I went swimming. In the ocean. For the first time in...I can't remember. My bff Anne is probably the last person who saw me in a Swimsuit circa 2000. It's really been that long.
The backstory is that the boyfriend and I traveled to Maine to see one of his best friends get married. It just happened that my family and his were both staying in the same town at the Jersey shore so once we left Maine we headed to Jersey. I wasn't too enthusiastic about it but it ended up being a great time. It was the first time in my life I could take a vacation that was paid for and I didn't have to worry about losing money from not working.
In my adult life I have never been a beach person. I hate the sun, the sunburn that results from being pale and Irish, and the sand. But one day on our vacation, I found myself thigh-deep in water with waves crashing on me while I watched my nephews being held by my brother in law. After a while I said to myself, "fuck it". Of course I didn't have a bathing suit but I didn't care. I was already soaked. I walked back to the beach where my family was stationed, ripped off the bandage covering my new, verrrry small stoma, and talked my brother into joining me in the water.
This is not to say I couldn't go swimming before. Honestly, I never really attempted it. I think I just convinced myself I didn't like the beach as a way to cope with my reality. In the years with my ostomy, I certainly took baths and I knew I could find bathing suits that worked with me, but I just never shopped for them. If I went to the beach I went in a tank and shorts and read or people-watched.
But that day, several weeks ago now, I swam in the ocean with my brother for an hour. I watched my nephews as they were crushed with waves. I watched my mom on the shoreline beaming with a wide smile as she took pictures of me....swimming. My boyfriend (who spent his day golfing) was dumbfounded when I texted him after hours on the beach telling him that I was still there. And that I went swimming.
Sometimes I feel guilty with my "new" life, because I would have been fine spending the rest of my life with an ostomy---really. But there is a sense of freedom I never thought imaginable; one that has made me certain I made the right decision. I could not imagine life another way.
I suppose I need to find a bathing suit for next season. Until then...