Thursday, May 8, 2014

If Not For You

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, simply because not much has been happening in regards to the post-op areas of life. But I’ve been reading the old blogs in preparation for my seventh annual presentation at Southern New Hampshire University, and it really brings back a flood of memories even I had put behind me and shows me just how far things have come in just seven years.

Although I had retired from being an official in auto racing, I had a few offers to return over the years, all of which I politely rejected. I was very quite content helping two friends (Mike Douglas Sr. & Mike Douglas Jr.) with their modified at Star Speedway. No politics, no back stabbing, no phone calls or e-mails during the week. Just be ready on to work on race day. Not that the Douglas’ actually let me touch the race car at all.

Early in the 2013 racing season, I hurt my left leg while exercising. I ended up with severe varicose veins and tendinitis in both tendons on my left leg. Walking was incredibly painful and often completely out of the question. Keeping my leg up was the only temporary ‘relief’ I could get until I was able to schedule surgery.

One race event I had no choice but to stay seated in the Star Speedway grandstands and perform my spotting duties from there for the evening. I missed being in the action and seeing my friends in the pit area. When it was time for the qualifying races, the mothers of some of our fiercest competitors, who are all in my age bracket, sought me out in the grandstands, so I didn’t have to sit alone.

 Individually, Lisa Wood, Debbie Dore and Leeann Iannarelli found me and soon all were surrounding me in the stands me for the qualifying races. We talked and joked, but as I looked around and thoroughly enjoyed having them for company and support, but internally I was aglow.  I could see what a major deal this was, even if no one else could understand. There was none of baggage of my past, just three women in my age bracket, that took me in as part of the group and sought out a female friend in need. This was the breaking point in which I knew I was finally accepted for who I am, not who I was years ago. No amount of money or surgery could buy the happiness I was feeling inside once I made the realization that I was just another woman.

Circumstances had us going in different directions for the last half of the racing season, and it’ll sadly be the same for the 2014 season, but I’m still in touch with all of them on a regular basis and will continue to be, even away from the race track. Although it wasn’t a conscience decision at first, but this acceptance gave me a new confidence and sense of complete self worth.

Time heals all wounds and the pain I had felt from the betrayal of a handful ‘friends’ of my last days as a racing official was beginning to fade.  As time made the big picture clearer I was able to see who the actual backstabbers were and I backed off from being bitter of all associated, whether they were guilty or not.

In October there was some discussion (not by me) of my returning as an official. When it was proposed publicly, I was met with conflicting feelings. I was truly honored, but I was strongly aware that there could be some conflict of interest and I also had a very strong dread feeling knowing that I was content in retirement, away from the headaches. Did I really want them back again?  The topic came up in conversation over the winter but never too seriously.

In January, there was some light-hearted joking about my returning as an official by the president of a local touring racing division. I wrote it off with humor, but within days I was contacted by a friend involved in the group. He was asking if I would at least consider the offer and be willing to listen instead of flatly declining for once. I believe I shocked all, including myself, when I said “Yes”.  For the first time since 2008, I would be willing to at least talk and hear what the offer might be.

I love my time spent with the Douglas’ and that won’t change one bit. Helping them will still be a priority. But admittedly, there are many factors to consider, especially with the economy, the current instability of auto racing in New England, and the fact that I’m not a mechanic but I am a good racing official. My abilities were being completely underutilized.

The time I spent away from the pressures of racing, the offer to “get back in the saddle” on a part time basis instead of jumping in with both feet, the fellow officials I would be working with (Carrie Kelly & Jennifer Ready especially) and the short amount of travel compared to 2007 and before, made my decision easy for me. I would return to my roots.

I won’t be dealing with too many of the participants of the past. These people will only know Cynthia and my past and baggage should never become of an issue. It may on the rarest occasion, but I’m much mentally stronger now and prepared to deal with the circumstances should they ever arise.

Truly, my consideration and acceptance of this racing position absolutely never would have happened, if it hadn’t been for the before mentioned night at Star Speedway when Leeann, Debbie and Lisa unconditionally took me in as one. A newer racing friend, Kathy Kourafas has also become a great ally as well. I appear to be just another racing friend and a person who was no different than any of them. 

And that is all this girl could ever ask for.

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