Nicole’s Story| RAW session at Duluth Boudoir Photography

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What single word do you most identify with?


Trigger Warning: this blog contains actions/contents about suicide

Nicole was a applicant that was accepted for a RAW session. She willingly and openly has expressed her story to me and for all of you to read. RESPECT that. All these amazing woman have opened their door to us and trusted us to be their stories keeper. To let them be heard.. to not feel alone. I highly suggest listening to the song while you look through the images.

My name is Nicole Hernandez and I am writing this as my Raw Session Submission.  I’m anxious, nervous, and excited about writing this email to you.  I have been thinking (too much) about what I want to say, or shouldn’t say.  Even if I’m not chosen, I want to thank you for considering me and for allowing me to spill my guts to you.  To keep myself from second guessing and chickening out altogether, I’m just gonna do it, so here we go.  

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Why I need this?

There is a laundry list of reasons, but the top one is that I need this for my mental health!  I’m a newly 38 year old woman with 2 kids and a husband.  I work myself ragged between my full-time demanding job and my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, husband, and job, but that does not leave much time for me.  I can’t use the restroom, take a bath, or go to the gym without someone needing something and only “Wonder Mom/Wife” can do it!  It’s exhausting and frustrating at times! In all honesty, I need this because I’m crumbling on the inside and I need something to help build me back up.  I need a big ole shove in the confidence department. This is completely out of my comfort zone and I feel like I need to do something out of the norm to help me realize that I’m strong.  Does that make me sound selfish?  I feel like it does.  I felt I needed to ask my husband for his opinion (or maybe approval??), to attempt to “win” this for me. 


Why I want this?

I have been really wanting to do a session with you.  When I read your stories and see these pictures of these beautiful, strong women, I think to myself, “I want that. I want to be that woman.”  I want so badly to be able to look at myself in the mirror and love what I see.  I know I’m in there somewhere and I feel like a giant boost of self confidence will help me.  I have, what I call, an anxiety/depression monster.  When he decides to rear his ugly head, I constantly put myself down and tear myself apart.  I will say something negative about myself and my husband will say, “Quit talking shit about my wife or we’re going to have problems.”  He is the love of my life and I depend on him A LOT emotionally.  I want to be able to depend on me and when that monster comes again, I want to tell him to go to hell.  I have battled with this monster my entire life.  And he almost won.  I just so badly want him out of my life for good.  I want to feel beautiful.  I want to be a strong, confident woman, so my daughter will know what it looks like.  She’s almost 14 and battling with that same monster.  I have tried medication, therapy, and a lot of other cooping strategies.  I just want to be happy.  You only get one life and it’s too short.

I’ll Tell you a story of me and my body:

I have mulled this around in my mind quite a bit.  I have read Emily, Jes, and Katie’s stories multiple times for inspiration.  My story is maybe not as profound as yours.  I may be judged, but this is the first time I’m writing it down.  I’m not ashamed anymore and it’s time to take a leap of faith.

It’s not so much my body, but my mind.  I have an addictive personality.  It stems from my anxiety/depression.  I suppose it all started when I was ripped apart from my extended family.  I was really close with my dad’s family.  My father’s mother mostly.  If I knew then what I know now, it may not have affected me so deeply.  This woman hated the fact that my parents had four girls.  She had no one to carry on the family name.  She treated all us girls differently…I am the oldest and by default, was her favorite.  When my parent’s couldn’t stomach her unfair treatment of us anymore, she was given an ultimatum.  The deal was that she either treat us all fairly, or she couldn’t see us anymore.  She chose not to see us.  I was so angry and sad for so many years. I’ll be honest, I LOVED the attention she gave me. 

 I had to fight for attention from my parents at home.  Sister 2 was affected negatively by my relationship with my dad’s mother.  She lashed out and took it out on me.  My parents babied her because they were worried how traumatized she would be.  Sister 3 was ruthless.  She spoke her mind and could do no wrong.  If I said one thing out of turn, I was smacked.  Sister 4 struggled with many, many health issues that required a lot of time and attention.  My parents did their best, I recognize this and do not hold any hard feelings.  They had to do what they felt was right.  They were extremely young parents.  They had all of us by age 25.  My mom and I are 17 years apart.  My dad and I 18.  Because they had their hands full, I looked for attention in other ways.  I excelled in sports (my dad didn’t have any boys, so I was his tomboy).  He coached my softball and basketball teams. As I got older, neither of my parents attended my games.  I was in search of attention from somewhere/someone.  Therefore, I noticed boys at a young age and they instantly became my new addiction. 

At 15, I started having sex.  When my boyfriend and I broke up, I latched onto the next boy and then the next and the next.  Anything to keep my anxiety/depression away and to get attention from others.  I didn’t care how they treated me.  I only cared that they wanted to be with me.  When I became 21, I started drinking.  I instantly found my next addiction.  Eventually, that wasn’t enough and I started combining alcohol and sex.  But, like everything else, the alcohol nor the company of men felt good anymore.  I started going shopping…my new addiction.  The high of buying something new was everything to me!  But, that wore off too.  

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I got engaged and planning my wedding for two years had me content.  When the wedding was over, I wanted to move.  Not content, I wanted to have a baby.  We bought a house in North Branch and I worked in Edina (50+miles apart).  The time in the car became my new addiction.  Now what? What else could I do to find my new addiction?  That’s when the downward spiral happened.  I wanted another baby and could not get pregnant.  I call it the “25 year old curse.”  No one in our family can conceive after the age of 25.  After months of appointments and medication, it finally happened.  But, I was put on bed rest, which caused me to lose my job.  Soon after that, we lost our home.  I was now married to a man who hated me and blamed me for everything.  My attention seeking habit once again turned to drinking, which lead to having affairs.  During all this time, I was on and off of prescription medication for my depression.  Mixing of alcohol and the medication is a HORRIBLE thing.  I was lost and I didn’t care about myself or anybody anymore. 

One night, my now ex-husband and I had a huge fight and he kicked me out.  I drove to a rest area.  I texted everyone I could think of and told them I loved them.  I couldn’t tell you how long I sat in my car before I took an entire bottle of pills.  All I could think about was how my kids and my family would be so much better off without me.  I was nobody to no one.  I was worthless and the world would be better off without this alcoholic, whore. 

I remember getting a text or a phone call. I couldn’t tell you now who it was and exactly what they said to me.  (I think of them as my guardian angel.) But I do remember thinking that I couldn’t do this to my kids.  They deserved to have a mother in their lives.  Even a mother as broken as me, than no mother at all.  I made myself throw up again and again until I couldn’t any more.  I stayed in my car that night and drove home the next morning vowing to change. 

Unfortunately, it was too little to late for my now ex-husband.  Who could blame him right?  I did have to agree to move out, so he technically had full custody for about a year until I could get back on my feet.  The turning point in my life….my new addiction…was to turn my life around.  I moved back home, got a job, and got my own apartment. I remarried and now have my kids 1/2 the time.   My husband knows all the deep, dirty, dark secrets of my past and has been nothing but supportive.  He tells me I am beautiful in one way or another.  So much so, I just recently tattooed it on myself where I can see it everyday.  My goal now…my addiction…is to believe that I am beautiful, both inside and out.  I am no longer taking medication and I am not reliant on alcohol, or other past attention seeking behaviors. 

When my anxiety/depression monster rears his ugly head, I take it in stride.  I let myself cry, or curl up under my weighted blanket.  It takes everything I have to deal with that bastard.  I would love nothing more than to continue in this positive light and leave the darkness behind me.  

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you again for allowing me to open completely and be vulnerable.  You are truly amazing women!

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