Days before I left Guam and began this emotional healing journey, I had an emergency session with my psychiatrist. It was to renew meds, but she also knew that my entire world had been rocked. She had just given me the approval to get stationed overseas with my fiancé a week before, because I’d worked hard all summer, and my mental health was stable. Everything was fine. Then, without warning, I was suddenly single and leaving my home. She sat down with me for about an hour, listening, and helping me process the shock and pain. I remember feeling so numb and overwhelmed. At first, I couldn’t get words out other than, “I don’t understand what happened. I don’t know what happened.”
One thing from that appointment sticks firmly in mind, and I think about it every day.
She asks if I liked running. I hate it, but I force myself to because my meds cause weight gain. She smiles at my response, but presses further, asking if I run for time or distance. I shrug, saying distance, but wondering where she’s going with these questions.
She says, “You’re going to be doing some emotional healing, and that is like running for time.”
I ask what she means by that. She says, “Say you’re running two miles. That run can be any amount of time you choose. You can run slow or fast and that two miles gets knocked out. When you’re running for time, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. That thirty minutes is going to be thirty minutes. That’s what emotional healing is like. It’s going to take time.”
I nod, thinking, “Well shit, this is going to be a long process whether I want it to be or not.”
Maybe I took her words a little too literally, but I began running when I got to Florida. I ran for time instead of distance. It hurt much more than running for distance. I stopped to walk a lot the first time, but by the second time I had worked out a pace. Over the weeks, I’ve gone farther and farther every thirty minutes. I’ve even lengthened the time to forty-five minutes and an hour for the extraordinary reason of feeling good and not wanting to stop.
My doctor’s words are with me during each run. I’ve always hated running, but I enjoy it now. I visualize myself getting closer and closer to my goals of acceptance, wellness, and happiness. Running doesn’t result in feeling like death anymore. It’s a release. A lot of times tears mix in with the sweat as I let go of one thing after another. I feel lighter afterward. My fitness goal for 2020 is running the Disney Princess half marathon.
My doctor encouraged me before I left her office. She said I probably wouldn’t see it right away, but heart break was handing me one of the greatest opportunities to evolve and grow. The chance to become the woman that I was meant to be stood right there in front of me. I had the means to be fulfilled and healed on my own. She hoped I’d take it.
All I needed to do was put in the effort and keep going.
Just like a timed run.