Being that I’m still digesting yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast, I thought I’d take a moment to be grateful, because I’ll admit, I’ve been a Debbie Downer lately. You see, I’ve been on the “injured list” since the Long Beach Marathon. For more than a month, my right knee has been wrecked with intermittent, heartbreaking pain. When I started running three and a half years ago, much like our boy, Christopher Columbus, I thought I’d found something that turned out to be so far off of what I expected and so much more than I could–and can–even fathom.
For three and a half years I’ve been falling more and more in love with running. I learn something from every run, every step. It’s better than any antidepressant I’ve ever been prescribed. I’ve even learned to embrace the worst runs as part of the journey. And for me, there’s nothing more motivating to keep running than finishing a marathon and so, I guess that’s why these weeks of being injured have been such a dark time for me. While my doctor and physical therapist have both ordered “rest,” which doesn’t sound all that awful, the words: “no running,” actually, physically, pain my heart.
I miss it.
In a way, I feel like I miss myself.
That episodic ache that drills through my knee at random points throughout the day… breaks my heart, overwhelming my mind with a million strands of fear and sadness. I worry that I’ll never get back to running. That I’ll lose everything I’ve accomplished since I started running. That I’ll get fat. But most of all, I’m afraid that all of the joy I’ve found in running was an illusion.
I try to tell myself this is irrational. I’m holding onto hope. I’m resting and foraging for joy like I’ve never foraged before, but it’s still there: that painful reminder that I truly don’t have control over my body… and sometimes, myself…
Yesterday, my dear husband, the most joyful, optimistic, upbeat, positive, and eternally youthful person I know, could not help himself from overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving–ALL DAY LONG! And so, I couldn’t help but take a step away from my big black rain cloud of injury and defeat to search for the silver lining. No, I’m NOT grateful for this injury and I don’t plan on ever being grateful for the pains and misfortunes that happen to all of us in this crazy life we live. BUT I can be grateful for the things I’m learning from being sidelined.
The newest member to our San Diego family, Muffin–yes, Muffin–has a quote on his Facebook profile that seems pretty darn perfect for this post: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it.“ I’ll admit, I don’t deal well and I haven’t dealt as well as I could have… Life has handed me a couple really awful hands and I’ve had a pretty nasty “why me?” attitude about this whole running injury thing because I’ve always viewed my running as a form of therapy and meditation… but the truth is that I’ve found my way before and comparatively speaking, this knee injury is very, very small potatoes up against the obstacles that I’ve overcome in my past.
Pain is a part of life, but misery is an option.
Truly, I have no regrets about Long Beach, which was–by far–the most difficult of the five marathons I’ve run, both physically and mentally. But that final moment of crossing the finish line and hobbling straight into my husband’s arms was one of the very best and most cherished moments of my life. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (-Melody Beattie)