“When we don't know who to hate, we hate ourselves.”
-Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
I got caught spiralling down a dark tunnel not long after I won my World Championship in 2018. At that moment I was literally on top of the world. I was shining bright. Everyone was looking at me. I could make people cry and make people laugh and it gave me a feeling, however briefly, that I was completely accepted. Made me feel like I was set. That all my struggles to be included amongst everyone was finally done. I wasn’t expecting to come home and be embarrassed by myself.
I couldn’t control my emotions anymore. People just said that I was exhausted. But in my head I knew I was annoying people. I would go from happy, to angry, to hysterically crying so fast and without any warning or reason. I could see myself falling outside of the circle of people that I thought I was accepted into. I could see people hanging out in the evenings, going to dinner, going to parties, or just spending time with each other. Feeling like I was never invited. I realize now that I could have asked to be a part of it, but I was never comfortable enough in my own skin to insert myself in a plan. At that time, and I still feel this way, that I was unwanted, so I make myself feel unwanted.
Instead of waiting for the invite that never came, I started making myself sound busy. Making it sound like I had these special plans, or that I just needed a night in. Never did I actually have plans, and it would have taken them about 10 seconds convincing me to get me out of the room if they really wanted me. It made me fall into the dark hole of my hotel room and room service. Eating comfort food, crying at movies, looking out my window to see people coming back, or listening through the door people walking down the hallway. I know I could have joined, but I never knew and still don’t know how to do that.
All that time alone, I got sucked into the social media world. Which in hindsight was a bad idea. I was searching for people that still was celebrating my win. Instead I found pictures of me on the ice that started showing the proof of my comfort food diet around my mid section. Each show I did I could see more and more, yet I couldn’t convince myself to do anything different. People started messaging me on social media, and all the positive comments I didn’t believe anymore, and all the negative comments stuck in my brain. The comments about not deserving my title, for being a horrible skater, for being boring, for being fat. All of those got trapped in my brain and I believed every single one of them.
Believing all those comments, they started taking over my body. I did gain a lot of weight. I hate how I look. I never feel comfortable. I changed my hair, changed my clothes, changed my nails, anything to make me feel good again, but it didn’t. Hearing that I was undeserving and boring sunk into my skating. Made me resent the performances, made me feel inadequate on the ice. I began struggling on the simplest of elements. Forgetting completely how to get myself off the ice and into the air for a jump. The ice was where I always felt most comfortable, and I lost that. I started struggling with being able to breathe just putting my skates on. Getting anxious about stepping on the ice. Even if I managed to skate good in a show, I believed that everyone hated what I did. Then I started skating worse and worse in shows, which brought my embarrassment level up a hundred times. It still continues to do that. My inner voice telling me I am not good enough is so loud that I can’t hear the positivity anymore.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
– Albert Schweitzer
Recently I’ve begun back on the Stars on Ice tour. Feeling nervous. Not feeling good enough. Panicking going into every jump. Feeling forgotten having been a year post competing. But also feeling ready to make my voice louder. I know people are annoyed by me. I don’t fit in. But I am voicing my insecurities a little more. Trying to talk to other people about their lives. Trying to see if I am the only one dealing with these issues. Realizing that everyone is dealing with their issues their own way, mostly keeping things quiet and private amongst their trusted few. I for some reason cannot do that. I want to shout it. I want to tell everyone. I want people to give me an answer, though in my head I know that their isn't one. The only way to get over these insecurities is to work on my own self. But I want an easier solution so I keep making my voice louder and louder.
People have begun helping. Being there for me if they can tell the emotions are reaching a full boil. Seeing Kurt Browning walk around being in such an amazing shape was breaking me, making me feel even worse about my overweight self. Then Patrick Chan brought me back down to reality. I don’t even think he realized what he said. He said it so nonchalantly and then moved on to what he was doing, I don’t think he realized how much it made a difference to me. He said, “enjoy retirement now, and then get yourself back in shape when you are ready.” I left the room not long after feeling lighter. I knew I still didn’t like how I looked, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, but somehow those words took a weight off my shoulders and made it easier to breathe.
People can make a big difference even if they don’t realize they are doing it. Patrick didn’t make a comment directly at me, just a generalized comment that I can do things my own way. Enjoy myself now, and then work towards a better self when I am ready. I don’t need to rush myself to make people happier about what they see. I don’t need to conform to fit peoples opinions about myself. I just need to work on me, when I am ready to do it. I have started this, but it is going to be a long road ahead.
“When you stop living your life based on what others think of you real life begins. At that moment, you will finally see the door of self acceptance opened.”
― Shannon L. Alder