I hope you have a minute... Here's the long version...
For many years, I felt I didn’t relate to females. I felt I was an outcast, and I didn’t relate to wanting to wear dresses or makeup. I felt more comfortable snowboarding or playing in the dirt with the guys.
I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family; my dad was an active alcoholic and my mom was the perfect co-dependent to his madness. When I was in my early teens, my parents divorced. At the time, I remember being scared and confused, but slightly relieved that I didn’t have to deal with my dad anymore. What I didn’t consider is what my mom would have to go through to support us.
After the divorce, my mom decided to go back to school and take on another job to support us. Although today I can see she was doing it to better us and the family, then, I felt abandoned, once again.
I pretty much became a mother to my little brother, and myself. Household chores, getting us to school, making dinner… everything became my task. Mind you, I grew up in a small town in the middle of the High Desert, so there wasn’t exactly a bus system to aid us in transportation.
I remember feeling pretty stressed out by the time I was a sophomore in High School. My grades started slowly drifting from my 4.0 average, I started hanging out with different crowds, and started caring less and less about school. On a positive note, I started snowboarding at our local resort, which provided a great outlet for me.
With my pain and suffering, in combination with my newfound friends, came a list of new activities; drugs and alcohol. Of course, at the time, they weren’t as accessible to me as they later became, but I had been exposed. After-school parties became more important than homework, and boys became more important than friends.
Mom was so busy with work and school, she became less involved in parenting. I know now how hard this may have been for her, but at the time, I created the belief in my head that she didn’t care. Of course, this mentality led to more escaping, and thus, more drugs and alcohol.
By the time I was sixteen, all I could think about was leaving my home and starting a new life for myself. I had been working since I was 14 and saved up enough money to buy a car, so I did. I had become disconnected from school, but somehow still understood the importance of it. Thankfully, this led me to transferring to home studies and allowed me to complete my diploma a year early.
As soon as I was seventeen, I left my mom and brother behind and started exploring. I drove to San Francisco, by myself to meet a much older guy I had met online. Needless to say, that didn’t work out, but I was determined not to go back home. I drove my car to Los Angeles and figured if I immersed myself enough, I’d somehow figure out how to live like adults do.
It wasn’t too long after, when a friend of mine had recommended stripping at a gentlemen's club. Mind you, not only was I seventeen, I was extremely sheltered and immature for my age. I had never seen naked women. I had never been naked in front of anyone. And now, I was about to take my clothes off in front of complete strangers. I was terrified!
My friend got me a fake ID, and I did an amateur night at a club near LAX airport. I made $400 that night and although it was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever done, the money outweighed my fear.
I continued dancing for many years later. Throughout this time, I developed a heavy drug addiction and was making more money in one month than most businessmen made in a year. I bought a Mercedes, a condo on the beach and a streetbike. I felt like I was on Cloud 9! What I didn’t consider was all of the pain that I was attempting to cover up with my new financial status.
From there, I became passionate about modelling. It started out small, but ended up landing me a few cover shots. I started going to Playboy Mansion parties and private estate parties. It was regular for me to be invited to backstage events at big rock shows, Lakers games, etc. Suddenly, the poor, dorky girl from the desert was starting to fit in!
I ended up playing in the Lingerie Bowl on the Chicago Bliss team. Hanging out with celebrities became a weekend event. My Michael Kors bag was upgraded to a Dior. I could not fathom the amount of money I had in my possession!
When I was 20, I got in a terrible accident on my street bike. I was hit by a semi-truck and airlifted to USC Hospital, where I was told by doctors I may never walk again. My ankle was shattered and I ended up receiving a skin graft on the top of my foot. Thankfully, my ability to walk was restored after a few months of physical therapy.
While I was in a wheelchair, I remember paying someone to deliver groceries to me (there was no DoorDash back then..) I would hobble around, by myself, figuring out how to live. Oh, and I had a little dog, Cali to take care of as well.
I became my own physical therapist because I didn’t want to wait for the amount of time the doctor had suggested. I started hopping around on crutches and slowly adding weight to my right leg. After I was able to get enough energy to hop to the gym in the complex, I would go there and use the stationary bike with minimal resistance. I was determined to walk again!
Shortly after, I ended up buying another street bike. I was barely safely walking, but I wasn’t going to let my accident get me down. I remember going to a check up appointment with my doctor.. The one where he was going to decide if I could get out of a wheelchair and into crutches.. Yeah, I rode my new street bike there instead. He shook his head at me, told me I was crazy, and politely kicked me out of his office.
It wasn’t long before I started dancing again; I needed money! But, this was when the real depression set in. I remember feeling so helpless and alone. I remember saving up my prescribed pain pills so that I could take them all at once and truly not feel. I remember, for the first time, feeling the pain of my dad leaving me many years ago, and attempting to drown those feelings in more alcohol.
It wasn’t too long before the pain pills turned to the one drug I had said I’d never do; heroin. As a stripper, it was accessible and even somewhat acceptable. (Although, even a lot of my stripper friends did end up falling off after they found out what I was doing).
I ended up getting hooked on that, and only a few years later, lost everything; the Benz, the streetbike, my house, my friends, my family, EVERYTHING. I was literally sleeping in trees in public parks at night. I would occasionally shower at friend’s (ahem.. drug dealers) houses or sneak into gyms, then go back to the streets again. This was definitely my lowest point.
Eventually, I had had enough. I called my grandma for help, packed up my stuff and jumped on an Amtrak to San Diego. From there, my journey started to shed some light.
I got into detox, then later went into rehab. I started living my life in sobriety, for the first time. About five years later, and after a series of random jobs, I ended up landing my first “real job”; I was to be making an hourly rate, I was getting set up with a 401(k), I had a schedule to follow… everything!
The job taught me a great deal about myself and my life, but there was still so much for me to learn. I then went on a self-healing journey by attending online webinars, talking to counselors, and most importantly, taking the advice that was given to me. Sure, it was scary, it was foreign, and often, I didn’t want to do it, but, I knew what I had been doing in the past was no longer suiting me and I was finally ready for a change!
I don’t really have an end to this story, because it’s continually being added on to and evolving, but what I can tell you at this point, is that it’s become my greatest mission to empower others! I have learned to let go of some of my hurt from my past and use those experiences to understand where others are coming from, and hopefully provide a space for them to share their own stories!
So, until it becomes irrelevant, this is my story, and I can’t wait to share the rest of my journey with you!