I’ve watched the Olympics to the point of sleep deprivation since they started. Seeing all those amazing, determined athletes is inspirational; but sometimes it’s also discouraging. I watch the track stars and marathoners and can hardly stand not to go for a long run. I watch women’s soccer and am reminded of a past life, which maybe could have taken me far under different circumstances. I watch the equestrian events and am brought back to being a little girl, full of stubbornness and fire, growing up in Florida riding and caring for horses. I watch the swimmers and wish I could do a triathlon.
I don’t believe in regrets, but yes, there are a lot of things I wish I would have done differently. I wish I would have seen how athletically talented I was and let that fuel me in a positive way. I wish I hadn’t run my body into the ground, not letting injuries or my eating disorder get in the way, because for that I have paid dearly. I wish I would have stopped and realized there was more to my life that what others used to define me. I wish I had believed in myself.
I am at a fork in the road right now; at a place where I feel I could just as easily choose recovery or relapse. Every day I have to be so careful to listen to my body. I have learned I have limits. This realization cuts me to the core, it nearly wrecks me; it hurts like hell. I don’t know if I will ever be able to do the things I used to. I’ve been told time and time again “You can’t do ____ anymore”, but have I ever listened? Two years ago I had major knee surgery, and the surgeon told me my long distance running days were done. “Your knee looked like one of my 10 year NFL players,” he told me. “You’ll run again, but not very much.” I’ve run 3 half marathons since then; I ran through the pain and I ran through the eating disorder. Overcoming the odds is great, but not acknowledging and respecting my limits is walking a fine line that I wish I had respected more. I have limits and I am starting to recognize them. My body is tired and beat up. To add to that, I have a job that can be the equivalent to running a marathon some days. There are days where 12 hours turns into 14, and lunch is non-existent.
The problem is that I do not want to have limits, because I never did. Hardly anyone ever told me I couldn’t do what I wanted, and then if they did I proved them wrong. Overcoming was my specialty- I’ve made it through 6 surgeries- pushed through with an eating disorder-still managing to be one of the best at any sport I tried. I played every minute of my 3 year long collegiate soccer career, and ran a good, spontaneous college cross country season. Looking back, I wasn’t a super-athlete; I was stupid. I’m an adult now and finally recognizing the effects my body is suffering. I may never run another half marathon of blow through another 5K because I just cannot do it anymore. Gone may be my days where I get lost out on the greenways and run until it is dark, because I will pay a dear price for it. I pray that as I get better and stronger, these things come back to me; if not in all at least in part. When I start looking at the big picture, I realize that I’m just 26…who’s to say I won’t do the things I love again someday?
I could let this break me and fall back onto the eating disorder. If I can’t control what my body can do, I could control what goes into it. But how could I go back to the thing that has given me limits? How can I not stand up for myself and believe the same kid who has put herself through hell is worth saving? I am tired and hurting and often times discouraged. But I refuse to give in-at the very least I owe my body for sustaining for all these years. In reality, I am very lucky to be alive, and free of any major health conditions that I know of. That is the scary part for me lately, wondering what damage I have caused myself. It is impossible by looking at me to judge the state of my internal organs and muscles and bones, but I can do my best to care for myself now. It’s time for me to look at my limits in a positive light- as things that can help bring me healing. Someday, I have hope that my limits will change, because the things I want don’t go hand in hand with the eating disorder I’m trying to beat.