At 28, Ronda Rousey was on top of the world.
For two years the buffed and powerful American was the undefeated queen of the brutal MMA (cage-fighting) sport, with eight of her 12 wins finishing in the first round and a handful ending in decisive knockouts. Magazines named her the most “dominant active” athlete. Rolling Stone profiled her. The Most Dangerous Woman, they called it. Her powerhouse athletic fame and incongruous sweet face led her to bit parts in movies. She penned an autobiography. She appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Then she had a fight in Melbourne late last year and was knocked out by former boxing champ and underdog, Holly Holm. Rousey was taken straight away to hospital bloodied and bruised and withdrew from the public eye.
But now, Rousey, 29, has told Ellen DeGeneres that the loss not only left her battered physically, but emotionally, and it made her contemplate suicide.
“Honestly my thought in the medical room, I was like down in the corner and I was sitting in the corner and I was like, “What am I anymore if I’m not this?”‘ Rousey said.
“I was literally sitting there thinking about killing myself and in that exact second I’m like ‘I’m nothing, what do I do anymore, and no one gives a shit about me anymore without this’.”
Watch Rousey share this devastating revelation with Ellen. (Post continues after video)
Ellen congratulated Rousey for her honesty and her vulnerability.
“I think showing vulnerability and showing just because you’re strong doesn’t mean you don’t have a soft side and a vulnerable side – and I think it’s important to have both. If you’re just strong, you’re not a human being,” Ellen told her.
Rousey has been honest and vulnerable, she has also had a catastrophic response to failing at her job on a mild November afternoon.
Maybe most of us don’t fail on such a public level, but just like love, failure is all around us.
Everybody will experience it – the minor daily failures and the life changing ones. People lose privately and hard in the game of life (houses, jobs, partners) and people lose publicly (sportspeople, politicians, high profile business people, celebrities, social media stars). Not winning all the time is a part of life. We all fail and I’m so sorry that Rousey experienced such pain and anguish after she lost her fight to Holm, but accepting suicide as a legitimate response to failure worries me.
Yes, let’s talk about suicide. Let’s talk about mental health and mental illness. Let’s talk about how we really feel. Let’s be vulnerable and honest. Let’s talk about everything we want to including the fact we are human and we are allowed to fail. Let’s talk about the reality that at some point in our lives we will experience seismic failure. There is only so long anyone can outrun it.
But let’s also talk about how we can get back up when we fall. Let’s talk about how we will help each other stand again. Let’s talk about how we will move on.
The buzzword attached to this “getting back up” is resilience. There are courses at kindies, universities and workplaces throughout Australia that promote, encourage and teach resilience. It’s what we all want for our children and for the people we love: resilience. We teach it because life knocks everyone around – in and out of the ring.
In the Ellen interview Rousey credited her partner, Travis Browne, for getting her through the aftermath of her defeat.
“To be honest I looked up and I saw my man Travis (Browne) was standing up there and I looked up at him and I was like, ‘I need to have his babies. I need to stay alive’,” Rousey said.
Rousey told Ellen she felt she lost more than the fight. She lost herself.
Rousey is human just like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us she failed, big time. It was awful and it was public and it was a million painful things but the answer is so far from suicide. So very far.
The answer is to get back up again, for herself and for everyone she loves.
If you found this post upsetting, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website at https://www.lifeline.org.au/