We have a country club right outside of our neighborhood.
Rich folk aren’t normally my crowd, but pool folk most certainly are.
And this club has a glorious pool.
So a few weeks ago I called the manager, and I asked if he would consider selling me a pool pass for the summer instead of a full-fledged golf membership.
I explained that I have a tween son with autism who is calmed by water, and that he will literally just sit in it for hours without causing trouble.
The manager was very kind and conversational.
He asked if I golf.
I said, “Um…does putt-putt count?”
He laughed and said he would be happy to sell us a pool pass for the summer.
In just a few weeks, we have already been to the pool probably a dozen times.
I love it there. It is well life-guarded, they have comfortable chairs, and they even have poolside lunch and bar service.
Can I tell you a little secret?
I am much more comfortable in my skin this year.
This year I am over 100 pounds lighter.
Still not skinny by any stretch of the imagination.
But nonetheless, I am smaller.
More mobile and playful.
During one of our first visits to the pool, I noticed a woman who is probably twice the size I am now.
She was wearing a very cute swimsuit dress, and was constantly tugging at it to cover herself.
I wanted to go over and hug her.
Because I knew.
I knew how she was feeling. What she was thinking. The shame she likely felt and the freedom she longed for.
I was clearly looking at her for too long, because we made eye contact.
So I flashed the most brilliantly genuine smile I could muster.
And that darling woman, she almost looked confused. And I wondered to myself how long it had been since a stranger just looked at her with love and smiled a genuine smile.
A few days later, we were at the pool again and she walked in with her family.
She looked right at me and smiled.
They set up camp next to us. Her crew all immediately jumped into the water. And while she was setting out the toys and the towels and the floaties for her brood, I said, “I really love that suit. Where did you get it?”
She replied, “Avenue, online.”
I said, “I LOVE Avenue! Their stuff is so stylish.”
She turned and looked at me and said, “You’re way too small for their clothes.”
Um, lady….that might be the first time anyone has ever referred to me as small.
I sat there for a moment and didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I knew what I wanted to say. But thankfully over the past few years I have grown a filter, so I just ruminated for a few minutes so I wouldn’t offend my new friend.
I guess I expected her to see it in my eyes….that somehow she would be able to just look at me and know that I had very recently been where she currently is.
But she couldn’t. And for the first time maybe ever, I found myself at a loss for words.
She finally broke the silence by saying, “I love the way you play with your kids.”
Bingo bango bungo.
There’s my door.
I said, “A year ago I couldn’t walk 10 feet, so I’m trying to enjoy every moment to the fullest.”
She sat down next to me and said, “What happened?”
I said, “I had broken my feet 3 times in 2 years. They were literally crumbling underneath me, I think.”
I laughed a little. She didn’t even break a smirk.
I continued, “I’ve lost over 100 pounds this year.”
You would’ve thought I’d proposed.
She started telling me her own story, and I listened without interjecting. She told me about her pregnancies, her depression, her PCOS…all the obstacles she had from maintaining a healthy weight.
I told her about my struggle to overcome binge-eating. She looked at me stone-faced.
She said, “You were a binge-eater?”
I said, “I AM a binge-eater. It is an eating disorder. It will always be there, I think. ”
She said, “I’ve found my new bestie.”
We talked for several more minutes. I told her how adorable her baby is in that pink sear-sucker and matching floppy hat. She told me how much she wished she could wear a tankini like me. Then she said something that I haven’t stopped thinking about since.
She said, “I hope you take this the right way. I don’t need to be skinny. Where you are now is where I want to be. I just feel like I’m too far gone.”
I am at her goal weight, while I am still technically 70 pounds above mine.
There’s some perspective for us all.
I turned myself completely toward her, and I said, “Look at me. There is no such thing as too far gone. I’ve been there. Just the fact that you have the desire shows you still have fight. You decide what you want for yourself and do that.”
She looked away. I could tell my Tony Robbins approach was getting a little too intense so I made a joke and jumped in the pool.
Sometimes I get a little carried away.
But as my kids and I were leaving a short time later, she stopped me and simply said, “Thank you.”
No, my dear. Thank you.
While one person struggles to lose those last 5 vanity pounds, another person is struggling to lose their first 5 of hundreds.
While you drive by that $500k house in the swanky neighborhood and let out a mournful sigh, someone is driving by your $100k home and doing the exact same thing.
While one woman is cursing her rowdy and obnoxious children, another is struggling endlessly just to get pregnant and only wishes she had wild children to parent.
When are we ever going to learn to appreciate what we have?
We must move past this notion that we are not thin enough, not rich enough, not good enough.
Because truth be told, while you curse your cellulite, your bank account and your very reflection in the mirror…someone else longs to be exactly where you are.
Let’s embrace ourselves.
And our newly found poolside teachers.
And remember this:
While we still have breath, we are never too far gone.