File this one under: reclaiming a piece of myself.
I was a runner before I got sick. In fact, I ran a half marathon just two weeks before everything fell apart.
All these years I’ve been sick, I’ve held on to the image of myself running. Of feeling free and alive and healthy.
But running left my life as swiftly, dramatically and unexpectedly as illness entered it. And with the loss of running came the loss of something that felt essential to my self-concept. And my happiness.
As my illness progressed, I slowly morphed from a person to a patient.
I don’t know where or when exactly, but somewhere over the last few years, things finally started to turn around both physically and mentally. And now I am morphing in the opposite direction — from patient to person.
It’s a slow, arduous process, and it’s definitely not in a straight line. But every time I tap into a part of myself that was pre-illness, pre-heartache, pre-suffering, I feel a little more alive. A little more person. A little less patient. A little more like myself.
I just finished running a 5k.
I didn’t train for it. I wasn’t planning to run. The plan was to walk. But as I approached start line, I said “F**k it, I’m running.” I had absolutely no intention of doing so. It was just a wild hair. I figured I could pull it off since I’m in fairly good shape from walking most days.
Can I tell you how glorious it felt? I was slow, I walked a little in the middle, but I ran more than I walked. I freaking ran. And with every step, I slipped just a little more into my old skin. I felt alive, free and happy. Just like I used to. I swear, I was grinning the whole time.
And when I crossed the finish line, I felt like some sort of conquering hero, returning from battle. I was smiling, I was floating, I was free.
I was myself.
It would be hard for me to explain how significant that is, or how tremendous it feels. You could only understand if you’d seen the devil and lived to tell about it.
I have no idea what my finish time is. It’s surely unremarkable, and it’s not even the point.
Because regardless of my time, I won.
As an added bonus, I was joined by my teenage daughter. No small feat, as the race started at 6:50 AM, which amounts to the middle of the night in teenage time. Plus, she was under the impression we were walking until I said “let’s go”. She was a gamer, though, and I’m so proud of her. So proud of us. So grateful for this day. For this moment.
Happy 4th everybody.