I tried to run a marathon, and I failed. While the experience was not meaningless, it did not have the end result I had hoped for. Though I appreciate the wisdom that was granted to me in that experience, I still would trade it all to be able to cross that finish line. I would trade it all to be able to lace up my shoes and go for a real run, right now. I would trade it all to have this thing that defined me, that strengthened me, that pushed me, inspired me, back. But instead, I cobble together a mile here and there, and I settle for that: a fleeting glimpse of a feeling I once knew that sustained and motivated me for oh so very long.
Last week, I went to Disneyworld with friends for the weekend. We got on a bus to head to one of the parks, and upon arrival, I realized I had forgotten my ticket at the hotel. We had to ride the shuttle all the way back to our resort. Not wanting to make my friends wait again, I hopped off the bus at the first stop, and ran all the way back to our hotel room. They stayed on the bus. I sprinted, in my rain boots, quickly entered the hotel room, scooped up my pass, and sprinted to the last bus stop. My hope was that I could beat the bus before it left the park again, saving my friends from having to get off and wait for the next shuttle to arrive. I beat the bus handily. I felt glorious. I still had it.
But in an instant, I felt that glory fade, replaced by utter despair. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that feeling, the competition with myself, and the race. It saddened me that it was a part of my past now, not present. My heart ached, knowing that I might never have those moments back in the way they once were. I had gone through the stages of grief with my injury, and I have settled into a baseline life that is manageable. I ride my bike, I go to yoga. I run once or twice a week, a mile or two here and there. I distract myself and try to stay present, avoiding the what-ifs and the if onlys. But in the moments where I remember what it was like, the moments where I beat the bus, the bittersweet knowledge that my baseline happiness is just a little bit lower because I have lost something very dear to me creeps in. Those four minutes where I beat the bus are the best four minutes I have had since July. I have experienced higher highs, and I might go the rest of my life, never feeling them again, or just simply feeling them differently. It’s painful. It is a deep ache within my soul.
I tried to replace some of those feelings by exploring other hobbies and activities. The experience propelled me to wanting to start a family, so I threw myself into that. Now, I just feel like I have another roadblock because of the medical issues that popped up out of seemingly nowhere. I feel like I am doing something wrong, and the universe just keeps saying, “No.” You can’t have that, you aren’t getting the lesson, and you are going in the wrong direction. The medical uncertainty I have faced has also led me to wondering if I will have to bury this dream, too. I had an ultrasound last week, and a large mass was found in my thyroid. Logically, I know it is something that can be fixed, and hopefully I can be on my way to a happy and healthy pregnancy after this issue is resolved. But deep down, I am afraid. I am afraid something is really wrong with me, and that this will halt my journey. I’m afraid to lose another dream that took me a long time to get the courage to allow and put out into the world. It leaves me wondering why life seems like it is so hard for me. I don’t know if it truly is, if I am just making it harder than it needs to be, or if this is the story of us all. I do know this: it gets harder and harder each day to get up and go through the motions. There is no wind in the sails, and no land in sight.
We just have one life, and we don’t get to decide how or where it goes. It’s hard to let go of the things we desperately want and to look with courage and without fear into the abyss of the unknown. The goals I have set for myself may no longer be a part of my story, and I am struggling greatly to understand my purpose and place as a result. I feel like I've been, ever so tightly, holding onto these fragile dreams in my hands. And now, I am watching them float away, one by one. I have no choice but to let them go, because I can't spend the rest of my life trying to recapture what I once had or to chase what may never be. I know the obsession will ruin me. Acceptance is the only tool I have to move forward right now. It’s the only goal I have left if I have any chance to achieve any sort of peace and real happiness. It may just be the hardest challenge of my life.