Even after over 20 years, sort of. With gratitude to my physical strength and muscle memory that got my ass to the the ball and remembered how to stroke and make contact! It felt smooth until I felt my breathing labor and my body tighten. I focused so hard, I forgot to breath until I heard from across the net, “Dara, breathe, you can’t forget to breathe!”. The next exhale released so hard tears rolled down my face with relief (thank god my shades blocked my leaking eye balls!).

Today the mental coach a.k.a. psychologist, showed up to meet my mental! The mental I avoided for over 2 decades because of pain and fear. The fear to not be good enough and the pain of disappointment.

As a competitive tennis player on a good day I felt sick with anxiety and threw up before I competed. On a bad day my stomach would hurt so bad I only wished to vomit for relief or to make it to the bathroom in time before the match started and then somehow get through the match without soiling my pants ( true story 🙁 ). When I used to play my body tensed up to the point I couldn’t swing my arms. My arms weakened and shook barely able to grip and hold the racket. When I hit a backhand my arms cramped tight. My left arm became numb and the racket pulled up after contact pushing the ball into the net.

The torment to continue to play outweighed the perception to be a “quitter”.

Fast forward 20 years… my two little kids have started tennis lessons and the inquisitive child in me sparked. Seeing the joy in their eyes and their happiness for the game left me wondering maybe I could touch a racket again?

“You know Bill, I have not picked up a racket in over 20 years,” in a trembling, luring voice.

“Let’s do it, let’s hit,” Bill said with a simple, warm answer.

“I am sure you don’t have time,” giving him an out. “See you Tuesday at 9,” he said.

That past perception of pain and torment linked with tennis was the ick that perpetuated my “why”, my drive and my passion to be a healer to other athletes stuck in their own way. Today my brain knew that nerves meant I was ready to perform and the nerves were a signal for my body to strengthen and do what there was to do. Also known as, I didn’t freak out and throw up!! Today, my nerves danced and rode the wave, which made the experience cathartic. My mind can now associate playing tennis as a freeing, fun, positive experience.

Today I literally hit the pain away. I smiled, I laughed. I liked it! Thank you @billclarktennisacademy @debbieclark

What skeleton do you have hidden in your racket bag?

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