If you thought I was crazy in Part I of My Weight Gain Story, what comes next is insanity. Pure madness, but at the time, it was bliss? It’s hard to explain. I really felt like I was headed in the best direction for me at that time. I was desperate. I wanted, needed something, anything to define who I was. At that point I was about two years into my blogging madness searching for direction for my blog. Soon enough, I found it.
Enter photography madness
In one of my attempts to upgrade my blog, I took an online photography course. I was hoping that professional looking images would help elevate my “bloggy brand”. Taking pleasing, professional images was highly recommended by the bloggy pros and I would do anything to help make my disaster blog look better.
It didn’t take long until my obsession shifted to my camera. Learning manual. Achieving the perfect bokeh. THIS filled my void. I took online course after online course after online course, posing my kids on the daily just to practice the art of photography. Photos in this light, photos in that light, my brain was going CRAZY. So MUCH AWESOMENESS!! Photography was like the lavender in my lotion. It became my escape. Then, one day, after taking some pictures of my friend’s kids, my friend looked at me and said, “You are so good. You should be a professional!”
I was so good that I should go pro??? Ego stroked, focus hyper focused and head first I went.
I’m going Pro!
Pro I went! I took more online classes, more workshops, I scheduled portfolio building sessions, I edited, I blogged, I built my photography website all while still being a mom, a wife and a full time working woman. This also solidified my new bloggy direction, I’d be a photography blog! So, while I was working to go pro I would also post lots and lots of photography tutorials on my blog to help other mothers learn that coveted art of photography. Holy shit you guys, I really thought this was it!
After about a year of portfolio building and shooting families, I decided to go super pro. I wanted to leave the digital only, low cost sessions behind me and go full throttle into this photography business. I wanted to make money. I wanted to quit my full time job!
Here comes ALL the cushion.
From 2015 – 2017 I was a high school senior portrait photographer. I worked with a professional make-up artist, I sold actual print material and I worked an extra 25 hours a week doing it. If I do the math correctly, I was working 65 hours a week, include about a 2 hour total commute to and from my job, and we’re looking at 75 total hours spent/week on my actual job and my photo business. This doesn’t even include the time I spent with my family.
Madness. I had zero time for myself. There was no time for anything anymore, yet, I was still trying to do it all. The mom guilt was heavy. Not only did I start to rely on Twix bars and Doritos for my meals, I started to drink. A nightly vodka martini was my go-to de-stressor. When I was on the road going from one client’s house to the next, I craved that martini. It became my crutch. I knew that no matter how hard the day would be, I would always have that martini waiting for me after the kids went to bed. My life became the photography business, eating chips and Twix, and dirty martinis.
Read: How I lost 30 Pounds.
Reality hits hard.
One Christmas at my parents, I was talking to my sister while I was laying on the couch after our family meal. My pants were so tight I had to pop the button so I could breath, pants that were already a size larger than my usual size. When my sister gave me a look, I said, “Old Navy”. The side eye said it all. My cheap jeans were not the problem. I had gained actual weight, and a lot of it.
When I got home, I stepped on the scale. It was unreal. I was 165. The last time I weighed myself I was in my 150’s and before that I was 145, all starting from a 130 post-baby weight after the birth of my son. What was happening? At this point, I had put on 35 pounds. I was in shock. When I looked at myself in the mirror I saw the same girl that I always saw looking back at me, what gives? I didn’t understand.
At this point, I posted less on the personal blog and more on the professional website. I attended workshops and conferences. I really wanted this to work, to be a part of something, but something was off. Was it the community? Maybe, but no, it wasn’t. It was me. For some reason I just never felt connected to the photography community. Once again, I felt like I didn’t belong. I started to withdraw, to feel really lonely. I was fat, stressed and really, really sad.
In 2017 I weighed 180ish pounds. I was 42. My photo business was going well, but the seams holding my shit together were really starting to fray. I couldn’t hold on anymore. Something had to give. Five years of trying to fill a void that I probably didn’t need to fill finally took the best of me. I had to make a decision.
The end of my very chaotic era.
I quit, let everything go. I held my final session, disabled my email, my website, everything. I was done. I was sad, so sad, and I needed to heal. I needed to refocus on myself and my family. I had to accept that this may not be the time for me to pivot my life. In fact, I had to re-pivot to get my ass back on track. I really miss my photography business, but letting it go was the best decision I have ever made.
It’s now 2020 and I haven’t been in business for about three years. Am I mad at myself for putting myself through what I put myself though? Sometimes. I wish I had been smart enough and mature enough to see what was happening to me right in front of my own eyes. I think, really think, that there was some pretty significant depression going on, too. I was obsessed. I wanted success, badly, but the stress (so much stress) was just too much. I took on too much and I was desperate to make it work.
Today I sit here writing this 30 pounds lighter. I put my camera down in 2017 and didn’t pick it up again until I decided to start this new blog, a blog I will not obsess over, a blog that might see a few posts a month, a blog that will chronicle what I’ve learned about myself and how I’ve pulled myself up out of that empty void, a void that I spent several years trying to navigate.
My life did not fall back into place right away. It’s really taken to this day, Feb 1, 2020, to start to see any light, but I’m older, happier and I finally have a pretty positive outlook on my very ordinary life.