When losing is winning

I have several times mentioned my fear of returning to my hyper competitive ways. The days when I so desperately needed to win that if I should lose to a better player...well, irrelevant because you could never convince me anyone WAS  better player. Even if they were more talented, I had to win so bad that I outworked them and beat them which defined me as the better player.

And heaven forfend I should lose to a worse player. I would be down for hours even after I avenged the defeat with repeated demolitions of them in competition.

How ingrained was this? People who, to the best of my knowledge, never played me in any competition were heard this past Saturday to say, after I flopped playing Frogger, "Somebody beat you at something?"

Yes, little sis...I have grown up. I can play and lose with grace these days.

Tonight was the tournament I wrote about a couple days ago. And I had found myself becoming "that guy" again...the hyper competitive jerk who HAD to win. So I made a deliberate choice. Winning was too important to me. So I decided to throw the first game, taking myself out of he tournament. Then I could just play the rest of the night, have fun, get exercise.

I was matched up against a guy I had thought was a "B" player, the division above me. That ALMOST brought back the fire. But I throttled it. I was going half speed and he started building a lead.

But a funny thing happened. He also started...cheating is too harsh a word, but playing cheap is not. Calling things hinders that were not hinders.

(A "hinder" is when the opposing player's position prevents you from making a shot).

He called a ball I scored on out when it was obviously good. He muffed a shot when I was three feet behind him and called a hinder.

And I got mad.

Angry Drew is the competitive, talented beast who simply will not lose.

It was 7-0 when he made the 4th cheap call. It was 12-7, my lead, when he next scored. It was 15-10 when the game finished. From that moment, I turned it on and absolutely destroyed him. I wrecked his spirit, ripped out his heart and made a point of doing so.

At one point I watched his position and deliberately blasted it right past him so fast he had no chance. He thought he should have gotten it and said, "Oof. I gave that one to you." To which I sanpped, "You mean I took it from you. You had no chance on that one."

And THAT is the guy I am ashamed of. There was no point to that. That was a vicious, pointless comment that did nothing to make me feel better and a lot to make him feel worse. I am embarrassed and saddened. THAT is the me I despise and am trying to get rid of.

After I wrecked him I was matched up with a nice guy who I am completely in his head. He knows I am faster, stronger, more agile, and have better shots than he does. More to the point, he had watched me play a game last wekk and after it, shaking his head, said, "Do you ever quit on a ball? I have never seen anyone go after after ball like that. It is impossible to get the ball past you."

Sure enough, I jumped out to an 8-2 lead. I had the serve. I could do anything I wanted. I looked back and saw his eyes. He was discouraged and on the verge of being depressed by the absolute demolition I was laying on him.

It was the moment of truth. There is no question if I win this game, I win the tournament. But is that the guy I want to be?

5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago...yes. I would have destroyed him and the only thought I would have had would have been pride at my superiority.

The older, more mature guy did something I would not have believed possible.

I suppressed angry Drew. I got out of destroyer mode. I changed up my game. Instead of putting him out of position with my serve and blasting him into oblivion, I turned it into a game we both had a chance in.

And to his credit he stepped up and played better than I have ever seen him play. In the end, he won 15-14.

And I have never been happier. I played down to his level, it was a fun and entertaining game, and most importantly; whether I won or lost, I did the right thing.

I still played to win, but not to destroy. I played to have fun. I played to get exercise. Had I won I would not have been upset with myself. Having lost, I give credit to him for outplaying me.

Maturity. Self-control. Progress.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control; early on I failed every one of those. There was no joy in my anger, no peace, no patience with another's failings. But in the second game...and in the rest of the night...God's grace allowed me to find my way back.

Yes, I lost a winnable tournament. But I feel so much better about that than had I remained "me" and won it.

I lost the battle, but I won the war.

1 comment:

Riot Kitty said...

Good for you - I know how hard that is. It has taken a long time for me to realize that I just need to do my best, not be the absolute fucking best and better than everyone else.