I arrived in the foreign country after three long flights and barely any sleep.
All I wanted to do was put on my sandals and my bathing suit and let the heat of the equator sun soak into my weary bones.
But it was not to be.
The piece of luggage holding the ticket to my ultimate clothing enjoyment hadn’t arrived.
All those comfy summer dresses packed with anticipation. The bathing suits tried on again and again in the store as I turned and glanced at myself from every angle ensuring it was the right one for the beach.
These items were not to join me as I climbed into the shuttle that took me to my home away from home, but close to the beach for the next two weeks.
Of course, these clothes are just things and the sun and fun on the beach is just as enjoyable in awkward fitting clothing purchases from the local stores.
But as my face and stomach bloated from the heat and my ill-fitting newly purchased bathing suit clung to my belly, I looked in the mirror and felt a familiar sense of sadness with what I saw.
A sadness about how I looked.
I looked ugly.
It made me not want to go to the beach.
It made me feel less then, not good enough, somehow like I didn’t belong—even though that was silly because I was in a place I’d never been before, so what was there to belong to?
But a sense that I was ugly had me feeling like I would never belong.
And as I climbed into bed feeling depleted from the long travel and what felt like even longer hours berating myself, I somehow remembered that every situation is an opportunity.
And I had to wonder what was the opportunity here? What was I supposed to learn from not having my own clothes and feeling bloated and fat in my oversized shorts and tanktop I just purchased that I now needed to sleep in?
And the answer came to me instantly.
What would it take for me to completely love myself no matter what I looked like? What if I was 500 pounds? What if I had no arms and no legs? What if I was a leper and my skin barely stayed attached to my body? Could I love myself then?
Because real people have those experiences.
And they need to love themselves, too.
This I believe.
And as I thought about all the people who needed to love themselves no matter their circumstance to my surprise, to my absolute astonishment, I heard the answer to my question.
A resounding yes.
I could love myself no matter what I looked like.
And then I realized I owed somebody an apology.
And it wasn’t to my family for my cranky behaviour as sweat drenched I scoured the stores for a pair of shorts to wear.
And it wasn’t to the receptionist at the lodge who I snapped at in my exhausted state as we worked out the rooms.
And it wasn’t to my daughter who was also missing all of her clothes.
It was to myself.
I owed myself an apology for all the mean reflections I had uttered internally to myself as I looked in the mirror earlier that day.
I needed to say sorry to myself for the abuse I had poured onto to myself about looking fat, tired, worn-out, not-sexy, not deserving to go to the beach with all the women who looked the right way in their properly fitting bikinis and tanned, trim bodies.
And that is what I did.
I apologized to myself.
I told myself I was so sorry for treating myself this way. I told myself I didn’t don’t deserve it. I told myself, “I love you no matter what.”
And the instantaneous freedom that came from this type of apology was profound because what it did was it freed me from the crippling fear of getting into trouble from myself.
We can be our worst prisons, our worst tormentors our worst critics.
And this sudden know that I was safe from my own scrutiny was one of the most soothing sensations I have experienced.
And the next day I stopped caring about how the baggy tank top looked or how the ill-fitting swimsuit accentuated all the places I hoped to hide.
I didn’t have to be beautiful or look a way I was in love with.
I just got to be me no matter what that me was on any given day.
And of course not all stories have a happy ending.
But we sure like it when they do.
And this one does.
Because my bag did arrive a few days later.
And I was relieved not to wear the ugly swimsuit again.
And as I climbed into my carefully selected swimsuits I loved what I saw in the mirror.
I felt sexier then ever.
I felt beyond sexy.
I felt whole.
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Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock