A lot of people have described me as brave for sharing my story. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if it’s been an act of bravery or more one of self-indulgent oversharing without a great deal of thought given to what the unintended consequences might be. Regardless, it’s been cathartic and I suppose that means it was worthwhile even though I could have flown to Italy and back for the same amount of money this cost me and stuffing my face with home cooked Roman food in the company of family would’ve undoubtedly been therapeutic too…
But while there are some things I would have gained in Italy that I haven’t gained from this – about 10kg to be specific – there are also other arguably more valuable things I’ve gained from this that a few weeks on the pasta circuit wouldn’t have delivered for me: Life lessons.
Number one on the list is the lesson that sharing isn’t just ok, it can be healthy and helpful.
Right through this project, I’ve been genuinely surprised at how understanding, caring and kind people have been. I thought somebody would tell me I’m a bad person at some stage. Nobody has. And I suspect one of the biggest reasons for this is the reality that so many people have either seen the inside of this hole in the past or have been silently in here with me all along – hiding their issues from the outside world just like I was.
Lots of people have opened up to me about trauma they are dealing with and in a lot of cases it’s been the people I never would have suspected to be anything other than happy as Larry. I’ve tried to show them the same empathy I’ve been shown.
And best of all, a lot of others have reached out to offer their support, and that’s been a really humbling blessing even when I haven’t always taken them up on it either because I was too embarrassed or I didn’t want to burden people for whom any responsibility for propping me up shouldn’t rest anywhere close to their shoulders.
Nonetheless, all this has gone a long way towards giving me the courage I needed to push through the barriers, follow through, go a lot further than was possibly sensible and tell my sorry tale on a blog for anyone who googles me to read for the rest of my life and possibly beyond.
Then there’s the other possibly even more valuable lesson I’ve learned from this project – the understanding that breaking rules is ok.
Because rules can be just another unnecessary stick to beat yourself up with when you mess up.
Over the past few months I’ve shared a lot of things that have helped me, but there isn’t a single one of them that I’ve stuck to religiously. And there are a lot of other things I’ve done that haven’t been helpful. Then there are the things I’ve somewhat inexplicably done knowing full well they were the polar opposite of helpful. And that’s ok. The worst thing you can do is obsess over your stuff ups (I’ve done lots of that too). If you didn’t follow the plan yesterday, it doesn’t mean tomorrow’s mood is all your own fault.
Relating this to football, when you’ve had a season of two wins and 9 losses you can’t blame that on not sticking to the game plan for the first ten minutes of the second game. And sometimes you shouldn’t blame it on anything at all. Because maybe it was a victory.
Maybe you won by a different measure. Maybe, for you at that time, winning was simply getting through the season in one piece. And sometimes the real victories are in the things nobody else can see. Maybe there’s victory in shaping minds as well as muscle memory. Maybe the way we face a difficult season is much more important than the way we dance through a successful one. Maybe this is the experience needed to tee up for a major victory two or four or six years down the track. Maybe that’s a success you never would have tasted if you didn’t make some big calls now. Maybe long-term success is the real prize.
Over the course of this season, WaiBOP have thrown out the rule book. They’ve wiped the slate clean, jettisoned the negativity, and played with spirit, pride and a can-do attitude. In doing so they’ve shown that you can have a good season without winning many games.
There’s a lot to draw on there.
As for today, well it threw up a bizarre metaphor of its own in the form of a dark angry thunder and hail storm that caused the abandonment of the game following a long delay prior to the commencement of the second half. Make of that what you will.
Apart from anything else, I’m not quite sure what it means for my OCD need to complete everything I start. I didn’t get to watch WaiBOP play all twelve complete games… I did watch every minute they played though. Which was a relief. I had to catch a flight to a work meeting in Wellington shortly after the scheduled final whistle, so the small mercy is if the second half had proceeded half an hour late and I’d had to leave before its conclusion I would have been rather upset to put it mildly.
But the real upside was, whether the powers that be record this as a draw or not – I’m unilaterally calling it a thoroughly well-deserved one against one of the teams that will appear in next week’s final.
So where does all this leave us? For one thing, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these young WaiBOP warriors. If they can be retained by the region, the sky’s the limit. I won’t be following them as a blogger, but I’ll be cheering them on as a fan – keeping my thoughts to myself from now on, with the probable exception of anyone in my immediate vicinity when they score a nice goal.
As for the rest of you, I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Vinnie Jones:
“It’s been emotional.”
WaiBOP 0, Northern 0
[My other images of this game are available to view and purchase here]