Today, I turn 29 years old.  Today, I begin my last year as a twenty-something.  A year ago, I was lamenting being closer to turning thirty, to becoming older. But today I do not hide from my newly 29 year old self, I embrace it. I revel in it. I love it. This 29th year of my life holds so much promise…

Earlier this year, divorce became a very real possibility for me.  I hope to share the full story with the world someday but for the sake of brevity and out of respect for my husband (this is his story too, after all), I will only share the crucial elements.  After years of suffering through depression, coupled with emotional loneliness and repeated lies, my soul broke.  I have stumbled through the darkness mostly alone, afraid to share my pain with my loved ones or trust that they will continue to love my husband if I ultimately decided that my love for him would continue. When the latest deception was revealed to me, I realized I could no longer physically survive being hurt so intensely again.  The pain was intolerable.  And in a moment of strength, I chose me.  I realized that I needed to focus on me and love myself if I was going to survive.  I made my choice and my intentions clear to my husband, then I started focusing on myself. 

Eventually I made the decision to try an antidepressant.  As someone who rarely medicates, I was initially passionately resistant to the prescription and, honestly, I felt like a horrible failure when I finally accepted my fate.  I cannot say how effective my pills have been because I started taking them the same week that I began life-changing sessions of couple’s counseling and I will not give them all the credit—I have worked so hard!—but certainly the combination of my prescription and professional guidance have supported me in my trek out of darkness.

I have never doubted my husband’s love for me, but I have questioned his ability to love me in the way I need to be loved.  Yet, he has been battling hard to live authentically and to live in the uncomfortable place of vulnerability…and that effort is what has sustained our marriage.

It's challenging to take a non-blurry picture without a remote or someone to help you (let alone when your three year old is jumping on the bed next to you), but here I am.  Vulnerable and real.

It's challenging to take a non-blurry picture without a remote or someone to help you (let alone when your three year old is jumping on the bed next to you), but here I am.  Vulnerable and real.

That effort, that authenticity is what gives me great hope for this 29th year.  For the first time in a long time I am feeling cautiously optimistic about my marriage.  Because I am being true to myself and loving myself, I feel happier, healthier, and excited about the business I am building. 

I still frequently feel a deep loneliness. I am resentful of how individualistic our culture has become and I long for a stronger village.  But I hope that my vulnerability will inspire others to share their true selves with me and I hope that we can make each other a little bit less lonely.

You may be wondering now, why a body shot?  Why not share you through your words?  Because…because I so admire those who are willing to bare their souls and bravely show how much they love their body. I used to feel shame for liking how I look.  I used to be embarrassed to share “selfies,” because I thought I would come across as vain.  But vanity is not the same as self-love.  A brave friend reminded me of that truth one day (thank you, Gwen).  We all need to love ourselves more.

So this is me. This is my body.  My beautiful, life-creating body.  And I love it so much.  I have earned every stretch mark, every dimple, every loose bit of skin because I created two incredible human-beings. I MADE TWO HUMAN-BEINGS!  Even in my line of work, I am still regularly blown away by the fact that we have the ability to grow life in our bodies.  And I grew two myself.    I feel sexy and frequently indulge in admiring my body in the mirror before bed. I hope that as you embrace your authentic self, you will also embrace your body and remember self-love.

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