“Ok, last sprint. Give it your all,” I coached myself as I lowered my torso to starting position. I knew this feeling. I could feel my machine-like legs begin to tense as my big toe dug into the bottom of my shoe as if it we’re collecting all the energy I possibly stored in my form. With a deep breath I tightened my core while my mind instructed my body to convert potential energy into kinetic. I began to spring forward and before I could move one inch, I heard a loud sound boom behind me. It’s hard to describe the next moments because there was so much that happened in a fraction of a second. I turned my head around to see what could cause such a loud noise. “Did a car just backfire?” I thought to myself. In the same moment, my left foot which provided the energy to push my body forward, fell limp at my next step. Momentum continued to push my body forward while my mind simultaneously tried to process the limp limb at the bottom of my felt leg. My foot crashed into the pavement with a thud. As my ankle buckled unable to uphold it had previously expertly held, my arms stretched out instinctively, trying to steady my body and keep me from hitting the ground. “What. just. happened?!” I thought. I had injured this ankle before. Over the past 15 years I’d sprained ankles, torn ligaments, broken big toes too many times to count of the soccer field or basketball court. I was all to familiar with the shooting pain at every move and I braced myself for it. Strangely there was no jolt of pain. I straightened my spine and transferred all my weight to my right leg hoping to deduce what went wrong. This was different. I hobbled 100 meters over to my friend who happened to be working out at the same time. While he began to collect my things to give me a ride home, I racked my mind as to what exactly could have happened.
“What, are you injured?” one of the workers said as he approached me with a smirk.
“Yeah, but it’s serious! I can’t move my foot.” I retorted eager to maintain the image of experienced athlete I’d already established with this guy. I rushed to tell him the story, careful to mention how I ran nine 100m sprints before I became incapacitated.
“Oh wow, it sounds like you busted your achilles.”
You guys, he was right. The priorities of the next few days shifted from social circles and work to finding a doctor, scheduling surgery and coordinating my recovery. Life completely shifted whether I wanted it to or not. In my timeline where I expected there to be a smooth, unhinged line there was now a hinge. There was now a before and after I wasn’t prepared for. A hitch I wasn’t prepared or really equipped to handle.
It took me a year to heal after the surgery. It took me another year to use my tippy toes correctly on my left foot. Now, almost 5 years later, my achilles isn’t what it used to be. I still pick shoes based on its sturdiness. I still run flat footed if I feel the slightest sense of discomfort in my heel. The way I experience the world is markedly different than before my injury.
All of this to say, in light of all the issues that have thrived in the dark and been thrust forth into the spotlight as of late, I have to constantly remind myself to extend grace to those I cannot understand. Because in the same way no one can read my mind when I look at the sole of a shoe to determine if my heel will roll with the first step, I can’t assume to know how and why people adopt the beliefs they hold, even the ones they may be unwilling to confront.
Anyway, this isn’t a deep one. Love you all!