Unless, of course, the beach is crowded and I am wearing a swimsuit, which I avoid like the plague. This was the case Saturday. I spent 10% of my time marveling at the wonders of creation, and 90% of my time feeling fat, wishing I was thin like the woman lying 8 feet from me on the pink and white beach towel, that my abs were more defined like the girl in the blue bikini throwing a frisbee with her friends. I spent 90% of my time feeling ashamed and strangely out of place inside my own skin. I didn't take off my sunglasses, attempting to create a barrier between myself and the rest of the world. I tried to lie very still as if I could somehow dissolve into the sand, blend in and become so commonplace that no one would notice me.
After about an hour or two of lying on the crowded beach, my boyfriend unpacked the lunches we had brought with us. He had a tuna sandwich. I had a veggie sandwich with vegan mayo and spinach. He also brought along some fat free pretzels. There was no part of this meal that would have ordinarily made me feel ashamed to eat it. It was reasonably healthy. But I couldn't eat it. I felt as though the entire beach was gawking at me, counting every bite, validating my "fatness". I ate a little less than half of the sandwich and put it back inside the cooler. I felt so open and exposed, something I had not felt in a very long time. I lay on my back and watched the seagulls circle over me. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the tide rolling in and out again. I could no longer see the girl on the pink and white towel, the girl with the abs throwing the frisbee. I just listened and tried to forget. I became aware that I was sabotaging myself-- something I am guilty of daily. Any time there is a good opportunity or I am in a good situation, I unconsciously try to sabotage it and make myself miserable. It's not on purpose. But I always do it. I let my emotions, my eating disorder, all of the baggage that I have impose itself and manifest itself and steal all of the spotlight until I'm having a horrible time and a good situation has turned quickly into a miserable one. I realized that lying there on the sand. And I vowed to stop self-sabotaging, to enjoy my time at the beach, to enjoy my life.
So I pushed my sunglasses back onto the top of my head, took off the shirt I was wearing over my swimsuit, kicked off my sandals, and walked into the water. Past the girl on the pink and white towel. Past the girl with the abs and the frisbee. I stood with my hands on my hips, the entire beach looking or not looking, and let the water rush in to meet me. Literally and metaphorically seeking renewal.
My boyfriend walked out to the water to join me. We found a little deconstructed crab shell stuck in the sand, the legs broken and disjointed lying all around it. It put things in perspective for me somehow.
I realized before long that I was still hungry. Instead of fighting it, I returned to my beach towel, unpacked the rest of my sandwich, and finished all of it. It was a beautiful day. I've said it before and I will say it again, every day for the rest of my life if I have to:
There is no room for an eating disorder in my life.
Life is too short.
Life is too precious.