Emotional Abuse is the devil.
It robs you of your life, your dreams and makes you hate a lot of things you once loved. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t miss who I once was. A girl who uses not to care what the world thought of her. She could do anything she put her mind to, and though her life wasn’t easy, she was carefree, and she did as she so pleased. I spent three years of my life trying to convince myself that the relationship I was in was a good and a healthy one. That everything that felt wrong was normal. That all of it was real and honest love, but indeed it was far from love. It was control.
The abuse was gradual over the first year, and though the red flags were waving high and loud, I choose to ignore them. When times began to get rough, I would try to walk away, but somehow, I found myself forgiving him with a broken promise, “I’ll stop drinking.” “I Love you. I need you in my life.” or begging for him to stay when he threatened to leave me. We were like a yo-yo. There I would be.. back at his beck and call waiting to serve him. I am not proud of my past, in fact, I am ashamed of what I have allowed to take place, but I cannot change what has happened. I can only take what I have been faced with and turn it into something positive. I will never be the same girl I was before I met him. The unfortunate side effects of triggers linger in the shadows, and each day, I have to learn what is real and what is no longer a reality. My abuser has no idea the overall effect his nasty behavior has had on me physically and emotionally.
The worst part of it all… Is when you do find someone who truly loves you it’s hard to believe they are genuine. Every little thing they do you sit on pins and needles just waiting for something to go wrong, even if nothing does. The possible fear of upsetting them, saying the wrong thing, or just being seen. Those years of being in a relationship with an emotional and physically abusive man robbed me of the simples joys of enjoying the kind acts of a man who truly loved me. When most women are feeling high on a kite….. I felt like I was waiting for something to hit me out of nowhere.
There is one event that particular sits in the back of mind during the first month after meeting my now husband. Is was one of those moments that you realize you are free. I had just started to move in, and I decided I wanted to paint his living room a different color. He agreed, and we went out a bought all the supplies do it. As we were preparing to paint, I was a little shocked he was allowing me to paint the living room without him supervising me. I kept turning to him for reassurance to make sure I was painting to his liking. Then out by accident, I got paint on the trim.
At that moment I felt my face get warm. I could feel my body go numb, and everything started to take over me. Something as simple as paint on the trim caused me to have a trigger. I began profusely apologizing to him, saying, “I’ll fix it, I am so sorry. I am sorry,”. He turned to me and just laughed. I was dumbfounded! He thought the whole situation of me getting paint on the trim was nothing. That’s when I begin to cry. Ugly ass crying! Eric had no idea what to do. I remember feeling so extremely embarrassed, stupid… literally just felt like a complete idiot. It was at that moment he realized the simple joys of painting were robbed from me. It wasn’t that he never understood or didn’t sympathize with me, its that he truly never understood the impact those three years had on me, even AFTER being away for almost a year.
Each passing day is a learning curve as I battle through this life, learning to face my fears head on one by one. Because of years of abuse before my relationship with my abuser and during, I, unfortunately, suffer from depression and anxiety from everything I have had to endure. I, however, do not let it define me as a person. Some days are much harder to cope with than others, but overall, I try my hardest to remember my strength and how far I have come.
There are days where I don’t want to leave my house for fear of having to be faced with a conflict of some sort. A year ago, I was faced with exactly just that. This was just around the time I had had my miscarriage, so my emotions were all over the place. My youngest daughter and I were standing in the line, waiting to be checked out. She was throwing a fit all because I refused to allow her to get a bath bomb. Thanks to asshat whos marketing idea was to place those things near the check outlines…????
A man was standing in front of us checking out and kept looking back at me with a pissed off look. I could tell he was annoyed with my three-year-old flipping out, hell I was too, but at this point, there wasn’t much I could do. I certainly wasn’t going to crave in and give her the same thing I told her she couldn’t have. The next cashier waved for me to come down. By this point, things had somewhat settled down. The man was finishing checking out, grab his bags, and walked by me telling me, “I didn’t deserve to have children..” At the time, I was so stunned that I was unable to even speak or say anything back. I felt my anxiety boil below, and my breathing began to change. The poor cashier didn’t even know what to say but just smiled a sympathetic smile.
It amazes me how people are so quick to snap at random people for things that are uncontrollable. The sad part is that this happens far too often. People are heartless and do not care how their actions affect others, let alone their words. Whatever happened to speaking to people with kindness or being the bigger person rather than being a nasty a vile human being? It brought back memories of my abuser and the actions that made me feel like the size of a pea. What people do not understand about domestic abuse survivors is that many of us still live in fear of being bullied, judged, criticized, and made a fool of, and that is just the small things. I faced all these and more for three years in the arms of a man I loved who I thought loved me too. It is a scary world, especially for survivors who have to learn to face life with a straight face even once they have escaped. We do not want to be taken for weak, but not everyone can be strong all the time.
“You must first believe in yourself….”
My art is my escape, and it is my way to share my passion with other women all while helping them along their own journey to self-love. It brings me the greatest of joy that no words can genuinely ever express how much I love what I do. While I am helping other women heal, they are helping me, too.
When I decided to book my own “official” boudoir session, I was ready to break the chains that held me hostage for so many years. I wanted to face my fears, retake control of my life, and start a new journey to loving myself. That day when I saw my pictures, I learned that I should be proud of my body. A body that has held five babies inside and been able to deliver three healthy babies. I have faced the unthinkable but somehow have been able to overcome every obstacle. Boudoir was a way for me to escape the old me and learn to love who I am now. To be proud of myself and all I have accomplished. The confidence I gained was something I didn’t think was possible for me. Confidence is something I speak so often of because I know for a fact what my work has done for building confidence within my own clients.
My favorite part about my session was being able to see the results of my images! When I finally was able to see myself up on the screen, it allowed me to come to terms with the fact that I am much stronger than I ever gave myself credit. I was amazed to see that the women I was looking at myself. “She looked fierce!” It is at that very moment we learn to re-love ourselves. We realize the amount of time that we wasted hating ourselves; All when we could have been spending that time building ourselves up with positive thoughts. No image will take away the pain and hardship you have faced. It certainly won’t replace ever negative word someone has said or even worst what you have said about yourself. You images are meant to help you see the beauty within yourself — the raw and true beauty.
I know first hand it is not easy to replace the nagging words that continuously bring us back to the past of when someone made us feel so unworthy. We are not in grade school where we can chant “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” every time someone says something negative. It’s hard enough to try and remember that those words are just words when they cut like a knife. The truth is those words can stick with you a lot longer than any broken bone will. We live in such a nasty and vile world at times that women are constantly the victim of ridicule of their own bodies and minds. They are judge based off how they look and represent themselves. Women face a lot of unfair treatment daily, and though I know that not every person who has spoken unkind words to someone is a horrible person, I don’t think it would kill anyone to be just a little bit kinder.
It is up to us to change how we look at ourselves, no one else. No matter what your past was, you can change the future by merely changing how you look at yourself. People are going to be assholes. That is something we cannot change no matter what, but it is how we react to each situation and how we keep going. Sometimes we need that little reminder of how far we have come. My boudoir images are my daily reminder and kick in the ass when I sink back into my hole.
Images were taken by Ron Dressel
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