If you are just joining me now for the first time…welcome! Before you continue on, refer to my first blog post The Beginning Pt.1 and start my story from “The Beginning”.
My final tennis season started and I was so excited to see what I could do considering I hadn’t competed for 11 months due to my ACL surgery. I was definitely a little nervous considering a lot of people re-tear their ACL’s if they come back too soon. On top of it, I know of many athletes who came back to tennis after an ACL and were never the same.
Our first couple of matches in the season were considered “practice matches” so we could play against some good teams until our actual season started. We flew to Texas and we played against SMU, Texas Tech, and one other university. My first few matches were shaky, I had a hard time trusting my knee in the beginning.
After our matches in Texas, it was time for the season to officially start. Our first home match of the season was against Weber. I was practicing well before our matches and earned my #1 singles spot back. It put a lot of pressure on me though because I knew I had to prove myself… prove that I could play #1.
I played my first match and won in the number one position against Weber. I would say it was a fairly easy match for me. I always show confidence when I play so I think I naturally use intimidation as a tactic every time I step on the court. I could talk about all my matches but I don’t think that would be too exciting for you to read so I’ll tell you about two of my top highlights from that tennis season.
The first highlight was playing doubles with a new freshman on the team from Russia. We were a little shaky together at first but after playing a few times together we started to kill it. We hardly lost any matches together and by the end of my final tennis season we were ranked #38 and almost on the list to compete in the NCAA tournament. Which if you know college tennis, is a BIG deal.
Sadly we were only a couple spots away from going to the NCAA’s but I think if we had more opportunities to play other ranked teams during the season then we would have been top 20! I say this because there was a couple of teams we played who were top 20 that we had beat easily.
My second highlight was definitely one of my favorite matches of my college career. It was senior day. Senior day is always at the end of the year for college sports where you highlight your senior player because they are leaving and it’s their final season. So if you lose on senior day when you’re a senior, it kind of sucks.
We were playing against St. Mary’s who is always a pretty tough team every year. My partner and I won doubles, so we were off to a good start. The girl I was playing was a pretty good player and our match was going back and forth the whole time. I lost the first set 4-6 but I never felt too worried about it.
I battled back in the second set and the match was tight. All the matches were done besides me and my doubles partner who was playing next to me at the #2 spot. Our team was down 2-3 in total matches which means that my partner next to me had to win her match and I had to win my match to beat St. Mary’s. We were both losing in the second set.
I saved four match points in the second set and came back to win the second set 7-6. My doubles partner came back and won her second set as well. Now we were both in the third set of the match battling for the win. My partner on the court next to me ended up winning her match fairly quickly in the third set which means the match came down to me. I had to win this match for our team to win and secure our spot in the West Coast Conference playoffs.
The match came down to the wire. I went down 4-5 then I would get it to 5-5 then I would go down again 5-6 then I got it to 6-6 which means you play a tie-breaker. A tie-breaker is played first to 7 points. There was so much tension, and although I was nervous because my team was relying on me, I knew I was going to pull through. Being a senior, I was used to high-pressure situations and I knew I could win.
Both teams are lined up on the side you are competing on. My team screams and cheers every time I win a point and so does hers. It is so intense! Luckily I pulled through winning the tie-breaker 7-4. I was so happy inside. It was by far the most rewarding match I had played.
It was the first match where I actually cried when I won. My sister/ coach came over to me and we hugged and cried as we held each other. This was the last match of my college career at BYU. I had gone through SO much to get here and it was now over. I honestly felt SO proud of myself. I FREAKING DID IT. I came back to tennis after so many trials: my abusive relationship, having a baby, losing my boyfriend, and tearing my ACL.
I look back and think, “wow, I can’t believe I did it!” Let this be known, if I can do it, YOU can do it too.
Therapy and PTSD
I wasn’t planning on talking about this in this blog post but I definitely feel like it needs a mention. February 2018 I finally decided to go to therapy. I had been experiencing PTSD from my abuse and rape for quite some time but I always just brushed it under the rug and acted like I was completely fine. I had told Jacob bits and pieces of my past abusive relationship but I never mentioned that I was still struggling.
I started feeling depressed again, but this time more frequently. I remember I was on Facebook and there was a “memory” from 4 years ago and it was a picture of my abusive ex-boyfriend and I. One old picture sent me into a funk for the rest of the day. I became depressed but couldn’t even explain why.
But there was one event that was the final straw and I knew I needed help. I had just dropped my mom off at the airport and I had an hour long drive home. I was listening to random songs on Spotify when an old song came on that reminded me of him. Instantly I had flashbacks and horrible memories from the abuse I experienced.
I started to feel anger, anxiety, and depression all at once. I didn’t realize that all of these emotions were leading me to be reckless. I looked down and I was going 100mph on a busy freeway. I thought to myself, ”I don’t even care what happens to me right now.” As soon as that thought came into my mind I thought of Hudson and then I instantly broke down into tears.
I didn’t know why I felt like this. I was so mad at myself for being so reckless and not caring about my own life. I had a son to take care of! “How could I be so selfish?” I thought. I cried my whole drive back to Provo, I knew it was time to take care of all of these traumatic events and things I have been holding in for so long.
I didn’t mention this before, but when I was pregnant I also experienced PTSD. At least once a week I would have a dream about my abusive ex. Most of the dreams consisted of him getting mad at me for being pregnant by another man and him trying to hurt me in some kind of way. Other dreams involved him claiming it was his baby and he was going to take him away from me. I look back on all of this and wish I would have gotten help sooner.
I went to a therapist at BYU and it helped me SO much. Just being able to tell him my story and lay it all out there was so nice. I think the biggest thing for me was forgiving myself and realizing that what happened to me was not my fault. I always blamed myself for what happened and wished I was smarter, but now I know that it wasn’t me, it was him.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or anything else, get help! If you need an online resource to help you overcome these things, Click Here!
Tennis season ended and now it was time for wedding season! I was so excited for my wedding and I only had one more month until the big day! Most of my last minute planning was spent on little details such as modern vases for candles and party favors. Still, wedding planning was stressful! But now it was time for my bachelorette party, and we were headed for Vegas!
We left for Vegas on June 1st, only one week before my wedding. We stayed at the Palazzo and it was SO perfect for a bachelorette party because their standard rooms are so big! The first night we got there we went shopping for a little and then got ready for the night. Next, we headed out for dinner. After only 5 minutes of being seated, the waitress comes to our table with shots of alcohol for everyone. A group of guys saw us walk in and bought shots for the whole table. I don’t drink and neither do my sisters and LDS friends, but I had a few friends at my bachelorette party that did! So my friends that did drink tried it but the rest just went to waste.
After dinner, we went to the club Omnia at Caesars Palace. Having a group of girls is so nice because you don’t have to pay for anything! We got in the club for free and we got VIP seats. So were in the booth right next to Calvin Harris. We were so close that I could literally touch him. We stayed out until probably 3 am then decided to call it a night.
The next day we went to a pool party at the MGM Grand hotel and it was a lot more fun than I thought. Once again we got VIP access and got to hang out in a cabana with a private pool and free food! It was seriously the best time. We ended up staying at the pool party for quite some time before we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the night.
We got ready and went to a delicious restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel called Culinary Dropout. We got free appetizers and dessert… being a woman in Vegas definitely has its perks! You can basically get everything for free.
After dinner, all the girls wanted to go to the Magic Mike show. I personally didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to be dragged up on stage to do something embarrassing since I was the bride to be. Also, I would feel like a total hypocrite because I told Jacob I didn’t want him doing anything wild or crazy. So I felt like if I went to that show it would be rude haha. So instead we headed to the Wynn hotel to see Kygo!
Once again we got VIP but this time they called it “VVIP” because we got to go into the booth right next to Kygo. Basically what happens is some rich guy buys the booth and then club promoters get cute girls into the booths for the guys. Which is honestly kind of gross. This is the one time where I felt objectified as a woman.
We get into this booth and we have to wait for the guy who purchased the booth to come in. The guy shows up with his group of friends and they are all over the age of 50. They had banners and flags and sparklers for his “grand entrance.” The reason why they made his entrance such a big deal is that this guy spent 60k on the booth for just one night.
That’s when I started to feel a little uncomfortable. There were older men everywhere in this booth just trying to get us to dance with them and hang out with them. It was so weird. Then they started bringing out these bottles of champagne that were made out of 14k gold. The bottles were thousands and thousands of dollars each.
Girls served the champagne to us and my sister and I politely declined. The girl then said, “you’re not here to just sit here and look pretty, you’re here to drink and have a good time.” Then forced the champagne glasses into our hands. We just held the glass and ever so often when people weren’t looking we would dump them out, or I would give it to my friends who did drink.
The whole process was kind of weird and off-putting but clubs basically just try to make as much money as they can. We ended up leaving the club again around 3 a.m. The next morning we laid out at the pool and then drove back home.
I had so much fun… it was a weekend I will never forget! Literally the best bachelorette party ever! I was so glad to be able to just have one last hurrah with my girlfriends and be able to celebrate becoming Mrs. Neeley!
Coming up: THE WEDDING (going to be sharing my whole day with you and SO many photos that I have never shared!)