A common saying many people have heard is, “If you love something, let it go.” Seems kind of paradoxical and hokey in my opinion – why let go of what you love? What’s the point in hurting yourself by letting go of what makes you happy? Isn’t the whole point of life to search for what makes you happy? Isn’t love a journey?
To much gratefulness on my part, I’ve only been in love and had my heart broken by another person once. Your first love changes you and never really leaves you, that’s a fact. But sometimes the deepest loves and most painful heartbreaks don’t come from a person. You probably thought this was going to be another sad love story with a potential fairytale ending because my first love and I let go of each other and fate brought us back. No, this love is different, it hurts in different ways and leaves me broken in different ways, but even worse, it left me lost.
A few years ago, I quickly became infatuated with the feeling of my legs aching, my eyes stinging with sweat, my lungs rapidly expanding and the feeling of cutting through the air and letting my city whiz by me in the blink of an eye. I loved the feeling of pushing my body to achieve a new level of speed, strength, and endurance each day. I loved waking up sore and my chest feeling heavy from using so much oxygen. I fell in love with running; it became my happy place, my source of relief, my workout, the highlight of my day, the relationship I put the most effort into.
But like every relationship, there were hardships, and after the early years of having fun and dropping times like crazy, the honeymoon phase ended and I hit a wall.
All of a sudden, when I should have been peaking, I was plummeting to the ground.
Waking up to lace up my shoes and go run nine miles straight up sucked. I used to want to do two runs a day every day, I used to want to stay after practice and do extra drills to get a little faster. My motivation dwindled with each disappointing day I had. What used to fuel me to try a little harder the next day began holding me back from caring and living for my favorite thing.
Outside and personal factors played a big role too, but the day I ended up in an air cast boot with a torn tendon in my leg gave me no choice but to let go of running for two months. At first, it was nice not being bogged down with something that had turned into a dreadful chore.
But then I found myself slipping away piece by piece.
I started ordering in instead of cooking healthy meals. I cut off relationships with people I used to look forward to seeing. I started sleeping instead of hanging out with friends and being productive and chasing my dreams. I went months without writing a single journal entry or article. I would sit down with my pen to the paper, but no motivation to move the pen. Instead of turning to my normal outlets and craving what I used to love, I just felt empty. I had no more feeling or drive, and I didn’t know who I was anymore besides the girl who just wanted to stay in bed.
Looking back, I lost myself a long time ago when I started to let go of what I love, but held on loosely dangling. But, it wasn’t until I fully let go of running, part by force, that I realized how much I truly loved it.
You don’t realize what your identity is until it’s taken away, just like you don’t realize how much you love something or someone until it’s gone.
Sometimes we lose ourselves in what we love and we become obsessed, and other times we lose what we love in ourselves and we become lost. Sometimes, we need to let something go to see just how much we love it. But the funny thing about love is that true love always comes back to find you in the end. My feet kissing the pavement early in the morning? Well, I found out last week, that’s real love.