Rugby was my stronghold, my fortress.
It was rugby that gave me escape when Dad called again to say his business trip was going to be extended by another week. His whole life was a business trip. It was rugby that transported me to another world when Mum accidentally knocked the cork out of the wine bottle and accidentally slugged the contents down. And it was rugby that took my mind off my whimpering little sister that wanted her daddy and mummy back.
The game gave me protection, hope. It let me blow off steam, it allowed me to talk to people whose only problem was where to go and party that night, it reminded me that I had a life of my own, that I was good at something other than being a doormat to my parents.
Then I was made captain of our team. It would have been an honour to any other person but not me. I never asked for more responsibility! I couldn’t cope with people looking to me for advice, depending on me for pep talks. I already felt guilty when we lost, as though I’d done something or not done something to cause our failure. Suddenly, winning and losing was more important than playing. If we lost, it was because I didn’t encourage the guys enough, didn’t meet the expectations of a captain. I just wanted to play, to escape, to have some fun. I tore my band off and threw it on the ground.
I couldn’t be the captain anymore. It was time someone was the captain of me.