I’m Not Me, Not Whole. Anymore.
I changed into my second set of practice clothes and stuffed the first set of sweaty, worn clothes into my tote bag and headed out to the small room. My Sensei sat in the corner, setting up his phone to the speaker, reminding me that the first tournament of the season was two weeks away. I was hungry to snag all the first places I lost in the previous year and was even hungrier to go against my four year long rival. Every tournament, first place switched off between her and I but this year was going to be different. I was going to win it all. Every division, every tournament. All. Year. Long. I trained two to three times a day everyday for months, weaving in and out of the doctor's office and physical therapy; my body was my second biggest rival. The amount of sprains, scars, lumps, and bruises wasn’t stopping me.
An hour passed by and I was frustrated by poor performance. My Sensei noticed my sluggish movements and I got the “you’re not making any progress, just go home” look, letting out a heavy sigh. It was time to pack up and try again tomorrow even though I was anxious to keep working. I shot my mom a text to pick me up and gathered my stuff. I became even more angry with myself. I thought “you didn’t do enough today”. “You can never win practicing like this”. “She’s probably practicing more”. “Athletes are supposed to be tired so just work through it”. My thoughts knocked around again and again, like a right jab straight to the chest. I felt sorry for myself. I wanted to prove myself wrong. I jumped up to the center of the mat making Sensei look up, the first time in awhile. I gave him my signature “this is my last one I swear” smile and took my position as he returned to his phone.
I started my form, landing the first flip fine. I built up to the easiest kick in my form but my take off was low and my spin was a half a second too slow making my knee spin out and pop. I was down instantly, screaming incoherent words while cradling my right leg. I swear the world stopped as well as my heart. My Sensei jumped up and rushed over, trying to calm me down. “Please don’t say I broke my leg, Sensei”, “Please tell me I’m going to be okay”. I repeated those two statements through a screen of tears, snot, and pain. Pain that wasn’t only coming from my leg. My mom pulled up in time for me to be carried into the front seat and shipped off to the emergency room.
A week passed, only seven days till competition looming over me. Three doctors, an X-Ray, an MRI, four emails, and eight phone calls, got me an answer. A fully torn ACL, fully torn meniscus, and a large cyst. I was out for a year, possibly forever.
Why didn’t I know then? Didn’t know that it wasn’t worth it? Didn’t know that my perspective was so small then, that I was so wrong then. Why didn’t I know? If I could go back and watch myself I would’ve seen the pain, the destruction, and the immense fear of losing. I would’ve seen the sweat accumulating at an unhealthy rate, seen the way my ankles shook, and how my knees wobbled; apparently every cell in my body knew then. I was being dumb and careless and only strived for success, even if it meant sacrificing the well being of my body. Why didn’t I know then? Why didn’t I stop then? Cry then, let myself rest then? That one damn day costs me hundreds more and now I know. I just wish I knew, then. (Word Count: 642).