I was in the shower last night thinking, as one tends to do, and it hit me: since my pregnancy and subsequently having my daughter, I haven’t really felt like a woman – like myself. It’s been well over **nine **years, too, so that’s a long long time to not feel *right. *When I thought more deeply about it, it started to hurt – where has the confidence in my body as a woman, and determination to succeed, gone? Was it replaced by that Mom title that is both wondrous and challenging? Or does it all come down to this skewed, vicious view I have on what I look like? And does that make me sound as shallow as it feels to even write it? Because I never judge others based on their appearances or weight or height, or etc. It’s who they are and how they treat others that matters. But me? I throw spears every. single. day at my image and berate myself for not being a size 2 anymore. Instead I’m a size 14. And yes, gasp, I just admitted that.

There’s this funny thing that happens every once again on the internet, especially on my fandom twitter account; quite a few people have messaged to say that I’m “pretty,” and all those other adjectives that mean absolutely nothing at the end of the day. They mostly come from male followers I’ll never meet and who will never know me. Here’s the thing – thank you for those fleeting compliments but do please remember that a carefully posed photograph online is just that, a carefully posed photograph. And hello, I’m a photographer. I know how to professionally make people look AND feel their best, so chances are, I’m applying those same principals to myself. Minus the feel part. Anyway, the thing is, that’s not what I look like. At all. I’m round and awkward and frumpy and that’s the truth. It comes down to my understanding of lighting and how to use it to my advantage, basically.

Listen, I know this is a leftover relic of living in a household where weight was constantly on demand. Even when I was thin and athletically built, I still heard “thunder-thighs” or “big arms.” And then there’s an Aunt of mine who does ***500 ***sit ups every fucking day. That’s how she starts her day. She weighs <100 lbs soaking wet and she’s maintained this her entire life. My mother is thin, too, and works hard maintain a healthy lifestyle. My sister is also thin and in shape. Then there’s me. I take after my father’s side, where women are bigger-boned (this is actually a thing) with metabolisms that are non-working shits.

You might be wondering how this affects my being a woman – well, I assure you, it does. Remembering times in my life where I wore jeans that today I couldn’t fit ONE of my legs into, is shocking. Or not feeling sexy when I’m with A because most of the time, it’s incredibly hard to shut that self-hate side of myself down for a bit of time. And I’ve always been an adventurous woman when it comes to romance and sex, etc., but it all just…changed after becoming a mother. I had an extremely challenging pregnancy and gained 70 lbs. in total. And really, none of it ever came off. Because of that, I made no effort to find a “real” job once again, cancelled plans all the time, lost friends, never went shopping for new clothes, never took vacations, never wore bathing suits, never tried anything new, nothing. I just lived in an arrested postpartum development for years. And whispers I still do all of that for the most part. It’s a battle I’m not sure I can win; will I ever feel like me on the inside and outside? Will the loss of weight SOME day bring about this mental peace that I was able to overcome a hurdle the size of Mount Everest? I don’t know. I just know that I look to other women to see what I could be like, what career I might have or accomplishments I could have made if I hadn’t held myself to the back of the line all these years over an issue that SHOULD NOT MATTER. I think that maybe, if I walked in their shoes with purpose there might be an esteem that doesn’t allow room to judge my body mass or think less of me because I don’t resemble any bit of the woman I once was.

I don’t know. I’ve been exercising more consistently the past 8 weeks than I have since having Bella and for the most part zero has changed. I still feel lost and incomplete, isolated within my own mind. And I know how shitty this entire blog sounds because it IS. I shouldn’t base who I am with what I look like. I should treat myself the way I treat others. But I don’t. And if I’ve accepted anything all this time, it’s that fact above the rest. That I’m the worst person for me than anyone I’ve ever met. And I’ve met some terrible, selfish pieces of trash. But I am the worst. Me.

And no power of positive thinking has swayed me. I tried…for a solid year I read all the books and meditated and prayed and it left me exactly at the beginning of it all. So, in short, being a woman is the hardest thing for me right now. Because I close my eyes and feel like I did before some nights, but then I open them and the shame surges much like an ocean trapped in a storm.

How can I change though? How can I change anything?

Anyway, I took these photos of myself today. I put makeup on thinking it’d be good to put the effort in – sparkly purple makeup and then promptly ruined it. Because that’s how I feel: like a big fucking sparkly mess.

There’s no happy ending to this blog, friends. Maybe in another few months there might be. But not today.