It's a difficult thing to do, you know.
Without realizing it, I took a hiatus from one of my life's greatest loves: running. I haven't always completely understood my love for running, to be honest. We fell in love in college, and quickly fell into a full blown passionate love affair. Running is my life's passion. It's my therapy. It's always been an uncomplicated, love-filled relationship that brings light into my life.
In 2006, I ran my first half marathon. It was painful, but I kept going. I ran another half in 2007 and a third in 2008. Then, I stopped. I kept running on my own but I let my passion for running fizzle. I stopped because I wanted to have children. Then, I couldn't have children. Things got complicated.
I even let a physician with at least 4 advanced degrees hanging on his floral wallpaper covered office wall convince me that running was preventing me from getting pregnant. He gasped audibly and removed his glasses in a soap opera-like shock when I told him how many miles I ran a week (25+) and he told me I needed to either scale back or stop entirely. Anything over ten miles, he explained, had the potential to cause problems with my body. He even went so far as to say that running was "too jarring for the reproductive system." I pictured my insides being shaken up like a martini. It made sense. Apparently.
Back then, I clung to every word out of my doctor's mouth. Stop running. No alcohol. Don't take echinacea. Don't ride a bicycle. No coffee. Buy a three-year supply of prenatal vitamins. I did it all, because I always did as I was told. If I wanted to have a child, it was necessary to make these sacrifices.
It felt like my world was being turned upside down. I was fixated on something I couldn't touch, because of a laundry list of what I could not do. It got old very quickly. Particularly when it made no difference whatsoever.
Nearly three years later, I realize that I'm not willing to give up something I love for something that probably won't happen. It was snuffing out a light inside of me that was just begging to shine. I needed to start running again. I had been denying that part of myself for so long that I had forgotten it ever existed.
I signed up for a half marathon last week, in the spring of 2012. And in the fall I'm going to run my first full marathon. It was the culmination of so many things: getting back to my life's passion was like taking a mask from my eyes. I could see again, and it has renewed me in a way that is difficult to describe.
I gave up my passion without realizing it; it was only until I brought it back into my life that I realized it had been missing all these years. I don't remember letting it go, really. But it was gone. And it was slowly taking pieces of me with it.
I took my very last prenatal vitamin last week. I danced around the house with the enormous empty bottle, dogs and husband wondering if I had actually gone crazy. I have taken those stupid vitamins for three years, a daily reminder of what I do not have--and it was slowly snuffing out my joy.
Here's the thing: giving up something you love for something you desperately want is worth the sacrifice. However, letting it leave you entirely is not. I think sacrifice is often a means to an end; but it doesn't have to end something that makes you feel alive. I gave up my love for a purpose back then, but I realize today that my life has a new purpose---and I don't have to sacrifice a part of myself any more.