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’ve been known to disappear without notice. It’s not to be taken personal. It wasn’t for attention. It wasn’t to have anyone chase after me or look for me. It was literally to preserve my sanity and bring me back to reality. I wasn’t giving up. I wasn’t running away from my purpose. I was just disgusted with myself. I simply no longer wanted to be seen nor heard and I needed to go back underground so that I could bloom again. My thoughts were screaming louder than my focus. My actions were the exact opposite of my well practiced discipline. I literally needed to jump ship before I wrecked all the peace I worked hard to achieve. So I voluntarily went into hiding to save me from me.
For Transparency Tuesday I’m going to let y’all in on an internal battle I’ve been fighting recently. Although I am #BloomingUnapologetically and have undergone much healing, there are still wounds that are tender. I’m brave enough to admit that I am battling some insecurities. Believe it or not it's not about my body image or self perception, the specific wound I want to uncover today is my trust in men. Now I want to qualify what I mean. Do I think all men are dogs, no. Do I think it is impossible to be honest and faithful, no. All I’m saying is that I haven’t seen any of my ex’s and the devil in the same room. I’m joking but you get the gist. I merely haven’t had many positive experiences with men and in order to generate positive experiences I have to be open to them. This is my point. I swear I’m open but I’m really not. The simple thought makes me retreat with my white flag up. The thought of trusting someone again scares me. Like literally gives me anxiety. I become distant. I may even run away. I realize this is a problem and this is me openly admitting it. Now one thing I know from experience is to overcome fears you have to openly address them. I know there is no way to conquer this or get on the other side of the mountain except to go through it. This is where my analytical mind is getting the best of me. There are too many what ifs and unanswered questions. I literally would have to take a gamble with my heart and pray I don’t come up with the short end of the stick again. That is where the letter I posted on IG last night stemmed from. I was in that moment, writing to my future soulmate letting him know the battles I am fighting to get to him.
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.
I remember the days when the separation from my ex husband was still new and I had just found additional proof of infidelity. My emotions began with devastation, reached infuriated and settled down with a interjection of maturity. If I could’ve quoted how I felt at that moment I’d title it “Somewhere Between F*** You and Forgiveness”. An array of emotions between dumbfounded and pettiness all crossed my mind and there was no resolution but to work through how I felt. I admit, it took a few months to process but it was my responsibility to heal beyond that. Staying there would’ve only prolonged my healing and I refused to let him or his actions have any more power over me. So cold turkey I refocused my energy. I removed my attention from the pain of what he did to me, to achieving peace. One thing I’ve learned over my #BloomingUnapologetically journey is that healing comes in waves. It does not happen all at once. Some days will feel unbearable. Some days will feel absolutely liberating. But most days will be a balance of both in between. I’ve had to adapt to taking days as they come. No feeling or emotion that you feel is wrong, it is just your truth at the moment. It is your responsibility to own it, embrace it and continue to level up. Even if you are the victim, healing has to begin and end with you but to even get to that point you have to uncover your hidden wounds.
I have a history of being attracted to broken men. If you ask me in my wisdom now, I would say it is the healer in me that knows brokenness is something I can mend. That's no excuse though. The fact remains, the way I went about this was a mess. I'm guilty of loving unconditionally, haphazardly. If you go down the list of men I've been 'seriously' involved with, there was a void in their life that I knew I could fill and a lot of the time that was what attracted me. My mindset was if you don't know how to love, I'll show you. If you don't know how to trust, I'll prove it can be done. If you don't know how to show affection, with me you'll want to. I admit I even loved the challenge too. Often times taking on the role of loving the coldest of hearts for the sole purpose of knowing I can warm you. Even back then I knew I could find beauty in you. I saw potential and that was potent. Your brokenness became my kryptonite. Now I had qualifications. I wasn't just out there giving my heart to a bunch of randoms and getting involved with just anyone. Matter of fact, to this day I am not easy to access and my filter is strong. I have to be attracted to your soul and that is the only thing that can move me. I'm not materialistic. I'm not hung up on your appearance. I have specific standards, but it is your depth that will keep me interested. I know what you may be thinking, "how can you determine that with someone you just met?" This may sound crazy but even through pictures I can see your spirit. I'm observant, I pick up energies, my discernment is strong and I read people well. Not to mention I'm sober af and not distracted. I call this gift a blessing and a curse. I can see what you aren't ready to show and I have allowed my curiosity to get the best of me. My gift allows me to see the best in you even when you aren't the best you.
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.