“It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.” I repeatedly whispered these words to myself as I walked through the blazing noon-day sun across the parking lot. “Are you really doing this to yourself, Susan? Think about it,” another part of my brain cautioned. “This is a mistake,” the voice inside my head resounded. Ignoring it, I firmly and consciously placed one foot in front of the other. After what felt like an eternity, I finally reached my destination. Only half willingly, I reached out for the door handle, but it swung open abruptly, nearly hitting me. “Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there!” a skinny, bronze woman who may or may not have been wearing a Bump It exclaimed. “I can do this,” I awkwardly and rather loudly said to her. I meant to say that in my head and not out loud. “I mean, no problem,” I quickly replied as I slipped around her into the store as she stared bewildered after me.
I found myself standing inside California Sunshine, a bathing suit shop. Scanning the store, I realized if I were to go to hell, this shop would surely be there. If this were my own version of Dante’s Inferno, I’d be in the third circle of hell. Just as in Dante’s third circle, mine too would be reserved for gluttons. Only I would not be forced to eat slime and muck while guarded by three headed dogs, but forced rather to try on bathing suits while being handed smaller and smaller items from a skinny sales person for all eternity.
I’m not sure exactly what happened next, or how much time actually elapsed. I wandered, almost aimlessly, around the store, gathering bathing suit after bathing suit. Tankini’s and one piece suits, some patterned, some solid colors, grabbing most in two sizes not knowing what would fit and what would not. After that I cannot really say what transpired. Have you ever heard of Dissociative Amnesia? It is a lapse in memory that results from stress or trauma, not resulting from say a blow to the head like other forms of amnesia. Well, that’s what happened to me…Dissociative Amnesia. I have been having brief flashes of memories in that dressing room, my skin looking green under the horrible lighting, the sales person repeatedly asking me if I needed another bathing suit or different size. Then there’s the true trauma of the images of me in those dozens of bathing suits looking back at me from the mirror. I even recall reaching out and touching the mirror because the image looked to foreign. I have no idea how long I was in that dressing room…Minutes? Hours? Days? All I know is that I left the store empty-handed, nearly in tears, sweating, and feeling sort of hungover.
I know many people will say that I should “love my body” no matter what, but I say give me some damn time to adjust. I had three children in just under four years. I gained a combined 147lbs from my three pregnancies, and I have lost a total of 140lbs to date. I’m seven pound from my goal weight, but no matter how much weight I lose, my stretched and abused body will never ever, ever look like it did six years ago. So do I think all women should love themselves? Sure I do. Girl power! High five! Sounds good on paper, but I’d also like to take a minute please to get used to the deflated, weird reflection in the mirror. Until that time I do not plan on spending hundreds of dollars on new bathing suits that I don’t like or that will only end up beneath a cover-up anyway.
I’m not giving up, and although I’m not excited about this venture of finding some new bathing suits after having my third child 11 months ago, I’m also not with out hope. I’ve found a few bathing suits online that I’ll be reviewing, and if I can somehow trick my husband, I may even try one of the “Miracle” suits from Victoria’s Secret (even though they can cost as much as $160.00). Additionally, I plan on having a few glasses of wine and bringing a few friends shopping with me the next time I go out to dull the pain and for moral support. Wish me luck; I’ll keep you posted.