When the blog is quiet, it can only mean one of two things. Either I’ve eaten myself into a bacon-stupor (tempting) OR I’ve been having trouble finding my words. In this most recent blog absence, it was the latter.
I pulled my hamstring at the beginning of March. This you know. It took me a long time to come back from that injury. For weeks, I could barely walk without a limp, never mind heading out for a run. It was kind of awful. My whole life, I’ve never been able to stick with running and now, the one time I’m starting to enjoy it, running 3 miles with no problem, I’m sidelined. Every day I would look at my running shoes and feel fear that I wouldn’t be able to pick up where I left off, that my progress was a one-time thing, that I’d missed my chance.
A few weeks ago, I got the all-clear to hit the pavement again. My first run was terrible. I was tentative, afraid of getting hurt again. My stride was a mess and my breathing a wreck. I couldn’t even run a mile without having to walk. I was tempted to give up, to text Will and tell him he could run the 5k by himself while I drank tequila and ate my weight in bacon on the sidelines.
I didn’t, though. Because of my whole “make it happen” thing. And also because I need running right now. Even when I’m running 14 minutes miles and I’m breathing all raggedy and feeling like my legs are made of cement, I need it. It is the only time I feel like myself. Or, at least, the version of myself that existed before I watched Kim die a long and painful death.
See, that’s the other thing that’s been happening, the one that is making it difficult for me to find my words. I started grief counseling awhile ago because I need some extra help dealing with everything that happened last year. I can’t tell you much about what’s been going on, mostly because I don’t have my words about it yet. I do know this: in order to act as Kim’s caregiver and help her through her illness, I had to detach from myself. I had to compartmentalize my own sadness in order to stay on top of Kim’s medications, keep track of her dosages and chemo schedule, make sure she was eating, that her lungs were draining properly, that her surgical site wasn’t infected, that she was doing her breathing exercises. And then, towards the end, I had to detach further in order to exist in her house as people came to say goodbye, as the oxygen machine invaded our lives, in order to say goodbye to her myself. After she died, I shut down all the way. I turned into what my friends affectionately refer to as Robot Alida. I am functioning, moving forward in my life, making things happen. But I’m not feeling anything. It’s like I’m watching things happen to me, with mild interest, like I’m watching a documentary.
Last week I had my best run ever, since even before I was hamstrung. 3.4 miles in 34 minutes. I’m on track to running 4 miles on the regular before the 5k May 20th. It’s happening. It was hard and I have had to fight for every step but I’m doing it. And at the end of a good run, things become clearer, more focused. I can remember moments with Kim and they seem real, not like they happened to someone else. I can almost imagine what it was like to feel my feelings.
So maybe emotional healing is like hamstring healing. Maybe I have to push myself forward, before I feel ready. Maybe it will be clumsy at first, slow, awkward. But maybe it will work and one day, not long from now, I’ll come back to myself and feel like a whole person again, not just a mechanical shell of who I used to be. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other.
And if not, there’s always tequila and bacon.