I am starting a new series here on the blog, #stripped. As a boudoir photographer I see women when they are so vulnerable, nude even. A lot of times women will share with me reasons why they want to do a session and sometimes those reasons run deep. In this series, I will be sharing with you their stories, told by them in the real and raw words of their reality.
We all have things in our past and have skeletons in our closets, it's how we deal with it is what makes them who they are in the end. I have always believed things happen for a reason even if you don't know at first why! I was a happy child against all odds in my childhood. See, both my parents were addicts, my dad had a drinking problem and my mom, drugs. In my life this seemed like the norm- dad went to work and then the bar where my mom would make me call most nights and see if he was still there, because if she called they would tell her "no." Sundays he was always home where he drank. On his days off he just took my sister and I with him to the bar then we would cook dinner together. My mom was home, if you want to call it that. She was high all the time after work. We ate and had a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. My parents were functioning users (they told me later in life they had to be to continue to use). My dad on Saturdays would take me to work with him a lot, there I met this lady one day that was always as I remember it so nice to me. I always remembered her because I thought she had the prettiest color hair I had ever seen (she in the end is the mother of the best little sister I could ask for). My mom knew, my parents started fighting a lot more than normal. Dad would come home drunk mom wouldn't shut her mouth. Dad would keep saying "just stop and shut up!" It would wake me up in the middle of the night on school nights crying. My dad wasn't at that moment the nicest drunk. He would start beating on my mom. He was only like that to her never to us he was nice as ever to us kids. Somehow I was still a happy child!
At eight I put on weight which isn't uncommon for girls within two years of starting their period, but I was eight. Kids are mean! That summer I rode my bike everywhere and got the weight off, but knew that would NEVER happen again. From that moment I had a horrible body image. My parents stopped using when I was eleven. This caused a rebellion all of a sudden they wanted a say in things all the time. My mom would always say "you are more at risk of addiction." Little did she know the seed was planted years before that just not in what she thought. I went from eating what I wanted to saying "I want to be 100 lbs." I am 5'2 and was 115 at best at the time. I was already walking across town to my friends, swimming, and running. So, I started in seventh grade not drinking milk because I didn't want the "fat" it had. Next thing I was skipping meals. My mom would pack me a lunch every day and I would give it to a friend of mine to eat so she wouldn't question anything. As soon as my body could handle that then it was dinners several times a week. I either made sure I wasn't home and told my parents "I ate at a friends" or "I was still full from lunch." I was maybe eating three times a week if I was lucky.
At the end of this school year I buried my best friend. The emotion toll was even worse on my already week psyche. I remember my grandma looking at me that summer and saying "What happened to you? You were always such a happy child! Always had a smile of your face and laughing." All I could think was life, life happened to me. No matter how thin I got, I felt I looked like a fat cow. I never dressed as thin as I was, because I didn't want people to see my fat. I never went swimming without a t-shirt over my bathing suit. I hated the summer, that meant I was going to have to bathing suit shopping and to do that I would have to look in a mirror and see all my fat flowing over the sides of the bottoms and I would want to throw up. I was a gymnast for years so I have always had muscle and even more in my legs. This tells you what kind of body image I had. I couldn't borrow my friends clothes I would have to borrow her little sisters because I was so small, but I never saw it that way. Nothing ever went into my mouth that I wasn't sure was going to be worked off and then some. I was good at hiding my eating from everyone. I ate just enough in front of people to make them not question things. I hated family vacations just because I had to eat more during that time. I started using the excuse in school I didn't like to eat in front of people to anyone who asked. Which really isn't a lie-- I don't really like to eat in front of a crowd. Four years of starving my body and now I'm and sophomore in high school. At this point my mom and I haven't got along in years. My dad has always been a man of few words. I hate school and go because I have to and to see my friends. I feel like I'm not finding my place in life no matter what I do. I have a boyfriend that I care about deeply, but he is the complete opposite of me. My family doesn't waste anytime pointing it out either. Right after I turn sixteen I am late... but wait how can this be? I'm on birth control and take it how I should. My mom put me on birth control when she saw I was becoming what she deemed serious with my boyfriend, what she didn't know was we had been having sex for months. I had been on the pill for every bit of six months at this point so how could I be late? Sure enough I was pregnant, at sixteen. My god now I am really going to be a fat cow! I know I had to eat for the baby. I was so sick till I was 15 weeks that the only meal I could keep down was lunch. I made myself eat three meals a day even though they came back up. I had no want for junk food and I only ate three meals a day and like a normal person eats not pregnant, ate healthy and gained 45 lbs, I didn't want to be looked at or touched period. I walked every day. I didn't even show till I was seven and a half months and what does he say to me "wow you look big today." His cousin about ripped his head off. He cheats on me in the process. All of this is adding up and I know I have to keep forcing myself to eat because I have a life to think about other than me. After I have my daughter I look at her and know I have to keep myself healthy for her. I can't starve myself like I was, I have to be around for this child to raise her. From that moment on which has been now eighteen years it has been a daily battle to make myself eat. There are days when I still don't. When I get depressed I don't eat, I am a emotional non-eater. I Will Battle This The Rest Of My Life! I do not battle it the way I use to and for that I am grateful! God gave me my daughter to save me. I needed saving at sixteen, because I was killing myself! I stepped up as a mom and did what I needed to do and survived! I learned how to get through the sickness and the headaches to feel alright without food and I could do it again. I just want to be able to watch my kids grow up and see my grand kids. There are smart ways to do things and now I try to do things the smarter way and healthier way. I may never be happy in my body and I have come to realize that, but dwelling on it will take away missing out on happy moments in life. I still haven't found my "place" in life outside of being a mom. Nothing I do will ever compare to the joy of being a mom! I hope one day I find a place where I fit other than motherhood. Until then I will enjoy every moment I can of the little things.
I share this with you to show you a story of someone affected by an eating disorder and body dismorphia. I know the person who wrote this very well. I love and care about her and think she is beautiful regardless of weight, size, body type or eating habits. But she is still affected by her body issues after 26 years. It is a constant daily struggle. Please, if you think you or someone you know has an eating disorder [and it can be hard to recognize] first and foremost show them some love. Love yourself, give yourself grace. None of us are perfect and body issues are common! Do not shame or try to discipline whoever it is. And secondly find a person to help. This can be a counselor, a dietician, a friend to be accountable to, someone who can be trusted.