05/17/2013 02:40 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

How Things Like This End (Part 5)

Continued from Part 4

I saw the ball from 10 feet away. A chain of events put in motion when my teammate set a volley. The second teammate, for whom the volley was set, hit the ball errantly, causing it to drift high in the air but far out of bounds. The ball went from being 10 feet away to 20 feet away. The granules of sand seeped up between my toes for infinitesimal milliseconds as my heels created tiny sandstorms with each sprinting step.

As the ball fell from its apex, I knew instinctively that I'd make it over in time. I lunged upward and forward to meet the ball midair. I hit it at such an angle that it cleared the net with velocity too great to be touched. A kill. The crowd yelled in one of those moments that seem too made-up to be true. Then, with a slight pop known only to me, I felt a sensation in my knee that I'd never felt before. It hurt like hell. I attempted to play the next point, but when I came back down after the spike, my leg could not support my weight, and my body cascaded onto the sand like a waterfall as friends helped me off the court.

A torn ACL isn't much different from a broken heart. You're never quite the same, and you wonder how you ended up in such a situation to begin with. If only we'd lost the prior two matches, when we'd come back from behind to win, we would have been eliminated from the tournament before I injured myself. If only my teammate who'd subbed hadn't shown up late, causing him to miss out on a proper warmup, he might not have hit the errant volley that I retrieved. If only I had never met him.

Most doctors say that it takes about a year to fully trust your knee again. The rehab is humbling and makes you grateful for the health that you previously took for granted. You can't sleep as comfortably as you once did in positions that used to bring about such slumber. You struggle to dance the same way. Just ask Britney; she knows a thing or three about devastating knee injuries.

Eventually I got back in the habit of things I enjoyed, things that tested me without breaking me. Tennis, a game where, ironically, "love" is equivalent to 0. And maybe that's appropriate. I needed to learn to relove myself, and to really try to understand why I'd resorted to a man so wildly unavailable, a situation so ridiculously unpromising. So I start back at love.

As more months went by, I progressed to doing yoga again. Getting to moments of nonjudgment in my practice. Embracing the energy in the room. Turning my mind off and accepting my life, my role in the predicaments in which I've found myself.

As more time goes by, I'm still not as confident in my abilities as I'd like, but I feel myself getting closer. When it's time to take it to the next level, I'll trust my body and act accordingly, I tell myself. After all, it's been a year since my knee has been surgically repaired, and it's high time to test the thing out for real.

One morning I awake to a friend's text message: "You're going to flip shit when you check your newsfeed." I immediately know what to expect, and my suspicions are instantly confirmed. I always knew this day would come. Matt and Liz are engaged.

Welp. There's that. I let myself feel everything I need to feel for one day, and one day only. "No time like the present," I think to myself as I double-knot my seldom-used Nikes and run my first full mile since the surgery. The first blocks are the hardest (my knee seems to know it's being tested), but I push through the awkward pulsating feeling until it eases into motion. My breath is heavy and uneven, but I keep running. With Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" blasting in my ears, I elongate my stride, quicken my pace and try to fully tap into the source of this motivation before my knee realizes that it's moving of its own accord again. A tiny smirk finds its way onto my face. My knee is fine, and in that moment I realize that so am I.

All names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.