Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bodies and Beaches

From my vacation journal, written on 7/8/07.

For as long as I can remember, I have had, at best, an ambivalent relationship with my body. At worst, I really hated my body. This led to the usual host of problems, as you might expect. When my partner first walked out on me last year, my immediate response was to retreat to my old set of comfortable anxieties about my body and assume that she left me because I wasn't thin and beautiful. I stopped eating, not by design, really, but because I simply could not eat. I picked up the pace on my eliptical trainer, sometimes running twice a day.

And miraculously, as I used my body more and more for tasks requiring strength (keeping up with the garden, hauling laundry up and down two flights of stairs, chasing a busy six year old, and, of course, the magical eliptical), I came to accept the body that I have. I don't have slim hips or slender thighs and I never will. Without the right sports bra, I am in danger of getting a black eye. But I am strong and sturdy. And my body gives me the power to do all the things that I need it to do. I can lift 60 pounds of boy and carry him upstairs when he falls asleep in the car. I can unload the groceries and carry heavy bags onto the front-porch without breaking a sweat. I can carry my book-laden school bag, laptop computer and lunch bag and run up the stairs at work (quicker than the teenagers anyway). I can easily peddle 6 miles with JT on the pull-behind bike. I can run 4 miles on the eliptical and enjoy the fact that I am hot and sweaty afterward. My body no longer feels like it's holding me back. It feels powerful.

But perhaps the greatest sign that I have come to accept my body came at the beach on the first Sunday of my vacation. We had ridden our bikes there and the time came to change into my swimsuit. There is no official place to do so at this beach and so I wiggled out of my shorts and t-shirt (and the steel sports bra) and changed right there in the open. Then, wearing my swimsuit, and with actual confidence in my body, I walked along the beach with the boys. I may not be the skinniest girl on the beach, but damn it, I can outrun some of those skinny girls. And I am strong.

I often joke in a self-deprecating manner that my body was built for comfort, not for speed. That's still basically the case. But now I like this body; I'm comfortable in it. After nearly 40 years in this skin, that's an unexpectedly delightful discovery.


tlc69 said...

i don't remember ever seeing you wiggle out of your t-shirt, shorts and steel bra?
maybe i need to start going to the beach more often?

Sharkb said...

Most happy thoughts of you wiggle out of your steel bra etc. You go strong girl!