I still get people who don’t understand boudoir. They think it’s purely sexual, vain, or pointless. I can keep putting up blog posts that explain why they are so much more than that. I can try to explain it in my own words (which I’ve done several times). But, what I think speaks the loudest are words from other women who have been photographed by me.
This one hits way too close to home for me. E (we’ll call her) isn’t sharing the photographs with the public because of her job. I reached out to her and asked if she would be willing to share her story, though. I told her that her words might really need to be read by someone who is in the depths of hell. I wish that more women had talked about their struggles when I was in my marriage. There were so many times I felt shameful and alone. E is allowing me to share a photo and her words.
I want to point out that not every woman that I photograph is “broken” or going through hard times. I photograph women who are engaged, married, divorced, have kids, can’t have kids, don’t want kids, have done boudoir sessions before, have never done boudoir sessions before, and so on. But, this is E’s story and it’s a pretty damn powerful one.
“We met in 2007 he was…is: charming, good looking and interesting to speak with; the perfect gentleman in my mind. He chased, I had no idea he was into me and thought initially he needed to build a relationship with me to build one with my former boss. Not the case, he was into me. We married in 2011 at one of the best party weddings ever thrown. It was a weekend long family event that attendees talked about for years to come. We fought on our wedding night, his family never really accepted me. It was a constant struggle to garner his attention on us, rather than choosing between me or his family. It never should’ve been like that, but it was. We couldn’t shake the feeling and there was always tension no matter how hard I tried. The holidays were daunting, even when I would put every effort to make it better! It’s as if there was this constant negative cloud hanging over us along with the feeling I could never do anything right or it just wasn’t enough. I ignored the feeling and maintained my happiness…until 2016.
The love of my life, center of my universe (outside of my black labradoodle Sassy Moon at the time) passed away unexpectedly from a fall in the bathroom. My grandfather paved a path for us all in our family to find our success. He was the glue that made everyone in the family behave. It was magical. He was more to me than I can ever put into words. He would cry towards the end of our conversations on the phone while I work in Tallahassee because he missed me around so much. As a kid, as an adolescent, as a young adult, mature professional – I did no wrong. The support for me to spread my wings was strong. But now he’s gone. I’ve got to deal with life. Alone though? My ex-husband tried to his capacity to help me out of my sadness but I couldn’t shake it. Nothing helped. All of our bickering got worse. Issues rose to the surface through the house renovations, family tensions, and I just felt alone.
He told me I was boring. He told me to dress up more and wear make-up, not good looking enough. In reality I was annoying him because he couldn’t help me. Our marriage broke apart and we confided in other people to talk to. We tried counseling. We tried the shit out of counseling. I started back at the yoga studio to help deal with the sadness of everything I once knew to be my life, now is starting to unravel. What the hell is going on? Why is someone other than my husband helping me through my pain. He consumed himself in work. It’s what he’s the best at after all. We lost our spark. Something as simple as sharing a meal together caused a fight. We always came back to the same fight…me not feeling like I could do anything right and him stressed about work. Neither one of us were happy with each other and realizing we needed to end an unhealthy relationship before we end up on Dateline was one of the saddest realities to face. I thought I was sad before, well bring on the copious amount of tissues and you guessed it…yoga, yoga, yoga…and a steady psychologist appointment to remind me to stay mindful and control my reaction and emotions in a productive way.
Today, I’m thriving. I’ve realized that the woman over the last several years was having a journey in grief and goddamn it was so hard, but I put the work into it. I went to grief counseling, wellness retreat specializing in grief counseling, picked up about 5 new hobbies – “boring my ass”, I would tell myself. “I’m going to be the most interesting person you’ve ever met once I deal with my grief.” I started to enjoy the journey in it though and found my joy. Started dating…oh lawd is that hard. I’m 38. I’ve done a shit ton of work on myself, fell in love with myself and now have set these standards that those I date need to realize it right away. I only know one speed and its full-throttle. I’m intimidating. I’m confident. I’m not ugly. But you know what, I couldn’t figure it out with men…at all. Was my ex right? All of this ran through my head again and then I kept hearing how beautiful I am. What a catch, etc. You name it, the support was there but I, ME, I couldn’t see it.
Friends of mine did a boudoir shoot, and the photos were amazing. I decided I need to see me the way others see me, I’ve done all of this good work to pull me back together and it was time to put it on paper. And that’s when I met Shannon. She captured my personality, my sense of humor, my sensuality, my love for life and my dog in every shot. Most of all, my vulnerability to surrender to my emotions was all there. And yes, I live everyday with an open heart and it’s very possible I will hurt again. But I tell you what, I have the coping skills (because of the loads of hobbies I’ve got going for myself) to manage them way better. If you take anything away from this, I hope it inspires you to stick it out and feel that pain and all of the emotions that go with it. It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s rude. It’ll test you. But you will grow into an amazing human being. There’s no secret path, you have to put the work into it. I am grateful for my family and friends that with their support and patience they gave me the wings to spread out once again, let me fall, but supplied every tool for me to realize I am capable of picking myself back up. Like they all say, girl, you got this!”