Denise, 59 | Empowerment Photography in Lake Jackson, Texas
When I was young, I was tiny. I never had to watch what I ate. I had my first child when I was 18 and my parents made me get married (but that didn’t work out). I lost my mom to cancer when my son was only 11 months old; it was one of the hardest times in my life. I worked and raised my son while caring for my father, and I met my now-ex husband when my son was 15 months old. We got married and had a daughter; again, I had no problem with losing the “baby fat.” A few years later, we had our second daughter and I lost my dad when I was 8 months pregnant. I was so lost… this time I gained quite a bit more weight and didn’t lose it after the baby came.
My ex called me a fat ass, pointed out every flaw… he made me uncomfortable and so insecure about myself, not just my body but my worth! Time went on, he stayed away on his boat as much as he could, not wanting to come home to a “fat” wife and 3 kids. Eventually he quit the boats and starting working road construction. He later confessed to sleeping with at least 6 women while out of state.
When our youngest was 6, that’s when I got pregnant with our 3rd daughter. I just knew this would end our marriage. I was afraid to even contact him when my sweet baby girl was born, as I knew he wanted a son. He was disappointed but kind of came around. But the verbal abuse continued to get worse and I started to believe what he said: I’m fat, I’m useless, no one would want someone like me. For 17 years I listened to him. I hid, only dressing in the dark, afraid he would see me with the lights on.
I hated myself. When he finally wanted a divorce, our marriage ended and I almost did, too. I didn’t want to live, but my daughters picked me up and helped me realize HE was the “ugly” one. It took another handful of years to even learn to like myself. In May 2016, I met my amazing husband Gary. We were married for 2.5 years when he died of cancer this last December. Again, things were hard but I refuse to let it define me… we all suffer loss but we don’t have to lose ourselves. I know he would be so proud of me for doing this and coming so far from who I used to be!