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Here’s the latest instalment in our new Boudoir Series, focusing on some of the INCREDIBLE journeys our clients have faced and are facing.

We aim to share, inspire and celebrate their strength and touch on how their boudoir photoshoot with Johanna Elizabeth had a positive impact on their journey.

So chuffed to share the fabulous Andrea’s story with you!

Andrea’s story….

I suppose it all started years and years ago. I met my husband, Mike, and even then the pub was an important part of his life.  We got married in Positano, Italy – one of the main reasons for getting married abroad was so that I knew he would turn up and be sober.  Not a great way to start.

Anyway, many years and two beautiful girls later to 2017, Mike was in and out of hospital for appointments but for odd things like lots of nose bleeds, aches, pains that type of thing.  He knew he drank too much and could be really spiteful when he did.  But it wasn’t until the beginning of 2019 when he was told stop drinking or you will be dead within the year (at least I think it was then, communication wasn’t one of his things), that I found out how serious it had gotten.

I had just started a new job and my dad was taken seriously ill, a bleed on his brain.  He was moved from his local hospital to one in London, and I didn’t know at the time but it was the same one where Mike’s brother was when they had to turn off the life support machine.  Before this all happened, the scare of the doctor was enough to stop him drinking, but my dad and the memory of his brother started him off again.

My husband’s addiction was tearing us apart

Luckily things were successful with my dad, but it didn’t stop Mike from drinking – probably more than before.  There would always be an excuse to go to the pub. He needed to meet someone for work, he was only having one, just going out to stretch his legs, a friend needed walking home as he had had too much to drink.

I remember saying to him if you can’t stop drinking for yourself, don’t do it for me, do it for the girls.  But addiction is a terrible thing, and the solace he found in the drink had to bigger hold.  He was obviously suffering from depression too, not that he would admit it.

I began to lose myself

I rarely mentioned his drink as there seemed little point, but I knew to avoid him and not do anything to annoy him when he had.  I had become a shadow of my former self without even realising it.  He didn’t like any of my friends, so I gradually lost contact, if I saw my family he never wanted to come and when I came back, I had attitude.  I was compared to people who weren’t very nice.  He said we didn’t need anyone else – the four of us were a family and we should stick together.

My eldest asked why I never said anything. I just said pick your battles, and when I did pick them we all suffered from the shouting and abuse.  I worked full-time and took my eldest to a gymnastics club. She is a national level tumbler, so time was precious.  When I wasn’t with her I tried to spend it with my younger daughter but was often told I left her out.

I had no time for me

The only time I did have for me was when I went food shopping, as I went by myself.

I used to talk to people I worked with and realised what I thought was normal, clearly wasn’t.  I became friends with someone and we spent a lot of time together and it made me realise that I was so unhappy at home.  But I had a problem.  If I left the family home, then he would drink more and probably die and I couldn’t do that to my girls.

Things went from bad to worse

Mike was admitted to hospital  in October.  He didn’t want to stay as I think actually realised how ill he was, not that he would say.  It wasn’t until the consultant said ‘I don’t think you realise quite how ill you are regardless of how well you feel’.  He came home but didn’t take any notice of the advice.  Because of this, I admitted him in December – which he hated me for and told me I had no right to.

I took the girls every night to see him, kept down my job despite having problems and then suddenly he went even more downhill.  Throughout this time I wasn’t allowed to tell the girls how ill Daddy was.  I told them on Sunday 15 December that Daddy was very ill.  His liver had cancer, amongst other things, but this is what I wanted the girls to know.  They were and are too young to understand the addiction.

Coping with loss

1 week later on 22 December, he died.  My eldest laid on his bed with him and chatted to him forever.  I was so proud.  My youngest spent the time with him that she wanted to, but made the hard decision that she couldn’t see him when he was unconscious. She had a picture when he smiled with her and called it the best picture ever.  She was 10 at the time.

We somehow got through Christmas, we somehow got through the New Year, despite everything the girls were amazing going to school, and I went to work.  He was buried on 22 January. Most of the village turned up saying what I wonderful person he was and how lovely he was to everyone who met him and he would do anything for them all……

Unfortunately, the funeral wasn’t as my mother-in-law wanted and she barely spoke to me or the girls throughout the whole time.  She still doesn’t, she blames me for his death and blames me for the funeral, mainly because I didn’t have it going from our house.  A decision I made because of the girls.

I then found out that the life insurance I had for him is invalid as he hadn’t disclosed the alcohol issue, what can you do?

Looking ahead

But at least I had something to look forward to…my boudoir shoot….or not, Covid-19 hits and everything is cancelled.  Then I am furloughed by my work.  I didn’t meet any of the criteria for being furloughed but it was the MD’s decision.  After a month of being furloughed my contract was terminated – I don’t fit the company going forwards.  Although a complete shock and gobsmacked, it actually felt like a weight had been lifted.  I had done so much for the company and got so little back.

My confidence was shattered

I was exceedingly lucky to walk straight into a temping job, ironically being involved in making ventilators for Covid-19 patients.  This job restored my faith in working and I started to enjoy life and work again.

Nothing is ever simple in my life, or it appears not to be….my mum was taken by ambulance to hospital – a serious blood infection that actually turned out to be pneumonia.  We couldn’t go and see my dad and her messages didn’t make any sense.  Thankfully she recovered and is doing amazingly.

After buying, and going slightly mad with the amount of lingerie, my shoot finally happened.

The diet I was going to go on didn’t happen, and the exercise to make me more toned and flexible never happened.

But it didn’t matter.  I ached, my arms and legs didn’t want to go in the positions – and the moment Jo turned her back I relaxed so we had to start all over again (sorry Jo!!).

An amazing experience!

The experience was amazing! I know my late husband would have encouraged me in his normal times but in the hard times, he would have scorned it.

But I was so proud that I had come this far for me …. Well maybe also for another special person…..I am a new person, I am socialising with people, learning to talk and make decisions for myself and my girls. Enjoying life.

Don’t get me wrong some days I just can’t stop crying, thinking could I have done more for him, what else could I have done and did I love him enough.

I don’t know that that will ever go away, but just something I have to deal with.

I would definitely do it again!

I couldn’t believe the results, I’m still not sure some of them are me.  Would I do it again, definitely, I’m planning for Christmas!

Congratulations Andrea!

Thank you millions Andrea, you’ve been through so much! Proud of you!

To find out how a photoshoot experience can celebrate and honour where you are RIGHT now, click here.

Related reading: More incredible client stories

Jo and Team JE
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