I chose my tagline for multiple reasons. This post will give you a bit more insight. I'm finally ready to share my story, because I believe vulnerability helps more people than keeping it all inside ever will. And I truly believe my mission in life is to help people through my words and by being an inspirational and motivational person. I'm not famous by any means (hahahaha) but I do have a platform, and I chose to use it for good. :)
I had to confront my past before I could learn to love myself--to love others--to open up and truly empathize with other people. I've done this before, with trusted friends, or people who I connected with. I’ve decided to do it today—on Mother’s Day no less—because I realized you, my dear readers and followers, don't know anything about me except what I make publicly available. I mean, sure, I post on social media often. You’ve seen my humor. You’ve seen my books. Hell, you’ve recently seen me going through a separation.
But I haven’t shared my background yet…and the reasons I write my stories the way I write them. Every single book I write has a journey. And every single book has a bit of me in the heroine. It may be a large part—like Auden in DELAYED PENALTY—or a small part—like Gaby in POWER PLAY. But all of them have tiny bits of my story or personality weaved through. It brings authenticity to my writing. A realism that may be different in the genre I write in.
So here’s a REAL, heavy post for you. I thought that maybe if I shared my story, it might help others—even one person—and opening up would be worth it. Maybe this will help more people connect with my books (and with me) and make others see why I like to keep positive and be kind to people. You never really know what someone else has been through, right?
So here it goes...
I was abandoned by my “father” (sperm donor) before I was four years old. Left. Adios. Never to be heard from again. I had the “normal” questions. Why? What made him leave? What went wrong? I know he went on to have another family--that he stayed with. So why didn't he want to be part of my life? In my head, the only answer was ever ME. It was my fault. Something was wrong with me. I wasn't good enough. Before the age of four, I learned that men will leave me. Without a word, without an explanation.
My mother was shot and killed right in front of me when I was six-years-old. Yes, right in front of me. As a child, unable to fully comprehend death, I learned that relationships are not permanent. I grew up a walking contradiction. A person who desperately wanted to be loved and committed to, but I wouldn't allow anyone to get too close because I believed everyone I loved would leave me someday. Why put myself out there to relationships? Even to friendships?
I was sexually abused by a family member before the age of eight (I honestly don't know the exact age, as my brain has permanently blocked it). I have only ever told four people that in person. I confided in the adult I trusted most right after it happened. The advice was: “Stay away from him.” I don’t know if anything happened after that; if there was even a confrontation or a discussion with my abuser. I consider myself "lucky" as it was only once. My heart bleeds for the people who had to endure that hell multiple times.
What I learned was to be afraid of men after that. I refused to be alone with a man, even my guardian, whom—I want to make perfectly clear—never touched me. I learned that after a few years the whole thing must have “blown over” for anyone who knew, because I was forced to interact with my abuser and his family when he came to town. And I did it, because I was enough of a burden and troublemaker for my guardians, why cause more anxiety?
But what I also learned was that no one was going to protect me--even if I spoke up. No one was going to save me. So I withdrew. And I got angry. And I grew a tough layer that I refused to let people poke through for most of my life. Because trusting people caused humiliation, shame and pain.
People have called me a bitch because I’m quiet when I first meet others. People have said they didn’t think I liked them because I don’t open up easily. People have criticized my parenting. But they don’t know that I don’t have a mom to call and ask for advice. And if they do, well that’s a punch to the gut, isn’t it?
I can’t change what people think, but I wish they wouldn’t be so quick to judge. They don’t know that I've battled anxiety and depression since I was a child. They don’t know that I still weep for the advice of a mother that I never knew. They don't know that I don't think that I'm worthy of being loved. They don't know that I still battle with shitty self-esteem and horrible trust problems.
I’m much older now, but the pain of my past is there, a wound that throbs every once in awhile, like the soccer-related knee injury I complain about on rainy days.
I’m not sharing this for pity—or attention. I’m sharing because the issues I write about in my heroines are REAL. I know how Auden feels about being a motherless daughter, being abandoned, and being a burden to her caregivers. Like Gaby, I have experienced the shame and humiliation and embarrassment of getting drunk at a college party and being raped.
Some people are quick to judge, but you never know what someone has gone through or is currently going through. The most put-together, seemingly happy person can have a past so dark you wouldn’t believe.
Now, I think I blend in for the most part. If you ignore the nose piercing and pink hair--I look like any other woman at the local coffee shop. I was married to a good guy. I have two gorgeous kids. I rent a beautiful house in a nice, safe neighborhood. Before I chose to stay home to raise my kids—and write books—I had a managerial position in the corporate world making $50K+ a year--the "breadwinner" of my family at the time.
But by the time I was six, I thought that everyone I loved would abandon me. And by the time I was eight, I thought that anyone I trusted would hurt and humiliate me. Those “truths” shaped my adult persona. As anyone can attest, changing deeply ingrained beliefs is difficult, but not impossible.
But I’m trying—every fucking day. With every day that passes, I continue to grow, learn, and flip those old "truths" into new truths. I’ve finally found friends I can confide in, people who appreciate me for who I really am. I REFUSE to be a victim or use my childhood as an excuse. I choose to be the light. One of my favorite lines I've ever written was in UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT: "I just want to be the light that someone will remember long after I'm gone." That's the mark I want to leave on the world. I hope people enjoy my books—but my true hope is that I help at least one person with my words, my honesty, my kindness. Love isn't hard.
In telling my story, here and through my characters, I hope we all learn to be a little less judgmental. That we should give people a chance. It’s true that “our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for what we become.” (Author Unknown) And that we can become anything, no matter what circumstances defined us in the beginning of our lives.
Have you had to—or wanted to—confront anything from your past? I’m always inspired by stories of bravery. I want to hear your stories. I want to write our stories! Comment below—or send me an e-mail—as I know not everyone wants to be as public.
KEEP FIGHTING! You're not alone.