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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Insecure in Paradise

Ok...so, it's been a while since I've blogged, but there are good reasons why.

1. Life has been crazier than usual.

2. I went to Hawaii.

I'm going to talk about my trip to Hawaii as it triggered MANY of my eating and body image issues. It was something I wanted to do, I was happy to be invited along on this particular trip, but I was forced to face my issues head-on several times throughout the week I was there. I'm hoping many of you (whoever you are!) will be able to relate.

First, some background info: In late March, I got an email from my husband's sister-in-law. Let's call her Carol. This woman is kind and sweet, (now) but she and I had gotten off on the wrong foot and had a bit of a falling-out five years ago. We spent a Christmas together two years ago, and since then have made nice and exchanged emails, etc and have tried to mend the fence. In the March email, she invited me, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law (husband's sister) to go with her, Carol's sister and a friend of their's to Kona, Hawaii. I was surprised that they had thought to include me on this adventure given our history. I thought about it long and hard for a week, then decided I would/should go. I'd never been to Hawaii, and this had always been a trip I'd wanted to take with my husband. It's very unlike either of us to travel like this without one another, but since it was his side of the family, my husband was very supportive of my going.

So I went.

Here are the major triggering events that I had to face:

This was in late May, so I wasn't exactly ready to don a bathing suit just yet, but I was forced to do so.

I struggle with wearing sleeveless tops because my arms aren't toned like Halle Barry's and I'm embarrassed to show my arms, but it was so hot and humid in Kona, I was forced to wear sleeveless a couple of times.

We went on a snorkeling trip to swim with manta rays, and the dive boat operation didn't have a wet suit big enough for me. I had to first try to squeeze myself into a smaller wet suit and I was mortified. Have you ever heard the adage, "trying to fit ten pounds of s!*t into a five pound bag?" The boat's co-captain had to swim over to another boat and get a larger wet suit for me. Thankfully, that one fit and I could swim with the mantas. Still...I was mortified.

I had the big idea to take a helicopter tour of the island. When we called to make our reservation, I had to get on the phone with a woman at the helicopter tours place and actually tell her how much I weigh. Again, more mortification. On the day we went on the actual tour, I had to step on a scale so they could double check my weight. Of course they didn't shout out my weight for all to hear, but still...they knew my weight. This was one of the most fear-inducing things I did while in Hawaii.

None of the women on this trip know I am struggling with food and body image issues. They don't know that I've been working with an ED therapist and nutritionist for two years now. So I was all alone with my thoughts and insecurities. It was quite stress-inducing. Not to mention the fact that my mother-in-law, (God love her) has her own food issues. I'm not sure how aware she is of these issues, but she definitely has many of them. She will often say things like, "I'm going to be good and not eat any chips" while the rest of us are munching on chips and salsa. One day I had to ask her, "Is eating chips 'bad'?"

"No," she said, "but we're going out for dinner later and I don't think I should eat chips."

I was going out to dinner later with her, and I was eating chips. Before my work with my Dynamic Duo, this would have really thrown me and made me feel bad about myself. Not so much this time. I was just very aware of my mother-in-law's attitudes and behaviors towards and about food. It added to my challenges.

It was weird/difficult to be "alone" in paradise, without any real support system there, and being constantly triggered while trying to work on relationships with my in-laws. Doesn't that sound like a fun trip??

My therapist said she was proud of me for going and enduring all that I did. I am, too, to be honest. Thankfully, my therapist is on speed dial and she allows me to text her, so I was in touch with her a lot those first few days. I also appreciate Verizon allowing Hawaii (and I guess Alaska) to be considered part of my calling and texting plan because had Hawaii not been in my plan, I would have racked up a TON of texting charges.

So here's what I learned:

That I didn't completely fall apart when putting on a swimsuit for the first time this year.

That no one looked at me like I was some ugly, disgusting monster in a sleeveless shirt. That other, larger people than myself, wore and wear sleeveless shirts and probably don't give any thought to it. I should learn from their example.

That it wasn't my fault the dive operation didn't have enough wet suits in different sizes to accommodate their guests the evening we went swimming with the manta rays. It would have been sad for me to miss out on that experience, because I am healthy and fit enough to have participated. I'm glad I did.

That I didn't dissolve into a puddle of mush when I had to speak my weight or weigh in before going on that helicopter tour. Again, it would have been a sin to miss out on that trip. I'm glad I got through it and got over myself. I'm glad I was able to go on that excursion.

Did I have a nice time in Hawaii? Sort of. Kona's nice in its own way. It's desolate, for the most part. I'm glad I got to know my husband's sister-in-law and her sister better. I realized we're all dealing with something be it stress and anxiety or weight and body image issues. Many people have told me that the other islands--Kauai, Maui and Oahu--are much greener and more lush and tropical than the big island of Hawaii. The next time I go, I plan to visit those islands. And I'll be sure and take my support team with me!

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