October 27, 2006 might not be a significant date to many people, unless you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan. The team beat Detroit to win the first World Series Championship during my lifetime (I was still in my mother’s incubator in ’82). I was out-of-town with David, on a trip I’d planned for him, seeing his favorite artist at a concert in Chicago. Because one of the WS games was rained out, my plan to exit the city on a day without a game backfired, and I ended up missing my chance to see the Birds’ victory.
I made Bella send text message updates throughout the night, to be certain that I’d know when and if we took game 5. So, inevitably, as the 9th inning came to a close, she called me for the last out. I heard all of the fans screaming as the boys of StL clinched the series, and I dropped to the floor while tears streamed down my face. There I was, surrounded by Cubs fans, crying because my hometown team had finally won a series that I could say, “I remember when…” about. David was excited because he knew it was important to me and, after we left the concert, I made him listen to ESPN radio, so I could hear TLR and others speak about the night. The sadness I felt for having been unable to view the last game of the series was pale in comparison to the happiness that I felt for having won.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it needs to be repeated: sometimes I don’t feel like I have very much in common with my family, but if there is one thing in the world that holds us together, it’s Cardinals baseball. My grandma is the biggest Cardinals fan in the world (no, that’s not sarcasm) and she instilled a love of the game and our team in me at a very young age. In fact, I was crawling around in the bleachers at Busch Stadium (#2) before I could speak. So, when the Cardinals won that night (at the newly opened Busch Stadium #3), I was immediately leaving her a message via answering machine, saying how excited I was that I could FINALLY share in the joy of having lived through a season as champions. It’s a bonding experience for our entire crew, and something that I so dearly love about our family. We’re great when we’re sharing baseball.
My life started to spiral out of control very quickly after that. Just a few months later David and I were fighting, and our relationship was broken. Within a year, I knew that we needed to end things but couldn’t let go, so he ended up being unfaithful and I ended up giving him every reason in the book to walk away. Shortly thereafter, in late December of 2007, I met Mike (aka Ike) and the rest, well, is history.
I didn’t get to watch much baseball when I was together with Mike. He tried to take everything that I loved away from me. We went to a game together once, and he used to promise me that we’d go back, but we only went to two other games the entire time that we were together. Which, for a girl like me, was devastating. In an attempt to further disunite me from my family, he succeeded. Just as he succeeded in making me feel as if that didn’t matter. It was just a game, right?
Two years ago I left Mike. It was the end of July. Justice and Topher had season tickets to the games and started taking me as often as they had extras. In some way I think it was because they needed to keep an eye on me. What they didn’t realize was that they were giving me back a piece of joy that I had been missing for two years. Even though it didn’t feel monumental at the time, it truly was. I think it was the first piece of myself that I regained.
We all know the tale of the next two years. I fell hard for an unavailable man, I made stupid mistakes, and I fought demons inside of myself without having a clear idea of what I was fighting exactly.
In May, the Cardinals had the best record in baseball. It was then that I got my new job and a new chance to rebuild my life. But about the time I moved, their season started to disintegrate. Simultaneously, I started going to therapy and was diagnosed with PTSD. And, as I started battling Vietnam in my head, the boys were getting slaughtered. My team and my brain had fallen apart.
Fast forward to August. After a week with my new students at the new school, a new team emerged from the dugout and, as we are all well aware, took us on a new adventure. Crazy how my life mimics this, isn’t it? About the same time I started knocking out walls and barricades around my heart. A new crush emerged and my heart was feeling things it hadn’t since…well, since 2006. The post season kept progressing. I kept pushing myself. And, that leads us to October 28th, 2011.
David text me early in the day:
“I made you miss the last one. I think it’s only fitting that we head downtown to see this tonight.”
So we did.
Every sports bar within a mile radius of the stadium was so crowded that you couldn’t see a television or hear the commentary (although that might actually be considered a good thing by some). So we ran through the streets of the city, looking for a place with a large television and decent sound system. We found a sushi restaurant with a HUGE screen and a quiet (but still excited) crowd. David called his girlfriend to meet us there. She brought a friend. The four of us shared Sake shots every time something fantastic happened. And we ran our asses off to make it back to the stadium after the final out. But this time I never crumbled to the ground. It wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t premeditated…but I kept jumping up and down, even with a few random tears of joy streaming down my face. Last time I was on the ground, this time I was on top of the world.
People were dancing on top of cars. Others were hugging strangers. 50,000 people flooded the streets of St. Louis City…and we were all thrilled for our death-defying Cardinals.
I cried again last night, while jumping and screaming. I FINALLY got to SEE a victory (and, holy shit, game 6). But, on top of that and probably more realistically, their win signifies the end of a long stretch of my life that was toxic. Those five years between their wins were the worst years of my life. And I’m ready to wash my hands of them.
This results in a whole new chapter for me. I’m healing and regaining some sense of myself. In fact, today my therapist asked me about the three separate Fina personas that I’d mentioned early in our sessions. She said she could see some binding happening. I agreed. The pre-abuse and post-abuse Fina are starting to really bond again. And that poor, unfortunate girl who had to suffer through a two-year nightmare is finally resting a bit, and allowing herself to heal. She doesn’t think it’s her fault anymore. And she doesn’t think she needs to fight off her every feeling and thought. She doesn’t think she needs someone or something else to save her. That Fina, the one that needs the most love, is giving it to herself.
With another win under the belts of the boys of St. Louis, I’m going to allow this to signify a brand new chapter in my life. The off-season is going to be one of acceptance, forgiveness, and healing.
I’m excited to see where the Cardinals go next season. We’ll have Wainwright back on the mound, along with my boyfriend Chris Carpenter. Like the rest of the city, I’m hoping that Pujols is back too. But I’m even more excited to see how this new-found strength and peace carries over for me. Who knows where I’ll be on opening day…