By Jessie Lupinetti
By Jessie Lupinetti
I’ve dealt with pain in some form or another almost my entire life. I was abused by my father when I was a child. I witnessed him abuse my mother, my two sisters, and even my dogs. I wasn’t aware that there was help out there. I didn’t know any better. All I could think was “when I’m old enough to leave, I will.” When I was 13 years old, my mother finally had the courage to threaten my dad with divorce, and that’s when the physical abuse stopped. However, he continued to verbally abuse us. He picked apart our bodies and constantly made jokes about our weight, then would turn around and get mad at us for not finishing our food. We lived in a constant state of fear. We all hated him, but we weren’t strong enough to fight back. We all wanted to leave.
When I was 17 years old, I got a job at a jewelry cart at the mall, where I met a guy who my dad hated. So of course, I loved him. He was 21, living at home with his mom. Looking back, he was a total loser. But during that time, he was my way out. Our relationship moved quickly and in less than 6 months, we were living together. My mom begged me not to leave, my dad said “you’ll be back…”
I was dead set on proving him wrong.
My “dream guy” soon turned into my abuser. He was an alcoholic, and would beat me up almost every other night, sometimes until I was unconscious. He was smart though, he never touched my face or any other part that couldn’t be covered up by a long sleeve shirt or pants.
I accepted that life. I thought that was love. I assumed God had put me on this planet to be someone’s punching bag. I thought, “My mom was able to get my dad to stop beating us, maybe I could get this guy to stop one day too.” Plus, I didn’t want my dad to think he was right. I had to pretend like everything was okay. My boyfriend threatened to kill me and forbid me to see any of my friends or family. For 2 years, I didn’t speak to anyone besides him.
During that time, I got pregnant. I hoped the abuse would stop, but it only made it worse. My mood swings and body insecurities threw me into such a stressful state, and we fought constantly. He lost his job, I was now 19 years old trying to support my 23 year old dead-beat boyfriend. I should have left him, ran back home, and kept my unborn baby safe. But I still had too much pride, and I still wanted to prove my dad wrong.
On December 15, 2002, I lost my baby boy during labor. His heart was too weak to withstand the contractions. There was nothing the doctors or nurses could do. I had to call my mom and tell her everything that happened over the past two years in a matter of minutes. All I could say on the phone was, “The baby is dead.” My family rushed to the hospital. They forgot all the drama that had gone on before, and held me as I completely broke down. I fell into a deep depression. I honestly can’t tell you what happened in the next few weeks, because I’ve blocked it all out. I was numb. I do remember the funeral and going back to live with my boyfriend. He and I were so emotionally unstable at that point as we tried to cope with the loss of our child.
The abuse got even worse, because: 1.) “It was my fault the baby died”, and 2.) “Your body is covered with stretch marks now, and you don’t have a baby to justify them, you’re disgusting.” I hated myself. I wanted to die. The more I fought back, the worse he’d beat me. During our last fight, the cops were called and —would you believe it —I was under arrest, because he had a small cut above his eyebrow. The cops didn’t care that my bruises wouldn’t appear till the next day, he had “more visible physical harm at the time of arrest.” I went to jail for a weekend while my mother gathered the funds needed to bail me out.
And. I. Still. Went. Back. To. Him.
I was such a fool.
The last straw for me was when I heard him speaking to another woman, who just so happened to have a baby boy. Perfect. He didn’t need me anymore. I packed my things and left with nowhere to go. I still had too much pride to go back home. I lived in my car for a couple weeks, until a friend let me stay at her house. I slowly started to pick myself up again, although not in the healthiest way. I thought if I could lose all the baby weight, I’d try modelling and show him what he’d lost.
I began taking a dangerous diet pill called Phentrimine. I lost all the baby weight, and lost some more weight after. I went down to 130 lbs -the smallest I’ve ever been since the 6th grade. I became an import model for car shows, because “souped up” import cars was his thing. I thought he’d see me or hear about me, and regret the things that he did to me. But I never did see him, and I have no idea if he ever heard about me. I became so focused on modelling as a career that I had moved on.
Suddenly, I was getting attention and affection from so many people -men and women, that I started to feel beautiful, and I started to love myself again. I met a new guy, who was nice and would make me laugh a lot. I was moving up in the import modelling business, only to realize that if I wanted to become really successful in that field, I’d have to get naked. I’d have to show it all -my saggy boobs, my cellulite, my stretch marks…. I just couldn’t bare that thought. My new best friend told me, “You don’t have to do this. You don’t need to bare it all. You don’t need their approval to feel validated…” That’s when I decided that I need to reevaluate myself. I needed to find myself. Up until that point I had lived my life to please others, to keep them happy so they wouldn’t hurt me. I was only able to love myself when I had the validation of others. Until I found someone who wanted ME to be happy, who accepted me just as I am –flaws and all.
I stopped import modelling, and decided to focus on myself for once. I reunited with my family. I forgave my dad for the abuse, and made peace with my past. Obviously, I married my best friend. I’d be a fool not to. We have two beautiful girls. But the pressure of being thin still weighed me down. I tried everything -all different kinds of diets, diet pills, exercise, etc. only to end up right where I am now –thick and curvy.
I began to see how the impact of my weight obsession affected my eldest daughter, and that’s when I had to say that enough is enough. I realized that it wasn’t enough to tell her that she’s beautiful, I needed to live out my words, embrace my body, and be confident in every sense of the word. I began to pray these exact words: “Jesus, help me love myself as much as you love me. Help me accept and love myself just as I am: stretch marks, cellulite, saggy boobs, and all.”
Eventually, I realized that this body has been through enough abuse and enough pain. This body has survived. This body has risen above all the darkness. This body carried three beautiful children. I wasn’t giving my body the credit it deserved. This body is incredible, amazing, blessed!!! I have never felt more empowered, never felt stronger, and never felt more beautiful.
Now I know why God put me here. I wish to be a voice for other victims of domestic violence. I hope I can show them that they can leave, they can move on, they can find true happiness. I hope they see my strength, and fight to find the beautiful strength within them.
To see more of Jessie, follow her on Instagram at @jessie_lupinetti.