I had run the race several times before. I came to the start line of this local 10 miler along the Hudson River not as well prepared as I had been previously, but I was game to give it a go. Training in intense heat and humidity had taken its toll on me, as well as accumulating stress I thought that running would ease. I said to myself, “Just run this thing, girl; do not race it. Give what the body can give.”
It was a considerable struggle with every mile. I was almost three minutes shy of my goal, with not an ounce of strength left in my legs as I crossed the finish line.
I walked across the lawn, sat down and burst into tears. Rather than be buoyed by the achievement, I was depleted.
Before starting the race, I had run into a friend who’s family had gone through a long ordeal after his daughter was in a serious car accident. Against all odds, she made it through – facing several surgeries and an extended rehabilitation. We talked about the impact on parents after such an arduous journey. He said to me, “First your child heals, then it’s your turn.”
Ah, there it was. It was my turn.
My daughter had been sick for years, struggling with seizures caused by epilepsy. We fought a hard fight for insurance coverage for a breakthrough new procedure, ultimately winning the battle. (You can read about her story here: https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/23/health/cara-pressman-surgery-update-aetna/index.html )
She is well now. Miraculously well. And yet, I wondered why, after my daughter’s surgery and recovery, I was so devastatingly sad. “Wiped out” kind of sad. As well as “heart racing for no reason” kind of anxious. As if I even had a right to be upset now that we were through the storm.
This is still an open wound. I had held off for a very long time tending to my own health to focus wholly on my daughter, and she deserved that. But that battle was won. Why was I still in solider mode? Maybe, as a long-time athlete, I go first to pushing myself through the pain. But the stress of pushing through had zapped my body, though, not energized it. Running, a sport that has brought me so much joy, was instead draining me. It was the recovery that I was running from. The need to do the thing I did not want to do – revisit the emotions left over from the battle, the ugliness at times of those years of fighting and failing and falling until we at last got to the big win.
Was the battle worth it? Of course it was, every single day of it. She is well. That is everything.
But now, a restoration is in order.
It is a good lesson my friend gave me. To stop, listen and heed the call of my own heart and mind. So today I may cry. Or nap. Definitely meditate. I will indulge in hot soup and a warm blanket. I will ease up and reboot ever so gently. I will remind myself what healing looks like. It does not look like racing. It looks more like peace.
It is my turn.