It was two years ago, on the last day of my vacation. I put on my bikini...grabbed my ipod...and headed for the ocean barefoot...ready to take my last walk that summer on the beach by myself. The wind was blowing my hair and the sun was really warm on my shoulders. Most people either come to the island or leave the island on Saturdays. We stayed an extra day, so it was a Sunday. People were spending their first day on the beach and I noticed the difference in the way it felt. There was an excitement in the air. It was the first time kids were digging in the sand...the first time umbrellas were being put up...beach toys looked new and clean...most people looked like they could use a tan. It felt good...but it was also a bittersweet moment. While everyone was so happy and excited...I was feeling regret over the fact that my week...my time...was gone.
I was walking along with the sand in my toes...music in my ears and the ocean washing over my feet every time the tide washed in. I was deep in thought when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there were three men standing a little further in...the water was probably up to their knees. They were drinking beer...talking...staring at someone intently. I looked behind me...no one was there...checked both sides...still no one there...and then I realized that it was ME that they were staring at. When I looked back over...they were smiling and I smiled back as I continued to walk. One said, "Hey, how's it goin?" I turned my head their direction, smiled again, and said "Everything is great!"...never stopping. I heard one say to the other, "Damn! This is gonna be a GOOD week!" and I kind of laughed to myself.
I walked a little further...noticing people noticing me. It was strange. I stopped...and walked a little further out to stand for a minute or two. As I stood there, I thought about how very grateful I am to be the person that I have become. I am grateful to be in the best physical shape of my life. I feel and look better than I did at 25 (minus the wrinkles around my eyes). I am stronger than I have ever been...both physically and mentally. I grew up never liking who I was...never feeling pretty...never feeling good enough...never feeling like I was good at anything. I didn't like who I was...which was part of what led me to the place I was at my lowest...200 lbs...hating myself...sad...and hopeless.The journey I took over the year it took me to lose 70 lbs...the people that I met along the way...and the years that have come and gone since have changed me...in every way. I feel like the old me died and a new me was born. I am still haunted by the ghost of who I use to be from time to time. Some days I look in the mirror and I see the old me in my reflection, but I actually can say I like myself now. I will always struggle, but I want to learn to love myself and see myself as others do.
I watched the water and the pelicans diving for breakfast and thought back on the time when I let myself go and fell into such a dark place. I have so many painful memories of that time. I was thinking that in many ways, it was one of the worst things that happened to me...and then it occurred to me. Maybe that was not the worst thing that happened to me. I believe that in many ways it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me. I truly feel that in the past 8 years, I have become the person that I was always meant to be. I have grown and learned things about myself...knocked down walls and faced fears...made some of the best friends I've ever had...and learned what it is that I want to do with my life. At that moment, I came to the realization that gaining and losing the weight, was the best worst thing that ever happened to me. I turned to walk back towards our villa, but I no longer felt sad...I felt thankful...thankful for the time I had in my favorite place doing what I like with people I love...and thankful to be who I am...not by nature or the grace of God...but through my own efforts.