Walking down the street, locking eyes with a passerby, we smile and maybe they don’t smile back— we judge. Someone acts out and we don’t understand why— we judge. Life has a funny way of dealing it’s cards. You can see a person, even know them, yet have no idea the deck they’ve been dealt. Maybe their corners are folded and ripped; maybe they were left out and have coffee stains on the crowns of their kings and queens. We all have a story. What if we lived in a world where we understood without knowing. What if we didn’t have to know, yet still trusted that people carry past pains that can affect their present, and whatever that was, we intrinsically understood that they are enough. I think we do. I think we all understand, yet sometimes forget, and that’s okay. “Life is a cycle of remembering and forgetting.” Let’s push ourselves to remember, though. Let’s accept people as they are, for where they are on their journeys; let’s wipe clean each other’s stains and reveal the crowns that were always there; and mostly importantly, let’s not forget to do this for ourselves as well.
Toni’s story is heartbreaking. She was dealt a hard deck. Her strength, though, is what makes this story beautiful. Despite the trauma she endured, she has decided to claim her power in accepting what was, redesigning her what is, and is creating for her baby girl the gifts of what will be. Boudoir sessions, for a lot of people, can be a reclaiming of the power that was stolen from them when they felt powerless. It can be a reclaiming of sexuality, independence, confidence, what have you, and the experience can be deeply significant. That is why our scar sessions mean so much— so much healing can take place when we are exposed, with nothing to hide behind. It is important to let ourselves be seen, emotionally or physically. We are all beautiful and are born with something to offer the world. We can take our disadvantageous pasts and grow from them as advantages. Our challenges can become our allies, and we can overcome. Here is Toni’s story:
“Throughout my life I have had a lot of bad experiences. I have lived most of my life sad, scared, lonely, and depressed. At a young age I was taken from my mother. I was placed in a few different homes then got adopted by my aunt from my fathers side. You would think that was a happy ending to a sad story but really it was just the beginning of a crapy childhood. Well, what should have been a childhood. My aunt literally hated me, I have no idea why. She would always tell me how my mom hated me and didnt want me. Then forced me to call her mom. I was my aunt and cousin’s real life Cinderella. Once she put me in a rabbit cage and hours went by before she let me out. She said she forgot about me. She became an alcoholic and way more abusive than ever. She even started to be abusive to her daughter as well. We became homeless for a while and would bounce from one friends couch to another. We moved quite a bit. When we were lucky enough to have a house to live in she would kick us out of the house at all hours of the night. My cousin and I would have to find a friends house and hope they would hear us knock on their door to let us in for the night. Then when we woild go home we would get beat because we “ran” away. At one point my aunt had a boyfriend who sexually abused me for a year, possibly longer. One Christmas we didnt even have electricity, it was so cold I could see my breath in the house. I have an endless list of horrible stories I could share from my time living with her. At one point someone had the balls to call the cops on her and she lost both my cousin and I. I was 10/11 years old at the time of removal. From there my cousin and I moved to her aunt and uncles house after finishing off our school year. They eventually decided they didnt want me and told my social worker that I was suicidal, I was not. The day I moved I had no idea I was moving untill I went to say goodbye before walking to school. I was told I was not going to school and to go pack my stuff. I ended up in a group home with a whole bunch of kids that were doing crazy stuff ( trying to jump out of two story window, try to jump off roof, try to kill themselves, etc.). There was no freedom there, we were almost always on lockdown. After trying to get my social worker to move me to a home for 6-9 months I got tired of noone listening. I decided to run away with one of the other girls from the home. We went to her “boyfriends” house (pimp/ drug dealer). I had gotten myself into a very bad situation. During that week I spent a lot of time hiding in a house because the cops were looking for her boyfriend, we waited it out then went to his friends house. From there i was forced to drink, raped, and they attempted to prostitute me. Thankfully before I ever got a “client” a cop picked us up. I was back at my group home the next day. My social worker finally started to look for a home to adopt me. The first home said they didnt want me because I was too mature and experienced (raped) for my age. From there i spent the next frew years moving every 6-9 months. I had a lot of foster homes that only eanted me for the money. At one home the man of the house asked me to do stuff for him for a little extra money, he had access to my file which said I had been prostituted. I just landed in one crapy home after another carrying all my stuff in trash bags everytime. When i was 12 I was hospitalized for a week due to having a 20lb tumor removed along with my omentum, appendix, and left ovary. My foster mom at the time thought I was pregnant and didnt bother asking me if I was sexually active, I was not. She just sent me to the doctor and they figured out i waznt pregnant but obviously had some other large issue going on. Once i was 14 a foster family finally got me that wasnt abusive and actually cared about my well being. While in this home they discovered I needed reading glasses and that was why I was having so many problems with reading. Once in high school my biological mom found me on myspace. With all the mental, physical, and sexual abuse I went threw growing up I still made it out strong. I do not allow anyone to hurt me any more. I also beat most of the statistics for a foster youth I graduated high school with my diploma, I have made it to college, I have gotten a certificate in Art/Digital Media, and now am working on my AA for Graphic Design. I did have a child at 18, but I can happily tell you I am an awesome single mom who is raising a beutiful and strong young lady. I am determined to give her the childhood I was robbed of. This is the short version of my story there was a ton left out. I could write you a book if I gave you the full detailed version.”
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