I have a gymnastics book that is pretty much exclusively Team USA, very little of me. I remember showing my step mom, Kathy, this book I worked so hard on- her response: That is a lot of work on a book about other people. At the time I thought little of her comment-but maybe I heard more than I knew, because I remember it, and now in therapy it is revealing I am still doing this in my life today. I will not place myself in the story too.
Today, I am going to focus on this girl. She didn’t have a chance to thrive and enjoy gymnastics. She wasn’t what USA Gymnastics would consider a “winner”. There are parts I dearly love about gymnastics, don’t get me wrong, but the story didn’t go how it should, and it is a pandemic in all youth sports. We love winners at the expense of everyone else. We miss the diamonds in the pursuit of immediate gratification, because we have the wrong view of success. What if we just enjoyed the journey without a care about the damn outcome? What would that be like? What if cruelty is actually as bad as it sounds – even if we are deceived by “winners”?
It is interesting this picture is of me on the beam. My memory with my therapist was a traumatic experience for me on the beam in practice. I shared with my closest friends what happened, and right now, I want to keep it with them, because they are walking through the fire of healing with me. But it was a moment that I was too young to endure and know I am worthy of love even if I make mistakes, and can’t be on every day. I don’t think adults should have to endure that treatment either. And as an adult, I am not with people treating me like this; I’ll write about that in my next post. I am listening to Kenny Rogers song “Love Will Turn you Around” – I have a story about this too, but first, the pain.
Gymnastics was about perfection. My first competition I was actually proud of myself to begin with; one moment burst the joy. I got an 8.5 on the floor, and it was my first event, and Shannon Miller’s mom was one of my judges-what a moment of winning for me! That is a high score at the lower level, and for a first meet! I felt good about myself in that moment-a new feeling. I also got an 8.1 on bars. Really good. I remember all of this clearly, because I did not write one of my scores down to remember later; they are burned in my memory. I have more to say about this in a moment. But I remember something else, and it dashed this joy. A child from Shannon Miller’s Dynamo gym asked their coach if they did well on beam, and the response is awful. The coach asked the child if she stuck her routine. The child said no, and the coach said: then I can’t say you did a good job. I did not stick my routine either, and I got a terrible 6.5 on beam. That dashed the joy I felt from bars and floor, and I let it define the meet for me. I did not really like vault, so I was less concerned with my score on vault, but I know it was in the 7s. I got an overall score high enough to qualify to the next level after my first meet. I had a pretty good coach then, and she did try to encourage me with this news. But I was already devastated about beam. And the story gets worse.
The coaches I had to begin with were pretty good. There are things I could pinpoint that were pretty awful, like going after me for my weight. But they were trying to keep gymnastics less about winning, and more about improving. But Dynamo Gymnastics was here, and Shannon Miller a national treasure-what do you think happens to a gym only 30 minutes away, and owned by an Olympian? I don’t think I have to write this story. The pain in my face can tell you.
So much happened after my first meet in such a short amount of time to take me out of the sport. It is funny that people think life is moving fast now, because they didn’t see how quickly winning destroyed me, and the hopes I had for a future in gymnastics. I loved this sport, and I worked hard, but it did not value me because I did not love it at seven – I loved it at eleven. And I had no idea until I wrote this post that is 7-Eleven. Ha! God is so funny. She makes me laugh even when I am mad.
Add this to the fact I believed I had to get my beliefs right or I would not go to Heaven. How was I supposed to know I could live life and make mistakes? My therapist is trying so hard, and is helping me comfort my younger self that hurt so much, to make me say I am making good decisions now. They don’t have to be about getting it right, but they are making me safe. I did not end up in my church, seminary, or have a safe social media presence because of magic. I made decisions to make my life safer, and I am opening this door for anyone who wants to enter. But I can’t make people come to the life-giving water. But I can’t say I did not give a voice of hope. Losing is not the worst thing. It might, and probably is, the best thing that could ever happen.
I will post a few photos from my album, but it isn’t about them anymore. I am telling my story now. I belong in this story too. Was this picture of Kerri Strug really Guts, Glory, Gold? Or was this child abuse? She tore two ligaments, in addition to already competing on a severe injury the whole time, on the first vault. Karolyi told her she could do it on the next vault. She was so hurt on the second vault, and Larry Nassar, the sexual abuser sports doctor, is one of the people holding her-along with Karolyi. And we applauded. There is a picture of me so proud of Bart and Nadia-my neighbors- reopening the gym as Bart Conner’s Academy. I was so proud of them. They weren’t proud of me. 1991-1996 Gymnastics Collection: Lindsay’s collection. Was this Lindsay’s collection?
I meant to talk about my scores. I received a few medals and ribbons for my work, but I didn’t keep them. The story told to me is they were worthless, so I didn’t keep them. I held up everyone else, and erased myself.