There was a way I wanted the one year anniversary of my accident to go.
There was a story I told myself on my worst days. It became a secret, small motivator. I played it for myself, over and over again, on days that I woke up sobbing because I'd rolled over onto my left side, sending pain thrilling through my body. On days I forgot I was injured in the mornings and tried to stand up, only to crumple to the floor. On days I flipped through running photos on my phone, blinking back tears as I wondered if I'd ever even be able to mindlessly bound down stairs again.
There was a version of myself that I expected myself to be when I hit the year-out mark. Triumphant. Strong. With a marathon medal around my neck. Standing on the top of this mountain I'd been forced to climb, twin heartbreaks of 2016 neatly packed away, never to haunt me again.
The one-year anniversary of my injury went nothing like this.
Instead, I was fresh on the heels of my second fracture, a second failure of my body, a second round of news that I was less than the standards I'd set for myself. The day before my anniversary was Marathon Monday, and I forced myself through the motions of standing on the sidelines before retreating to my bed in silence. Everything hurt, but not in the way it did the year before - that was raw and visceral, punctuated by waves of nausea and pleas for pain meds as I lay in a hospital bed. This time, my bones ached, my eyes were raw and red, and I was so tired, exhausted, by the thought of continuing to force myself through the murky landscape painted by the last year.
I'd placed so much value in triumphantly seeing that one year anniversary through. I'd learned that grief was tricky, slamming into my body in waves, forcing me to fight through it in waves, and I'd silently convinced myself that conquering my physical limitations would mean that I could conquer the hole left in my chest by the painful loss of a friend, too.
All of a sudden, it had already been a year and it had only been a year, and I was just fucking tired.
I've been silent here because I haven't been writing. I haven't been writing because I've been struggling. It feels impossible to put your thoughts on paper when your thoughts are static, sad and defeated.
It's all tied together, I've come to learn - the death and the broken hip and the grief and the emotion and the nausea and the pain and the frustration and the part where I'll be walking down the street and see a particular patch of flowers in early morning light and be surprised by the tears that suddenly spring to my eyes.
Did you know we carry a lot of emotion in our hips? It's almost laughable, truly. Each time I'm in a yoga class, and we switch into hip openers, or I'm stretching before bed at night and hit those impossibly tight hip flexors, I have to fight back my urge to cry. Sometimes I wonder if you examined the spot where my bone snapped in half, if you wouldn't find a tiny pocket of deep sadness next to the thin line that indicates a healed fracture.
It's already been a year and it's only been a year.
So here i am, a year and some change out from a broken hip and nowhere close to what I told myself I'd achieve at the year mark. It's so frustrating. It's so sad. It's so ...incomplete. I feel like a failure and I feel embarrassed and I feel impatient, too. So, when do I get my life back? When do I get my abilities back? When do this pain in my hip and pain in my heart settle quietly into the past?
I made a list of things I was thankful for on the year anniversary of my accident. They included the following :
- Can walk again
- Don't have to live on a couch until someone helps me to sit up, go to the bathroom, or shower
- Can lift my arms above my own head enough to comb my hair
- My face doesn't look like I'm going to throw up from pain all the time anymore
- Can go on short runs
- Sometimes, I forget about the accident
This wasn't the story I told myself. It's not the list of achievements I expected to make. I'm grateful and I'm mad. It's exciting and it sucks. I'm struggling and I'm also, kind of, doing okay - a year out from breaking my hip, I can turn in negative splits on short runs.
I'm trying to reframe and I'm trying to move forward and some days I'm doing a really great job, and some days it feels really pointless. I miss my friend deeply and I'm also able to organize events in her memory without being derailed by grief. I feel a twinge of pain if I push myself too hard, and I'm also able to sit through an MRI and see a hip that isn't snapped into two.
It's been a year. And some days still feel impossibly hard. And then on other days, I find messages from strangers in my inbox, thanking me for verbalizing my struggle, sharing their own, and I realize that it's okay to not have all the answers at a year. And it's okay to speak up and let people know that the year mark wasn't as great as I wanted it to be.
And that there will always be year two.