The photos below were taken in what feels like a lifetime apart. The first photo, me.. 24 years old… just gave birth to my second child… in a deteriorating marriage… consumed in my own guilt that I was worthless. The last photo, me now… happily re-married with three kids and two stepchildren (one not pictured) later.
The pictures each tell a story. I may weigh more now than I ever have in my life… but I’m healthy.. and content. Throughout my entire life, I have been “a little girl”… “skinny.” Yes, I have thin genes in my family.. if you’ve seen my pretty mama you know I’m a lucky gal. But my weight loss was not always thanks to genetics.
The truth is toxic relationships cause so much more than just a bad day. When you’re in a bad situation, you not only have bad days but they turn into bad weeks.. Then bad months and so on. It didn’t only affect my weight and health but my memory. I’ve never told anyone this BUT… these were the days when my daughters were tiny… and I hardly remember any of it. That makes me sadder than anything else.
When you’re in an abusive relationship… whether it‘s physically or emotionally abusive.. it affects you more than you begin to realize.
I totally thought I looked fine! Look at me! I was anorexic… I hardly ever ate.. how in the world did I breastfeed my girls?! Toxic relationships take a toll on you… on your mind and your body. I was unhealthy. And I didn’t even know it. I had started smoking again. I had lost so much weight. I was literally withering away. I didn’t feel good. Ever. I was convinced that my health, my well-being wasn’t important. I was tired.
Isn‘t it funny how time passes you by and you look back and think to yourself “Oh my.. how in the world did I ever get through that?!” But I did.
If you are thinking to yourself that this sounds anything like you.. that you are in a similar situation that I once experienced.. or maybe it’s not your marriage that’s toxic but you have other toxic relationships that are affecting your self-worth…. which totally could be family or friends! If any of that speaks to you… reach out, ask for help.. you don’t have to fight the battle alone.
Every situation is different And I’m not saying people can’t change for the better. For me, I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault. There’s so much strength in finally accepting that and letting go of the guilt… and it won’t happen until you can see it with a clear mind.
I know it’s hard. It literally feels impossible to make a change. I know because I’ve been that girl. That girl who feels like there is no such thing as a choice… that no matter what decision is made, everyone gets hurt.. that girl who looks in the mirror and thinks to herself that she’s incapable of being loved and incapable of being enough. For everyone else.
Your worth is everything that you think of yourself and you cannot let anyone else decrease your value. That’s the moment that you have to walk away. When you realize that you are strong. That you are more than the situation.
I know my worth because I’ve paid dearly for every ounce of it. You don’t have to keep paying for yours. You are amazing and beautiful and deserve to feel good. Stop letting people control your mind and your feelings. It took years for me to realize that I was being controlled.. not only my behavior but my feelings. When people start controlling how you should feel… it’s time to walk away. It’s ok to leave people behind.
You should not have to beg for the acknowledgment that you’re enough.
You’ve got this.
domestic abuse hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
for my friends in VA… The James House is a shelter for domestic violence victims.