know I won’t have to take a break from life for a month, but maybe a few days. A few days to realize: fuck all the rest. To realize that there are people out there that intentionally live their lives only to hurt others. To realize that I have the most amazing people around me - friends and family and creative partners - and this is really all I need.

You get setbacks sometimes that are more deep rooted and difficult to see. You can walk around the streets smiling and go to work where you make people laugh. But you can’t hide from it. As soon as there are no distractions and you lay your head down in the dark to go to sleep, the thoughts consume you. Your head throbs during the day, and you think it’s from staring at your computer screen. Nope, just replaying lived experiences where you felt like a stupid asshole. Or, I could try and make a different choice. See those crappy things and crappy people, and just send them away, far away. Bring those amazing people who are around me closer - call them, write to them, keep them in my orbit.

And fuck all the rest.

Paul Dore