I have shitty self esteem. I can’t begin to say how difficult it is to be vulnerable and let the world into my emotional bubble. There’s a demon in my head that tells me awful things, things that for most of my life I believed. I didn’t know they were just thoughts until recently. It was in my head so it was real. I even let people put these things in my head.
“You’re not pretty.”
“You are a terrible photographer.”
“You don’t know how to do this.”
“You aren’t very smart.”
“You’re a terrible mother.”
“No one will love you.”
“You expect too much.”
“You’re a bitch.”
And those culminate with, “You are not enough.”
I am not enough. I told myself this for 31 years because I was told this. My mother was very sick. She still goes in and out of her sickness. One month ago I cut communication. I couldn’t take the toxicity any longer. She couldn’t accept me. She told me, “I love you, but I don’t accept the way you’re living your life.” She couldn’t accept that finally I was happy… finally I loved myself… finally, I found someone who loved me for all of me. But since that person is female, she couldn’t accept me. The problem is that love IS acceptance.
Every time she told me, “You are so selfish,” I would do everything in my power to be completely selfless. I took it to the point where I was a doormat. I did everything for everyone because hearing those words stung so much. As a child, I was torn down. As a teen, I was torn down. As an adult, I was torn down. I care. Way too much. I’m too soft and sensitive to have people that tear me down like that in my life. I’m artist at heart, though not by education. I have all the feels.
All I’ve wanted my entire life is to be loved and to feel love but I did not know how to accept it. I don’t care about money or cars or jobs or possessions… I care about love and relationships. I love from every piece of my soul and let it pour out of me, but only by loving myself can I let love in. I struggle with this. I have good days and bad.
One year ago, they were mostly bad. One year ago, I had given up. I was stagnant, and I need growth to be happy. Actually, it was regression. I was regressing to this place where it’s childhood Jacqie, curled up and crying and hiding. The reality is that I am now an adult, caring for and showing love to my own kids. I have the choice and the POWER to recognize the negative self talk as merely talk. There are points in my life where I would seek out validation. It feels good to have someone say nice things about you. However, if you can’t tell yourself, all that validation does is set you up to fall down… hard. I know it has to come from within, but it’s not always that easy when your thoughts are attacking your brain and heart.
When someone tells me I’m a terrible mother, I let it pass through me. I know without a doubt that one is not true. But, there are other criticisms that I am working on letting go of because in the end, I just get in my own way if I dwell on the negatives. It’s a process. It takes time. I’m not very patient, especially not with myself.
During my first separation (yes, first), photography found me. It found me. I had two little babies, friends getting married, was stuck in a house tending to the needs of everyone else, and I needed something. Photography found me. I used photography to capture the love between a newborn baby and his parents and the excitement in the first kiss of a new marriage. I became hooked. I need to see, capture, and feel this love and connection.
Being vulnerable is tough. To be in front of a camera means you have to be vulnerable. What will the lens see? Will I look okay? What if I make that stupid face? Want to know what MY lens sees? Happiness, love, connection, emotion, adoration… These are what you want your children to see when they look back on your wedding day. This is the story I will create for you. And through these stories, I have found pieces of myself and built incredible relationships.
If it weren’t for photography and capturing your love stories, I might still be completely lost. Photography filled a huge hole in soul. It sets me on fire. It helps me breathe. It helps me believe in me. Your love story is part of my journey to self love.