Karina Saviers (26), Thane (4), Leighton (2), and Lex (1)
Juneau, AK | Seattle, WA
Karina is a previous project participant. You can view her original photo and story here.
Karina shares -
"I had a very traumatic abortion as a teenager that was a source of tremendous shame and self-hate for a really long time. I never talked about it with anyone, and spent years punishing myself for what I had done. I used anorexia, bulimia, and self-harm to escape and numb out. I didn't feel like I was deserving of forgiveness, love, comfort, or even life. It has only been in the past few years that I have finally began to heal and show compassion towards myself.
I suffered an early miscarriage when my second baby, Leighton was only a few months old. That opened up a lot of old wounds for me. I struggled with feeling like my miscarriage was a karmic punishment for my abortion, and it plunged me into a really lonely period of grieving and pain. I struggled to connect as easily with Leighton, and I became fixated on the empty space in our life that our lost baby would never be there to fill.
Becoming a mother has utterly shifted my perception of my body, and of my self as a whole. When I became pregnant with my first child, Thane, I went through a really intense period of reorganization of how I viewed my self and my life. Before that pregnancy, I always saw my life as temporary and optional. I was still struggling with active suicidality and self-harm at the time that I got pregnant. When I discovered that I was now hosting and growing another tiny human inside my own body, I started to have compassion and appreciation for my body in a way that I had never experienced before. I really let go of suicide as an option and started to care for myself in a brand new way. I saw my body as something so much more than a target for my abuses and self-punishment. I was really amazed every day at the resilience and beauty of my body as it grew through each of my pregnancies, and birthed and nourished my babies. I have so much appreciation for all that my body can do. I have so much appreciation for my body's ability to lift, carry, jump, dance, play, and often function on so very little sleep. My body is so much more than an object; it is something strong, miraculous, and sacred.
After my first pregnancy, I admittedly felt a lot of pressure to look and be a certain way postpartum. I felt like I was messing up at every turn, and I had very little confidence in my identity as a parent. After my second pregnancy, I struggled with a lot of depression and anxiety, which was compounded by my miscarriage. I had a really hard time feeling present and connected to my family. It took about a year before I finally started to feel like "myself" again. By the time I gave birth to my third baby, I had learned to ignore the pressure to be perfect, and I was able to really let go of most of the "mom guilt". Being a parent is a constant learning process. Every day, I'm learning. Some days are hard and bad, but I learn from my failures, forgive myself, and always try harder the next day.
Hating myself never brought me any kind of peace. I hated, starved, and abused my body for years, and it never brought the justice or relief I was searching for. Parenthood has really taught me the power of compassion. Compassion changes everything, and self-compassion really needs to come first. I'm learning to treat myself with gentleness and love. I'm learning to fill my own cup first, so that I'm able to fill the cups of those around me.
Part of that compassion is forgiveness, and acknowledgment of my story and my truth. There is so much power in story-telling. My past is there and it exists, but I'm learning that it doesn't define me. My scars, my mistakes, and my history is all there, but it doesn't define me. My yesterday doesn't have the power to dictate my tomorrow.