I want to crawl into a corner and let all my responsibilities, to myself and others, fall away, just for a while. I want someone else to carry – well, everything. My hands hurt, shouldn’t that mean I can put things down, at least long enough to heal?
Two weeks ago I fell. I was running and my right toe caught on an uneven piece of sidewalk. I fell headlong and hard. (This has happened before; twice I’ve broken bones this way.) As I rolled myself over and into a seated position I examined the damage – my left knee was scraped and bleeding, my chin felt the same though I couldn’t see it, and both hands hurt. When I pulled off my gloves the bruising had already begun across my knuckles, my right hand worse than my left. I felt like an idiot for falling, grown women are supposed to be able to stay on their feet. I was scared I was broken again. Two women out for a Sunday morning walk who saw my fall stopped and asked if I was okay, was I close to home. I reassured them I was fine and got back up, testing my knee with weight, flexing my hands through all of the exercises I know from previous physical therapy. They smiled at me, said the scrape on my chin wasn’t too bad and they were glad I was okay. They continued their walk going the opposite direction, and I continued my run.
I didn’t think anything was broken – the pain is sharper and the bruises more purple more quickly in my experience. I was supposed to run twelve miles, I fell just before completing three. I ran ten, a small concession to the fact that my chin was dripping blood mixed with sweat onto my shirt and my knee had started to ache with every stride.
I could have stopped. I could have turned and walked home, or found someone on the busy trail with a phone and called my husband to come and get me. I considered it briefly. But that’s not who I am. I keep going; I remain resolute and steadfast; I hold things together no matter how hard they’re trying to fly apart. I’m not entirely stupid; I went to urgent care for x-rays after I got home and cleaned up to be certain I hadn’t broken any bones. I worked the next day – with the swelling in my right hand slowing my typing, but I worked. I went for my next run on Tuesday.
This need to put on a brave face and continue is a part of me. Even now, when the swelling is mostly gone but there’s still sharp pain in my right hand with some motions, I’m simply doing things with my left. I’m worried that breaking isn’t the only thing that could have gone wrong, and I plan to call my doctor. But I still can’t put things down. I don’t know how to learn to be okay with the idea that things take longer, or that I can ask people to help. That the world won’t end if I stop for a few days to heal, not just my hands, but my heart. Somehow, despite being old enough to recognize the patterns I find myself back in this same groove of having to do to have value. I wonder where it came from. I wonder how I can make it go away.
I am so tired.
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