Swimming and Swimsuits: Facing Our Fears Together

I know that this blog is mostly about Jake’s recovery, but it is also a version of therapy for me to be able to express how both Jake and I are adjusting and growing after such a huge life change. Every day I find new ways of looking at life and how we, as a couple as well as individuals, can continue to grow and improve ourselves. We got a wonderful opportunity this past weekend to grow through each of us facing a fear.

Being a new amputee, there are so many moments every single day that we used to take for granted. For instance, we have a handicap plaque for our cars, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, that I realized something. Jake preferred that I park in the handicap spots even if there was a closer regular parking spot. I thought it was a little odd at the time since he used to be a little extra sensitive about worrying that folks would think he was parking in a handicap spot because was just lazy. So I asked him why he wanted me to park further away, just to be in a handicap spot. I consider myself very perceptive and felt like I was justified in questioning his request. As it turns out, I had not realized that the main reason was so that he would not have to worry about someone parking too close and him not being able to open his car door all the way. Since Jake’s prosthetic is pretty long (since he is tall) and it can be tricky to get out of the car if there is a car parked next to his side of the car. I was so surprised–that had not even crossed my mind. I spend so much emotional time and energy trying to help make the world a safer place for him, I had not seen the most basic physically-reasonable answer.

That experience was really eye-opening to me, and it was a little reminder that I do not need to try to so hard protect him from things that I have anxiety about on his behalf. Cut to this weekend. Our wonderful group of friends has a few fantasy football leagues, one for the guys, and a less serious, mostly silly, but still competitive league for many of the wives and girlfriends. So the draft for the guys league was this past weekend. It was hosted by one of the league members at his home that so happens to have an inground pool!

The backstory here, Jake really loves to swim. I mean loves it. When we were first dating, anytime we’d travel out of town and there was a pool at our hotel, that was one of the first things he would want to do…. Another backstory, I loved to swim when I was younger. My mom used to refer to me as a water baby even. Fast forward to the present day, I haven’t put on a swimsuit in 2 years and Jake has lost a leg!

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That’s me in the lifevest!

When the opportunity arose for Jake to try out swimming for the first time since his amputation, he was really excited! Knowing that it would be a really safe place for him to try out the logistics of how to get in and how to get out of the pool was exciting to him! Seeing how excited Jake was to try this out while surrounded by our dear friends in an environment that would allow him the dignity and respect to struggle if he needed to, or ask for help if he needed it was so important to me.

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So the importance of helping Jake succeed in getting to get back into the pool became much more important to me than my “plus-sized girl in a swimsuit” fears. Very similar to Jake having a safe place for him, he helped me realized that it was also a safe place for me to get back into a swimsuit and back into a swimming pool. Which I had not done around friends or family in at least 5 years. I was always too concerned with people truly seeing my body. I usually feel safer when I layering my clothes just right. I think it helped me to hide the shame I had for my bigger than average body. So once I knew that it was a safe place for me also, it was just going to be something I had to do, rip the band-aid off!

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In my never-still, anxious mind, I tried to think of my younger self-splashing in the pool, and I wanted my current self to get to experience it too. And I sure did! After 3 hours in the pool, Jake had to drag me out when it was time to go! I have the sunburn to back it up.

My body is responsible for carrying this beautiful mind and spirit through this world–no matter what it looks like. Just as Jake’s body is responsible for carrying around his amazing mind and spirit through the world next to me–no matter if it has two legs or one. As long as he is next to me, we are good. I am trying to learn that, that is all that matters in this life.

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Special Note to Our Friends: Your support and love has meant so much to Jake and me. Thank you! 

3 thoughts on “Swimming and Swimsuits: Facing Our Fears Together

  1. Linda Waters says:

    I love the way you worded “my body is responsible for carrying this beautiful mind and spirit through this life, no matter what it looks like.” I think that there are so many people who have so much insecurity about the way their body looks, for a variety of reasons, that everyone would benefit from looking at themselves from that point of view. You will probably never know how many people you have helped by sharing your perspective with them. Way to go Julie!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BreeLeigh says:

    Oh, what a tender moment. Thank you for sharing your story and honest feelings. I keep thinking of that phrase….How to wear a bathing suit, step 1 put on a bathing suit and rock it! 🙂 So glad you two had a good time swimming.

    Like

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