Exhausted, frightened and overwhelmed, I walk up to Christian’s door lugging a bag of groceries, a plant, and the suitcase I’m still living out of. I open the door with my key and he looks surprised to see me; after not sleeping last night I guess I forgot to tell him. I explain that we kind of had a fight, that I didn’t sleep.
I trudge down the hall with my suitcase to the little room where I stay sometimes. I draw the curtain and climb into the narrow cot with my weighted blanket. I check one more time to see that there is no text from Kevin* and fight back tears, then angrily switch my phone to airplane mode, then think better of it and change it to night mode–because actually, I do want to wake up if he calls. It is 5 pm.
I sleep for about 12 hours and wake in the morning darkness anxious, wondering why he hasn’t called and whether this relationship is doomed. I remember the feeling of his hand stiffening against me and begin to hyperventilate. I coax myself to breathe. I think about how I’ll see my therapist today, how it will be time to run soon. My alarm goes off; it is 6 am. I look at my text messages just in case–nothing. Cold and distraught, I put on the fuzzy bathrobe my parents sent me last Christmas and find my toiletry bag to go to the bathroom.
Then I stand at my friend’s door in the dark and whisper; “Christian?”
“Uhh?” He sounds tired. I have woken him–but he doesn’t mind being woken up to run with me.
“Do you want to run?”
“Uh-huh.” I tell him he has ten minutes while I meditate. I didn’t meditate yesterday. I was so distressed and disoriented that I genuinely forgot, which hasn’t happened in 279 days. I know; I have an app.
I keep steadying my breathing as my fears about not being loved and my frenzied problem-solving conversations rise to the surface. I stay calm and lay there, and then I get up and sit on the floor beside my running shoes and crumble, my face in my hands. I feel needy and terrified. I miss Kevin*. I don’t understand what’s happening with him and it’s scaring the hell out of me. I’m not sure I can get through my run, never mind the whole day. I choke back sobs and try to calm myself down. When I think I can stand I call for Christian.
We discuss the workout I have planned and what part of that is appropriate given his training volume–then we go out into the cold, dark morning. Running with my friend at my side, I talk about what’s happened. Christian makes some guesses about what’s driving Kevin’s* behavior–all stuff I’ve thought of already but don’t have any answers about. Eventually we leave it.
We run a crooked oblong through the woods and back, and when my Garmin sounds we take off faster into the final quarter of a DUSA progression run. I pull easily ahead but can hear my friend not far behind as I eye the Garmin and consider whether I can sustain 7:00/mile for 15 minutes. I decide to try. As we near his place I see that we’ve been going the 5 minutes Christian intended and call out to him. He splits off toward his place and I continue past, little flickering spots in my vision. I’m fatigued now and pushing to keep pace. By myself, I feel defeated and then I think about how I still haven’t heard from my boyfriend. Then I want to die and my speed falls off precipitously. I’m struggling to lift my feet. I hate everything. I’m so sad. I glance at my Garmin and see 9:43.
Oh, fuck that. Now I’m angry. I’m angry at my boyfriend for not communicating and I’m angry that I feel so sad and vulnerable. My nostrils flare and I bare my teeth a little, touching my unexpressed anger. I pull with my arms and dig deep to prove to myself that I can keep going. I hear my cadence accelerating. My eyes narrow with determination. Go, Laura, I encourage myself, go! I glance at my Garmin. 7:18; that’s just fine. I keep driving ahead, and with a minute left I pick up the pace again, giving everything I have.
Walking back, I think I will try again reaching out to my boyfriend who is usually a skillful communicator. I will not turn away; I want to give everything I have.
*Name has been changed.