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  • Maya Molldrem

Maya's Story

My name is Maya Emily Molldrem. Once upon a time, I was born in San Francisco. Another once upon a time, I had long dark hair, loved reading (still do), writing (still do), drawing, and above all, gymnastics (still do).

I started the sport when I was about four years old, and started competing at age six. Besides the fact that it could be pretty frustrating and painful at times, I was in absolute love with my sport, and I was fairly good at it as well. I happily succeeded through all the Junior Olympic levels suffering injuries here and there along the way while collecting State and Regional titles.

It was the night before my very first level ten meet and I was super excited; I had gone through pain and hard work to finally be feeling good at this level. That night changed my life. On my very last tumbling pass, I twisted my knee and tore my ACL and meniscus. I competed bars with my knee torn two (2) weeks later because we didn't know how serious it was until my knee gave way again and the specialist diagnosed it. It required surgery and about 8 months of recovery to completely return to doing my level of gymnastics again.


The week immediately following my surgery, completely in pain and not able to hardly do anything or even walk, I felt useless, and worse, I felt as though I let my parents and my coaches down. I had goals of getting to an elite level (not the Olympics but somewhere near that level). I was so disappointed in myself, because I felt so far behind everyone and everything. My depression became so intense, I started harming myself. First, with scissors, then with razors, clips, or anything jagged enough to cut and draw blood.

I'm not sure why. I can't decide if it was me punishing myself without truly realizing it, or if it was me doing it so I felt something else inside besides the hate, disappointment, and frustration with myself. Maybe it was a bit of both.


One month after my 1st major surgery, my best friend moved to Canada. I was devastated because she understood me and made me laugh like nobody else could. Shortly after that happened, I left my gym to transfer to another one that could safely train me, especially since I had to undergo another small surgery to cleanup parts of my knee that didn't heal properly and to take out a small mass of scar tissue that had formed.


I had been at my old gym for nearly 9 years of my life. And everyone there...my my coaches, my teammates, the young kids training who looked up to me, the parents, EVERYONE...they were all my family. We had been through some shitty times together, but shared the greatest of times. I made best friends there. I loved everybody there and couldn't imagine a gymnastics world without them.


At my new gym, I felt like everyone there looked down on me as an outsider, with the exception of very few. Three, to be exact. It made me feel worse than I already did. I felt incredibly alone, with no one to talk to. It made me want to isolate myself, and it made me miss my old gym and everybody there more than I already did. The emotional pain and the cutting got worse and my school decided they knew best and had me admitted to a mental hospital.


After I got diagnosed with a wrist problem that would require two surgeries to correct, my parents decided that maybe it was time to stop gymnastics, and try diving instead. Diving could give me the opportunity to stay active, possible compete in another sport and not have to have surgery.


Today I can admit that switching to diving was probably one of the best things for me. My teammates are awesome and they made me feel welcome from the start. I made very good friends (with the exception of one psychotic bitch) and better than anything: I was pain free. Finally. I'm more confident and comfortable in my skin than I have been in a long time. I've stopped cutting, I've graduated to only monthly visits with my psychologist, I cut my long hair off and I'm happy more often than I'm sad.


I have been doing diving for about 9-10 months now. Quitting the sport I had loved and had been good at for more than half of my life feels was like breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend you had been dating for nine years. I was still attached, so, incredibly attached, even after leaving it. I still am. Gymnastics felt like it was literally apart of me. It still does. I still don't feel like a diver, and there are still nights when that one tiny tear drops out because I still stubbornly wish I was back in the sport I had been doing since I was four. I am a gymnast. I'll always be a gymnast. I'll never be anything else.

But that's not true is it? I'm more than a gymnast or a even a diver, aren't I?


There are still many days when I don't know who I am if I'm not a gymnast. But I try. And I'll keep on trying. Until gymnastics isn't me, it's part of me, and until I can learn to love life, even with all the diddly squat it throws my way.


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