It’s been a while since I’ve done a #TransformationTuesday so I thought this before and after would only be fitting since my modeling career is blooming right along with me. A lot has changed since the pictures on the left so let’s take it back a couple years to 2017 and I’ll paint the context. I was fresh in my #BloomingUnapologetically journey. I filed for divorce that January, which for me was the key that released me to fully pursue me. It set the tone for me to step outside my box or better stated, crawl from under my rock. Modeling was a childhood dream of mine that I buried because I was told being plus sized wasn’t something I should celebrate or acknowledge. Due to that belief, most of my life I battled with my weight and hid behind clothes that would downplay my curves and plus size figure. Modeling didn’t even cross my mind again until I chose to pursue my dreams and conquer my fears as I began this healing journey. The end of my marriage served as the catalyst that I needed to propel me to be the best me. I decided that I would face my biggest battles with my fluctuating weight and address the root of my lack of confidence.
I get a lot of questions on what I did to lose weight, how I started and how I stay motivated. My first answer is weight loss was much more than numbers and measurements for me. It was all about me reclaiming my life and finding me after my ex husband left me. I knew I needed to make drastic changes to pull myself out of deep debilitating depression and it had to begin with learning to love me. My goals seemed impossible to reach. My reflection, I didn’t even recognize. I had literally lost my identity. Who you see today is a product of no short cuts, hard work, discipline and healing from the inside out. Thank you for tuning in to me #BloomingUnapologetically.
Yesterday on my way home from work a feeling that I've never felt before crept over me. I was standing on the subway a few stops in when I began to notice all the young husbands and wives around me. They weren't coupled up but as individuals on their commute home from work. My mind wandered as I imagined what their marriage was like. Would their spouse be home waiting to greet them at the door. Would dinner be on the table or is tonight an impromptu date night. I began to think of my experience as a wife. I actually loved being a wife and might I add, despite the outcome of my marriage now, I was damn good at it too. I remember anticipating my ex husbands arrival home. I would be there waiting for him with open arms ready to embrace him with my love, hugs and kisses. I remember the surprise gifts I would give him and particularly gummy worms being his favorite. Our weekly date nights were Tuesday evenings which also happened to be my favorite day of the week. I remember being excited to come home to him and snuggling up to his 6'4 frame and body heat. I remember mornings being the hardest. I'm always cold and his warmth was preferred over any blanket. I enjoyed hearing about how his day went and his excitement as he shared with me his new music. I made it a habit to pray over him as he slept and I addressed him as a king so that he'd never forget. I prided myself in being his peace and voice of reason whether he utilized me or not. Even on our darkest days from the outside looking in you couldn't tell we were falling apart. I vowed to be a demonstration of love even in the midst of our hardships. I loved the hell out of him and I vowed to the rest of my life. By the time I got to my stop, tears had welled up in my eyes and I came to the realization that I miss being a wife.
A few weeks ago I celebrated my divorce in the company of close friends and family. It was definitely a joyous occasion as we dined over good food and great energy. The gathering was impromptu, invites were sent via text and I literally planned it the night before with my cousin who was also celebrating her divorce which was granted just a few days before mine. I was surprised by all the "I'll see you there" responses and the turn out warmed my heart. I've gotten a lot of side eyes as word has spread that I am celebrating divorce but I would like to set the record straight. I don't advocate for divorce. I advocate for wholeness by any means necessary but even this philosophy took me a while to attain. I remember a time that I was fresh in my marriage and still on that newlywed high full of hopes and dreams for our future. The same cousin who just celebrated with me came to me seeking advice regarding her derailing marriage around October of 2014. I'm known to give good advice with my forte being toxic relationships but this was advice on a topic I was not familiar with. I hadn't been married that long and I was talking to someone who was about 10 years in the game. I remember encouraging her to work it out and to stick by her husband and to forgive him and all the other good save your marriage tactics that were taught to me. We continued our conversation over dinner and parted ways later that evening. We caught up weekly over candid conversations that usually resulted in me jokingly calling her crazy. She informed me not too long after our 'save her marriage meeting' that they would officially be parting ways. I knew that God could change anyone and fix anything so I secretly held hope and prayed that they would work things out even in the midst of me knowing she deserved better. That was my first experience with giving advice on a topic I didn't have experience with but a few months after this in February of 2015 I got my second chance at this.
So the gate is open and the chains have been broken, but where does that leave me? Honestly, I'm in the doorway looking out at my freedom and its vast possibilities but stuck between dreams and reality. It’s been a week since my divorce has been final but I can't say that it has really hit me yet. I am still a bit numb. Like it is officially over? Like really over? Like I'm really done!? I know I did a good job of concealing the depth of the troubles in my marriage. I know that God's grace made it look like what I went through wasn't a big deal and maybe didn't even warrant a divorce but the truth is the depth of my marriage woes were ugly and painful. I never thought I would leave. I never thought that I would stop trying. I never thought that I would move on and at a point in time I couldn't even fathom what that looked like or how I would even take the first step. I was under the impression that all that I was going through was what I deserved and it ultimately became my normal. I began to think that I didn't deserve love and that I would never know what love from a significant other felt like. At my breaking point, I remember asking God this can't be all that you have for me. This can't be all that I deserve and this definitely can’t be a reflection of your love. I felt unloved, I felt neglected, I felt worthless and I was emotionally tapped out. I had poured out all that I could to save our marriage the first time and he still hadn't changed, he still hadn't forgiven me and he no longer wanted to try. Despite my unbreakable demeanor, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and being on the receiving end of his bitterness. The little hope left in me led me to believe that I deserved more and the truth set in that I wasn't going to get it from him. He tapped out long before I did but I had finally mustered up enough courage to throw my towel in too. I didn't care that it made me look like a failure. I didn't care that people to this day would be saying I told you so. I was dying inside and desperate to live.
The day I found out that I was finally assigned a court date to finalize my divorce, I immediately reached out to my photographer to schedule a photo shoot. I wanted to do a divorce photo shoot unlike any of the other divorce photo shoots I saw on my google and Pinterest search. Most of those images were fueled by bitterness, rage and revenge. Depicted with burning wedding dresses, destroying property they once shared, or even downing liquor in provocative clothes. None of those photos inspired me and wasn't how I wanted to capture this final chapter of my marriage. I was not bitter. I was not angry. I was not unforgiving. I was not the newly single who wanted to mingle and downing alcohol in lingerie was definitely not an option. Instead I wanted to capture the peace in my release. I wanted to show that it is possible to heal from a divorce and to move forward in full wholeness. I wanted to show that divorce doesn't have to be a sad or angry thing. And most of all I wanted to shift the focus from my emotions for my former spouse to me and my healing journey and show that all this could be done with grace, dignity and class. For those of you who are new to my blog or Instagram you have some catching up to do! I separated from my husband in August of 2016, decided to divorce in October of 2016, filed for Divorce in January of 2017 and have been waiting patiently for this day to come. I've shared this journey of mine throughout my Instagram and via my blog and have self titled this season #BloomingUnapologetically. This divorce was honestly the best decision I've ever made. It took me a while to make the decision and even longer to actually act on it but today was the day. I am divorced and I am ecstatic! Today marked the end to a significant chapter in my life and turned the page to my rebirth.
I’m going to be real transparent right now. There is one thing that bothers me from my divorce. It's a pain that I try and ignore and today I was required to address it. Breydan woke me up routinely with his morning cuddles. He told me good morning, he loved me and that I was beautiful all while laying on my back, cheek to my cheek and his arms around my neck. I think that was him prepping me for the blow he was about to dish out. He saw my phone on the edge of my bed, sat up and asked me if we can call his “bald headed daddy.” That is what he calls my soon to be ex husband. Caught off guard and wanting to retreat under my covers, the first time he asked, I ignored him. The second time he asked I looked around for my sister who usually comes to rescue me and divert his attention when he asks questions like this but she was in the shower. The third time he asked I finally mustered up the courage to address him. I told him that daddy and I are no longer together. That we weren’t going to be married anymore and he won’t be coming back. That’s when he hit me with the punch in my throat, figuratively, but might as well have been real. With sadness in his eyes he asked me if he was still his daddy and for that I could only answer, only if he wants to be.
Before I continue with my divorce story, I want to tell you a little more about Leslie than what these stories are describing him to be. Although these stories seem to paint him in a negative light, I do want to inform you that he was once indeed beautiful and absolutely radiant. These recent stories tell of his lows and I did not fall in love with the man who I am currently divorcing. I fell in love with a wonderful man of God who was on fire for God and after God’s own heart. He helped me to my spiritual feet at my lowest and helped me to become the woman of God that I am today. Some of you may be familiar with our love story but I would like to retell it because even at our outcome, it still has merit and our love story was ordained by God. Remember it was the assignment that changed.
What do you do when what God calls you to do sounds crazy? Are you willing to walk away from the life you have created for yourself and live a life surrendered for His glory? My 2016 was just that. In November/ December of 2015 I remember being at my lowest emotionally and physically. I was unhappy in my marriage, receiving less than I deserved. I felt depleted in my friendships, pouring out more than what I was getting in and I was at a point where I could not get myself out of my depression. I had hit rock bottom despite what it looked like on the outside. I remember vividly praying to God asking Him to send a friend who can pour into me.
During my 10 day vacation, I was often fatigued and it was difficult to keep up with our jam packed itinerary. By the end of my trip I needed a vacation from my vacation. Little did I know when I returned home, my journey had just begun and the life I knew would dramatically change.