Proud Of My Frump

“Why do you still order maternity swimsuits?” My husband said eyeballing me as I slipped on the new polka-dotted swimsuit I got on amazon to see if it fit. I just looked quickly down at my body and went through the checklist in my head: it fit ✓, covered my thighs ✓. Perfect, I thought, and then stripped it right off robotically. This bathing suit was a “winner winner chicken dinner,” in my book. Which brought me back to another very important decision in my life– hmm, what should we have for dinner?

“Hello, Yoo-Hoo, Earth to Dani.” The hubs said waving his hands in front of my face. Waking me up from my zombie or more like zombie chicken like trance.

“Because they are more comfortable, a little lose, more flattering.” I answered, swatting his hands away like he was a pesky bee zigzagging around my head. Plus, he was kind of acting like one.

He clearly doesn’t know my checkered history with swimsuits. At least I will now wear one in public. My worst nightmare was to actually have to go to a store and put one on in front of the mirror. Both, terrible nightmarish situations—especially for this self-proclaimed anti-shopper with a poor body image.

It used to go something like this:

Try it on. Look in the mirror: flab, cottage cheese, fat or arms, thighs and stomach respectively. Followed by feelings of sadness and failure.

It would not be legen–wait for it—dary in the words of How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson or “not legendary at all.”

If you don’t get it still here is a simple equation: See-no-evil monkey emoji times twelve, as I would stare in the mirror completely horrified.

Now, I find myself in this not so legendary bathing suit situation every Thursday. My daughter takes swim lessons and obviously an eight month old can’t swim alone, meaning I have to go in with her. Though her instructor informed me she is pretty buoyant, I don’t think I should chance it just yet. So every Thursday we go to swim and I change myself then her into our bathing suits. When I walked out of the locker room our first lesson, to my surprise, I didn’t even think about the fact that I was wearing the dreaded swimsuit. And five months later, I still don’t.

Recovery is the key that unlocked all of my doors clasped tightly together by shame. Recovery has let me live, and thus experience. All of these amazing momentous things happened to me because I am in recovery. There was a trickle down effect of sorts. If I wasn’t in recovery, I couldn’t have a baby: one, because I wouldn’t have let anyone in (so unless I was The Virgin Mary herself that wouldn’t be possible) and two, because I wasn’t healthy enough to conceive. If I didn’t have a baby, I wouldn’t have really understood how amazing my body was and really appreciated it.

So yes, because I am in recovery and my body was able to give me my daughter, wearing a swimsuit has become a non-issue. I hardly think twice about how I look while playing in the pool with her. I see my daughter’s smile, hear her laugh as she “splashy splashes the water,” and that’s all that matters. In that way, thank you recovery for giving me the experiences and perspective to make a swimsuit that—just a swimsuit.

So no, I won’t be the girl rocking the tiny string bikini, thinking I look hot, but that just isn’t me or what I am about at all. Plus, I think some old fashioned modesty goes a long way. So yes, I will be the girl in the one-piece, or comfortable two-piece playing confidently with my daughter, smiling, laughing. And you know what, I don’t care what society says about my frumpy suits; I am happy and have come a long way.

Don’t Handle The Holidays Like Tickle-Me-Elmo

I gazed over at the table set-up buffet style in the kitchen examining what I was going to eat at this break-the-fast feast. There was a brown basket filled to the brim with bagels: two cinnamon raisin, four everything, the rest plain–at least that’s what I made out from my view. Cream cheese, whitefish salad, egg salad, tuna salad, all in perfect circular scoops, rested on a long plate beside the carb filled basket. There was a tray, to the right of that, filled with kugel and blintzes. Wow, so much food.

Not too long ago, it would have made me literarily shake, hands vibrating like an out of control Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, and want to plan my exit. I know I would be great at Escape the Room, because no one has perfected the escape better than me. Now, the food was actually beautiful in its arrangements, smells, and colors. How poetic, right?

“Vivie look at the pretty colors,” I said, giving my baby girl a tour around the table from my arms.

Vivienne stared and started smiling, even clapping her hands–then she tried to reach for a bagel. I hope she always has this attitude towards food. She loves it.

Yom Kippur is my favorite holiday in terms of dinner food, and no, not because it’s the one-day I get to fast without people asking questions. I could eat breakfast for dinner everyday and be happy. I can’t say that wasn’t the reason a couple of years back though…

             ***

Holidays are the worst when you have an active eating disorder. Everyone is there, analyzing what you look like and what you put in your mouth. It is neither relaxing nor fun to be around all that food, especially when people are talking about their dieting resolutions while stuffing their faces. Enraging! They’d be commenting on how all the food on the table was “fattening” before eating it, while simultaneously talking about putting on their “fat pants.” Then they’d expect me to eat all that fattening food after that. Yeah, right. Triggers anyone?

 People who really meant well would piss me off with insulting my intelligence by trying to entice me to eat. “Mmmm, Dan, you have to try these mashed potatoes; they are so delicious.” Don’t shove it in my face that you can eat it, you fool! It’s not going to make me want it more! I wanted to pat them on the back and say, “Good for you.”

I would feel uncomfortable and bad about myself with each bite everyone else took, with each bite I took, with each moment where I felt abnormal. I couldn’t go. I couldn’t handle any of it, and it was no one’s fault but my own. That’s why I would tell them I was too sick to make it or my eyes were burning, as I had corneal erosions from malnutrition at the time—anything to get out of it.

***

The holidays for me now represent recovery. In recovery I can get together with my family, loved ones, and really enjoy myself. I don’t have to worry about eating in any capacity and can catch up with my family.

However, I do think it’s important for family members to not make triggering comments that can set a loved one in recovery back. Avoid trying to get someone to eat by shoving it in their face, making comments about their size, drawing attention to their problem, demanding they eat etc.—it won’t work and will most likely be detrimental. Pick a time when you can speak to the person in private, then explain why you’re concerned. At a holiday meal, is not the time.

Anyway, the point is that the holidays, once a time I avoided, now is a time where I can embrace my FULL—being FULLy in recovery and being okay with the satisfied FULL feeling. How are you going to embrace your FULL this holiday season?