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.

Taking the plunge

Summer in Canada don’t last long. You wait an eternity for spring to settle in, then boom: warnings of heat wave are everywhere. But before you know it, it’s fall again and the cool weather is back for another 6 months…

As a kid, I didn’t mind mother nature’s mood swings. My sisters and I were outside most of the summer anyway, enjoying every last bit of sun. Plus, we loved to swim. It didn’t matter if the water temperature was 65° or 85°, we were in the pool for hours at a time. We would jump right into it and we knew that if the water was cold at the beginning, our bodies would adapt and we would be fine after a while.

One thing I remember from those summers is watching my parents come into the pool with us. My dad would sometimes go all-in, all at once, but my mom… It was like watching a delicate choreography come into action. She would sit on the deck, take some water into her hand and splash it onto her, one body part at a time. First, an arm. “Ohhh, it’s so cold!” Then, the other arm, followed by the front and the back of her neck, and so on. We would often encourage her to jump right in – to try and ease the process – but most of the time, she would refuse and stick with her habit. After a while, she would finally go down the steps and ready to play in the pool with us. Of course, this little ceremony was usually followed by a “it isn’t so cold after all” from her, which we all agreed to.

As an adult, I spend way less time in pools. But when I do…. Yeah. You guessed it: I do exactly like my mom used to! I feel like I’m unable to jump right in. I need to ease into it, go slow, get used to the temperature of the water. It’s like I’m afraid to go all in and realize, too late, that I had made a mistake.

But this is it. This is the problem. For years now, I’ve been too scared to take the plunge. I take so much time getting ready and mentally prepared that I end up wasting precious minutes/hours/weeks – even months (!!) before actually do the thing.

I can’t anymore.

That’s why I decided to dive right into this blog project. I might get cold for a moment, but I will adapt. And let me tell you: I’m ready to play.

xo

Steph