Today I woke up and felt renewed, like I had shed a burdensome skin. I was headed towards a version of myself so new and never before exposed. It was the end of five long months of living with a heartbreak: with the what ifs, with the could haves, should haves, would haves, with the things I wish I said, and with those I wish I didn’t.
But yesterday marked an important day in this five month journey.
Yesterday I scared myself. I ran a marathon.
I pushed myself to finish something I didn’t think I would be able to. I allowed my mind to empty for hours, while I sweat, heaved, chafed, blistered, and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Every emotion imaginable washed over me during that time and sent pulses through my body like an electric current runs through device after being restarted. That was it. The Restart button had been set in those four grueling hours of physical and mental work.
I was ready to stop dwelling on the past and to dispose of that layer of regret, sadness, and emotional pain I had been living under for far too long.
After it ended with him, I impulsively signed up for this race, hoping that this endeavor would come as a distraction from my current emotional dilemma, through training, strengthening, and preparing. However, finals, weather, illness, and injury all got in the way of my training unfolding as meticulously as it was planned out. Despite these setbacks, I had convinced myself and bragged to so many others about this upcoming race, and I was not about to back down now.
Failure wasn’t even an option.
Throughout the run, I didn’t think of him at all. Not about the struggles we endured together or about the times he made me so happy. I told myself that if the run became too tough to bear, just think about the pain he caused me, and use that to channel energy into the run. But running is a positive experience, so using negative thoughts and pain to fuel my steps did not prove to be helpful.
I had to keep on doing that which I had been doing for the last five months, and that was moving forward.
He didn’t belong here, in my happy place. I was going to let him be the initial motivation for my registration, but I was not going to allow him to come with me on this journey.
He was staying at the starting line while I was enjoying the ride to the finish.
The following day, I hurt so badly. Every muscle and fiber in my body ached with the memory of too many kilometers wound into them. But through this physical ache, I knew that I had done it. I had done something incredible that he, along with many others including myself, never would have thought I could do. Even though I placed 1,477 out of 4,363 athletes, I felt like a champion. I had reached the summit of this seemingly never-ending mountain of heartache; now I was coming down, and cruising with flying colors.
Days go by when I still miss the little things about him, but it occurs less and less so. I know that I will meet someone one day who won’t make me cry like he did, who will value the time we have together, who won’t be afraid to talk about the tough stuff and to show feelings, and who I can always count on to meet me at the finish line.
So today, I woke up with a new kind of pain. It was the raw, aching feeling of something so novel and wonderful that I haven’t yet begun to fathom. I replaced my emotional pain with physical pain that will dissipate in time as I continue to stretch, grow, and train to climb higher mountains.
That’s what I owe to myself.