What I Learned About Myself From Doing A Boudoir Shoot
Back in Nov. I got the opportunity to do something amazing for myself that I have been wanting to do for years now. I took a jump and scheduled myself a boudoir shoot. I was super excited and thrilled for it to come up. I went over in my head what I wanted to have done. I was thinking that I wanted something more playful, where I got to smile and laugh and have fun. I was going to tell the photographer that when I got there.
However, once I did get there it was all a bit of a whirlwind. I was put into makeup right away and there was no mirror so I was not able to see what she was doing with my face until she was done, though it looked nice it was way more dark and bold than I was going for. I said it looked great nonetheless, because it did. It was just more than what I had originally envisioned for myself. In that moment I thought I felt confident and secure, and I am sure the makeup artist and the photographer alike both believed it, but looking back now I realize it was from a detached place. More on that later.
From there I got to speak with the photographer and she told me which outfits I brought that she wanted me to start with and what order to do them in. Then we got started. She showed me how to do each pose and then I posed and she would shoot. I totally forgot to tell her that I wanted fun and playful, that I wanted smiles and laughter. That would have been more ME. It was completely my fault for detaching and forgetting. But that is my M.O. as you will see. Which is something I hadn't realized about myself until looking back on the experience.
Instead I got the sexy sultry stuff, which was fine, the photos turned out amazing and there are many that I love, and I am excited to get the photos that I chose. Had I though, spoke up for myself and shared what I really wanted I would have had more photos to choose from that may have felt more like ME. I realize now that I wasn't fully in my body at the time of the shoot. I can see now looking back that I was just going through the motions of what she wanted me to do. It didn't fully capture me as I am. I was not fully present in the moment. I kind of checked out in a way.
I am really good at that you know. Following orders so to speak. That is one thing that my favorite boss absolutely loved about me. She would tell me what to do or give me some instructions and I would just go out and do it, and get things done and do it well. That's what I do. It's great for work, however it's not so great when you are doing something that would have been so much more profound and meaningful had I been fully present, in my body, and honestly vulnerable in those moments. And truly that was the experience I was originally going for. But that wasn't what I got. And it's because I shut down inside and didn't realize it until after the fact.
It's not the fault of the photographer either. She did her job great. She was nice and easy to work with and I felt comfortable with her. It was MY approach to it that was the problem and unfortunately I was unaware of that until after it was all over with. Had I known this about myself before hand I could have prepared myself more fully and acted consciously from a full embodied presence within myself. However, since I wasn't aware at all, I just did what was asked of me and got it done. Like a job. Completely detached. From myself and from the moment too.
I went in thinking that I was feeling confident and secure, but it was coming from a place of self protection. I will explain how and why. I was molested when I was a toddler, I basically learned from a young age to detach from myself and from my body, especially if my body had anything to do with what I was doing. I would pretend confidence and strength as a way to protect myself from what was going on and beyond that to protect myself from those memories as well.
So going in there I instantly (without notice or inner awareness at the time,) detached from my body and seemed confident, when really I was just going through the motions and following orders. Not at all fully present within myself. Looking at some of the pictures that came out later I noticed many seemed cold and distant, and it's because it's as if it really wasn't me in them. I was detached and not fully present and it's because that is my defense mechanism for self preservation that happens automatically without my knowledge. Until now looking back.
I realized it first on the way home when I remembered what I really wanted, smiles, fun, and laughter. Realizing that I forgot to speak up about it while I was there so that isn't what I got. Then when I went back the next day to see my photos I realized how cold and detached many of them seemed. Even though there were still ones that I loved too and those are the ones I got. I still didn't connect all the dots together until later. I started thinking about it all again and started to realize what actually happened within myself then and put it all together.
I wish now that I could go back and do it all over. Knowing what I know now. I don't really want to spend that kind of money all over again just to have a do over. But it would be nice to see what those photos would have looked like had I spoken up, had I been more self aware in that moment and made sure I took the time to be present in my body, to allow myself to be vulnerable, and to let my true self shine. But I went into protection mode instead which happens without my knowledge because it has been so ingrained in me from such a young age. Maybe some day I'll get another chance to do it right, for myself.
If any of you are considering a boudoir shoot I suggest you take this to heart and consider how you are going to approach it. Think of it this way:
Be more aware of yourself than I.
Ask for what you really want, even if you feel like you can't.
Speak up for yourself.
You are paying for it, make sure it is what you want.
Allow yourself to let your true self and true light shine.
Be vulnerable if you can, no matter how hard or scary it may seem.
Ask lots of questions and be open about what you hope to get out of it.
Try not to go in acting so secure and confident, if deep down you really aren't.
I wish I had. I wish I knew how to break those internal patterns of protection and self preservation. I wish I was able to fully speak up for myself, but I see now that is something I still need to work on. I wish I felt able to speak my truth in the moment, I wish I was able to be self aware in front of others. I am able to focus on my awareness and true feelings when I am alone. That is why I was fully able to finally notice this truth for myself now. I just wish I had known it sooner, I wish I had realized what I was doing (or not doing) in the moments of that shoot. I wish I hadn't felt rushed, I wish I hadn't believed I was confident and ready, when it is obvious now that I wasn't really. I wish I would have asked more questions or just simply felt able to share my true feelings and desires for the shoot. And like I said it had nothing to do with the photographer and her approach, that was all fine. It really has to do with my lack of ability in doing it for myself.
I still get gripped with fear internally when it comes to speaking my truth or speaking up for myself in a multitude of ways. I feel like I can't speak up for myself, I feel like it doesn't matter, like I don't matter, like my feelings don't matter, what I want doesn't matter, that what I have to say doesn't matter, and so forth. I realize now in this moment I still feel like I don't have a voice. Those are all the beliefs I bought into as a little girl being molested. It is obvious now that there are times that I am still that frightened little girl and I feel like I can't speak or protect myself, so I try the only way I know how and that is through detachment.
It also has to do with how I have been showing up in my life, or more accurately how I haven't shown up in my life, how I haven't shown up for myself, and how I am still dishonoring myself by not speaking up for myself. Out of fear, for feeling unable to speak, share, and ask for what I want and need. And it's all because someone took my innocence by molesting me at such a young age. Where someone made me feel frightened, weak, and unable to speak up for myself, at time where I could barely talk at all to begin with. I was so young I was still learning words and speech. I was an easy target so to speak. It paralyzed me for most of my life. It made me fearful of life and living. It made me fearful of others, men especially, and it made me experience my life from a place of fear and detachment.
This is something that I have never shared publicly ever until this very day. Now that I realize what my experience was in those moments of that shoot I feel it's important for me to share it with others, so if any of you have had trauma (especially sexual trauma) can start to see it within yourselves too so you can heal from it also. It is such an important thing to heal. Especially if you too still have moments where you check out, detach or disconnect, and feel like you can't speak or that your voice doesn't matter. We all matter, all our experiences matter, and our feelings matter. Regardless of what has happened to any of us in the past.
I have done a lot of healing work around this already, and a lot of inner work, energy work, and clearing of these old wounds and much benefit has come of it. But I can also see now where more healing needs to be done around it. I just want to make sure others who choose to do a boudoir shoot do it for the right reasons and approach it in the right way. Do it for yourself, do it from a place of self love, and allow yourself to be fully present.
For me, I believe my reasons were good and right. I did it for myself, I did it to feel beautiful, to have fun, and to feel empowered like the amazing beautiful goddess that I am. Unfortunately, my approach prevented some of that from fully coming through because of old childhood wounds that caused me to go into protection and preservation mode instantly, and it saddens me to know that those experiences are still effecting me this way today.
This is my new mantra for now:
I AM Important,
I AM Worthy,
I have a voice and my voice matters,
I have a say and my expression matters,
I have thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and that matters,
I have every right to feel what I feel and that matters,
I have every right to express myself and that matters,
All my hopes and dreams, they matter,
All that I am and all I will ever be matters.
I AM Important!
I Am Worthy.
I always have a choice and I choose ME.