A Different Kind of Therapy

I have heard it said that everyone should have a year of therapy at least once in their adult life. I haven’t done it yet, but I like the idea.

Without sharing too much, I will confess that 2015 *almost* kicked my pants. A year and a half after giving birth to my son, my 12-year marriage fell apart. There are a lot of reasons and no singular blame for that, but I spent most of 2015 working through the grief of the death of that relationship. A year later I’m feeling good, and I know I still have some processing to do. One of the best and most challenging aspects of this period has been that I have been forced to know myself better. Is it possible to live in your own skin for more than three decades and not really know who you are? Yes, yes it is. Now I not only have a better understanding of the person (wife, partner, individual) I was within that marriage, I also more clearly know who I am as just me.

When someone important voluntarily exits your life, you inevitably begin to run through the litany of self-doubt. Am I good enough? What did I do wrong? If I change, can I fix it? What will it take? What could I have done differently? How long have I been so wrong? Am I not attractive enough? Is there someone better than me? Can I learn XYZ so they will want to spend more time with me? Can I study ABC so that they will listen to me? Can I loosen up and be fun enough? If I work out more, or eat better, or lose some weight could that tide us over until I can bring the love back? Can I bring the love back?

If you’re fortunate and have a good support system, that poisonous cycle of questions should end quickly and turn into truly positive affirmations. I AM good. Not good enough. Simply, I am good. I am right. I am worthy. I am beautiful. I am lovable. I am loving. I am the best me that I ever have been, and getting better every day. I am smart, and wise, and intelligent, and sensitive, and strong. I am healthy. I am beautiful. I am happy.

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Goodwill art + Pinterest + bastardizing a hated phrase = my new life motto hanging by my front door

For this past year, I have been my own therapist. I took some cues from a book about manifesting, some cues from the faith of my family, and a lot of cues from my own personal sense of well-being. I developed a love language for myself: I am beautiful; I am happy; I am strong. Changing the way I talk to myself has changed the way that I think about myself; in turn, that changes the way that I present myself to the world and how I encourage others to think of me. It has also changed the filter through which I see the people around me. I am average only in the sense that I am an extraordinary person surrounded by extraordinary people.

In the background of all of this self-discovery, I have been developing myself as a seamstress, semi-documented on this blog. Specifically, I have been consistently testing for Christina Albeck of Wardrobe By Me. My very first ladies’ pattern test was the Akinori Kimono Dress. If I’m remembering the timing correctly, this picture was taken less than a week after my ex-husband moved out. The fabric is all wrong for the pattern (sorry Christina!) and the picture itself is pretty terrible (you’ll notice I’m NOT in this listing). Since then, I think I have tested 9 ladies’ patterns for her and about 15 more for other designers . Her patterns make up a large portion of the garments that I sew for myself because the fit is flattering, the style is timeless, and the construction is straightforward. Wearing clothes that match my personal love language is a constant reminder that indeed, I am beautiful.

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I believe that all of these different pieces of my life this past year have worked together to help me cope with the big changes. Confronting the person I am versus the person I always assumed I was, gaining new skills and confirming that I have value all by myself, developing new relationships against my introverted nature, and having to pose and be photographed a few times a month for pattern releases have all had a hand in ensuring honesty when I say I am beautiful. I am strong. I am healthy. I am good. When I say those things to myself now I mean them and I believe them.

Working with Marj for the last month or so has felt like the culmination of all of this self-discovery. So if you think therapy might not be for you, I am recommending that everyone, at least once in their adult life, get together with a talented, empathetic photographer. Allow them a little bit into your soul so they can know your beauty, and spend a few hours with them. Take yourself and your singularity seriously. Develop a script for yourself and when you feel like a weirdo wearing a silver evening gown in a train museum, surrounded by children’s birthday parties, posing against decaying vehicles repeat, “I am beautiful. I am happy. I am loved.” Credit for these amazing photos goes to Marj Dee.

Here are the details on what I’m wearing. I am specifically planning on styling this as a casual day dress, maybe pairing with a distressed jacket and comfy flats. But noir glam wins the day for this shoot at Travel Town in Burbank, CA.

Diana Wrap Dress by Wardrobe By Me (see a more casual version, here)

  • Sleeveless with self-drafted facing instead of bands (I do need to go back and top-stitch them down, there was lots of peeking)
  • Size 6 bodice graded out to an 8 in the hips for more flow
  • I followed the tutorial in the pattern for extending to maxi length with the addition of folding back the left skirt front piece (the under layer) back even further to reduce bulk in the legs and make it a little easier for my legs to peek through. I cut off a wedge-shaped piece of fabric once I had the fold where I wanted it on that piece. I also only extended it 17″, chopped off 3″, and hemmed 3″. I hemmed it specifically so I could wear it with flats (I’m 5’1″)
  • I also extended each waist tie by about 10″ so I would have longer tails on my bow.
  • Silver knit from Michael Levine Loft (purchased December 2015)- this is NOT lamé; black solid is brushed poly from Zenith and Quasar
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17 responses to “A Different Kind of Therapy

  1. You are beautiful and the photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing something so intimate with all of us. Off to go cut into the good fabric, because you only live once!

  2. Absolutely stunning. It sucks that the last year was harder than hard for you but it is awesome that the pain of the past year has manifested itself in such a beautiful way through you.

    • Thank you Sam! I think the things that are the hardest to work through usually bring the best rewards. I am so very fortunate to be a part of many strong & supportive communities

    • Thank you! I’m a pretty private person, but this has been such a big shift in thinking for me, I feel like I owe this post to the people who have loved me though this process. And I needed to document it for myself, because I’m sure I have some backsliding ahead of me

  3. Karma must’ve had some great ice cream when she put us together. Thank you for putting words on our therapy. Xoxo

  4. Gorgeous pictures, and beautiful reflection.
    My love for sewing begin as a way to work my way through grief. It is so therapeutic. To better times ahead!

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