Seven months after I left a six year relationship, I came to the painful and unexpected conclusion that my work here was not done.
It should have be done. I’d read and highlighted and re-read self help books about moving on and mindfulness and taking action instead of over-thinking and how to be alone without being lonely and how to be lonely without hating yourself.
I fearfully and happily became a 33-year-old beginner at skiing, indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, running, hiking and horseback riding. I explored caves, welcomed a new friend into my life, said “goodbye” to an old one who didn’t belong anymore, turned 34, survived the news that my ex had been cheating on me, redecorated my apartment and paid off all of my debt.
I had nights when I felt terrible and went to bed at 7 p.m. in tears and nights when I was so excited, so pumped for my new life that I couldn’t wind down no matter how hard I tried. I managed to smile at the fun memories of my relationship, make peace with the fact that he’d found someone new, and finally walk around my home without thinking about him.
My work should have been done.
In August, I found myself on my high school track, angrily staring at the group of people standing at the gate, willing them to go away so I could have the last 30 minutes of sunlight to myself. I put my headphones in, stared ahead, pursed my lips, narrowed my eyes as they peeked out from under my baseball hat. I was furious.
I had been seeing someone new for slightly over a month, and it wasn’t going well. I couldn’t trust myself, my gut, my brain, my emotions or my ability to decode a situation. The universe kept leaving me figuratively and literally on my hands and knees, trying to catch my breath.
I fell on ice while skiing (twisted knee, bruised calf). I fell off the indoor rock climbing wall (scraped elbow, bloody arm). I fell twice while paddle boarding (swollen hand, strained back). I fell while hiking so often that there were few parts of my body left uninjured. I fell going down my stairs and going up them. I inexplicably fell in my dining room.
Life was, quite literally, knocking me down.
I knew I would keep falling. I knew that I would fall if I wanted to be a beginner – a beginner skier, a beginner hiker, a beginner self-changer – but I also knew that I would continue to fall if I didn’t change, and that those falls would hurt more, and they’d be more frustrating, and I wouldn’t understand what they meant because all they really meant was that I had to fix something that I wasn’t fixing yet.
I knew I would continue to learn the lessons and deal with the falls and care for the bruises until I breathed in what the universe was trying to teach me and breathed out a better version of me.
I knelt down to tie my sneaker. I finished my water. I wiped my sweaty brow and nose and chest. And then I added a third mile to my run.