I don’t think it is, by any means, unique to me.
Sure, it probably impacts me in slightly more functional ways than most. But I think I experience really bad Cubs moments more or less like any other fan.
So I can tell you that, after yesterday’s game, I was really down.
We all have our processes for those moments, but usually, I beat myself up with the internal yo-yo’ing of deconstruction (“How did the Cubs just lose two of three to a terrible Giants team?”), emotion (“MMMMMMMOTHERFFFFFFFFFFFF”), implication evaluation (“That’s three series lost in a row, and now the Cubs might be without Willson Contreras for a long time – how is this gonna play?”), metaphysical analysis (“Into what context should I put these Cubs losses, and how do they really affect my life?”), optimism (“Hey, man, the Cubs are still in first place, and at least they traded for Alex Avila, so this could be a lot worse”), hunger (“How big is too big for a bowl of ice cream?”) and despair (“How many bowls of ice cream are too many bowls of ice cream?”).
I’m trying to be better about all of this, because, the reality is, outside of the deconstruction and implication evaluation – which I can use to inform my work here – there’s not a lot of personal value there to be had in the rest. I’m beating myself up for no benefit.
So instead, after yesterday’s loss, and after Contreras’s injury, I decided to beat myself up another way.
Well, decided is probably too strong of a word. It more or less happened to me as I (now realize I) tried to avoid that persistent and annoying internal dialogue about the state of things in the Cubs’ world. I went to an hour-long exercise class right after the game ended, which is something I try to do daily anyway. (Hey, I know it is historically the province of women, but it is the only consistent exercise method that’s worked for me in my life – and these classes are ridiculously challenging.) But this time, I stayed for a second hour-long class.
Fifteen minutes into that second class, not only was I dying, but I could not possibly give the tiniest crap about the Cubs’ travails. I mean that in a very literal way. It was not possible for me to allow even a single neuron to fire about Kyle Hendricks’ velocity or Ben Zobrist’s season-long slump.
At the end of the second class, I felt considerably more beat up than I felt a couple hours earlier after the Cubs game ended. I also felt much, much better.
There was a layer of distance from what had happened in the game, giving me a chance to grab a couple kinds of perspective: (1) relax dude, it’s not like you got injured, and your life will basically be the same tomorrow as it was today; and (2) the Cubs are going through a bad stretch and losing Contreras for a length of time would make things harder, but I still like their chances win the Central.
Clearly, doubling up classes was a much more productive way to beat myself up.
We’ve all gotta find the things that help set us right again, whether processing a tough sports loss or dealing with something infinitely more consequential. Yesterday, pummeling myself with exercise worked because it put my mind in an entirely different place for long enough to create sufficient distance. For me, whatever I’m dealing with, that distance seems to be key.
With that distance, the other thing I thought was that days like yesterday remain part of the bargain of fandom. If you want to feel the highest of the highs – if you want to get even marginal joy out of a random August win – then you’re going to have to allow yourself to also feel the low of a terrible series loss, after two other series losses, and a possible serious injury. This is what we signed up for, my friends.
Tired, beat up, disappointed, but mostly at peace after all that last night … that’s when I went ahead and had a giant bowl of ice cream.