Divine Mother Kathryn { Motherhood Photo+Interviews } Healing Through Love & Motherhood

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Divine-Mothering Photo+Interviews

{ Divine Mothers of July Session 2 }

{ Kathryn }

Healing Through Love & Motherhood

Kathryn emailed me her journey after our session. So I will leave you here with her words, a beautiful story of healing.

“There are two parts of my life that drew me to this project—growing up, and marriage. The first formed my ideologies about life and being a woman, and had a significantly negative impact on my body image and my sexuality; the second RE-formed and and reshaped those values and brought me to where I am today. I used to be an uptight girl who felt she was ugly, and that her body was useless and something to be ashamed of. Now I am an empowered mother, unafraid of intimacy with my husband, and much more confident in my body’s beauty.”

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“I was raised down South in a Conservative Christian home. My father divorced my mother when I was a little girl, and I barely saw him. When I did, I felt unwanted and unloved; a burden. I longed for the families other children I knew had. I wanted to be the “Daddy’s Princess” that I saw on t.v. I wanted to know I was beautiful and cherished. Instead, I was jealous of the relationship my little sister had with our father. He got it right with her, and it was painful to watch.

Everywhere I looked in my family, I felt unloved…or at least not loved in the way I was longing for. I felt unseen too. My mother did the best she could to raise me and my big sister, but she was always working and didn’t have time to “play” with me. Because of my mother’s hurt from the divorce, she often acted in ways that were harmful to my developing self-esteem; although she had no idea how her actions would affect me. I always heard her cry and say she’s “fat and ugly.” She would never go outside with me because she didn’t have the energy, and didn’t want anyone to see her. She NEVER went swimming with us, even though she owned a swimsuit. Whenever we would go shopping, I would pick her out clothes that brought out her features—instead of buying and wearing them, she continued to wear her scrubs from the hospital. She covered her body and was ashamed of her stretch marks and C-Section scar. On top of that, I constantly heard how a man would “never love her”; especially because of the way she looked. My mother did not mean to hurt me with how negatively she viewed herself…but she did—GREATLY. I felt as though I were the cause of her “ugliness”. If I would not have been born, my mom and dad would still be together. Those thoughts continued to haunt me into adulthood.

I was just a little girl longing for affection. I wanted my mom to be happy and just be my mother. I didn’t care what she looked like…I wanted her time. I didn’t want to constantly hear about my father and how he hurt her, and how ugly and unloved she was—I loved her! Why couldn’t she see that? I was too young then to understand the impact my mother’s negative self-esteem would have on my own. Outside influences growing up also had a significant impact on my negative body image. I was bullied constantly from a very young age…an outcast. I did not “fit in,” and everyone made that known. I had no friends in school. Those I held on to for a while took advantage of my loyalty. Every day in high school I was told how ugly and worthless I was. Told that nobody would care if i died. On Valentine’s Day, I was the girl receiving fake love letters so they could watch me cry. But the worst was being told that NOBODY would ever want to marry me. I was considered unworthy of love, so I had trouble loving myself.”

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“I wanted to die. I never physically hurt myself, but I wished that God would let me fall asleep and never wake up, or get in to a car crash. I just wanted my sorrows to end, and to be in Heaven with Him. I knew I was God’s child, and that HE loved me; that’s the only thing that kept me going. Not only was I bullied at school, but I also endured physical and emotional abuse from my grandmother whom I lived with. Everyone had left me but her. Due to this, I was involved in friendships that were unhealthy as well. I kept getting hurt, and allowing myself to be hurt because it was what I was used to—it was my comfort zone. I saw myself as ugly and worthless. Despite the destructive view of myself, I did not run to “men” to fulfill my attention needs. I still had one thing that I was proud of, and hadn’t been taken from me—my virginity.

Growing up in the church, I was not exposed to healthy and proper sexuality. I was just told that sex is dirty and wrong until marriage. Unfortunately, the Church does not realize that this teaching negatively affects young Christian women. Many married Christian women have issues being intimate with their husbands because they’re ashamed of their bodies, and afraid of its sexuality. We’ve been told to cover up, so as not to make a brother stumble. We’re told that it’s OUR fault if a male lusts after us. We carry this shame, while Christian boys often bear little to no responsibility for their own actions…Yet then we women are supposed to instantly release a lifetime of conditioning when we get married and suddenly believe sex is now a beautiful, NOT shameful act; AND be confident in letting our husband take joy in our bodies? Yeah, it’s hard! Modesty is an ATTITUDE, NOT a style of clothing. Which brings me to the second part of my story—MARRIAGE.

Having been told I was worthless for years, and that I would NEVER find a man who met my standards, (which by the way, that man would have to significantly lower his standards to want to marry me) I was beginning to feel hopeless. I doubted that Mr. Right would ever come for me…And I was only 20.

My deepest desire was to be married. To become a wife and mother. I met my husband, (who met EVERY one of my standards) and we were married 6 moths later. I knew he was the man God had saved for me, and I the woman for him. He accepted me and all my emotional past. He understood me, but most of all, he made me confident, and brought out the beauty that had been so deeply hidden within me. He made me realize that I was lied to my whole life. I DO matter. I AM loved. I AM beautiful. And I am worthy of respect. I thank God constantly for my incredible husband. He was so patient with my intimacy issues. It was hard not to feel shameful when we were together; it was embedded in my subconscious. It took 2.5 years, counseling, and the spiritually healing birth of our son, for me to finally enjoy and believe that making love to my husband was a beautiful and glorifying act…NOT shameful. I could finally rejoice in my body also being his; and let him love me. I no longer feel ugly, or worthless, or unloved. I do not wish I was never born—I love myself and I love life!”

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“Motherhood has healed my spirit and body. Physically I sometimes struggle with my body image because I do not look like the “typical mom”, I don’t have the normal “mom bod.” I was unable to get beautiful maternity pictures because I barely showed. My breasts did not increase in size (not even during breastfeeding!) I gained a total of 15 pounds, all of which I lost during the birth. I have no “tiger stripes” or stretch marks on my belly…and yes I do in a way feel left out of motherhood for not having them.

Although I do not have any outward scars related to childbirth; I carry around inward scars invisible to those around me. My motherhood journey did not begin with a life, it began with a loss. Three moths after my husband and I were married, we suffered an abnormal pregnancy. We were eager to start a family together, and that dream came crashing down. It was my very first time at an OB office and we were expecting to hear our baby’s heartbeat. Instead, we were told there was no baby growing inside me, but rather a hyatidaform mole, or rapidly growing non viable tissue (tumor) in my uterus. I had a complete molar pregnancy and was scheduled for an emergency D&C two days after. I was fortunate that the doctor caught it immediately. He told me it was very nearly cancer. I was 21.

We hadn’t told our families we were expecting, and now had to deliver devastating news. My family was understanding…my husband’s was hurt that we didn’t tell them we were pregnant. The surgery went well, but I believe my body was psychologically traumatized. Under doctors orders, we were not to conceive again for a year—at the very least 6 months. Preventative measures had to be implemented, which left me emotionally scarred as it went against our personal beliefs. I was blamed by some for what occurred, which left me damaged as well. We did not have time to properly grieve, as several weeks later the military gave us orders for overseas. Our focus shifted. We put the loss in the back of our minds. I know now that I was a mother then. The moment I saw the double lines, I became a mother. And that matters. When we arrived in Germany, I had my birth control removed. The next cycle our son was conceived.

My pregnancy was very easy (except me worrying in the beginning about another loss). I felt the most beautiful I ever have during my pregnancy. I started researching, and from that we began to live a more “natural” and healthy lifestyle. I wanted the best life for our child. I bonded with our son throughout pregnancy. I was determined to have an all-natural childbirth…and I DID! My son’s birth was healing in multiple ways. The joy was indescribable. DIVINE. I now had a son who was solely dependent upon me for nourishment. My body grew life, and now I would sustain that life. It’s absolutely incredible. Our journey definitely hasn’t been easy, but we have just reached a breastfeeding milestone of one year!!! I could not have done it without the support of our local mothering community, and especially my husband. His unwavering support encourages me to take part in projects like this. He appreciates and recognizes the beauty and power within a woman and her body. He is there by my side every step of the way.”

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“Every woman’s background shapes who she is today. No matter where you came from, you have the power within to change and transform your views. I still hold on to my Christian values, and am modest even when I’m not fully clothed. The Church needs to appreciate women’s bodies and the power given to them by God. Don’t shame a woman for breastfeeding her child without a cover, by saying she’s “immodest”, or by making her feed elsewhere. Encourage and uplift her as a mother. We are part of the body of Christ too. And our bodies are a beautiful temple of the Lord, to be appreciated—not torn down. No matter if Christian or not, we as women are part of a community. Please always remember: I DO matter. I AM loved. I AM beautiful. She matters. She is lovable. She is beautiful. YOU matter. YOU are loved. YOU are beautiful. Together we can change the world!”

Kathryn, I hope you realize that you have one truly amazing “mom bod”! Thanks so much for sharing this story with us and participating in this project. You are amazing!

Repeat after me,

I am an amazing woman.

I am beautiful.

I am strong.

The light within me is divine.

Kathryn participated in Divine-Mothering Photo+Interviews of July Session 2, check out this blog post for more images of that session.

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If you are interested in participating in this project, please check out the Divine Mothering Community on FB and click Events.

Photography by Liliana Beatriz Fotografia

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Posted on: August 4, 2015, by : Lotus_Lili

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