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Model: Dei Silva
Hair/MUA: Summer Artistry
Medium Used: Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film
My entire life I battled severe depression and I hated myself, and I didn’t know how to stop. I grew up with a schizophrenic mother who was often emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. She and my father fought constantly, and at four years old, I remember dishes flying across the kitchen and shattering all over the walls and floor. I ran and hid under the stairs, terrified. At school I faced severe bullying for eight years. I had nowhere safe to go. It was torture.
Somehow I became this monster that I couldn’t control no matter how hard I tried. Needy and desperate for love, I found it in men who took me home from clubs, and who cheated on their wives with me. I did something called “Mainlining” in addiction language. I was deep into a sex and love addiction, and I barely lived through it after losing my job and having a nervous breakdown at 23 years old. I clung to God and he helped me survive and prevented me from taking my own life. I got some help, but not the true help I needed. I continued to act out in smaller ways with men, to lie about who I was, and to hide behind a mask because it was the only way to survive.
Four years ago, after seven years of marriage to my best friend, I fell into my addiction again, and I almost lost everything I had. I was spinning, hurting, confused … yet determined to not go through what I’d gone through in the past, because I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t live through it again. That’s when I saw a sex and love addiction specialist, got diagnosed, and started my recovery.
Recovery is the scariest and most painful thing you can go through. It was worse than anything I’d ever survived. It was worse than losing my father. I was forced to drop my mask and stare in the mirror, finally being honest with myself. It was a time to start forgiving myself for the things I’d done. That was the hardest part, and I still regret my sins every day. The pain was emotional and physical. It felt like someone was peeling off my skin. Two months in and I asked my therapist when the withdrawals would stop. He reassured me that around ninety days I would start to feel better. It was three months of hell.
I’d like to say I was perfect in my recovery, and that I have four years of solid sobriety, but that’s not true. I’ve slipped many times, but I’m finally getting better. This past year has been the best of my life. I’ve dropped the mask and I finally feel free. All the pain was worth it.
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich is a deeply personal project for me. I was able to mix the music from the clubs where I had been so used, and to show what it felt like to be me. I hope others can grasp some hope from it.
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