I have mixed feelings about writing you a letter, but everyone else is doing it and it would be cool to join the synchroblog*. Which is kinda like when every part of you is working together and we’re in the zone… oh, those are some good times, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Writing a letter because everyone else is probably means I should also write my soul a letter about not giving into peer pressure, but that sounds way too complicated! So body, maybe writing one to you won’t be so bad.
After all, I really do like you.
But first a warning, to help understand the love I now have, I need to first go through some of the complicated past we’ve had. So bear with me, bod, I will get to the good stuff eventually.
My first memories of being aware of you are a mixture of love and annoyance.
I loved the feel of your strong legs running barefoot across the grass in a spirited game of dodge ball with my cousins. When it came to strength and speed, you were fast and equal with the boys and if they did catch us, I’m sure it was only due to that darn dress wrapping around your thighs and slowing you down. But I had to wear dresses because you are a girl’s body.
So for most of my childhood, my thoughts of you were complicated. I liked your strength, your speed and your energy. But you were a girl and damnit, that limited us! Dress was just one of the ways, there were also many other things that boy bodies could do that girl bodies weren’t allowed to do. But what they don’t know won’t hurt them and what all we did is our secret ;)
As we grew up, I learned to like you better and other than the fact that your thighs insisted on rubbing together when I ate too many Reese’s peanut butter cups, I came to appreciate you. You were strong and flexible, allowing me to do almost anything, including swimming across the farm pond, doing flips off the diving board and snow skiing. By this time, I cared enough about you to have a secret stash of clothes so I could dress you right for the elements.
Along with being fit, I wanted you to look good, so I did hundreds of stomach crunches and leg lifts. Thanks for responding well and giving me the flat abs I wanted. Darn, I wish I would have appreciated them more back then… think we could try again?
And bod, I gotta tell you something, I know you liked it, but I was not really that impressed when boys were impressed with just you. Sure it was flattering, especially considering the crunches and all, but the truth is, I wanted them to be impressed with me, my mind, my personality, all of me, including you, but not just you.
And then, we discovered sex… yes, we did.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
You handled three pregnancies well… and two labors well. But what were you thinking with that one labor? It was so damn difficult! I know it was the first one and you probably didn’t know what you were doing, but wasn’t there anything you could do about those screaming nerves in your back? Geesh, it was tough!! Sorry, guess I’m still a little annoyed about that.
Birthing those three adorable bodies seemed to mess with some of your hormones and life looked overwhelming until I discovered running. Running! The thing that has and continues to make me love you. After a few mistakes, I learned to listen to your pain signals and to adjust my speed or distance to help you be your best. Together we learned how to run. We learned that you’re not fast, but you are strong and you have endurance! And your willingness and ability to run has saved my life in more ways than I can count.
Thank you! Thanks for being willing to run so I had some semblance of emotional balance. Thanks to you, over a 10 year period, I experienced races from 3 to 13 miles and one crazy day, even doing 26.2 miles.
Through running, I began learning to be me, the me you and I were meant to be. Because you were healthy and strong, I could play with my kids, run races, teach classes, help with community events and manage a business which required long days on your feet and heavy lifting with your arms. Thanks for those defined biceps… that’s something else we need to do again.
Life was busy, but good.
Until that day, THAT day that our world changed more than we ever imagined it would.
There was a vacation because the business had been sold. Trucks changed lanes near the motorhome we were riding it. There were errors and there was disorder. There were multiple impacts. Suddenly crushed metal, splintered wood and shattered glass invaded our space.
Your skin was stripped, muscles torn, bones crushed and your blood flowed. Wow, did your blood flow. Out of you, down over the seat, over a book, into shoes and onto the carpet.
We were blindsided. My mind went into shock and as soon as the helicopter touched down, the wonderful doctors gave me meds to sedate me. Most of the trauma was blocked out for me, but you felt it all. Every cell in you absorbed the intense trauma, excruciating pain and the uncertainty.
You hung between life and death for days… the trauma almost too much for you to handle. And no one would have blamed you if you would have quit. Actually almost everyone assumed you would have no choice.
But you rallied.
You rallied and you would not give up!
You rallied damn well, surprising everyone.
There was no instant healing or miraculous recovery, but you kept going. You would not quit. Your heart beat on, though it had more stress then hearts can usually handle. Blood flowed from too many wounds to count, but the doctors and you were amazing. You rallied, they worked, you continued to rally, they worked and on and on.
You opened your veins and accepted blood from strangers… almost ten times as much as you hold. You took the antibiotics, the pain meds and the anesthesia inserted into you and distributed it to the areas that needed it. Shots were given, filters placed and pins, rods and screws put into your shattered bones. Skin was sliced from your thighs and grafted over your almost-severed lower leg.
And you wouldn’t quit.
I woke up dazed and confused, the heaviness and pain coming from you had me thinking you’d been run over by a truck… I had no idea how accurate that was.
Much of the recovery blurs together in my mind, but I don’t recall being mad at you then even if you were sending me the most intense pain signals I’d ever felt. I was aware enough to know this wasn’t your fault and I was already in awe at what you had survived.
Scalpels cut into your skin multiple times over the next four years as repair surgeries were needed. With time and therapy, your bones healed, your wounds closed, your skin healed… not back to normal, but surprisingly well. Which amazed me then and amazes me now.
But somewhere between the ongoing surgeries, therapy and meds,
I was sucked into the dark vertex of depression… and I was angry.
At first, I wasn’t mad at you, but I was mad at the circumstances that changed you. I was glad you had recovered well, but you weren’t the you I knew before. I didn’t like you with the pain, limitations and deformed leg you now had. I vacillated between feeling sorry for you, indifferent to you or hating what happened to you.
Then my angry spilled over unto you and I treated you unkindly. Since you couldn’t do what you did before, I didn’t want to do anything. Forget the therapy, the stretches and the walks! I sat on my recliner and ate too much chocolate and drank too much wine.
And angrily asked why the hell you don’t heal back to what you had been!
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all that anger directed at you. You had recovered amazingly well and I was demanding more. I was demanding the impossible, without being willing to help.
But I missed the old you. I missed how you had looked, especially that leg. I missed the energy you used to have. I missed our runs, but most of all I missed our painfree days.
I also missed the feeling that with time and training you can do anything… and I thought I would never have that feeling again.
But I was wrong, so very wrong.
Counseling helped me understand the trauma every cell in you had endured. I shifted my focus from yearning for what you had been to accepting what you now are. Research gave me information and confidence to began doing with I could, with what I had, where I was. Determination made me continue even if it was slow and painful… and without a guarantee.
And then the impossible began happening.
You responded well to 10 minute walks, so I extended them. I started giving you foods that had nutrition and you gave back energy. I added bike rides and hikes… which made me hungry for more good foods, which made you give back more energy, which made me walk, bike and hike farther, which made me want more good food… and the wellness cycle grew.
I was amazed at you. You healed more. Moving increases circulation and blood flow, so every fiber of your being gulped up the nutrition it was receiving. Your cells healed more. The pain signals you sent me decreased. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I took a risk and bought a pair of running shoes for you. But I was scared. I wasn’t sure how you would respond. Would your splintered pelvis handle the movement of running? Could your fractured femur take the pounding? Would the almost-severed calf have enough muscle to run? Or would you revolt and refuse to ever move again?
I went for many long walks… dreaming, talking to you and trying to fight off the fear of uncertainty. And one day, I just had to know what you could do. And I leaned forward and asked you to run.
And you did! You did it! You freaking’ ran!
Four years after everyone thought you were dead, you ran again!
Sleeping nerves tingled. Lazy muscles complained. Healed bones creaked. But there was no increased pain, no blood spurting from wounds and none of your parts fell off. (yea, hate to admit that, but I had those irrational thoughts about you)
At first, 30 seconds of running was your limit, then we walked for a minute and did it again. For weeks it was our little secret. You and I would head to the trail when no one was around to walk/run/smile/walk/run/smile…
The first time you carried me a mile I cried. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. Tears of peace. And then I threw a party to tell my world and to celebrate you.
I had been so wrong thinking that I’d never know the feeling of you getting strongly if trained properly. You responding incredibly well, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, the essence of you is the same and you’ve always responded well when given good care.
I have the utmost respect for you and I don’t want to do anything that hurts you, so as I increased my running I continued to give you walking breaks. By running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute, you got strong enough to again cover races from 3 miles to 13 miles in the past 4 years.
And on May 20, 2012, 8 years to the day since you almost died, you again carried me over 26.2 miles.
Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, so here’s a promise. Life is beautiful and there’s many things to see, places to go to and people to meet… and I want us to do it all! So I will try to always treat you like a spoiled princess giving you whatever you need, whenever you need it, so that we can continue to overcome any obstacles we face. (and a princess does deserve chocolate and wine, just not in large quantities)
And body, incase you were wondering why the training has picked up recently again… you and I are headed to the New York City Marathon on November 4, 2012. Yes, we are. Yes, 26.2 miles is happening again. Thanks in advance for all you will do.
Because you can, because I can… we can!
Thank you, I owe you my life!
Your biggest fan!
*This is part of a SheLoves synchroblog titled, A Love Letter to my Body.