It’s surprisingly easy to look in the mirror and see what you want to see. Or not really see at all. And because of that, it’s easy to ignore how putting on weight pushes you farther and farther away from the self you recognize.
But shadows? Shadows don’t lie. They are just dark on light. A single dimension of reality.
When I recently saw my shadow — really saw it — I was shocked, and felt compelled to write a letter to it.
You’ve always been with me, every single day of my life. Wherever I’ve been and whatever I’ve experienced, you’ve been there — that trusty companion to stare at while having hard conversations and to marvel at on the brightest of days. Life isn’t like Never Land, so unlike Peter Pan’s runaway shadow, you’ve never left me to hide.
But me? I’ve taken you for granted — and all that you represent. I’ve sat by while you’ve grown larger. Your shape has changed, through no fault of your own, and I’ve done nothing about it. Honestly, when I finally took a good look at you recently, I was the one who wanted to run and hide.
We were walking on the beach with the kids when I noticed you spread out on the sand. I was shocked — and not in a good way.
With hips protruding farther than shoulders and a marked thickness around the waist and lower half, I didn’t recognize you. The tiny head atop the widening lower half was unnerving, to say the least. What happened? Where did the familiar hourglass disappear to?
I’ve failed you — and me — by standing by while weight and gravity did their evil dance around this body. I’ve ignored the signs of weight gain and explained away the issues with clothes. And I’ve turned a blind eye to the obvious signs of a body mistreated.
But, dear Shadow, I want you to know that I am taking charge of the situation. I’ve been working out. I am trying to eat food that’s better for us. And most importantly, I have stopped ignoring the problem. I see you now, and I will watch as you find your way back to that familiar shape that’s a comfort instead of a wake up call.
Stick with me, ok?
PS: Want to write your own letter to your shadow? Let me know if you do it! And, if you don’t have a blog to share it on, I will happily share it here. If you want!
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.