Warning. What you are about to read you may find emotionally disturbing.
This blog post ended up being very different from what I had originally planned...As many of you know this month is domestic violence awareness month-something that is very near and dear to my heart. To clarify, I have to share a bit of my past.
When I was 18 I married a man I hardly knew, why? Because he said he loved me and he treated me like a princess. I had always wanted to be married as soon as I turned 18 so I could spend my entire life with my best friend. I thought surely this was it, he said he loved me, and so he must. Never did it cross my mind that perhaps people do not know what love really means...
Once we were married and moved halfway across the country to his hometown in the middle of nowhere Missouri, he turned into a different person, he became abusive in every way. He began his first affair 3 months after we married. A year into it, the physical abuse began. I was covered in giant multicolored bruises from my hips to my toes for an entire summer where he threw me into the shower and grabbed my legs and banged them side to side against the door. I had teeth marks on my face for days where he bit my cheek, hand marks around my throat from where he tried to strangle me.
The saddest part is, I thought...well this must be normal. I thought this because I had been aware of almost every woman in my family experiencing some kind of domestic abuse in their lives. Even though I had been raised as a Christian and in my heart knew it was wrong, the part of me that was ashamed at what a mistake I had made, ashamed that my husband didn't love me, that part also convinced me it must be normal.
A year later I eventually got out of the situation, got divorced at the age of 20, and thought I was safe. Until my little sister started dating someone, someone who began to physically abuse her. I lived hundreds of miles away and felt powerless. How could this happen!? She saw what I went through, she knew it was wrong, and yet she is staying with this monster!? The feeling of powerlessness and rage consumed me. I had no way to protect her and couldn't grasp why this was happening.
I needed to find a way to release my emotions. And so, 12 years later, I present the images below. This is the first time I am sharing these images. For years I allowed myself to be shamed by another person into keeping my story silent. They said people would view me as a victim, but I believe it shows the power of resilience in the human spirit. I listened to them then, but now, by the grace of God, I have the courage to share my story.
I wanted to show what it felt like to be abused. To be fighting for your life. While I didn't have pictures of my physical bruises to share, I could share my emotional bruises. In these photos I took myself back to the time when I was fighting for my life. I think the images speak for themselves. They are not pretty.
But the story doesn't end there. I also wanted to show my emotional healing. The second set of photos are me recovered, how I feel now. I wanted to show the power of resilience, the power of God to heal, and the power of ... forgiveness.
I love this "Me Too" campaign, but the shear number of women I am connected to that I am finding out have been abused is heart breaking and over whelming. I think sexual and domestic violence is a topic that gets swept under the rug far too often. It is a darkness that needs to be brought into light. It needs to be spoken about, it needs to make people uncomfortable, IT NEEDS TO CHANGE.
All that being said, a place we can start that change is with forgiveness. We can't change what happened to us, man, woman, or child. If you were abused- it happened, only God can heal that wound. Acknowledge that pain, let it run its course, and then give it up to the ultimate Healer. But if you don't forgive the person that hurt you, a part of you will always remain bruised.
Forgiveness actually has healing powers. Don't believe me? Just do a little research:
This book was a big help to me by Desmond Tutu : https://www.amazon.com/Book-Forgiving-Fourfold-Healing-Ourselves/dp/0062203568
Also if you haven't seen the movie The Shack, it also teaches the power of forgiveness and healing. Be sure you have a box of tissues handy.
I have had plenty of people hurt me in my life, physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically. I have been cheated on, abandoned, lied to, hit- you name it. It's easy to point the finger at them and say "you're a bad person". Yes what they did was wrong, but that doesn't mean they are evil. You may not know their entire story. What made them the way they are, maybe someone abused them and it's all they know? Maybe THEY think this is normal too. The thing is, we don't know. It doesn't excuse their actions. But understanding that inside them- there is a person in pain- it frees you from the pain they inflicted upon you.
So along with the #MeToo campaign, I would like to suggest a partnering campaign:
There is so much hatred and division in the world today. It's easy to get caught up talking about the problems, and believe me, I'm not saying they shouldn't be talked about! But at the same time, let's introduce solutions, and start with forgiveness. And by doing that...we can change the world.
To the person who hit me. I forgive you.
To the people who broke my heart. I forgive you.
To the people who abandoned me. I forgive you.
To the people who betrayed me. I forgive you.
But most of all...with tears streaming down my face. I forgive myself.
A self portrait of Pain
The healing power of forgiveness.
About Taylor Golden
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