I Never Felt Pretty On the Inside

What started off as an innocent question turned into eight years of abuse. At the age of twelve I became a mom for the first time and my child literally saved my life. Though my child saved my life there was still a part of me that blamed myself for what happened. It took years of therapy for me to realize that what had happened was not my fault.

I tried to fit in with society and be a “normal” teenager, but I never felt like I fit in because I knew I wasn’t “normal.” It was difficult for me to trust anyone, but I have a big heart so I tried to give people a chance. When I was in high school I started dating my husband and from the moment we started talking I knew in my heart that he was my person. I also knew that I did not want to be “another statistic” so I ended up graduating high school and going on to an amazing college where I graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree within 5.5 years while raising three kids and working a full-time job. Though I was doing everything so right and accomplishing all the goals that I had for myself, I still didn’t feel good about myself.

I was always told that I was pretty growing up, but I never felt pretty on the inside. I still felt like something was missing, but I continued to work hard to reach my life goals. It wasn’t until after the birth of my 4th child that I started to realize that the feeling of emptiness I had was me needing to love myself, so I vowed to start putting myself first and learning to love me, though I knew it was going to be a process.

In May of 2017 I came across an opportunity that was completely out of my comfort zone, but I knew it was my chance to tell my story, my truth, so I jumped on the opportunity. I applied to be a model for a local campaign where women share their body struggles through a photo and short written story. All of the photographs and stories were then displayed at a gallery for the public to see. A few days prior to the event (which took place in November 2017) I was asked to speak about my experience with the campaign. I agreed to do so even though I was terrified.

In order for me to speak about my experience, however, I first had to give a quick background about my story. So for the first time in my life I publically spoke about my history of abuse while talking about my experience participating in the campaign. I was a nervous wreck and started crying halfway through the speech because hearing myself talk about my journey in a room full of strangers really hit me in a way that it never has before. Though I know what I’ve lived through, prior to that day my abuse history has always felt like a distant dream, but reading my story aloud in front of all of those people made it a reality.

I have gained so much confidence and learned to love myself. I now love myself more than I have ever have before and I embrace my story and my journey. I was chosen to be a voice for those who can’t or aren’t ready to use their voices yet and I will use my voice to spread awareness and share my story to help others and give them hope.

-L.B., Survivor