Photographer Corey S. Krasko
In my 66 years, I have had a trying life for as long as I can remember. My father was a violent alcoholic and my mom ended up a spineless doormat from his constant verbal and physical abuse while cutting down her self-esteem. My dad enjoyed telling me, “You’re stupid, ugly, and no good because you are a woman” has haunted me all of my life.
Mom left us children to fend for ourselves most of the time when I was about 10 or so. She needed to go to college, take a job, and rebuild her own self-esteem. All of this caused me to often wonder what was wrong with my brother and I, that no parents were there for us. Were we not lovable enough for them to care about us?
Around this time, we were in an accident and the doctors told my parents I would not live. During my stay at the hospital, I had an out of body experience. I also learned about prayer from the mother and child who stopped and gathered me up at the wreck and their church and school who all prayed for me every day!
The whole experience took me down even farther. I couldn’t dance or play for a year. My memory was affected and I had horrid anxiety and migraine episodes. I went from a straight A student to D’s and F’s. I became even further alienated when I would overhear the other students asking, “What’s wrong with Cindy”.
At age 17, I took a modeling course at the college. The instructor didn’t need to “fix” my face at all! Come to find out I had good features. I was offered a job modeling shoes but yet again my parents put a stop to that idea. It was when I was 25 that I finally looked in the mirror and said, “Oh my, I am not ugly anymore”. Now, I was driven to prove daddy wrong. I worked at my college work, nursing work, changed my body by learning to dance.
It took me quite a while to understand that healing from the outside first isn’t as helpful as starting with our own thoughts and experiences. It is an inside job!
I decided to take a break from dancing for a few years and got into body building, which felt so natural for me. I had liposuction to remove some off of my hips and thighs. Thankfully, along with the fat cells went decades of rejection. I was now starting to feel comfortable with myself, finally.
But, unfortunately, the doctor took too many fat cells and my immune system totally crashed. Since then, I’ve wound up getting pneumonia, mono, a second pneumonia, a believed Hepatitis A and B, complete immune system shutdown, viral pancreatitis, had bilateral hip replacements, three hospitalizations, respiratory failure along with having Hyper IgE Syndrome, also known as “Job’s Syndrome”. I was forced to go live with my mom to look for cleaner air and a natural environment, even though I was treated badly as I was before which had left me feeling rejected.
I have done 30 years of body building, 40+ years of dance, 6 years of Pilates, and ten years of martial arts. I started modeling again between 56 and 59 because I loved the creativity of putting together looks and moods. I became very proud of my body. It was better than most 25 year old’s. But with time, these illnesses are working against my body.
I am once again focusing on getting my house/body back in shape to reflect who I am. Nature and my dogs have always been and will continue to be so important to my well-being. I just bought a horse and can’t wait to ride again. Most every day, I am happy to be alone with nature, my dogs and my horse! I would so love to dance again!
I would hope, at some point, we all realize we are not our bodies! They are our “Earth Suits”, as one of my friends likes to say! I would hope we are more capable of restoring ourselves than we give ourselves credit for! And, I would hope there is life after illness!
As you can see, my life has seen its many ups and downs just like so many of you may be living through as you are reading this. My main goal for being part of this project is to find some physical beauty in this body, even though it is nothing like the one I have lived in for decades, and to show others that they are not alone with their many hardships life has thrown their way.
We all have to try our hardest to stand tall and live life to its fullest! Our pasts may be dark but our future is bright!
Be sure to leave your reply and/or post your comments about this photo and story below so others can read it. Thanks for your time and support in this incredible art project…