Ah, the final Slam of the season has ended. And with it, all of the anticipation and adrenaline of the ultimate tennis event. What do you do with yourself now that the excitement is gone and reality is crashing down around you?
Following the Slams is a commitment. You put in all of the time and emotional investment, you patiently wait for it to happen. Then when it does, it’s beautiful and wonderful and you can’t think of your life without it.
And just when it was getting good, it’s over. You’re left with nothing but emptiness inside — all you have are the memories of your time together. At first you’re hurt. Then you get angry. How dare they leave you like that — cold and flat, without warning, like last year’s fashions. You thought you had something together; something special. Didn’t we click? Didn’t we bond?
Sure, there were rough spots where you didn’t think it was going to work out, but you stuck with it. In your mind there was no stopping a dream final. When Fed lost those two match point opportunities, you knew there would be more. Weren’t you there, on his side until the bitter end?
You start to think of ways of exacting your revenge — to make them feel the pain and emptiness you feel inside. Finally, you break down and just plain cry it out.
Well, folks, this isn’t the last time the Slams will come around. And chances are you’ll fall for their pretty-girl act the next time, too. Here’s my advice for recovering from Post-Slam Depression and getting on with the rest of your life.
Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
It’s bad enough no one watches tennis in the U.S., but to be a known tennis fan and walk around mopey and crying for weeks after the U.S. Open isn’t going to do much for our reputation. You’re not the only one who is suffering. Worldwide, nearly 3 million people watched that Nadal-Djokovic final. Don’t you think they’re hurting, too, right now? Stop thinking about how badly you’ve been hurt. Instead, resolve yourself to get over it. Fortify your mind to the idea of life without tennis. If cold turkey is the way it’s going to be, c’mon, you can handle it!
It could be worse, you could be in Federer’s shoes. Or Roddick’s.
Burn the Memories
You may tell yourself that you’re over it, but if you still have USOpen.org bookmarked on your computer or you find yourself gravitating toward match highlights in moments of weakness, chances are you’re still clinging to the past. Your only option is to get rid of all of the memorabilia that reminds you of what you’ve lost. The official US Open towel? Tie it in a knot and give it to your dog as a chew toy. Bookmarks on your computer? Delete them. That giant autographed tennis ball? Sell it on eBay — for, like, a dollar. The quicker you can get rid of these reminders, the quicker you can begin to heal.
Rearranging the furniture around your house can help, too. This will lend a new feel to the rooms — especially the TV room — and can help you to forget old memories and build new ones.
Keep a Journal
Write down all of the ways tennis has hurt you. If you think you’re up for it, map out your entire relationship with the Open. Write down how you felt at the beginning when times were good. What emotional needs did the event fulfill? Brainstorm other ways you can have these needs met. Then document all of the ways in which the relationship turned sour. What elements of the downfall were you responsible for? Once you feel like the journey is complete, burn the journal. It’s not just that it would be really embarrassing if anyone found this, more importantly, the symbolic act of physically destroying the memento can help you come to terms with the past. And assist in the moving forward process.
There’s Always Football
What about all of the other sports out there, huh? Football’s not that bad. Sure it’s rough and brazen and oh-so-American, but there are moments of beauty, right? Go ahead, give it a go. If nothing more than it might get your mind off of tennis for awhile.
Be careful, though, your ego is at its most delicate at this point. Take it slow and easy. Maybe tune in to SportsCenter to catch a few highlights. Casually catch a game at your favorite watering hole. Make some new friends with sports you might not have considered in the past. Remember, though, not to get too involved. Stay away from championship events. Try not to choose sides on the outcome of a game. Try to keep things light and casual — clinging to something too quickly is a real turn off, and will only lead to more pain if it doesn’t work out.
The worst thing you can do right now is to stay down in the dumps. The pain and emptiness won’t go away on its own. In fact, it might just fester, dragging you down into a morass of self-loathing and desperation.
Your only option is to improve your life. Take this time to reorganize your garage. Get out of the house and into some new projects. Start a new side business. Set new fitness goals and push yourself to surpass them. Get yourself into the best shape of your life. Work on those six-pack abs. Make it a snap to do 100 push-ups. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your self-confidence will return.
The sweetest revenge will be to turn your life around. And there is no better motivation than the sense of betrayal and anger you feel now. How great will it be when you finally run into tennis again and you’re a completely new person? You’ve got the rockin’ six pack going, you’ve started your own lucrative business, you’ve found some new football buddies — not to mention your garage is immaculate.
When the Australian Open comes around you might find yourself not giving a shit. After all, it’s just another tennis tournament…and another opportunity to save yourself some heartache.