I went ice skating.
I know some of you are thinking, “And?”. Completely understandable. You have to know the background to realize what a huge thing this was for me.
I am possibly the least athletic person in the world, and no that is not an exaggeration. The last time I’d gone ice skating was in my teens (many MANY moons ago) and all I remember is gripping the boards so tightly that my white gloves turned pink from the red paint.
In 2018 I started to get interested in watching Ice Dance. In November I actually took a trip to New Brunswick, Canada to attend the Thank You Canada tour where I got to see a bunch of amazing Olympian skaters including Elvis Stojko and
Somewhere along the line, I thought it might be fun to try ice skating myself. You see, the danger of watching Ice Dancing is that they make it look so easy you delude yourself into thinking you can do it yourself. (Spoiler alert: You cant.) I discovered a few instagram accounts of skaters who began in their mid to late twenties and started thinking my thirty something body might actually be able to do it.
But nothing is that simple when you have an anxiety disorder.
Learn to Skate lessons would be nice, but before I invest I want to make sure I actually like skating. That it isn’t like how I wanted to garden and homestead and planned how I was going to do it for years and when I finally had the chance to try it turns out I hate gardening.
Due to the fact that the weather can’t decide what it wants this year (snow one day, in the fifties the next) the pond next door hasn’t frozen over (my first choice) so figuring all this out requires going to an actual ice rink.
In front of PEOPLE.
Those of you with social anxiety see my problem.
Due to my lack of athleticism, I have a lot of insecurities about my abilities (or lack thereof) when it comes to anything active. My brain began swirling with horror stories. What if my ankles couldn’t support me? What if I couldn’t even stand in the skates? What if I couldn’t stop falling? What if I fell and I couldn’t get back up on my skates? (my therapist asked me about the worst possible scenario on this one, which involved me crawling off the ice and literally dying of humiliation.)
Needless to say I had a lot to work through.
I bought a cheap pair of skates at a thrift store and a pair of skate guards on Amazon, my thought being that I could try them on and hobble around the house on them and practice standing back up. So I laced them up and tried to stand.
It didn’t go well. I now know that is because my skates are a size too big and I didn’t have them laced tight enough, but on that day the humiliation (even alone in my apartment) was crushing. This was a disaster. My body was just as weak and pathetic as I’d imagined.
Thankfully, my desire to give ice skating a try kept me determined to persevere. I talked to some skaters, did a lot of research, and started trying to recruit a friend to go with me so I wouldn’t be alone in my shame and humiliation. (My mom and sister both refused. They are dead to me now.)
Enter my nephew’s wife Amberlyn, who gamely agreed to go with me despite her own anxiety and fear of skating. (seriously, she deserves all the cookies, she’s awesome) I’d researched the local rink and knew when the public skate times were. Amberlyn actually drove out from NY to go with me (I told you she was awesome).
With my sister in tow (still refusing to skate, instead she was there for moral support and to take embarrassing pictures and videos, as sisters do) I swallowed down the feelings of terror. I was going to do this, even if it was only once. I was not going to let my fear stop me.
We got to the rink. I rented skates and paid the session fee for both of us. My sister helped me lace up the skates so I could be sure they were tight enough. I stood up. So far, so good. I walked to the side of the rink and stepped on the ice.
THE WORLD DID NOT END.
I was as surprised as you are. My knuckles were white as I gripped the boards and shuffled along, VERY SLOWLY. (The boards were very hard to hang onto. Seriously, can’t they take the hockey guard off? I’m trying not to die here)
I began to be certain I’d made a huge mistake. The rink was HUGE. There was no way I was going to make it all the way around, but I had no choice. It wasn’t like I could turn around (seriously, how do you turn around?!). So I kept going, a very determined (and terrified) look on my face. I know this because there are pictures (that I am NOT going to share) where my jaw is clenched and I look fairly constipated… thanks sis!).
About halfway, I felt a little better. There was no force on earth that could get me to let go of those boards but I no longer felt like I was going to die, and there had been no falls or close calls with falling so I felt more secure. About two thirds of the way, my feet began to protest.
I have plantars fasciitis, so I was expecting pain. This was a whole different kind of pain. I had no idea there were so many muscles in the ball of your foot and how much they could hurt. I took a break in the penalty box where my sister asked how I was feeling so far.
I felt good. I was actually having fun. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make more than one loop around the rink, but if I could I thought it would go well. When my feet stopped throbbing I got back onto the ice to complete my lap. My sister took video (not posting that either). She said I looked like I was doing better. I made it back to the beginning an exited the ice.
I did it!
I paid $18 to do one lap around the ice. And it’s been a long time since I was that proud of myself. I’m going to go back, this time by myself. But not until I do some ankle and foot strengthening exercises.
Next time I want to do two laps.