I've been dealing with a shoulder injury since mid-August. Recently, worker's comp - I was injured at work - decided that I needed more than just physiotherapy, so I was sent to a rehabilitation center. Twice a week, we go swimming, something I've been avoiding doing for a long, long time.
Swimming is fine, in theory. Being in the water, the soothing feeling of weightlessness, of being surrounded and yet isolated, these are all wonderful, amazing things.
If only there weren't bathing suits.
Wouldn't it be great, a fellow rehab patient said to me, if there was a tunnel that took you directly into the pool from the changeroom? Yes, I said, especially if instead of water, the pool was filled with chocolate milk. You could skip that whole worrying what people were thinking of you as you performed your awkward walk of shame from the changing area into the pool.
My body had changed a lot in the three years that passed since the last time I went swimming, so I decided I needed a new bathing suit, or at least a new top, one that fit me now and not the bigger busted me of three years past. I miss that me. I miss that body. I want to find the me of three years ago and hug her and tell her that she's beautiful, that she needs to love herself now because now is the only time that her body will be that way. I want to tell her to buy those dresses, to wear those skirts and those tops and all of the things she thinks she's not pretty enough for.
I imagine the me in three years will feel the same way about me now, and the me in six years will feel that way about three-years-in-the-future me. Being good to myself isn't just for me right now, it's so me-in-the-future can look back at pictures and think, "damn, I was awesome then! How brave I was to wear those things! How confident! How fearless!" rather than remembering all the things I wanted to do and wear but didn't and wishing I had.
I'm trying to be true to myself, to be honest with this thing I'm writing about, so I bought a bikini top. I also bought a tank top that goes over it. I've worn it a handful of times, never without the top over it, though. It sounds like nothing, but it is a lot. My last swim suit was a t-shirt top and long shorts. Being confident enough to show this much skin is new and a bit frightening to me, but each time it gets easier.