Me And My XXXL Life

Regular readers will know I recently visited a hydro park with Adam and Rebecca. What’s a hydro park? Well, think of a giant inflatable obstacle course and you’re close….situated in the middle of a reservoir. The kids loved it. Adam is fearless and launched himself off the highest points into the water without a thought for his own personal safety. Rebecca was more hesitant to begin but, by the end of the session was, swimming and sliding with the best of them.

As for me? Let’s just say I survived. I’m not a strong swimmer and had swallowed approximately half of the reservoir by the end of the hour long session. Fionnuala has extensive footage of me falling over and clinging to obstacles, that will never see the light of day. While purportedly there to look out for the kids I suffered the ignominy of being hauled out of the water by my 12 year old daughter while my wife cackled from afar, capturing the humiliation for future generations to gawk at.

I’d rather run a marathon any day of the week. The hydro park worked an entirely different set of muscles from what I’m used to and quickly confirmed what I’ve always suspected; my upper body strength is pathetic and when it comes to aquatic ability I have all the grace and technique of a hyper ventilating hippopotamus. I’ll be able to tell future generations I’ve done it, but will be in no hurry to repeat the experience. I’ll stick to terra firma in future.

The most bizarre event, however, occurred before I even dipped a toe in the water. When we went to collect our wetsuits the girl in charge of them eyed the three of us up and down before handing Rebecca a ‘small’ and Adam a ‘medium.’ Now our son is a big guy, taller and broader than me. Imagine my horror then when I was handed a ‘XXXL’ wetsuit. I looked at the girl in disbelief who smiled politely before turning her attention to the next customer.

I’m paranoid about my weight at the best of times. I lost a lot of weight when I started running six years ago and have an irrational fear of it all creeping back on again. I have a love-hate relationship with food at the best of times, despise getting my photograph taken and have a morbid fear of scales. The voice in my head rubbed its hands in glee as I trudged disconsolately off to the changing rooms. Was I really that huge?

The answer of course was no which was confirmed when I emerged several minutes later. You could have squeezed the offensive line of the Washington Redskins into the wetsuit and still had room for me. To the sounds of familial sniggers I waddled off to the safety talk with as much decorum as I could muster given the circumstances. Whenever you attend a hydro park, make sure to leave your ego at the front door.

Ah, ego. Years ago I did have a ‘XXXL’ ego which could have comfortably filled such a wetsuit. I would have huffed and flounced about, probably asked for a smaller size and ruined the occasion for everyone. Life, however, has a habit of kicking the pomp and haughtiness out of a person and I’m a perfect example. Being part of a loving family is all about teamwork and the emphasis is on ‘us’ as opposed to ‘me.’

I won’t say I’ve changed for I still have my moments, we all do. The difference now is that I quickly realise when I’m being a prat and take action to nip it in the bud. I’m chipping away at the old self, hoping to reveal the version of me underneath which was always there, just biding his time. He’s keen to break free and make up for lost time. He’s ‘XXXL’ on life and isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

25 thoughts on “Me And My XXXL Life

  1. I thought the first photos of you at the park looked a bit baggy in the knees. At least you didn’t need to get out the goose grease to pull on the wetsuit. I appreciate the way you realize and are unafraid to share the changes you have experienced and the positive effect on your relationships. Your a good man, Stephen.


      1. Not at all! I’ve done the first edit so I’m getting there. You’re top of my list! By the way, I was thinking about books today and can’t remember the name of the woman whom you like that you mentioned… she’s funny and I just can’t recall her name… you recommended her books to me?


  2. This is nothing to do with this post but I thought I’d let you know: I sat down “for five minutes” to read the first chapter of your book. I’ve already read 25% of it…It. Is. Fantastic. I can’t put it down (well, I can, obviously, but I am already itching to get back to it.) So much for holiday reading – I’ll have finished it before we go away!


      1. What do I like? Hard to pinpoint: the characters are well drawn, and believable. The fact that everytime I reach the end of a chapter I think “Go on then, just one more…” The story unfolds neatly, and the “flashbacks” are in the right places to take the story forward. I want to know what happens next (which, believe me, isn’t the case for a lot of books I read) The descriptions are not over egged, but neither are they overly sparse. There are some passages/ lines which jar a little, but nothing that spoil the narrative too much. Does that help?!


  3. Many, many years ago in Navy boot camp, we had to survive the swim test. This involved being pushed into a pool 6 feet deep about the size of today’s backyard kiddie pools – all 50 of us had to swim a few laps to pass the test. It was nothing more than a mass of arms and legs struggling to stay afloat. Ever since I view swimming as something best left to fish.😁


  4. Without those humbling moments we wouldn’t have humility. We also wouldn’t have much to laugh about. Thanks for sharing this and helping us all to feel more normal and to stop taking ourselves so seriously.
    “The difference now is that I quickly realise when I’m being a prat and take action to nip it in the bud.” I’m afraid in this life that’s the best any of us can hope for. Thank God for grace.


  5. Hang onto those memories with your kiddos!! I can sit here and think about all of the things that we’ve done in the past and it still makes me smile. I love reading your blog and haven’t started your book yet, however, it’s on the list for the month. 😀


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