This bruise on my leg, in some ways I hope it never goes away. It reminds me of my brave and very shallow ways this summer. For years I dreamed of being able to confidently be myself. For years I hid behind my weight. I piled crap into my body. And then suddenly I wanted something that I knew my weight would prevent me from having.

Last year I captured a friendship that propelled me to be a better me. Because of this friendship I write more, paint more, feel more, think more, and do more about how I look. I am doing all of the things that I never did in my marriage. Sadly, I am sure my ex-husband would have appreciated every effort that I have put into cultivating a better me, but had I done this with him around then I would have been unable to keep an eye on him. Unfortunately, taking my eye off of him was not something I was willing to do. He chased trouble at every turn of his existence. I was the referee-wife, at best.

Over the past year I have contemplated many things, read many things, and prayed many things. Out of it all I have come away with a better sense of who I am. I feel like I am 24 in some ways, picking up where I left off shortly after I was married, and before I put myself on hold. Sounds pathetic doesn’t it? But the beauty is that I have no regrets. I was able to make a life, or attempt to, with a man that I deeply loved for 12 years. Whether or not he felt true love is really none of my business, but I did.

And the bruise on my leg is from a dumb attempt to get into a pool when I tripped and fell. The reason it is the only bruise that I have ever loved is simple. It is the first time that I wore a bikini in front of someone other than my family, with the exception of prepubescent Jr. High pool time in the heat of a New Mexico summer.

Even better is that I wore my polka dot bikini in front of my friend who has helped me realize how truly fantastic I am. I know I sound a little shallow, but I am fully acknowledging that losing 70 pounds has gone to my head in every way. I no longer hide behind big clothes and fat. My personality has changed, completely. Loved ones would disagree; however, I know how I felt then and now. I don’t feel like I know the former me. I think about her, but she might be dead for all I know.

She was sad, worried, anxious. I am none of those things today. She was striving for perfection while she piled food in her mouth. I don’t know what the attempt of perfection even looks like. I am just trying to be a better version of me. I am fortunate that friends have seen things in me that I didn’t know were there. They never judged me for who I was, am, or would become. They accepted me for me. And each day that I get out of bed, I also try to accept me for me.

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