The dreaded swimsuit

Since I’d gained weight, I don’t dress according to the weather. I dress to hide my body, to dissimulate the fat, to cover the shame.

Therefore, in the middle of summer, when the sun is high and temperature are rising, you’ll find me in full-length pants with three layers of clothes on top.

Am I crazy to do that? Perhaps. Sadistic? Maybe. Sweaty?

You bet I am.

I’ve been so used to this way of living – being physically uncomfortable as soon as I wasn’t in a room blasting the AC – that I somehow convinced myself that the discomfort was worth it.

But in the past few weeks, something changed in me. I don’t exactly know how it happened, but it all became clear when I was at a friend’s house, three weeks ago.

She and I had planned to spend a day with her 2 years old son and my nephew. Not the kind of day where you spend hours in the house, but rather a day where you enjoy summertime by eating corn on the cob and swimming.

SWIMMING.

An activity I’d successfully avoided in the past 2 or 3 years… Needless to say, I got nervous just thinking about it. But I knew I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to enjoy my day with these people. I just didn’t know if I was willing to sacrifice my well-being again.

So I was left with 2 choices: either do what I did the last time I was invited at my friend’s house – aka watch everyone have fun as I sit at the edge of the pool, pants rolled up, legs barely in the water – or actually enjoy the day and not let my complexes get the better of me. With that thought in mind, I decided to bring my swimsuit. But boy oh boy, did it bring out my anxiety.

I got anxious the night before when I tried it on and glanced at my reflection in the mirror. I was anxious from the minute I put it into my bag to the moment I get it out of it. I was anxious that morning when I was in my friend’s bathroom and had to get undressed. I was realllllly anxious when I had to walk from the bathroom to the pool, trying to somehow hide my thighs and legs with my beach towel. But then… Then I got into the pool and it was gone. GONE!

My anxiety had finally given way to happiness.

I had so much fun swimming with the boys, jumping from the diving board and splashing my legs around. And you know what? I spent most of the afternoon in my swimsuit, in and out of the pool, not caring about what I looked like. It felt good. No, no. Scratch that.

It felt great.

I even told my friend about how relieved I felt and how proud of myself I was. I honestly think that it was a huge step that I took that day. And today, as the cold weather starts to settle in and as my usual getup of pants and sweaters slowly becomes the season’s norm again, here I am, already thinking of next summer.

And let me tell you… When the heat wave will come knocking on our doors in 2020, my dreaded swimsuit will be no more.

My happy misery

I met an EMDR therapist for the first time last Friday.

I decided to go see her a couple of weeks after someone told me that I was stuck in a mindset where failure was comfortable and where success was too scary to ever wanting to change… After being told that I was afraid of happiness and that being happy meant that there was too big a risk to lose said happiness since it’s happened too often in the past.

Makes you think, huh? You bet it does.

But it’s true. I’m scared sh*tless about the future and the unknown. I was so tired of being heartbroken, betrayed and belittled that somehow, somewhere, in the past 10 years, I decided that I would now play it safe. I thought… “Why try to be skinny if thinness brings shame and unwanted behaviors?” “Why try to be a writer if it equals struggles, denigration and rejections?” “Why go back to being vulnerable if it means being open to heartaches?”

It didn’t make sense to me. So I built a shield around my head and my heart. From that day on I, consciously and unconsciously, did everything in my power to stay in a life I didn’t like. I felt unhappy when I thought about it, but at least I wasn’t getting hurt like before. Crazy, right? Believe me, I tried to be happy in that fortress. I tried to change myself to the point where I would somehow be content with what I had. And I did have moments of happiness throughout the years. I even had moments of hope. I tried new things. I tried to get out of my situation…

Oftentimes, when I thought I had enough, when I thought I was ready to get out of that prison of mine, I try to get out. I attempted to eat healthier, bought business courses and self-improvement books, tried to motivate myself to get back to a life that I loved. Of course, I never succeeded. Or at least not for long. I always got back to my old habits. And after each attempt, I felt incompetent and inadequate, bringing my self-esteem to new lows every time.

But what I didn’t know then was that the battle was already lost. Deep down, I didn’t want to succeed. I wanted to stay in my comfort zone, which was failure. Because failure was safe.

What I’m realizing today is that what I thought was an inability to succeed, was actually me protecting myself from success.

I didn’t fail myself. On the contrary! I did everything I could to never broke that promise that I made with my subconscious YEARS ago. Good job, Steph! *Clap clap, round of applause* I deserve all the praise. Because if I was able to maintain that mindset for all of these years without really knowing it, I can’t imagine what will happen now that I know I’m strong enough to achieve anything I set my mind to.

I go back to see the therapist tomorrow. Will EMDR change my life? I can’t say right now. But will putting new lenses on (by telling my whole self that life is all about choices and what we want it to be) make a difference?

I sure hope it will.