This is a hard post to write – I’ve started and deleted this many times but I feel like it’s time to out myself.  I’m sharing something with you that only a handful of people know.  I don’t discuss it often because I’m embarrassed and ashamed of what I let myself experience … all because I didn’t value the wonderful woman I am.  But, vulnerability only makes you grow stronger and I know I’m not alone!

For 5 years, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship.

When you tell someone you were in an abusive relationship, they expect to see scars or bruises as evidence of the abuse.  My body doesn’t have any physical scars of this relationship but my heart certainly does, and those mental scars never go away.  Scars that though I can’t see I can always feel.  Scars that I am constantly at war with.  There is a battle that rages within my own mind every day to fight against all the negative things that have been said to me to belittle myself.  This is a war I fight on a daily basis.

When you try to explain what you experience in an emotionally abusive relationship, you have to provide details on what that means and what was said to you.  So much so that you end up feeling embarrassed and ashamed that you stayed with someone who said such things to you.  While you’re in the relationship, the emotional turmoil pulls you in all directions and you don’t know which way is up.  Someone that professes their love for you has complete control over you just by using their words.  Words that are meant to bring you down, words that make you doubt who you are, words that make you feel like you are unworthy of anyone’s love.  These words are strong, these words are demeaning, these words are belittling.  Unfortunately, you start to believe them, you start to lose yourself in thinking that all of this stuff must be true because it’s being said by someone who says they love you.

We had fights, constant fighting.

He told me that he was the only one who would love me.

He told me that no one would love me with the way I looked.

He told me I was garbage.

He told me that we were meant to be together.

He told me that if I left him, I wouldn’t find anyone else that would love me as much as he did.

He told me I owed him things.

He told me I needed to show him how special he was to me.

He told me he was embarrassed of me.

He told me I was lucky to have him by my side.

He told me I should be embarrassed to talk to other people around him.

He told me that I should just do everything he says without question.

He told me that I would regret leaving and when I came crawling back – because I would – that he wouldn’t take me back.

He told me that if I left him, I’d be alone forever.

He showed loved in a weird way, didn’t he?   Imagine these things – and hundreds others that are even worse – being said to you on a daily basis!

I went into debt trying to fund his ventures.

I was told to sit in the car while he went into houses FOR HOURS to chat with his friends, his family, or business associates.

I was not allowed to talk to his family when we ran into them in public.

I was only allowed to come into stores with him when he wanted me to buy him something.

I gave him money every time he asked.

I paid for his gas, car repairs, meals, phone.

It was my duty to take care of whatever he wanted.

And, I hid.  I hid from the people in my life, including my family.  I’m not sure they knew what was going on – my mother and my best friend likely did – but I kept it a secret from everyone in my life.  Somewhere deep down I guess I knew that the relationship wasn’t right and it was never going to be.  Hiding from everyone forced me to live in my own shame and never admitting how worthless I felt.

But, I believed him.  Why?  Why in the world would I believe this man?   That’s the control abusers have, I guess.  It took a while to figure it out – a lot of self reflection all these years later – but I believed what he was saying because I couldn’t see the value in myself.  Someone that professed their love for me had control over me by what they were saying.  I felt trapped.  I felt like there was nothing out there for me but this man.  It took a HUGE step to start to listen to the voices in my head that were screaming at me…..

YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE

YOU ARE AMAZING

YOU HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE

SHOW YOURSELF COMPASSION

APPRECIATE YOURSELF

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING

NOTHING HOLDS YOU BACK

STAND STRONG

CONQUER THE WORLD

YOU GOT THIS

What was my breaking point?  A cell phone.  Something as little as a past due cell phone bill broke me and I ended the relationship with a clean break.  But someone who has control over you doesn’t just stop.  I stood strong, refused phone calls, fought a battle to quiet his voice and make mine louder!!  I wanted to hear myself after all those years!!!  My voice was going to be the loudest.

The thing that bothers me the most……….

I let someone else dictate my worth.  Someone else had control over how I felt about me!

NO ONE but ME should have control over my worth.  NO ONE!!!! I put EVERYTHING into trying to show him that I was worthy of love and affection.  I didn’t realize the ability to see my worth was inside me all that time.

Because the bottom line is this ….. I had to value myself before anyone else could value me.

I couldn’t see myself thru the mirror that mattered most —— my own.  I was standing in front of another person and expecting to see myself thru their eyes – how much *I thought* they loved me was supposed to show in them.  But I can’t see myself thru any eyes but my own.  The second you start to expect to see yourself thru someone else you’ve given them power over you.  Power no one deserves but you!

Why couldn’t I see this? Why did it take me so long?  Why did I feel like I couldn’t get out?  Why did I let one person dictate how I felt about myself?  WHY?  I still don’t have the answer to that but I know now that I would never stand to be treated the way he treated me because I know the person I am, and I am strong in the fact that I’m worthy to be treated like a queen.

And, the kicker — I don’t look back on this experience and regret it.  It showed me that I’m worthy of love — from others but more importantly myself.  It showed me that if I don’t value myself, I can never expect anyone else to.  It showed me that the person looking back at me in the mirror is one fabulous woman! Best of all, it really makes me appreciate the man who has been by my side for the last 7 years — my husband is one of a kind!

It is a daily practice for me to love and appreciate the person I am at this very moment.  To focus on what I do for others, how giving I am, how compassionate I am to those around me, how I show empathy to all those in my path, how I make people feel about themselves when they are with me – I want to be someone worth knowing and I want to love who I am.

This is just one of the reasons my job as a boudoir photographer is so important to me.  Working with these amazing women is the best thing I could be doing with my life, and all the experiences I’ve had has brought me to this point of breaking through to women.  Helping them see that your situation doesn’t define you, that there is so much depth to each woman, so unique, so flawed but so brilliant at the same time.  With each boudoir session, I see something change within my clients, as they learn to embrace and love themselves, they see their worthiness.  I get to bring something out in my clients, giving them confidence, show them something they forgot was there or didn’t even realize was there, remind them that they are amazing women inside and out, show them that their own self worth is something they can find inside themselves. After all, the opinion you have of yourself is the only thing that should matter when you stand in front of your own mirror.

******

pittsburgh boudoir photographer, Maura Chick, poses in her own studio with photos by Miranda Parker Boudoirpittsburgh boudoir photographer, Maura Chick, poses in her own studio with photos by Miranda Parker Boudoir

Above are photos of me at my most recent session – I step in front of the camera every year!  It’s important for me to remember the amazing woman that I am, and boudoir shoots help me do that.  Even the shoots I have with my clients – I get to see them come alive and it’s a wonderful thing to witness!

Photos taken by Miranda Parker Boudoir.

*****

If you are in an abusive relationship, please contact your local women’s shelter for assistance.

Women’s Center of Beaver County

(877) 629-1841 – http://womenscenterbc.org

Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

(412) 687-8005 – https://www.wcspittsburgh.org

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Is it possible that a client could describe their self love experience as “so much fun” …. well, yes they can!  I always say that life is too short to have a boring photographer…and I’m not boring!

Follow the links below for all the details on boudoir shoots:

~BOOK YOUR BOUDOIR SESSION! Complete a short questionnaire to start the booking process

~BOUDOIR DETAILS!  Pittsburgh Boudoir Photo Shoot Information

~ Need Help Planning Your Shoot? Check out these tips!

****

I leave today’s blog post in her own words:

1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  I joined Maura’s VIP Facebook group for seeing the photography side of things first but the longer I was in the group, the more I tossed around the idea of wanting to come from behind the camera and get in front of it! I LOVED Maura’s work, her editing, her styling — everything! I continued to drag my feet about booking & when Maura ran the free styling promotion, I decided this was “my sign” to finally book a shoot! I decided this would be a great 30th birthday present to myself(& a great anniversary present to my husband a few months later!)!

boudoir photography pittsburgh studio

boudoir photography pittsburgh studio

2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  Indifferent. I know that my body has been in better shape but I’m not unhappy with it either! I wear pretty casual attire at work & don’t dress up very often outside of work so I’m usually not “showing off” my body. I also do not consider myself someone who is particularly photogenic so I was a little nervous about how I would look in the photos.

boudoir photos pittsburgh of girl on bed in lingerie

black & white boudoir photo taken in Pittsburgh by boudoir photographer Pics By Chicks Photography

3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  Fantastic! I didn’t think I had low confidence prior but I felt so invigorated after my session, I’m still riding that high! I have read so many testimonials on here about people whose confidence skyrockets & I truly didn’t think that would be me so I was kinda surprised in myself to leave my session feeling recharged & reenergized! After seeing my photos, I was floored at how amazing they turned out! I knew Maura took incredible photos but to see how they translated for me, I was ecstatic!!

4) Describe your session in 3 words?  SO. MUCH. FUN!!!!!!

5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  Maura, duh!!! From the second you arrive, it’s like you’ve known Maura for years. As someone who is super busy with my job, it was so nice to not have to think for literally the entire process. Maura styled my session, gave amazing direction at the shoot & made me feel SO comfortable through everything! Not to mention, she’s HILARIOUS…I could have hung out with her all day!

woman posing on couch during boudoir photography pittsburgh photo shoot

6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  DO IT! I dragged my feet for awhile and in the end, I am SO GLAD I did it! It was a BLAST to do & I would do another session again in a heartbeat! I lucked out & got a styling promotion with Maura when I booked but I would totally PAY for that again! It was so nice not having to search for lingerie & stress about what I was going to wear to my session…I showed up & Maura had everything ready for me & it all looked amazing on!!!

woman posing on couch during boudoir photography pittsburgh photo shoot

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Today on the blog I feature an amazing woman who took a leap into a life changing boudoir!  I love seeing those happy and confident faces leaving from their sessions ready to conquer the world!

Follow the links below for all the details on boudoir shoots:

~SCHEDULE YOUR BOUDOIR EXPERIENCE! Complete a short questionnaire to start the booking process

~PRICING DETAILS!  Pittsburgh Boudoir Photo Shoot Information

~ Need Help Planning Your Shoot? Check out these tips!

****

This blog post is all in my client’s words – here’s what she had to say:

1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  I was trying to get my life back on track. I started to see a dr about my weight, and just my health in general. While there the dr was talking about my “apron”. I never felt so ashamed of the way I looked. I went home and of course cried and my husband cheared me up. He made a couple comments about how he loved the way I looked and so on. However, later that night it finally hit me. I do look freaking good for having 4 kids and a busy life. My 10 year anniversary was coming up, so I thought what a gift for myself and husband.. a boudoir photo shoot!!!

plus size boudoir photo of woman in bed with sequin lingerie

plus size boudoir photo of woman in bed with sequin lingerie

2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  I was extremely uncomfortable with my stomach and thighs. I was worried, I would look heavier or as my dr called it my “apron” would show. My husband never even sees my in lingerea, how could I stand in front of a camera. I just kept thinking of the night I finally realized, I look hot to my husband. So who cares what others think!

plus size boudoir pittsburgh photo shoot in black lingerie

red sequin plus size lingerie for boudoir photo shoot

3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  Wow!! Maura just confirmed how I should feel about myself! I am freaking hot!! The self esteem boost was like a lifetime supply of Prozac!!

4) Describe your session in 3 words?  It was AMAZING So freaking uplifting

5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  How well that I connected with Maura. Right away she makes you feel comfortable. It was almost like we were friends forever, and I could do or tell her anything.

plus size boudoir photo shoot in pittsburgh

6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  Just do it!!! Do not worry about any imperfections you feel you have. Maura’s magic is real!! You will walk out of your session feeling like a new person. The end result… will be stunning!!!

plus size boudoir photo shoot in pittsburgh

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I don’t have enough words to put in this post to explain how wonderful Emily and Evan are – they are just fantastic!!!  Emily was a bridesmaid in Shelby and Brian’s wedding that we did on New Years Eve (it was a blast)!  Fast forward a few years, Emily wanted Pics By Chicks for her wedding without even having an official meeting with me!  I love the connections I can make in just a short amount of time.

There are two things evident about Emily & Evan – their love for each other and their love for Pittsburgh.  Their engagement session was set with Pittsburgh as the backdrop from up on Mt Washington!  The genuine love and happiness that I got to capture that day is what makes my heart soar – they looked so natural, so comfortable with each other, so absolutely wonderful in every way!

They will be getting married in just a few short weeks and I can’t wait to see the joy and happiness of that day!

Emily & Evan – getting to know you has been a treat for me.  Your wedding will no doubt be spectacular!

They popped a little champagne!

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Multiple boudoir shoots? YES PLEASE!!!!  It is possible to do more than 1 shoot.  Some clients come every year for their Maura Pick Me Up!

Want information on my boudoir photo shoots?

Follow the links below for all the details on boudoir shoots:

~SCHEDULE NOW! Complete a questionnaire to start the process

~PRICE & PACKAGE INFO!  Pittsburgh Boudoir Photo Shoot Information

~ Need Help? Check out these boudoir shoot planning tips!

 ***

It’s always a treat for me when a client comes in for another shoot!  I love that clients want to experience boudoir over and over again!  I’m even thinking about making a re-booking incentive that I offer to clients during their viewing & ordering appointment.  I was so happy to have this beautiful woman back.

Today, I leave the blog to her…here’s what she said about her shoot:

1) Why did you decide to invest in a boudoir photo shoot?  This was my second shoot as it was an amazing experience last time for my husband. This boudoir shoot was for me and was an absolute delight. I wanted to see myself as everyone sees me.

2) How did you feel about yourself before your photo shoot?  I was really struggling with my image and confidence. I had let myself go physically over the holidays and since my husband had surgery. I’ve been taking care of him and not really focusing on myself. I was feeling very insignificant.  

boudoir photo of woman bed laughing, fun boudoir photosboudoir photo pittsburgh girl on bed in purple bra and panty, looking fierceboudoir photo pittsburgh girl on bed in purple bra and panty, looking fierce

3) How did you feel about yourself after your photo shoot?  I always leave these shoots in an awesome state of mind. My confidence goes through the roof and I feel fierce and like I could do anything. These photos reflect how I want to look and feel all the time. 

4) Describe your session in 3 words?  Liberating. Empowering. FUN!!!

5) What was your favorite part of the boudoir photo shoot?  Getting closer to Maura. Being able to talk about life challenges and life goals makes the shoot even more special. She lets you know just how amazing you are. You learn not to take yourself too serious and learn to enjoy the process.

6) What would you say to other women who are considering a boudoir photo shoot?  It is a must. Not for anybody else but yourself. You can say that it is for your significant other or whatnot, but it 100% turns out to be about you! The shoot experience is one that every single person can appreciate. If you can not think of a reason to do it, know that you will gain a friend for life. This woman is beyond a great friend and confidant. She is one of the most talented, upbeat photographers I know. You can not have a bad time with her. These photos bring out something in you that you may never have thought was there. And sometimes truly turn out better than what is in the magazines! Boudoir needs to be on your bucket list and it needs to be crossed off sooner rather than later!

boudoir photo shoot pittsburgh, girl on floor pose in red bodysuit

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