My husband called me today to say his afternoon lesson cancelled.
“Let’s take the kids to the beach today,” he said on the phone.
I excitedly agreed and started gathering beach (and baby) essentials: swim trunks, towels, diapers, bottles, sunscreen and of course MY bathing suit. As I grabbed my bikini from the drawer and smiled. Sometimes it is still hard to believe this is my life. I don’t hesitate to say yes to the beach or lunch or anything really. My disordered thoughts no longer keep me from living MY life.
But I’ve got to be honest, I flinched a bit when I put on my bathing suit. Maybe you know that feeling I’m talking about. You’re super excited for the first beach day of the season, but at the same time you put your swimsuit on and hesitate. You feel so naked and exposed. But the hesitation was simply a fleeting thought. I chose to embrace the Victoria’s Secret imposed vulnerability and march on.
We picked up my son from school and told him we were off to the beach. His face was PRICELESS. “SandSastles!” He squealed with excitement. Marjorie was dressed in her tutu striped one piece and pink jellies. Yes, jellies are making a comeback and yes, they make them small enough to feet her perfectly tiny feet. Could life get any better?
The day was perfect. Picture perfect. When we moved to St. Simon’s Island last year, we bought a paddle board. I could not wait to take it out for the first spin of the year. At this point I still had my cover up on simply because I had not stopped long enough unloading and caring for Marjorie to take it off. But as I put the paddle board in the water I hesitated and decided to keep it on. I was feeling too vulnerable and uncomfortable in my body. My body is not what it used to be. My life is not what it used to be. And I don’t mean either of those statements in the negative sense. They are facts.
As I debated my coverup I thought first to one of my defining eating disorder recovery moments. It is a story I tell at every talk. The story of when I was asked what recovery looked like to me. I replied that recovery to me was to walk on the beach in a bathing suit – not because I had a perfect body or was a certain size, but because I was finally free in my body.
And four years that defining moment still has an impact on me. Whenever I’m feeling body conscious or insecure, I take it off! Well, the coverup that is. I did it when I was pregnant last summer and I did it today.I tossed my coverup onto the sand and began to paddle board. I felt the wind and sun fall down on my exposed belly and smiled. In that moment, I fell in love with my body all over again.
Rather than focus on how my body is different that it used to be, I began to reflect on the magnificent things my body has done for me. My body survived fifteen years of intense abuse as I battled my eating disorder. It carried me through my recovery and blessed me with the pregnancy of my baby boy. My legs have run races, hiked mountains and kicked in the waves. My body has endured the most grueling and traumatic time in the hospital with the untimely and early birth of my daughter. And through all that it kept going so I could be by her side until my amazing arms were able to carry her home. Yes, my body is different, but it is different in the most miraculous of ways.
I think we often hang on to what our bodies once were: ‘high school skinny’ or ‘pre-baby’. And of course the media doesn’t help. According to the magazines, I should have been back to my ‘pre baby’ body in 48 hours or I should have cleansed before putting on my bathing suit today to get my perfect bikini body. I did neither of those things and guess what? I have a bikini body. I simply put my body in a bikini. It’s mind blowing, I know. And let’s be honest, with two kids, two dogs, a house under construction and a job, I don’t have time for that shit. I have more important things to do and I can think of a million things I would rather do than diet or cleanse. I will stick to cleansing my coverup.
With all of the negative body messages and pressures around us, it is understandable that we hesitate to jump into a swimsuit or take off our coverup. We forget what our bodies have done for us and we hold our standard of worth not just to the number on the scale, but to what we used to be or what we ‘used’ to look like.
Let’s find gratitude in what our bodies have done and what they can do. Embrace the body you have today, not the one you think will make you happy a few pounds or a cleanse from now. Let your cleanse be a dose of sunshine on your body. Soak in the vitamin D. Soak in LIFE.
This is a picture of my daughter and me, no filter. Her body took her from 1lb, 15oz to the thriving baby she is today. My body is just as amazing and miraculous as hers. We love our bodies. (Side note: she had a meltdown on the beach so I opted for a bathroom selfie pic rather than a picture on the beach of her screaming. Your welcome.)