Sometimes, I feel invisible. Nothing I do seems to grab anyone's attention. It’s typical “middle child syndrome.” Deep down, I really crave validation from my family, but have always felt my voice wasn’t loud enough to be heard. Eventually, I gave up trying. I don't like my role in my family and don't really spend much time with them because I find I get more appreciation from my friends. My friendships are more satisfying and come more naturally to me than my relationships with my family.
My father was a really handsome, charming man, but had a drinking problem. My mother was smart and very talented. I don't know how my sister and I were born, because I have no memories of them ever getting along. They fought violently. It was terrifying to be in my house, especially on weekends when both parents were home: Flying silverware at dinner, screaming, crying, and bleeding, amidst flipped over chairs and broken windows.
My parents finally divorced when I was twelve, and things got better, but my already depressed mother got worse. She worked hard to support us, however, and even though she met the man who would eventually become my stepfather and bring so much good into our lives, she was never truly happy.
My mom considered herself a chubby child. She grew into a beautiful, elegant teenager, but was always larger than the rest of her family. I never really understood why she was so overweight since I never saw her eat. She was very vocal about her hatred of her body and would say things like, "The pregnant woman's body is the most ugly thing,” or that "breastfeeding was unnatural." Or, even stranger, "the first time you have sex, it's the most lonely feeling in the world." I never really understood any of this, and luckily I never agreed with it. Later, she revealed to me that she had been molested by her uncle when she was three. That explained a lot. I felt so heartbroken for her and the innocent child she had once been. The pain lived unhealed within her then and still does today.
All of this caused me to turn to food for comfort. I went from a normal, lanky, active pre-teen to a chubby teenager. I went from outgoing and happy to withdrawn and scared. I spent all of my high school days trying to go unnoticed. I'm a highly sensitive person and get hurt very easily. I still do. I stayed that way until my senior year when I decided that I just didn't care anymore and I was going to be who I wanted to be. I really began to come out of my shell when I attended art school in Maine and discovered photography, along with a whole group of friends who were just like me. I almost didn't go through with it because I was so scared to leave home, but my mom pushed me through my fears and convinced me that I absolutely had to go. It was the turning point in my life and the best thing I ever did.
As a result of all the violence and uncertainty I experienced as a young child, I've struggled with anxiety and depression throughout my life. I have constant battles with feeling deserving enough, talented enough, good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc. Some days, I tell all of that to go fuck itself and experience real joy and the fullness of life. Other days, it weighs on me like a ton of bricks and I fight to scrape it off.
I see some of that coming out in my relationship with food. I've been fat, skinny, chubby and everything in between. I've gone from regular exerciser to a lazy sloth who hasn't done a crunch in years. But, I'm done with that shit. I want to eat what I want in healthy amounts and exercise because I like it, not because I think I have to look like some skeletal runway model.
I have hips. I have giant boobs. I have a double chin. I have a belly. I have cellulite and I'm getting wrinkles. I am also strong. I am a woman who birthed two beautiful, healthy babies and fed them with my body. I am desired by my husband and told I am beautiful by strangers (which I will admit, I do enjoy). Sometimes, I feel beautiful. Sometimes, I feel hideous.
I think, ultimately, I am a beautiful soul who loves my children, family and friends. I have an inner light that shines brightly and wants to give love to those around me. I am the daughter of an alcoholic father and a depressed mother. I am a photographer. I am an artist.
I am flawed, and in those broken, cracked places, I am perfect.