We finished Girl Games yesterday.
What better Mother’s Day present for these gals than to let them go play with their friends for a couple days?!
We had 40 women compete. Each event has its own personality, and this one had so many cool moments that you can see on Instagram, but I wanted to share part of our last email to the group because I think someone out there needs to hear this.
My “real job” is in marketing.
I’m supposed to understand the kinds of messaging and trends that will get more eyeballs on someone’s products so more people will buy or vote or allocate time to whatever items or causes are out there.
Look, we live in a world where negativity and fear get more shares, likes, clicks, and action. That’s the sad truth.
What this does is it lowers our optimism. It reduces self-esteem. It makes us feel like we are failing in some way and that things are only going to get worse.
With women, marketing is often more subtle and subversive.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great messages out there promoting positivity, but the subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints around body image, sexuality, expectations, and what makes you a good woman bombards you. I see it being sold to my wife. I see it targeting my daughters.
We just spent two days with a group of 40ish people.
We got to rub shoulders with business owners, professionals, mothers, wives, sisters, and friends. Women who have accomplished unbelievable things in sports, in their professions, in their relationships, and in their homes.
Many of you don’t realize this, but as you are warming up for a silly football-throwing contest or jamming out to the killer Girl Games playlist on Spotify (Caitlin’s doing), one or more of your teammates were talking about you, with me, behind your back.
They are pointing at you, and sharing with me the remarkable talents and abilities you have that have nothing to do with sports. They are telling me about that time you two laughed until you cried, or about that time you were there for her in a dark time when you both cried so long together and neither one of you thought you’d make it out.
I hear about many of your struggles and get a glimpse into some of the things you have overcome. I am in awe of the power and strength that I was fortunate enough to be around these past two days, both your personal resilience, and the strength of your friendships.
At Girl Games, I shared how the first time Caitlin heard me cry was after 10 years of marriage. I had a terrible nightmare, which I’ll never forget, where I was holding my daughter and watched her die in my arms. I was crying in the dream and so when I woke up, I was also crying.
I don’t feel like this should count though, because how am I supposed to stop that from happening? It was cheating for sure.
Even so, I was embarrassed because I am supposed to be strong, and I didn’t think Caitlin would want a guy who cries. Also, I’m not a pretty crier…
This weekend, there are multiple women who have lived through my nightmare in real life.
There were women at Girl Games who have had to hold their lifeless child in their arms and say goodbye. They have had to deal with the finality of that experience in a way I cannot imagine and would not wish on my worst enemy.
We have women who have children with severe disabilities that will be 100% reliant on them for the rest of that child’s life. They don’t get to experience the same dreams of seeing their son or daughter play sports or ride a bike, or have the goals that most of us have – a career, a family, or a loving, romantic relationship.
We have women who had to say goodbye to a parent too soon because of a horrific accident or cancer or another disease.
We have women who have been through a painful divorce, where the man to whom they gave their whole heart and their whole soul betrayed them and left them to raise their children alone.
We have single moms, who sacrifice themselves to work long hours at a job they hate to provide a life for their kids. They shield their kids from the fiery arrows life rains down on them so their kids don’t have to know about the pressure, fear, and anxiety that the real world brings and that these women suffer through each and every day.
We have women who feel trapped in a marriage where their husband doesn’t show the same love and affection or even kindness to them. They feel trapped because they have a child or several children and are sacrificing their happiness to try and give some semblance of stability to their children.
We have women who are uncomfortable in their own skin, and even though they are stunning, gorgeous, and beautiful, they will never feel or see themselves in that way, and will spend days and weeks and months and years hurting because of this. They don’t feel they are enough. They feel inadequate. They feel scared.
We have women who are battling deep depression and anxiety in its strongest form. Who feel the weight and the cloud of darkness and paralyzing thoughts, and the suffocating fear, and the hopelessness that comes with these feelings.
Every day is a fight to get up and put one more step in front of the other when all you want to do is lay in bed. They force themselves out of their comfort zone because they know that giving up and wallowing alone just cannot be the best option, even though there are moments where our demons try to convince us that it is the only option.
We have women who feel unimaginable, crippling loneliness.
You Are Not Alone
Hopefully Girl Games was fun. We all like to tap into things that are fun again. But Girl Games is supposed to be so much more than just a weekend to get a swag bag, play sports and win prizes.
Girl Games is a chance to get away and forget about the shitty parts of life, and it’s an opportunity to recognize that You. Are. Not. Alone.
You are surrounded by women from all walks of life who are now your friends, your confidants, your shoulders to cry on.
There were competitive moments. There were frustrations and tears and times where you had to stand your ground and push back on certain games, or plays, or calls.
That’s what happens when you care.
You fight. And in sports, there is a definitive end to that fight.
But in life, there isn’t.
Life doesn’t play by the rules.
Life doesn’t care if you deserve it or if you want it more.
You can be doing everything right, and still end up trapped in a pit that feels impossible to climb out of.
The last group of women I want to mention
We have women in this group who are THAT person.
The one who recognizes the above situations in others and who is THAT friend who fights and scratches and claws and refuses to let her friend sink deeper and deeper into sadness and hopelessness. Who takes her friend by the hand and yanks her out of that pit they find themselves in.
They fight others who would try and tear down their friends or family. They defend the smaller or weaker or less self-assured because they know what it’s like and they will not allow others to be bullied.
This is my mom. She is a fighter. She is a defender of what she feels is right. And not just on this Mother’s Day, but every day, that is who I hope to be when I grow up.
As often as you can, be THAT person. Be the force for good that you know you can be. Lift others with positivity. Find empathy for others who act in certain ways you don’t agree with. Chances are, they are dealing with traumas both seen and unseen that are deep-rooted scars from their past as well as stingingly fresh cuts – recent, and raw.
We often judge others by their behavior, ascribing intentions to them. And then we judge ourselves by our intentions, justifying our behaviors.
We can’t fully see or know the intentions of others, and if we could, maybe we’d be a little more forgiving.
Thank you for being who you are.
Thank you for sharing your stories with me as well as the stories of your teammates.
Thank you for the love and support you showed to us and to others.
Erik & Caitlin Soderborg