Time to reclaim what was once mine

It’s hard to find yourself after you have been put down for so many years. I experienced domestic violence with my daughter’s father. I was mentally and emotionally abused almost daily. After years of hearing negative thoughts from someone I thought loved me, I had begun to believe everything my abuser said about me; and I started to believe it myself. I was more critical than my abuser. The hardest part from my abusive relationship was finding the positive side in everything outside the relationship. I had gotten pregnant with our daughter really early in the relationship. The abuse had started after I was three months pregnant. Between the stresses of life, the abuse and becoming a new parent; I had suffered from postpartum depression. The more my abuser continued to put me down, the worse the depression had become.

After I had my daughter, taking photos of myself wasn’t comfortable. It didn’t feel natural to allow myself to be happy about anything but my child. He had taken the best of me and turned me into someone I didn’t recognize.

Now after two years of our relationship had ended, the negative words had remained in my mind. Recently, I have been able to take steps into the right direction. I had started to reclaim my independence, my self-confidence, my body, my knowledge and myself.

The photo above was taken on April 1, 2016, when I was on my way to a long time family friend’s wedding. This whole day was not going the way I had planned. I was running late for my first class meeting of the spring quarter, then I had to rush home (on the bus) to pick up my mother’s car, so I could pick up my daughter from daycare. Once I picked up my daughter, I had to rush home to get her ready, redo her hair, get myself ready and have us out of the house and at the wedding by 4 pm. It had felt like time was not on my side. Eventually, I had the sudden urge of not going at all. My hair was not working the way I wanted; and I felt like my make-up was not blending correctly. I thought I look like Krusty the clown. With all these negative thoughts in my head, I was in a constant battle with myself. I started to over criticize myself before getting completely ready.

Once everything was done and was getting ready to leave, I went on snapchat and took a quick selfie of myself and sent it to two of my best friends and a guy that I was dating.

The caption read “Not liking the way I look right now.”

After that picture was sent it literally took me a good twenty minutes to get out of my head and decide retake a photo of myself. I was sitting in the car and immediately went to snapchat. At that moment, I had a sudden burst of confidence explodes from inside of me. My initial reaction was, “Damn, I look good. I’m a MILF (Mom, I like to f***)”. This was the first time in four years, after my daughter was born, that I had actually liked myself. I don’t know what caused me to realize this, but it happen and sure enough, I was in love with myself so much that I took this picture.

The song that immediately came into my head was “I’m sexy and I know” by LMFAO. The rest of the night I was happy with myself and the way I looked. I had no negative thoughts, nor was I criticizing myself. I had finally realized that all the negative things in my head was the constant negativity that my abuser had said. Everything he had said to me were a complete lies. In order for me to represent myself, my way, I had to first reclaim myself and in trust myself once again.

Self-representation comes from you and no one else.

Every little negative thing that was said to me from my past was out of others’ insecurities. Not mine. It took me over year of domestic violence class for me to finally realize this fact. This is something that has to be practiced every day. There have been moments where I wanted to just give up on everything, but then reality sets in, and I had to remember that I have come so far that giving up is no longer an option.

The more I continue to work on myself, the better my life will continue to be, for myself and my daughter. I want to show my daughter that I can represent myself the way I want no matter what people may say or feel about me. I want her to know that the only person that can stop me from anything I want to do with my life is myself. I want her to see that I will not let anyone else have any power over me.

I am starting to reclaim myself. And all the baby steps in this process are important. First by starting with how I want to appear to myself and then the world.

I am a single mother, a daughter, sister, a college student, a domestic violence and postpartum depressive survivor.