One year ago today - on a much cloudier, much colder, and quite frankly very hungover morning - I went out to run. My goal was either 4 miles or 5, whichever sleepy, hungover self was willing to give me. As usual, once I started, I felt wonderful - still exhausted and very heavy, but wonderful. Running makes me feel alive even when I am at my most physically or emotionally heavy.
Halfway through, my hip, as I tend to say, exploded. It started small, like I just needed to stretch in a particular way I couldn't get to, and then bloomed out from sharp pain in my groin to dull pain down my hamstring, up my back, and sharper sharper pain down my inner thigh all the way to my knee. Figuring I tore something and I'd have to take a couple of weeks off - and feeling oh so proud of myself for being mature enough to be willing to sacrifice two whole weeks of training, because I learned my lesson about pushing through pain, and surely I'd be rewarded for my restraint - I walked home.
Most of you kind and indulgent enough to read this have probably heard me tell this story approximately 75,487 times over the last 365 days. Thank you for tolerating it again.
Where I was a year ago and where I am now could not be more different - for the worse, because this injury has plagued me all year and I'm still not all the way rid of it, and for the better, loath though I sometimes am to admit it.
It's hard to feel grateful for a character-building struggle that you're still in the midst of. In the thick of it, there's still resentment and resistance and anger and lots of "Why me?" and sometimes a total lack of recognition of what life suddenly looks like now.
It's hard to feel grateful for something that has taken away so many things that I looked at as my identity. Runner. Yogi. Athlete. Grown-up-kid. Person with the ability to sit with legs crossed. Or person with the ability to sit longer than 15 minutes without pain. After I stopped dancing at age 13, I largely stopped moving. Taking up running and yoga at end of college and the beginning of 'adulthood' gave me a power and confidence and a freedom in my body for which I have a tremendous amount of gratitude. Being without that has been frightening.
It's hard to feel grateful for something that has made me feel old and restricted and sedentary and oh so frustrated. It shoved me forward to make a career change that has been overdue and yet still somehow came way too soon. It's forced me to deal with things not just by running and giving myself endorphins to release the stress. I won't say I've been fully successful, but I've at least been forced to explore other ways of coping. If anything (besides the steadfast support of husband, family, and friends) has kept me relatively sane this year, it's been writing.
And yet, this is my first post in months. Everything between September and now just felt too raw and personal to put out into the world - and when would I even have had time to catch my breath and write it down?
After 8 absolutely soul-filling years working with kids and families at Karma Kids Yoga and The Giving Tree, it was time to move on. My body couldn't do it anymore, and at 34 staring down the barrel at 35, after a year of lots of medical bills, my bank account couldn't either. My departure could not have been more full of love, support, tears, laughter, or glitter. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude, and even though I know I'm moving in the right direction, I'm still filled with grief sometimes at the change.
My new home is Prehab, a place of healing and good people doing good work. There is less glitter, but there is love and support and treatment and room for handstands, which are non-negotiable factors for me in any place I will ever go. I'm surrounded by folks whose injuries and maladies exceed mine to the point of making me feel beyond humbled and small and grateful for all that is right with me. I'm surrounded by elite athletes at the absolute top of their game who inspire me so much the word feels wildly insufficient.
I talk to patients a lot about being asked how we're feeling, and how even when we're feeling better, we're sometimes loath to use that word. To me, "Better" feels like it should mean "All better." But I'm still not all better, and my intense impatience just cannot abide that truth. It feels like injustice. I'm doing all the homework. I couldn't be more dedicated or diligent. I deserve to be all better. It's hard to own "Better" when your focus isn't on the improvement, it's on the stuff that's still not better after all this time!
But I know that life isn't about deserve. Life is not fair. What I don't fully know and am being taught, is that "Better" is still good and worthy of celebration and sharing and honoring.
I am doing better. You may not guess it from all the melodrama of this update, but I am. It still hurts to sit cross legged or be too externally or internally rotated in my hip. I still can't sit for a long time without pain. Yoga classes are not necessarily in my near future. But two weeks ago I was able to hug my knees into my chest - BOTH of them - for the first time without pain and I thought I would explode with gratitude. There is much less pain. I can sit for longer. I have more range of motion. I can squat again! The gratitude!
I've gone outside twice now for two little mini baby tester "runs." Three minutes walking, one minute running. Lots of paying attention. That first one, I walked outside in the pre-dawn and the moon could not have been brighter. I remembered how much more I miss about running than just the act and the endorphins and the stress relief, but I miss being outside now, I miss being outside all the time, weather be damned, and having that time to connect to the world around me.
There's still pain when I run, but it's less. And I know more about it now. I'm still learning more about it. The second time I went, there was less than the first. I'm doing so much more to help heal myself and I can see that there's actual progress.
It's been hard to own "Better," and to believe that better, even when it's just a little, is really important. That the small steps are there to be celebrated and not resented for not being bigger. And lord, I can't even write yet about learning about faith and hope and forgiveness and letting go and all those scary things. Those are still very much in progress.
What I think this year has done the most is force me out of my body and force me deeper into my head and heart and into the experience of intense humility. It's been scary and full of powerful resentment, anger, and grief. But holy shit, has it been important.
So one year later, I'm not done. None of us are ever "done." (Especially not if you ask my mom, who if she's reading this, is correcting my use of "done" to "finished.") But I am better. And I know now that I have to own that and celebrate it and look forward with hope instead of looking at where I am with disdain and impatience to keep getting better. Hope is a very vulnerable thing. So I'm working on it.
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