I discovered photographs taken of me when I was just 18 years old. I had been having nightmares about those photographs leaving me with an ongoing residue.
My mom used the money I had made from a Mcdonald’s commercial when I was 8 to pay for a modeling portfolio.
We had a 3 day photo shoot from the beach, to a pool, to in studio. Finally he photographed me waterskiing.
I had forgotten some of the photographs taken until my nightmare.
He put them on a videotape so we could look at all of the photos and choose when I was 18.
I remember sitting in the living room watching this video thinking “ OH my gosh someone turn this off!!!!” I looked at my mom and waited. I looked like a prostitute. I was posed in over half of the pictures like a porn star with a see through bathing suit. These pictures were NOT modeling portfolio material. I later found this out when I went to a cast call in Orlando. The first person to look at my portfolio said they were all bathing suit photos?!!! Where were the elegant dresses and the professional wear??!! Then telling me my nose was way too large to ever be a model anyway.
At the time these pictures were taken I had just quit my job waterskiing at Seaworld. Sick of sleeping in my car and having health problems arise. I moved back home to the lake. This is also after my suicide attempt and subsequent mental hospital stay. I watched the man who molested me across the lake. In fact, some of the photos taken of me at the lake have his house in the background.
I mean what BETTER way to heal from years of sexual abuse, anorexia, PTSD, and anxiety than to sexualize me in a see through bathing suit and make me look like a whore right?!!! Most of these pictures could be in a porn magazine. It was disgusting. I felt so ashamed. How confusing to feel shame by those photos and have my family feel pride in them.
I wrote a poem with some of the pictures yesterday that I posted but I wanted to add to that by explaining why I burned them and how. The Stream of consciousness Saturday is perfect timing to allow me to just go with what is on my mind right now.
The night after the nightmares of the pictures and what I felt they represented…shame, I got up and immediately went into a dissociative state. I was worried for the first time in a lifetime I would do some sort of self harm. I had no plans. I just felt trauma and I wanted to get rid of it. I went into the the garage and got the loppers and went outside. I started hacking back azalea bushes that I had looked at for years wishing they were manicured. I have no idea how long I was out there. I have no idea what mode my body went into to do this. ( I will tell you that at this moment I feel every muscle in my body has been torn, from my ankles to my shoulders and everything inbetween.)
I looked at the pile of branches later.
I do not know how my body did this.
I don’t recall half of what I was even doing.
It was certainly better than self harm but was I not doing self harm in the end anyway?
I successfully cleared my mind, released anger, but hurt my body immensely.
Trimming bushes and being active is a great way to channel anger and release memories and shame but NOT if you have a muscle disease.
I wish someone would have said “PSSSTTTT um you should probably stop now!!!” But I would not have listened. I was dissociated.
It is quite a pile for someone who uses a wheelchair right?!
The next morning, yesterday, I had time to process, contemplate, put in perspective, what I could not have accomplished by hacking bushes or self harm. Coping mechanisms MUST be safe. They cannot involve harm in any way.
I had to cope with this and do it now. I had to release the shame.
I knew I had to have a ceremony to let go of that girl that everyone wanted me to be, molded me to be, sacrificed me to be.
I took each picture out and looked at it. I put each on the ground perfectly as I wanted them to be. I mourned the part of myself that was not respected and cherished. I mourned the part of myself that was sexualize and not really seen for the suffering at the time. I loved that girl. I loved those parts of me that were never loved and so easily used and discarded. Then I burned the images that someone else created in a sick sick way that did not represent me at all.
I watched them burn.
I took pictures of them burning.
I must say… I feel my OWN pictures of my ceremony were much more artistic than the 5 grand my mother initially spent on having me look how they wanted me to look.
Burning the past was liberating. It was freeing. I know it does not erase the memories. I know that we all have to cope the best we can and we each find what works for us to release what we can. This worked for me. This was my release ceremony. Hey PSST it was AWESOME!!!! https://lindaghill.com/category/stream-of-consciousness-