I put my new swimsuit to work this week. In my mind, I saw myself arriving at the pool, delicately climbing down the ladder into the pool (have they not heard that stairs have been invented?), and beginning to walk/run lengths of the pool to loosen up my sore knee. I was certain the water would support my old joints and I would become poetry in motion in the water. I expected that after my time exercising and stretching in the pool, I would nimbly climb back out and be amazed at how much easier it was to move.
Umm, not so much. While attempting to climb backwards down those narrow steps to gracefully enter the pool, I lost my grip on the metal handles and proceeded to fall unceremoniously into the pool, gasping as I hit the cool water!
“Well, at least there was only one other person in the pool and he was busy doing laps so I don’t think he saw your performance,” snarled Munch.
At last, I had reached my destination…I was waist deep in the buoyant water where I felt more at home than on dry, solid land. Finally, I would be able to walk without pain, at least that is how I imagined it would be. It turned out, even in water my knee acted up, but it wasn’t nearly as painful as walking on solid ground, so I just carried on and hoped that the pain would die down once the joint was stretched out and lubricated.
I had every moment of my time mapped out that morning. I would walk/run for 45 minutes. Then after 10 minutes in the hot tub, I would still have almost a full hour to shower and do my full beauty regimen before climbing in the car and heading to work.
What I hadn’t planned for, was how bloody boring it would be to walk laps in a pool for 45 minutes. I tried to make it more interesting by timing myself and trying to better my best time each lap. I also changed it up by alternating between walking and swimming. Finally, it was over! That wasn’t so bad, was it? Uh huh.
Now it was time to jump out of the pool and head to the hot tub – my second favourite spot on earth! What I didn’t allow for was how bloody tired my body would be from a mere 45-minutes of exercise. I placed my foot on the bottom rung of the ladder and started to climb out. O M G!! Once my body emerged from the buoyant water, it suddenly felt like it weighed twice as much! In addition, my leg muscles were fatigued from the exercise and I was having a terrible time to pull myself up out of the pool! I gripped the metal bars with every ounce of strength I could muster and finally managed to step up onto the pool deck. Thank goodness the other swimmer had already left and wasn’t witness to this performance!
Back on dry land, I wasn’t able to move with the grace I had shown in the water. I kind of shuffled over to the hot tub (thank the universe the hot tub had stairs I could walk down), I turned on the jets and walked down into the soothing water, crossed to the other side of the hot tub, sank down into the rolling, soothing waters, closed my eyes, and burst into tears!
I felt so ashamed! How had I allowed myself to get into such sad shape again? Similar to my experience in the airplane washroom in 2009, even though no one had witnessed my humiliation, I felt totally, overwhelmingly ashamed! But this time, I knew better than to try and hide my shame.
What I have learned since 2009 is, there are very few things that grow well in the dark…mushrooms and shame are the only two I know. I’ve learned if I hide my shame, if I refuse to acknowledge what I am feeling, the shame will paralyze me—I won’t be able to get past the experience and I will shut down and will continue eating to try to numb the feelings…and we all know how that ends, don’t we? In fact, while I was sitting in the hot tub, Munch was already planning what wonderful foods I could buy that evening that would make me feel better.
Just a couple days after my pool adventure, I am still so sore and stiff I am having trouble moving. This wasn’t how I pictured this adventure would go, but I am dealing with the cards I am dealt. I will give my body a bit more time to recover and then I will head back into the pool.
Hell, no, I am not giving up! Hell, yes, I will always pray for an empty pool with no witnesses to my ineptness until I improve my agility! But witnesses or not, I will keep trying!
Do you have a shameful secret you are hiding because you don’t believe anyone else has experienced it and no one else will understand?
What would happen if, today you choose one trusted person in your life and share your story with them and tell them how it made you feel? Maybe you will find out you are not alone? Maybe the simple act of sharing your story will give them permission to release their own shame? Maybe by shining a light on your shameful secret you can finally release it and forgive yourself? That is what I wish for you!
You, like me, are doing the best you can. Forgive yourself. Just keep trying to do a little bit better every day! You’ve got this!