I felt infinite.
Running has always been my excitatory excuse for release. I grew up believing I was the fastest (wo)man alive, idolizing track & field Olympics and my Jesse Owens biography book like it was the Bible. Running has always made me feel infinite.
But after struggling with anorexia for 7 years, the walls of my body were so thin, so fragile, that running more than 15 minutes turned into a rather exhausting escapade I could no longer indulge in. Cardio dance was out of the question, too.
Nevertheless the infinity I had, still fleeting from childhood, lingered. I persisted.
I started training my senior year of high school, running most days after school. Running — not nearly long or fast, with the constant feedback of music and stimuli to push me forward — but running.
I started watching my protein, watching my weight for incremental progress — yet watching everyone I envied run right past me. Heaving and sorrowful, burned out and heated, I continued to train. Relentless. Unforgiving. That was the conquering strategy for my life, and I was hellbent to achieve what I wanted: to run again, victorious.
I ignored the advice from my yoga guru. I ignored my whimpering fatigue and super-slow stamina. I ignored my anatomy and I embraced my appetite for moremoremore. More mileage. More sweat. More pain (because then, where would be the gain?).
“I want more. And I know that I shouldn’t.” -Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars Episode III
I made it. It took 3 years, but I made it. Coasting through to 4 miles a day, running wild and free (of music, of headphones, of worries, etc.), I finally tapped into that infinite feeling again. Running felt exhilarating. Running made me feel more alive than the quick hits of fame, fortune, or fleeting love. Running helped me feel happy for the longest-lasting period of my anxiety-riddled life.
I say ‘made’ like in the past tense. Yes, I mean the moment has passed.
It started in December 2016.
I woke up one morning with a chronic, throbbing pain in my left ankle. No matter I barely thought anything of it. It’s a sore ankle tendon. I’ll walk it out for 5 miles.
I walked and walked. I stretched and submitted to 2 weeks of a yoga/total body workout regime. The pain lingered.
I checked into an ER on the first day of January 2017, awaiting x-ray results of a broken ankle bone. Nothing. I followed up with an orthopedic 5 days later. A stress-fractured fibula, is what he told me — although the x-rays showed nada again. I wore a boot-cast for 4 weeks, and then an extra 7 days after a tantalizing 30-hours of two-feet freedom.
I succumbed to an MRI scan on the tenth day of February 2017, trading my boot for a brace — and then instantly regretting my naively assured acceptance. I howled and screeched in pain on the eleventh day of February 2017, nursing a bruised ankle and dousing an acute, fiery pain with ice packs and a question of forgiveness.
They say that women who want it all wish for an impossible dream. I am living the impossible-possible reality right now.
I want a balance that doesn’t quite exist — yet, and if ever. I live in a utopia with altruistic ideals, but I consistently ignore the realities of my present (past and future) condition that’s been slowly chipping away right beneath my ankles.
I feel like a dam that’s about to crack and burst under the stress of an ocean that’s never been going away, will never go away. I feel like sand that’s washing away with the tides: slowly, carefully, without any idea what’s exactly going on. Too late to save face, better just strap on a life vest and hope for the best.
How can a severely calcium-deficient, spiritually rooted vegan strengthen her bones, without additive sugars or scary supplements and eating only raw, natural foods? How can an environmentally conscious minimalist eat enough food — or eat enough of the right foods — to satisfy her hungry head and heart, and not make her despise the body she sees in the mirror, while also not majorly contributing to anthropogenic global warming?
Will it ever be enough to heal me? How will I know if it’s enough, without shattering my bones to pieces again?
It’s no secret that I despise the winter weather and long for the hot, sticky nights of summer. But especially this year, with friends and fun activities planned for the impending season of sunshine, I started counting down the days too damn early.
Compounded by broken bones and broken dreams, I’m in a seemingly perpetual winter-waiting period — a ‘fallow’ season, as my instructor suggested last week. I reluctantly and humbly agreed with her. Waiting for summer now has me wading through pain. Waiting for sunshine now has me wanting nothing more than to walk again.
Why can’t I ever be satisfied?
I thought I learned my lesson of patience, but I’ve nevertheless proved how impatient I still really am on the core. I, like Anakin Skywalker, want nothing but more — all of the time. More opportunities. More freedom. More affection. And now, more than ever, happiness from mobility and more sunshine.
I am running after a life I have yet to live, a life I don’t even know if it exists. I am running away from the excuses and the broken mirrors that shaped me, and instead breaking the bones that make me.
Pining for anything but the present, I’ve neglected to cherish and nourish the life and the beauty in the moments around me. I am not grateful. I am not patient. This painstakingly long and painful injury represents more than my degraded state of running euphoria. It represents an inability to breathe simply, is emblematic of my lustful seeking and searching and self-deprecating dissatisfaction.
Impatiently waiting for my body to heal, I don’t think I’ve learned this lesson quite yet.