I would venture to say that I have a bit of a reputation amongst a section of the British ice hockey fan base for being, well, a bit of a prick. I’ve had interactions with a number of people over the years where my behaviour and words have been somewhat inflammatory and aggressive.
You see, I get very passionate about things. And that passion often manifests itself as a very loud, angry, aggressive persona. And over time, this has eroded a lot of sympathy and empathy for both myself and the club I loved (and still do). But why am I writing this now?
Well, after the Phoenix ceased to be last February, I found that I was sliding into a deep, deep depression. Now, I’d already spent plenty of time over the years being depressed. That’s just part of me. I’m a depressive. And at the time, I thought that it was the hockey, and the rancour that surrounded it at the time, that was the cause of my latest bout. I was wrong. You see, the hockey was both a cause of and release from my depressive state of mind.
When I was sat at home, in front of my computer, I found myself becoming increasingly anxious and angry about what some people were saying about myself, and people who were very close to me. And I often lashed out at them. This in turn made me feel even more anxious and miserable, pushing me further down the spiral. Countering that was the feeling of joy I got from actually being at the games. Yes, the travel to Deeside and Blackpool (then Widnes) was a pain in the arse, but the camaraderie and feeling of family I got from my fiends lifted my mood immeasurably. I wouldn’t ever trade that feeling for the world. The drives with Russ, Ange, Caz, and Brenda were fun. We loved our club, and we loved each other.
So when that was taken away from me, after a very brief period of time (maybe a couple of days), I felt somewhat lost. Cut adrift. And I began to sink further down. Eventually, I ended up signed off work for 4 months, as the combination of my low self esteem about my workplace achievements, and the loss of my “release valve” took its toll. And during this period there were times when it would probably have been better if I had just stepped away from my keyboard and let the sport just carry on without comment. But I couldn’t help myself. I know that I certainly projected my misery onto some Manchester Storm fans. Some of it I feel was justified, but the vast majority was out of pure misery and spite. In effect I was trying to give other people an excuse to “force” me away from the sport. Indeed, after the charity game last year, my interactions with the sport became very infrequent (as the lack of posts on this blog and my twitter feed will attest).
But now, I feel I have come out from under the shadow of the darkness (or at least I can see the way out). There has been a lot of talking, thinking, and even action. I feel that I am in a better place. And I can now openly acknowledge my mistakes. I can see where (and when) I was wrong, if not in what I wanted to communicate, but in how I did it.
So this is an apology, I guess. I own all my mistakes. And I know there is no going back. I’m cut off from a large part of a community I love, and I know it is at least partly my own doing. And I’m at peace with that. I don’t expect forgiveness. Or even understanding. It’s just I’ve reached a new point in my life where I’m starting to admit my faults and work to seriously address them. And I needed to express this. I’m trying to become a better man. I hope I’m succeeding.