Possible Womxn 12/12 ME – Kendra K // Mental Health
“It wasn’t like a rain, it was more like the sea, I didn’t ask for this pain, it just came over me.”
-The National, Pink Rabbits
My lort almighty. I can’t believe we are here. When I decided that I was going to be a part of this project I was straight up terrified, not going to lie. Not necessarily about the photos or getting them done, but more about opening up and sharing my story with you all. With the truth meaning more to everyone who reads this, I knew that sharing everything I am is what I not only owe to myself, but owe to this project too. For over a year now I have been blessed to witness 11 ladies with 11 different stories about their bodies, truly bloom right in front of my very own eyes. I got to not only hear their stories first hand but share them every month (or so…) with each of you. Each woman feeling marginalized within their own bodies and never seeing themselves represented in boudoir imagery/mainstream media. I got real personal real quick with each of these ladies and I am forever grateful that each and every one trusted me in doing this – not just the photos, not just sharing their story, but representing them as a woman in this project, in this time of our lives. Showing them that beauty is whatever they are. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s one of – if not the most rewarding – things I have ever done in my life thus far. It makes me excited for what’s to come. It also makes me nervous because I know that in order for me to take the next steps I need to in life, I need to better myself. This year has been a big year of me coming to terms with what I need to do next in life. I struggled a lot, this wasn’t a year I will look back on fondly honestly, but I know I will look back on it regardless. This is where I started to grow, and I mean really grow. Through it all I tried to see the beauty in the pain, I tried to love harder, crawl out of my shell a little more while simultaneously failing a lot, learning a lot, pushing through, and failing some more. I questioned many things in my life, including my career, my relationships, my purpose, and my mental health, always. I made some significant strides towards the end of 2019 after having a very lackluster year within myself. I’m proud of it and I hope it shows the path that I will continue to take in 2020. Being a part of this project has been one of my kickoff moments in life. Having boudoir done for me, processing years worth of feelings within a couple months, writing it all out while my hands shake. This has been a huge moment for me and hopefully a jumpstart to a new Kendra, one I’ve been trying to find for a while. While I am nervous to go on, I know I am only surrounded here with love, so thank you.
Thank you again to everyone who has stuck around. Your support through this all has truly meant the world. I wanted to take a brief moment to shout out MY amazing photographer, Alejandra Maria. Or, @littlalejandra on instagram. Alex is not normally known for doing boudoir, but I have been such a fan of hers, her style, her art, and her dancing skills since day one and wanted nobody else aside from her to get a little creative with for my session. I am blown away at my photos, I still can’t believe I get to cherish these for a lifetime. Thank you so much Alex, you have been so instrumental in this project and in my life, honestly. <3
I am excited to be able to represent the category of mental health/depression in the Impossible Boudoir Project. Although I will be talking about my body here and there, it will mostly be about my mental health – depression and anxiety which alters how I perceive my whole self, everyday. I have had depression for roughly fourteen years now and anxiety seems to be a thing that progressively worsens for me as I grow older. My depression is a huge part of my life and of me, it’s the only constant I have ever known. I have struggled basically everyday with it for these past fourteen years and it’s honestly the worst. For me, it’s the worst because it’s the worst pain I know. It’s an endless cycle and I’m learning that it’s something I can help manage but not fight. It will always be there, but there is hope for it to get better. Even if that means circling back to the low times again, and that’s okay. I hold out hope for even just a few good years ahead, a few years where I can maybe feel fully like me.
For those reading who share the same pain, I am sorry. I’m sorry this is your reality as it is mine. I am sorry if you may have had months, or even years taken away from you because of this. I’m sorry and I am also here for you. To those who know someone struggling with depression, just be there for them. Reach out, tell them you love them and that you are there for them always. You never know what message could help and redirect someone you love. Support and being supported is huge for those struggling with their mental health.
Holy shit, let’s begin.
When it was time for my session, I won’t lie- I was actually fucking ready to go. Like, running to the studio, makeup did (first time in my life, thank you to my friend Jessie), Fenty lingerie in hand, thank you RiRi, (wasn’t supposed to be delivered until after the session, thank god it came early, or on time for me), with a big ass smile on my face ready to strip down to my underwear and have an experience that I give to others daily. I am one billion percent confident that being a boudoir photographer is what gave me all the confidence going into my own session. I know where to put my hands, which way to turn my face, and all the flattering poses to make. I have seen and helped hundreds of babes in front of me not only feel confident in their posing, but feel confident in just being themselves. There was no way I was about to walk into that session not being myself and living out what I preach to others. It was amazing, I felt on fire and the confidence and pride lasted for a while within me, like many claims happen to them post their own session.
For the longest time, I thought I couldn’t do boudoir while being a boudoir photographer. Literally what would go through my mind is, no one ever sees my body, so why should I get photos like this taken? Shame on me I know. But I really thought, well what’s the point…
Having this session put a lot of things into perspective for me. Although I’m not someone who bares her body, so to speak, that doesn’t mean that is a reason for not getting photos like these done. I have a living, breathing body and thats the only reason I need. Now having done this myself I can truly say, this needs to be a requirement for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, dating, a womxn, a man, trans, non-binary, or queer person, you have a body that deserves your love the most. Doing a session like this is the ultimate way to start loving who you truly are in your own skin. So coming from the terrified boudoir photographer who thought she didn’t have a good enough reason to get boudoir done and who finally had a session of her own, it’s worth it- trust me.
Growing up I had a very nice life. My childhood was pretty normal, good, nothing too out there, nothing insanely terrible. We always had enough money growing up to take the yearly family vacations to Disneyland, my mom would always throw nice birthday parties when my brother and I were younger and we would travel and camp all over the western part of the United States. It was a lovely childhood full of outdoor activities, family, friends, scenic views, and fond memories. Part of me wanting to live in a van is to live out my childhood again. My Mom and Dad showed me that long road trips and camping were fun, and they are the most fun things I do today. I was a pretty lucky kid. Grew up moderately healthy, I have never been abused, I have never been sexually assaulted, had never even broken a single bone in my body. I was fortunate to grow up the way I did. I know a lot of people who had it far worse than I did as a child, so I thank my stars for my life thus far, even though it had its own set of bumps and challenges.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that things started to change for me. I started losing interest in a lot of things. I was sad most of the time, socially anxious, didn’t want to be around my family, uninterested in activities; you know the typical teenager stuff. But I noticed that I would hide out in my room and cry- a lot. I would lay in bed with tears streaming down my face and listen to my family be a family outside of my door. I didn’t want to be a part of my family, I didn’t know how to, I had so many bad emotions within me I thought that shutting myself off was ultimately protecting myself and them.
At the time, I didn’t realize that I was dealing with a lot more than just teenage angst. I kept to myself most days, maybe too much. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I realized that I was depressed, or rather, knew something was wrong with me. I remember the day almost perfectly. It was my 14th birthday and everything just went wrong. I’ll spare you the minor, trivial details of everything because it seems so silly to even recall, but it also was a very painful day for me. What had really set me off that day was something my English teacher said to me.
Before I get into that, I want to talk briefly about my parents. Growing up I always clung to my Dad, if and when I did choose to cling to a family member. He would give me the best hugs, hold me tight and tell me that he loved me and it would honestly calm all the nerves and worries I would have. He still gives me the best hugs to this day. I’ll get more into it with my Dad later, but my story here really lies with my mother. My mom is one of the most wonderful humans ever and as the days pass one by one, I love her more and more. It wasn’t always like this though and we both know it. We had a really shitty past, the two of us together, but I am very proud at how far we’ve come together and within our relationship. I didn’t ever think we could get here. But I do want to say how much I love my mother and how different our relationship is now today before going any further.
Growing up my Mom and I honestly never really got along. Once I became a teenager trying to navigate my feelings, my depression (not knowing I was dealing with it quite yet), our relationship took a major turn. For years and years and years my Mom and I had terrible communication, just awful. We would fight, argue, and bicker all the time. I would say some not so nice things to her, she would say some not so nice things to me. I think we were both just trying our hardest to live with one another and it wasn’t easy because we were both just operating from a place that we knew and we didn’t see what the other was going through at the time, nor did we know how to help out one another. Around then, my Mom was our main source of income in our home. My Dad struggled to find work in Washington for years, which ultimately led him back down south for work when I was around 18. We were all struggling, there was a lot of pain and it resulted in a very distressed home.
I would come home, go to my room and sometimes not even see or speak to my family for the rest of the night. I isolated myself, I was sad and felt distance from my family and just did what I felt like I needed to do, which was to be alone. I couldn’t verbalize my feelings, my thoughts, or even really how my day was. I felt like a mute at times, not being able to speak at all, not really knowing how. My mom would ask me how school was and I couldn’t even say anything to her- this happened everyday. We were a family that kept our feelings closed off, and sadly some of us still do to this day, me included. This past year has been rough for me as I said earlier, it almost reminded me of how I felt when I was a teen. The worst pain I have felt to this day will remain those days when I was roughly 13-17 years old.
Those were the days where I learned of my depression and tried my best to navigate it on what felt like my own. All I could focus on was this pain. Friends didn’t matter, school didn’t matter, my home life didn’t matter, nothing mattered. My heart would physically hurt, like an elephant was sitting on top of it and I still sometimes feel that pain to this day. It is getting better though. It feels like a heartache, like a longing for something I’ve never had or the feeling of just losing someone close to you. In fact, a doctor told me once recently as she tried to explain to me that I looked healthy and believe it or not, wasn’t depressed at all, that my heart pains really need to be looked at and scanned. “It could be something much worse and we want to try and prevent anything from happening.” I told her, “oh no, it’s fine-” this is just what I feel when I am really, fucking truly depressed, as I have said to you just now, as I am here to speak to you about my depression. But I didn’t seem depressed to her. Learned my lesson there, never see a primary care physician for mental health. Take notes, learn from me, because that encounter set me off on an emotional spiral for days.
Some of these years have been bad, but never like how I felt when I was younger. I was doing my best trying to deal with these thoughts and emotions I was having while I felt like my Mom was trying to just deal with me. Knowing now, she was just trying to do her best dealing with a very depressed, chaotic teen. She didn’t have the proper tools equipped to help me, or herself. I felt like I was a huge inconvenience not only to her, but my whole family. I thought because I was such a terror as a teen that caused chaos and stress in the house, that they would all be better off without me. Sometimes I wouldn’t buckle my seat belt while I was in the car with them.
I was never praised on my body around this time either. I have always been slightly larger than what society would deem a “healthy” or “normal” body. My mom would make little comments here and there about not eating certain foods, staying away from sweets, desserts, chips etc. You’ll get fat and fat is bad. She always had the healthiest foods in the house and was never not on a diet. I tried juice dieting with her and “gave up” after 4 days because I just fucking wanted some damn food. I liked fresh squeezed juice, but not for every meal, not a proper diet at all for a teen. I felt like even more of a failure to her. First we didn’t get along, then I thought she was just repulsed with how I looked and how I couldn’t commit to diets.
After years and years of processing, learning, reliving and coming to terms with, I realized I was depressed for a lot of reasons. Depression runs thick on both sides of my family. Everyone in my own family has also been on some form of antidepressants at some point in their life. The odds were stacked against me in this case from the get go. My depression started way earlier than most of my family members and for years I have been trying to process why. How it all started, why I am still the way I am today, why this darkness from my past still lingers within me. When I was growing up I would never, ever, ever hear the words `I Love You’ come from my Mom for as long as I could remember. I was 14 years old when I realized this, noticing how the only time I would hear, or rather see an ‘I Love You’ was on a birthday card or Christmas card. I made a promise to myself at this young age that if I were to ever have kids, I would tell them that I loved them every single day. No I love you’s, barely any hugs, not a lot of shown love – period. With isolating myself further as I tried to navigate depression, the love got even harder to see and feel. A couple years after realizing that, I was finally able to say everything I needed to say to my Mom in a letter. When we didn’t know how to communicate with one another we would write each other letters. I still have all of them to this day. I wrote her a letter when I was sixteen telling her everything. Absolutely everything. Everything I held onto for years, everything I thought I lacked in life, everything I needed to say to her, everything I needed to finally say to myself.
Today my Mom and I don’t get off the phone without saying ‘I Love You’ to one another. Ever since that day that I sent her that letter, we have always said ‘I Love You’ to each other. It was a hard day, it was hard for me to write that letter and even harder for her to read it. The in person conversation that followed was hard too. We both cried a lot, I’ve never seen my mom cry like that to this day and I will never forget hearing her say “I’m so sorry” through her tears. I didn’t want her to think that she had failed, she only was doing what she knew how to do in the current time of her life, what she knew how to do based on how her own mother and father raised her. Sending this letter was one of the hardest things I did. I loved my mom very much and I know she was just doing her best but I never felt like I could communicate anything to her, or my dad for that matter. So I internalized it all for years and years. I would stay over at friends houses with my ‘second parents’ as I tried to escape a home that to me, was full of pain, causing me hurt all the time. I didn’t know what depression truly was and how you needed to take care of it but I knew that I needed help from my family and I wasn’t going to get it from my Mom unless I told her how I felt. So I wrote and told her everything. I told her how I didn’t worry about normal stuff that girls my age worried about. Like friend circles, clothes, going to dances, or even dating. All I would think about is the elephant sitting on my chest crushing my will to speak and cutting off my breath. The weight, the pain, the crying, the panic, all the time. It’s the only thing I could focus on because the pain was so much and so intense, it was impossible to run away from it. My depression had taken over and I didn’t know what to do.
Getting back to my English teacher on my birthday… My mom used to work at my High School, which I didn’t mind, until I did – something I mentioned to her in my letter. I handed the cliche bunch of cupcakes to my homeroom class on my birthday with my absolute favorite teacher that year. She was hilarious, she was also my softball coach, and she actually called me Cupcake. I honestly forget why she called me that, but when my little brother came along to HS, she called him two-bit. I asked her to go to the bathroom so I could wash my hands off to which she said, “Kendra, don’t waste frosting, just lick it off!” She let me go and on my way out of the door she followed me, she grabbed my arm, looked at me and said, “You and your Mom will become best friends one day. Things will get better, I promise.” At that moment I sank so far down. I walked to the bathroom with tears welling up in my eyes as I tried desperately just to reach the bathroom door before letting them fall down. This to me was the worst. My deepest secrets, which I struggled with so much, which I felt like I was battling on my own, were now out there and known by someone I had to see almost every day. Someone who did not know what I was dealing with inside. I felt silenced even more and even more distant from my Mom.
My teacher wasn’t lying though, my mom is basically one of my best friends today. But fourteen year old Kendra was trying to navigate depression and the shame she felt about not feeling close to her family, close to mom, sunk and sunk and sunk further down and at the time, I didn’t know how to navigate those feelings.
After telling my mother how I had been feeling for years, she offered to help me as best she could. Our relationship changed, not quickly but it did start to change. I went to a naturopathic doctor at first and was told to go on one of the strictest diets and seventeen year old Kendra sure as shit wasn’t about to do that. So I got on anti-depressants and started to see a therapist who I would see on and off for close to eight years. I was on antidepressants for roughly ten years, always being on a new medication to see if this one would work better for me. By the time I decided to be done with the meds, around twenty-four year old, I was on close to 250 mg of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. I was a wreck. I would shake constantly, lose my footing and trip, felt even more anxious than I did before, had a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep and eating normally, my normal. I lost a lot of weight being on those meds. I look back on pictures and don’t see a happy thinner person in the photos. I see a sad, struggling person who is thinner than she was before, but not happy at all about how she was feeling inside, scared of how she was feeling inside. It was a terrible time in my life, I felt out of control and that my body was the last thing I could control. I got off the meds for about four years, struggled more, and got back on them recently and have been much better and am on a way healthier, safe dose for me.
My old therapist I had for close to eight years was wonderful and really helped me through a lot. She reminded me of how strong I was at such a young age and how rare it was to be thinking of things I did at my age then and even as a teen. I stopped seeing her for a couple years thinking I had gotten better. I was off my meds, doing things on my own, but I wasn’t. I fell back and I needed therapy again and the timing of coming back was more than perfect. I scheduled my first appointment back with her, and the second time I came in after that was just a few days after my best friend had died.
My best friend Meagan was diagnosed with leukemia when we were seventeen years old, right before our senior year. For eight years I watched her get sick, relapse, be in remission, then relapse again, for a total of five times. My beautiful, sweet, loving, best friend in the whole world, the one who knew me the most, knew my pain the most, went through the worst battle of her life for eight long years. Seeing her in so much physical pain for so long was the worst. The last time she told me she was sick, the fifth time and the only time I heard it directly from her and not from one of our friends or her family. I knew that this was going to be the time and that we might lose her for good this round. We were all confident through it all as we all had been before, even though there was still this unsettling feeling there. We tried not to talk about it, we just kept up our positivity like she always did throughout her sickness. I remember the last time I ever saw her. She was going to go in for her last cell transplant at the hospital the following day and told me that when she was back we were going to finish some television series that we had been watching. I turned around in the garage and paused and looked back at her sitting in her favorite spot on the couch and took one long look at her. For some reason I did and I’m glad I did, because that was the last time I ever saw her.
Processing my best friend’s death has been hard on me. It’s been over 2 years now and I still struggle with it almost everyday. I made some amazing strides with my grief over her at Burning Man last year. I was able to dedicate her to the temple, honor and remember her for who she was and not her cancer and had a transformative moment with a fellow buner out on the playa talking about her, helping me to release her. I’ll never forget it, the most random piece of art out in deep playa was where we stopped to talk to her. It was very her, the whole thing, I knew she was with us. I’m proud of the work I have done so far in order to still honor and love her, while also allowing me to not hold on to her anymore and to move forward with my life always knowing she’ll be with me. Death and depression don’t mix well, but grief is something that I had to learn on top of it all. But that’s just how life works. I know one day I’ll lose my parents, possibly my brother and that’s going to be the worst, but it is life.
After I was out of High School and out of some of the most painful years in my life, I started a new life as an adult. I moved out of the house at 18, have lived with a lot of roommates since then, went to community college for a year, hated that, decided I didn’t need a degree for photography and decided to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer. For years into my early twenties and mid twenties I suffered from debilitating panic attacks. I would have them at work, while I was driving in my car, at home, in my bathroom, on my bed, anywhere. They would come on like rapid fire and completely knock out all the remaining life that I had left inside me. For those of you who don’t know what a panic attack is, it’s this. You feel overcome with emotion, you cry a lot (in my case), you hyperventilate and try to catch your breath for what seems like hours. They can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes (in my case). An easier and a more on point way to describe them, is that you simply feel like you’re about to die, literally. You can’t get enough air, your body goes through so much physical stress trying to help you catch up with yourself and your eyes puff up and still stay like that for the next 48 hours. I can have a bad, quick panic attack for 5 minutes and my top eyelids will be more than puffy for days after. If I had a panic attack any longer, I sometimes would have to change my schedule the next day, because the puffiness looked like someone could have easily punched me.
But sadly that’s what panic attacks are, un-avoided self-harm, but you can’t help it, not at all. Thankfully I only had a couple panic attacks last year, not super bad ones. My last bad one was the day my friend passed. I had the worst panic attack I have had in years and a pretty awful day in general the morning of her death. I didn’t know that she passed away that morning until the following morning when her mom called me to let me know she passed away yesterday at the hospital.
I knew that she was gone, my body knew it too, it was a terrible day and it all made so much more sense with that phone call the next day. Besides the panic attack, I had tendinitis in both feet that day and had to go to the foot doctor hours after hearing about her death that morning. Thank you to my brother, who thought of Meagan as a sister, for driving me that day. My body knew that she was gone and was just reacting before I had even heard the news.
Starting my business at such a young age is something that has also not helped my depression and for sure has worsened my anxiety. Running anything on your own is hard. Running a creative business is even harder and running a creative business while struggling with mental health sometimes seems absolutely impossible at times. I don’t work well in lot’s of areas in business. I’ve been doing this for close to ten years now and I still learn every single day. But I am see myself not following through with a lot. Things that I think and sometimes feel I HAVE to be doing as a solopreneur. The cycle of feeling good, worthy, and also making a living off of a passion, is a wild journey.
What I have found back then that still rings very true today, is that supporting myself, not only as a working artist, but just supporting myself in the simplest ways, can be difficult for me. A lot of my current and past stress is based on being able to just take care of myself. Living on my own, simply being alone, having to make my own income all while dealing with major depression and severe anxiety, totes sucks. It really fucking sucks and as these days progress some things seem to get easier, others still seem impossible to do within my own self. At twenty-seven years old I honestly have never felt more scared for myself and my future. If I can’t move past my past and stop clinging to the pain, I don’t know how happy a person I could be. Moving through things can be roughhh.
Alright, now we’re really going to get into some truth here. Hello, I’m Kendra. I’m a 27 year old woman who suffers greatly from mental illness, has only ever been in one, very short, relationship in her life, works a creative job on her own and is planning to isolate herself even further by living in a van. These are the things that keep me up at night. Now the van, although it will come with its own set of challenges, isolation being one of them, is something I am looking forward to very much. I know what I am getting myself into, I know I will feel more alone in doing this, but I am also hoping that doing this will help me to feel more alive.
I have been on my own basically my entire life. It’s been the same story for years, just as it was in Middle School and High School. I don’t date. When I did, I got into a relationship for roughly 6 months and that was 4 years ago and I haven’t dated or done anything, as far as even kissed someone else, since then. It took me 23 years to be kissed, and I haven’t been kissed since. I told this to one of my friends recently and she was shocked and she was sad, very sad. Like everyone else is when I tell them that I am practically celibate, not at all for religious reasons. They say, “I’m sorry, that sucks.” Guess what – it does. But also, it’s something that I choose and something that I don’t necessarily feel the need to do. Societal pressures seem to affect me more, most days. Some Days it does feel pretty lonely and it can kind of get to me. Will I ever be able to have something like a positive, loving, romantic relationship? I still question it to this day.
Get this. I’m the single wedding photographer and the celibate boudoir photographer. Although I love both of my jobs very much, they also show me my own insecurities daily and it’s not the easiest thing to deal with. In fact, it’s really kind of fucked up. It just brings everything I’m insecure about and struggling with to the forefront every. damn. day. But this is what I chose and I do love what I do. I wish there were just some parts of me that were different in order to make this job easier. But there is also a huge part of me that says, ‘eff this, not worth it. I am everything I need in life.’
I can go days and weeks sometimes without getting something as simple as a hug. When you’re not even touched in that way, ever, only once in a blue moon or when seeing your friends and getting the brief hello, goodbye hug, it really starts to mess with your head and your psyche. I have always been that person who for years now would sit and listen to all my friends talk about their relationship problems, give them advice, be the third, fifth and ninth wheel, always. One time I went to a cabin for New Years with two other couples and just me. As we were ringing in the New Year, Robyn’s Dancing On My Own came on and I found myself quite literally dancing on my own as I watched my friends dance with their partners. It was actually a very sad moment for me. I tried to laugh it off, but it hurt and just brought up years of painful, isolating memories, even though I fucking love Robyn.
I try to think of why I am like this, why I don’t date, why I don’t seek out another’s company and love, why I think I am not programmed to do the one thing in life that truly matters, which is spending it with someone you love and who loves you back. The greatest gift you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. Thank you Moulin Rouge, for that line has been ringing in my head for over a decade now, but I get it and I believe it’s true. I guess ever since I was the age to start thinking about dating boys, (sadly, although I’m not leaving girls out as an option. I have only ever been with one person, so who the hells know what I want anyways.) I remember when I was in middle school this boy wanted to ask me to the little middle school dance. I was petrified and ran into the girls bathroom for all of lunch that day so he wouldn’t ask me. He didn’t. I dodged him long enough and he probably honestly forgot the very next day. We didn’t have a friendship past that. The only time I ever got asked to a dance in High School was for Homecoming; my friends told him to ask me. Never got asked to prom, that one hurt, all my friends went beside one, Meagan. I stayed with her that night and we watched endless movies and ate endless snacks. It was great and it was just another day that I got be with her- so fuck prom.
All of my life I have felt passed over. I used to, and still to this day honestly, have one of the most physically stunning group of lady friends ever, both inside and out, of course. But on the outside – they are straight bangin’, always have been. I could go out to dinner, drinks, a show, a movie, festivals anywhere and always feel like the, for lack of a better phrase,the ugly duckling. I can go to a bar or restaurant with all my friends and feel completely invisible, the only time the server looks up at me – to take my drink order. If I have ever approached, or shown interest, or asked out any guy whatsoever, which I have, a lot, I have been shot down, ghosted, never to speak to again, left on red. If I wasn’t, then trying to continue those relationships as friends was always hard. I put myself out there a lot with my ex and thought, finally! I must have had a lot of bad years to finally deserve this, a real relationship. We were together for close to 6 months – not enough time for me. He had a kid and his priorities led him to another state. It ended shortly after.
We’re supposed to be placed on this earth for a certain set of reasons. I believe some of those reasons worth living for are happiness, purpose and love. For years and years and years and years I have completely shut myself off from relationships, from any sort of love that could potentially happen. When I did try to open up, I felt shot down not from myself but from them. Up until very recently I never really understood why I was like this. I would find reasons within myself to never pursue things, give up, not try to put myself out there, not be brave, not be vulnerable, not be me.
I have let these reasons stay within me for so long and at this point in my life, I’m honestly scared for myself. I think I am fucking myself up so bad because the older I am getting here, the worse things become, the more anxiety I feel about dating and relationships in general. It’s even hard to be around my friends at times, most of whom are in relationships. I feel left out of conversations a lot, especially the ones about sex. Like I said, I’ve only been with one person and that was years ago and I feel like I can’t contribute things, stories, advice in the world of relationships and sex, which news flash, besides money, is what life is apparently all about. It’s all anybody ever talks about. So I sit in the corner every time, not talking, internalizing the huge emotions I feel within myself and the fear that I will never find someone as I listen to the conversations from friends pass by. Ever since I was young I have had a hard time picturing my future. I can’t see it ever, only what might come within the next year or so. But sadly what I have pictured is me being old and alone. I fear that I will leave this planet on my own, by myself with no one to hold my hand as I leave. I fear that I will never find love and I fear that I won’t even know how to love if that day does come. I fear not being a mother one day and not having the resources and help to get there if I can’t find someone to start a family with. I honestly and very deeply and truly feel that. No matter how many times people say, “trust me. It will happen.” I really don’t know if it will.
Love is difficult for me, my past brings up a lot of hardships when it comes to love. Years of missed ‘I Love You’s’ have haunted and stuck with me all my life and the older I get, the harder it becomes. I don’t know how to love and I fear I will never be able to, and not being able to find that love will surely be one the greatest detriments I will experience in my lifetime – because so far it has been. I know if I had the capacity to love things would be much different for me. I don’t know of anyone personally who has experienced a similar life trajectory. It’s hard to relate to most because no one understands where I’m coming from.
Enough on that. If I go any further I will be sure to send myself into a panic attack right now, very close at the moment as I type this.
*Side note- Writing this has not been easy. Reliving moments and days that have stuck with me forever, that I am still trying to process today have been hard. Connecting into the deep parts of my heart and body that hurt the most, has been very fucking hard. I have been writing this entire blog with tears welling up in my damn face, which is why this is taking me longer than anticipated.*
Also, I realize at this point that I am not meant to be with anyone else but myself right now. So I’m trying to find ways to be happy with myself, on my own, doing my own thing.
I know I have a lot of self work to do to try and help myself move past this. I need to heal my past and all the pain I have felt in order to try and be a better person for me. I know that a lot of me believes I’m not worthy of love because of my depression. It’s one part my past, one part depression and one part anxiety, I know I have my work cut out for me.
I have neglected myself all my life, especially within this last year. I did a lot this last year, so much, and through it all I always chose to put myself last. Putting myself last not only has affected my physical health, my mental health, my relationships and my business, but the lack of joy I was able to feel this year around it all. I did some amazing things this year and also took on a lot more. I went to Burning Man and backpacked the Enchantments. I got to take the trip of a lifetime with my Mom to Italy and Greece. I can still picture walking down the streets of a rainy Florence even now. I shot the most amount of weddings and boudoir I ever have and I got a second part time job, lasting through June of this year, to help me solely save for my van. Every penny I make nannying goes straight to the van account. I realized that I couldn’t do it all on my own, even though I am a self made entrepreneur, I needed more help to get me to my goal. My van… the one thing I have been looking forward to in years. I continued on with this project which took a lot out of me. Writing these stories, taking these photos, having the stress of representing someone in their body was a lot to take on and I wanted nothing more than to represent everyone exactly how they were. Needing to represent someone as they are means putting yourself in their shoes, putting all of you forward, sacrificing yourself for their story. I sacrificed myself a lot, but it was all worth it for this project.
Through my depression this past year I wasn’t able to feel much. I had received a lot of grace and love this year from friends and strangers alike, praising me on the work that I was doing. I knew I was doing big things, but all that love sometimes felt overwhelming, which makes sense to me now, as someone who doesn’t know how to openly accept it. I would sit there and look someone in the eyes, a dear friend who I cared about, and hear them say the most beautiful things about me and what I’m doing with my boudoir work. I would hear the words, see the love in their face, but would feel absolutely nothing. That kills me. Everyday, so, so much- and I cry just thinking about it sometimes. With every new, wonderful, heartfelt and sometimes life changing comment from others that came in, I sank deeper and deeper into myself not knowing how to handle it all. Could I even do it? A question I considered seriously this past November, the same month I got these photos done. Shout out to Alejandra Maria again, because okay gurl.
This past year I could be at a boudoir session and feel amazing while taking photos, and make my client feel like the most important being on this planet, while also taking STUNNIN images, all the time. I can push them outside their comfort zone and show them a new person inside of themselves that they maybe have not seen before or have been trying to get back in their life for a while. I can also walk away from that same session feeling completely empty and dead inside. It almost feels like the pain I felt that day my friend passed. And then I feel guilty. How can I go from being such an important, happy person, especially with my clients, then walk away from not feeling empowered and special and wonderful myself? But that’s just how depression works. I know I was doing good for my clients, but every time I would leave a session my whole being felt drained. Like I had left the faucet on during the entire session and by the time I realized it, it was too late. All the hot water was gone.
I knew this project was going to be big and life changing for everyone, not only the ladies in the project, but everyone who has stuck by us this whole time. What I wasn’t prepared for was the harsh truth of my reality coming to the forefront. If I want to continue doing the work I do right now, this powerful, life changing work, I have to fix myself. This year had its fair share of ups and downs, but I am learning that all of those downs have profound meaning to them.
I, as a business owner, am all I’ve got. I have been all I’ve got my whole life, but I truly am all I have with my business. No one wakes up for me and responds to emails after I’ve had a panic attack. No one shows up to my session to take photos when I’m sick. No one is there telling me what I need to do when I can’t think. I am all I have, and suffering from depression and anxiety doesn’t help me run my business at all. I’m a photographer who photographs people in love and people in the nude. I have to sell myself everyday, even when I feel like I can’t (and I honestly don’t). If I want to be successful, I have to better myself. No one wants to get their photos taken from a negative nelly who can’t operate her business properly and who can’t put in the time necessary for growing her business. It’s true and studies have shown that if you are a happier person, people will flock to you. I am in the business of not only selling my photography, but myself, especially when it comes to boudoir. I sell me and who I am and what I do and that’s what sells. You can go and get boudoir done anywhere, but how are they going to make you feel? Not like how I do, I can guarantee you that. I have to sell myself for what I do, I am my business, I am my brand.