I literally have tears in my eyes as I write this. It truly is a gift being able to help capture both the inner and outer beauty of all my clients. It really takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and step in front of a camera and allow yourself to be vulnerable. So for anyone who does, I am always so incredibly proud of them and the work I do. I always joke that I have two degrees (Sociology and Social Work) that I never use. But that really isn't true. I use it every day, all the time in how I interact, learn and grow in my world. It brings me great sadness when I hear about the hurt people carry with them, but also great joy when I hear how they overcome and work through their struggles.
This amazing human that allowed herself to be vulnerable in front of my camera has now even allowed herself to open up and share her story and I could not be more proud of her. I truly hope that this opens a doorway to help other women feel that they are not alone and that it is ok to share their story, that sharing your story is all a part of the healing journey. As always thank you for sharing your journey, and trusting me to capture this small moment in it.
"I feel like most people writing something like this would be afraid to tell the hard truth. Most people writing something like this might want rainbows, and sunshine and well…. Unicorns, perhaps? Unfortunately, the world we live in today isn’t as happy as people may want it to be. Hardships are a part of life and a part of what makes us who we are. That saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I believe to be 110% true. If it wasn’t for all the struggles, and pain and heartbreak we wouldn’t be who we are.
My journey didn’t start like this. I didn’t always think this way. I remember crying over the littlest things, thinking my life was over just because the grocery store didn’t have bananas for the third time in a row, or I got a flat tire on the side of the highway and no one would stop to help despite the fact that I was clearly struggling. I remember breaking down (mentally, of course) on the side of a highway because I had just gotten into a car accident and now I had to use an entire paycheck just to fix my car. I didn’t even think of the fact that I was so lucky to be alive because that situation could have ended in much worse than just having to fix some parts on my car. I even remember thinking how much easier it would be if I wasn’t alive.
When I was 15 I left my house ( that’s a more complicated story for another time), I was in school full time still and was lucky enough to have such great friends to deal with me for the next couple years and who fully supported me in everything I did. My last year of high school I was working full time and in school. Then when I went on to college I was working full time and part time and commuting the almost 1.5 hours to and from the city. When I was 19 I was asked if I would move to Alberta because my then spouse was getting posted. I left everything behind, moved the 3000km to follow him, the long deployments, times apart and last minute changing of plans was definitely not easy but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
During this time I had a couple traumatic incidents that led me to visit multiple different health care professionals. I was eventually diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and Binge-Eating disorder which kind of sound funny together. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food or with myself. I could go days without eating and let me just elaborate here. It isn’t that I didn’t want to eat, it would just be that I wasn’t hungry. I wouldn’t get hungry for days and then one day would come and I would realize it had been days and I would binge on everything and anything I could get my hands on. My body would sometimes reject the excessive amounts of calories I had eaten and sometimes I would be fine and wouldn’t eat again for another couple of days. Sometimes even weeks.
I have been struggling with this ever since. In the beginning it definitely wasn’t easy. It required alarms on my phone to remind me to eat. It was multiple breakdowns and tears of frustration. It was people around me checking and making sure I was eating. It was dinner dates, and lunch meetings and café study times. Let me be the first to tell you, when people are forcing you to eat and you really don’t want to, it is quite infuriating. But it also helped. It also involved relapses and having to start all over again. I’ll also be the first to admit, there are still days now that I won’t eat, but sometimes life gets in the way. As long as you continue to move forward and try to make yourself better that is all you can really hope for.
I was finally getting everything on track when I was diagnosed with a form of depression. It would be this crippling, mentally draining episode of depression that most times would only last about a day or two and then I would be fine until the next week. My doctor didn’t feel the need to put me on any medication because I was able to self-recognize the symptoms and help myself. Most of the time it was only a day or two out of a week, sometimes it would be more and sometimes less. Some days, that involved crying in my bed, other days it was me burying myself in work (I did have 5 jobs at one point). Tubs of Ben and Jerry’s half-baked ice cream and the multiple TV dramas I watched were my saving grace.
It has been a couple years and I won’t even try and say that it was an easy journey. I won’t try and tell you that I’m healed or that it was just willpower that got me through. It was so much more than that. It was a constant battle, a daily struggle even today.
This brings me to last week when I saw Kerry from Take a Little Paws Photography. I had been battling for months with myself about getting a boudoir shoot done. I did one similar a couple months before. It was the one that you’re in a dark room and have a silk piece of fabric covering you. The experience I had with that one was nothing like what I had with Kerry.
Kerry had advertised a boudoir marathon and my first instinct was, “yea right, I’m never going to do that.” But then I remembered to a couple months back when I wrote up a list of things I wanted to do. I wanted to be brave, and spontaneous and I wanted to show myself that I am proud of myself and my body. I may not look like Victoria Secret models or Blake Lively but I still have something to celebrate. I have this incredible body and story that I am sure I am not the only one. And in reality, who actually looks like a Victoria Secret model anyways?
Kerry was absolutely amazing. It took me a while to warm up (literally because I’m always so cold) but after we got in the groove. I had such an amazing time. We joked about how purple my legs were and had such a great time. Kerry did an amazing job guiding me through each pose and made me laugh and smile. I left with a smile on and an experience that will forever be imprinted in my mind. But let me tell you the joy that I experienced receiving those pictures. Kerry did such an amazing job that all the doubt about me and my body instantly faded. As I write this a week later I still can’t help but smile and look at those pictures every day.
The most important thing I will say to all the ladies (and even men) out there: Learn to love yourself. And if you need to invest a couple hundred dollars in yourself like I did to truly see it, you will not regret it."