A true story about 'finding the right person' in the most unexpected places.
I laid back on my sun bed, a shady spot at the far end of the beach. The boat from Rhodes Town docked, and its passengers disembarked. A couple of ladies stopped, asked the taverna owner the cost of the beds and then moved on. Time passed.
The ladies returned and took two beds to my left. One of them disappeared immediately; the other, clothed in baggy trousers and a long sleeve top, looked out to sea. After a few moments, she rolled up her trousers a little and went to the water's edge for a paddle. She returned and sat on her bed.
About ten minutes later, a group of six South Africans rocked up: tall, tanned, young and lovely. Most of the sun beds had been taken, so they were forced onto the shady part of the beach. They wanted to be 'together', but there were only four beds (next to the lady who had just arrived) and two next to me. They agreed to split up and take them. They ordered a 'hair of the dog' and started to strip off, laughing and joking. Their beautifully tanned young bodies were a sight to behold.
The lady watched, fidgeted, and looked around.
Then, she looked up and said..."you can take these; I'll move."
The group were extremely grateful.
She got her things and moved next to me. She sat there on the side of the bed, looking at the sand.
I knew why she'd moved... I could see myself in her.
"You did the right thing", I said. "Those sun beds are shady now, but in about 20 minutes, they'll be in the sun. These are much better; they stay in the shade for most of the day".
She looked at me, and tears started to roll down her cheeks.
"Thank you" she whispered. "Thank you for noticing. I'm having the most terrible time."
And then it poured out.
"I'm on holiday with my friend. It's her birthday tomorrow, only I've spoilt it....The day after we arrived, we went on a boat trip, only I was awkward and slipped. I got trapped between the boat and the jetty, and I did this..."
She showed me her leg; from the knee down, it was a huge weeping scar. Four men had had to rescue her, lifting her back onto the boat. Her leg was excruciating, but she was so embarrassed that she didn't want to make a fuss. The following day, her friend wanted to go on another trip, so she agreed, despite being in pain. She thought the salt water would help her graze if she went swimming. The fact was that she spent too long in the water without protection and had got burnt. Her back was covered in blisters. Today, her friend wanted to visit the Acropolis in Lindos, so she agreed. When she arrived she could see how far she'd need to walk, and it was so hot, she didn't know if she could do it...her friend told her she could take a donkey.
It turns out that she couldn't, she was too heavy....she was in pain and ashamed, her friend had gone off on her own.
This lovely lady was so sad. She didn't know it would be so hot; she didn't want to spoil anyone's holiday; she didn't want to be a burden; she wished she'd never come.
Shame and guilt, disgust in oneself, people pleasing and low self esteem are crippling.
Needless to say, we sat and talked, and a couple of hours later, she'd taken a swim, and she was smiling.
Later that afternoon, her friend returned; she got back on the boat and sailed back to Rhodes Town. I never found out her name and never told her mine (nor did I tell her any details about myself or that I was a life coach); there was no need. We had a mutual understanding.
Just before she left, she hugged me and said thank you, she meant it...
Sometimes fate has a way of putting you on a path...this was one such day for both of us.
If you too know just how this amazing woman felt, why not check out this blog post on achieving healthy self esteem