Fall Down 7, Get up 8…

I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t eat my own words in my last post the very next day. I was struggling at the time i wrote the stuff about being positive but i still meant every word. Just because I struggled again after doesn’t mean those words don’t still ring true.

Before i get too far into this I want to say i’m not writing this to spark pity or for people to feel bad for me. Nobody should feel bad for me because there are much worse things. Don’t take the dark parts too seriously but just absorb it. They are MY words, for MY blog and how i felt these past few months. I could write another happy go lucky post but it wouldn’t be real. THIS is real. These feelings were real. I am still blessed in so many ways. Like they say, this is just one of my many minor setbacks toward my major comeback. 🙂 You want to know what it’s like being a professional athlete… the dark moments come side by side with the happy ones. It’s a package deal and I signed up for it. Right on the dotted line. 

I call the next 2 months, after my last post, my “dark days”. I say that because I was crippled with bitterness, sadness, frustration, self pity, and anger due to another everest of an obstacle in my path to recovery and getting to where I wanted to be. I thought that since i had overcome the rehab and the emotions of tearing my ACL that i would be on the downward slope finally. That Poland would be that new, rejuvenating, stepping stone towards my goal. Like being on a rocky boat for months and finally stepping on solid land. Finally getting my footing on something real; then finding out i was just kinda stuck in mud and i slid right back down. After months of maintaining that positive, cant stop me attitude, I finally had the breakdown I had expected to come a lot earlier. I don’t cry easily. A dumb tv show like vampire diaries or a movie like Seven Pounds might move one or two tears from my eyes occasionally ,but I found my breaking point in Poland finally. I call THAT my “chocolate week.” 

That week it felt like i was being tested with every single detail from every angle of my life. It was bad news after bad news and it just kept coming. I closed down because how does one talk to another person about that kind of sadness and frustration. How do you pour out, describe, paint a picture vivid enough, colorful enough to make that person feel or see everything your feeling. How do you release a little bit of that, give up just a little bit of it to someone else to lighten your load? I had been carrying this heavy load of emotions and finally it was too much. 

It felt like it was pointless to talk to anyone because it’s like translating a language, some things just get lost in the translation no matter how hard you try to make them understand. Nobody knew what I was feeling. It felt safer to sit in my quiet apartment and not talk to anyone and just let the tears roll. I was the only one that could, that would, be able to understand the detail of every emotion. The precision of the metaphorical knife cutting away at me. It felt pointless to talk to others about MY problems when they have problems of their own actually effecting their life… on their own continent. I was by myself in a foreign country trying to deal in the best way I knew how. A lot of times people don’t know the right words to say anyway. All i pretty much wanted from anyone I did try to talk to was for them to sit there and be like “Yeah Chelsea, that really sucks.” 

I didn’t want to hear all that positive crap that I had so recently been spouting to others because I could easily come up with some positives. That wasn’t the problem, i had just wrote a whole post on the positives. I could see the positives but the negatives outweighed them and couldn’t just be ignored. I knew it was just another part of God’s plan in my life but I needed to bask in the crappy-ness of it all. I needed to just feel sorry for myself for a time and just really feel it. Sometimes there’s so much ugliness that no amount of positivity can pretty it up. No amount of perfume can cover the stench. No amount of cleaning can clear it from the cracks of your foundation. It needs to be absorbed, processed, understood, and let go. 

Let me tell you something. Real friends are the people that will let you feel sorry for yourself for the right amount of time and then will give you a swift kick in the rear if you don’t get your sh*t together. The ones that will give you a boot and tell you when to stop feeling sorry for yourself because nobody else does. The world doesn’t stop for you. Luckily I didn’t need that kick. I scraped my big booty back up eventually but i had a few people who i knew would keep me in check if i didn’t. 

I was at my darkest having to wait almost a month due to insurance issues because of my dad. I pretty much gave him the silent treatment for 2 weeks after I got back from Poland and he gave it right back knowing he was in the wrong…What can I say, us Poppens are a stubborn lot. It was a very quiet house those two weeks. haha. Also, it probably didn’t help that he had told me in our first convo after the knee news that maybe it was just that time to grow up and move on to the next thing in my life. He didn’t say it in a mean way but still. For future reference to anyone who has the chance to be one of those people that someone in a dream crushing moment reaches out to… do NOT lead with that! -__- lol Wait until mayyybeee the 2nd conversation.

I wouldn’t know if i would get the opportunity to try out and make the WNBA again until i knew what was up with my knee; I wouldn’t know what was up with my knee truly until they operated and looked inside. And I wouldn’t be able to find that out for about another month. One month of being in a dark, bitter limbo. One month of what could’ve been rehab, just wasted. Not being able to go up stairs well or do much of anything active because the pain in my knee. Not knowing if my rehab will be another 3 or 6 months on top of all the rehab already done in the past year. Not knowing if it will be time to put away the basketball shoes in search of what my grandma might refer to as “ a real job.” Talks with her go back to either that or her asking if there’s any boys i’m interested in or want to “take out.” haha  But anyway, I would call these long 5 months the teeter-totter point where my life situation goes one way or another.

It’s hard not wanting to talk about your unknown life situation in a small town where everyone you see asks you the same questions. It’s hard to be friendly talking about something that’s eating you up from the inside out. The same questions that slightly make you feel shameful, unsuccessful, or a failure on the inside. I compare it to not being able to quite get up after a fall… like your just there on the dirty ground trying to gather yourself and people are looking curiously at the mess you are as they walk by. 

Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love the people in my town and the close knit community I come from. That people care enough to ask how you are doing, what you are doing back in town, how long your back in town, or what the next step is for you. You don’t get that everywhere. But when you, yourself don’t have the answers it’s a constant reminder of your unfortunate situation every time you have to tell people you don’t have all the answers to their questions or even yours yet. But either way, my small town and the people in it helped shape me and made me strong enough to take on obstacles like this. I’m grateful to have so many people that care and want to see me succeed. They too, see me at my worst and my best.

Out of the Dark Days…back into the light

Needless to say, i had to have a scope and micro-fracture done on my knee by the awesome Doctor Greenwald. The damage was due to the way I tore my ACL via contact. The knee clunked in and out of position causing bone bruising and cartilage damage along with it. Greenwald had to put little holes in my bone in order to try to stimulate cartilage growth. Only time will tell if it worked. 

I am beyond grateful and blessed that San Antonio decided to keep my rights and invite me back to training camp. They’re taking a chance on me even though i am on the mend. That meant the world and gave me back that glimmer of hope. 

Since then I’ve been at home rehabbing and trying to fight the boredom. It’s hard to find a job for just a few months. I see the light at the end of the tunnel finally. For the month of April i am living in Ames with an awesome couple who offered up their spare room for me to stay. I know them because they are originally from my hometown area. That is one of the perks of being from a small town and knowing so many lovely people who want to help you reach your dream. 

I moved to Ames in April because I can start up doing more basketball and agility stuff in this part of my rehab. The Iowa State coaching staff has always been amazing and supportive of me in my rehab. They let me use the Sukup facility as much as I want which means I am pretty much there all day. I think they’re probably tired of seeing me so much by now. 😉 

When your a student athlete at the time, you kind of take the 24/7 access and everything there for granted. I now fully understand the amazing, wonderful, coldness of an ice bath after having to freeze my own individual cups in a tiny freezer and de-thaw each one to put into a tiny tub in order for my body to make it through another day in Poland. 

Or the luxury of not having to limp slowly after a rebound alone in the gym because you have a SHOOTING GUN! Oh the greatness! God bless machines that rebound for you. 

I feel like i am crunched for time considering training camp is in May but I know that as soon as I pick up speed I’ll be back to doing what I know i am capable of in no time! 🙂 I can only control the controllable.

For those who don’t quite understand…

Why go after this frivolous dream of playing pro-basketball? 

Why deal with the physical and emotional pain and risk damaging your body even more? Why do athletes put themselves through it? 

Why don’t they just learn when enough is enough and when it’s time to leave the childish dreams behind? Everyone has to do it eventually…right? 

For me, it’s one of the few places where my mind is quiet and i don’t have to worry about all the other white noise surrounding my life. It’s what I know and it’s like a book i’ve read cover to cover a million times and I know it almost word for word but not quite. So familiar and comforting it’s like coming home after being away for a long time. A painting i almost know stroke for stroke because I helped paint it along with so many others. 

Or maybe i just want to feel that thrill of being unstoppable again, of giving every bit of myself to the game that i love. Not unstoppable because I’m the best player out there but because nobody can stop how hard I am going to work. The one thing I have complete and utter control over. I may not have control over everything that happens to me in this life but I can control how much effort/work I put out there or leave out there for the last time in my career. I just want to have that one chance to be 100 percent healthy and leave everything in me out on that court. I want what every athlete wants.. to end that childish, fantasy of a dream with no regrets knowing I gave it everything i had. That I used my God given talents and blessings in every way possible. 

It’s not just about basketball either. It’s about the platform you find yourself on to see all the more people you are able to reach, to help, to get to know, to be friends with, to become a role model for. I enjoy that aspect. I’m one of those people who lead by actions, not really words. So what better way to have my actions seen than by stumbling, crawling, and clawing my way up to that platform. You have to earn it right? The people up there shouldn’t just get to take the escalator. They should have to take the stairs… or better yet rock climb that baby. That way you know the people in view of everyone and their kids actually deserve to be there. That they had to work for it.

Either way i’m not quite ready to give it and grow up. I prefer to delay the inevitable curse of growing up. I know that day will come sometime. If that day comes soon so be it, I gave all i had. But I don’t want to live an average life. I want to live a vibrant life full of color, energy, blessings, adventures; endless amounts of knowledge, friends, and languages. I want to live a life outside the box, a shape of it’s own making. Cheers to each one of us being the writers, artists, architects of our own lives!


“ Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to it’s not for them. “

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the detail of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” 

– Ernest Hemingway

“Life is unpredictable. 

It changes with the seasons,

Even your coldest winter,

Happens for the best of reasons,

And though it feels eternal,

Like all you’ll ever do is freeze,

I promise spring is coming,

And with it, brand new leaves.”


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