“You’ll never land a triple!”
Those five words pierced through my fifteen-year-old being like a jagged sword on a fragile soul.
For ten years of my young life, I had trained and arrived at this moment. The hours before and after school on the hard ice. Homework completed during Zamboni breaks. The million falls before finally landing a jump. The bruises. Wet. Cold. The competitions. The victories. The sacrifices.
I was fortunate enough to never hear the words “you’ll never”…until now. It came from the mouth of my coach.
Hours before these words spewed out and weeks before Regionals, I’d sat down with my parents and my coach and decided we’d be going in a different direction. Hard decision. Tireless hours had been put into my progression by this kind coach, and I was truly grateful. But only a year had passed since my dear choreographer passed away, and she foresaw this current situation. Before she died, she told me I’d need someone else to help me get to the next level. She knew for me it’d be the route to journey down. I listened to her truth in my head, and here we sat.
We agreed to one more lesson that day, and during the lesson is when those words uttered: “You’ll never land a triple.”
It was said quietly, yet it felt like shouting. Snow hit the boards as I halted. I put my toe pick into the ice, one hand on my hip and the other on the boards, bit my tongue and responded, “Okay.” I said it more with indignation than acquiescence.
The thing I wanted the most. The thing I’d been trying to land for FOUR long years, falling every single dang time. I guess my coach had every right to say those words with my failed track record, but it made me incredulously mad. It fired me up. It wasn’t right that I was being told what I’d never be able to do.
The very words meant to drive me into the ground’s dirt and crush my spirit were the ones that elevated my drive and soul.
I was so focused, determined and downright stubborn to prove this statement wrong. The very next week I landed my first triple, a triple toe. Shortly after, the triple salchow followed, and then the triple loop came.
However, now I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could’ve had compassion over the situation. It was hard for my coach too. I believe deep disappointment and frustration led to those uncharacteristic words. If wisdom prevailed, I would have told my coach I was truly sorry for the hurt. In so doing, I would have released the unknown control over me, which emerged in the form of bitterness. It took me awhile to let go, to forgive, to breathe free.
When we’re hurt, bitterness is the weed that slowly chokes the good roots and occupies the once healthy soil. Justified? Maybe. But it’s in the release of the bitterness, the digging up of the ugly roots, that nourishment revives a weary soul.
Mark Twain once said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
When I forgave, I was the one released from the shackles of bitterness and able to freely soar and breathe in the fragrant aroma of joy. And in a crazy way, I’m grateful for those words, the pain and growth that came from it.