We all have our 'story'.
I share my story in hopes that it will inspire someone to make a change or not feel shame of theirs.
Growing up I didn’t have a lot of confidence or belief in myself.
I was a quiet and shy little girl, the youngest of three, and always played alone or preferred the company of my mother.
I always felt protective of my mom and was perfectly happy to be hanging out shopping, cooking, cleaning, or my favorite… watching the Old Hollywood movies with her.
I had no issues with my brother, but he was four years older and though I tried couldn’t really connect with him. I always wanted to feel close and get attention from him but never got it.
My older sister had middle child issues and preferred not to hang with me and often bullied and made fun of my girly-girl ways, as she was a typical tom boy and I was not.
My mom had her own low self-esteem issues so was not a strong role model for a young girl, and my dad was never involved with his kids.
He was a hard worker and provided us a great middle-class lifestyle but was not emotionally connected to his children, and in a household that had many arguments between my parents over finance issues and my dad not being home enough to spend time with his children…I often felt uneasy and insecure, and saw my father as the man that 'made mommy cry'.
I always desperately wanted to be daddy’s girl, in fact would spend my entire adult life needing my father’s approval and attention but usually felt unseen and invisible, and never making him proud. In my late teens I made effort to better understand and get close to my dad.
Don’t misunderstand, I KNOW my father loved me, and wanted the best for me, but he was never involved, never truly knew who I was or what my dreams were.
I desperately wanted my father to show an interest in me.
And I desperately wanted to know my father and connect with him.
I don’t ever remember hearing my father say to me the words…’I love you” or “I’m proud of you”.
Even when I put my life and business on hold to be caregiver in his last year of life, and was by his bedside as he passed last year, I still never heard him say he was proud of me.
I have always been fascinated with beauty, glamour and makeup growing up and couldn’t get enough of my Glamour and Vogue magazines and would get lost in them each month.
I had big dreams about being my own boss one day and somehow being in the beauty industry.
I had gotten my cosmeticians license after high school and freelanced several years for Lauder and Lancôme.
Still moderately shy and introverted, however, I was on my way.
But life has a way of taking you down another road...and taking you the long way around.
I left cosmetics for a bit and worked in corporate front reception/admin work for several years, and here is where the story detours.
At 26 I fell in love.
Like seriously ...hooked.
Got hit with the 'lightning bolt'.
Yes, the old 'cliche' about getting hit with the lightening bold does exist because I felt it curse through my body on just the third day of knowing my Michael.
Very early on I felt in my soul I was spiritually connected to this man... a good man, a kind man, a charming and funny man with warm, Italian brown eyes...but with a cocaine dependency... and found out AFTER I left my family, friends, and job behind to go from Queens, NY to New Jersey and move in with him.
My story has a lot to it, but the short version is one of drugs, dysfunction, denial, dependency, depression, disappointment, despair and a whole bunch of other words that start with the letter 'd'.
Many wouldn’t understand. I didn’t at first either. I had dated since I was 16 and for 10 years prior to meeting my husband never would let myself be manipulated, disrespected or put myself in any negative situation. Although a shy, unsure girl…I did have some self-respect!!!
It took many years of soul searching to figure it out why I got in this situation and why I stayed so long.
But I couldn’t leave.
I couldn’t abandon him and every time I thought I could and should, it felt like leaving a lost abandoned puppy on the street…I just couldn’t do it.
I'm extremely loyal by nature, and part of my personality craves connectedness and when I feel connected and bonded with another person I am connected and bonded for life.
I’ve never felt more comfortable and connected to another human being ever …before…or since…then with my Michael.
Looking back on it all, I now understand he was meant to come into my life to be part of my journey and my growth.
I truly thought in the beginning of the relationship that God had brought us together… this was my purpose in this world. Love will conquer all, right?
I tried my best to help him and then tried my best to leave him...I was unsuccessful at doing either.
And when I couldn’t help him, and I couldn’t leave him.... I joined him.
I did a great job of hiding my secret…. that I regularly free-based cocaine for 18 out of the 28 years Michael was in my life.
How the hell did this happen?
I was always into health and nutrition and lived a healthy lifestyle.
I would drink socially when I went out on dates, and aside from the one time trying acid at a Grateful Dead concert or smoking some pot in my teens, I was pretty much a square and not into drugs at all.
Do drugs??? That would never be me!!!
But drugs are a great distractor.
It is a great way to not have to grow up or face life or go into the world.
There was a hole inside of me.
A hole that had been there since childhood of wanting to belong and connect with a male figure I guess.
To feel safe, loved and paid attention too.
There was a hole that said I wasn't good enough and had nothing to offer to the world.
It was never about the drugs for me.
It was about not wanting to leave Michael.
I felt safe, loved, paid attention to and so connected to this man…and in some sad, warped way drugs was how I bonded and connected with him.
He wasn’t all bad…. he had a great heart and loved animals like I did.
He was personable, kind, and funny.
He was my best friend, my only friend really.
We were buddies, partners in crime, soul mates, and I always felt safe around him.
We did everything together …and not just drugs.
We had many happy times and moments together and did many ‘normal’ activities that were not drug related.
My Michael was so much more than just someone with a cocaine dependency, and there wasn’t a person who met him that didn’t instantly like him and think he was a nice guy.
But still no one disappointed me or let me down more than Michael.
My happiest moments in my life were with Michael, and my unhappiest moments in my life were with Michael.
It did not look like it to most....but I was lost. I showed up for work, was reliable....but all I cared about was being back home and the safety and security that was being with Michael. (a similar pattern as a child always wanting and needing to be with my mom).
The glamour and fun and excitement of going out to dinner and dancing but then coming back home to party into the early hours of the morning.
Many times not even going out but just parting all night.
The danger, the excitement, hanging with the 'bad boy'!! It was the 80's and 90's lifestyle right?
Years of this lifestyle... 3-4-5 times a week.
After a while I’d been brought to my knees…. and it wasn’t very glamorous anymore.
I had many years of hopelessness and trying to pick myself up and find the courage and strength to leave.
One step forward, two steps backward.
There was so much isolation, self- doubt and not feeling like I belonged anywhere or was good enough.
I had no value or self-worth.
I felt like a loser and carried myself like one.
I knew deep in my heart and soul I was in trouble but didn't know how to get out of this place.
I suffered from anxiety and was afraid to go out into the world and was completely isolated.... by my own doing.
I didn't even get my drivers license till I was 34, and even then had a fear of driving. Michael did all the driving anywhere we went.
I started to spiral down into deep depression.
I don’t know what happened, I had dreams and aspirations like everyone else.
I was educated and came from a good family and upbringing.
I felt I had a mission and purpose in life but couldnt figure it out and completely put my life on hold and paralyzed myself.
Many nights I would still be up at 4:00 -5:00 in the morning and would watch a repeated infomercial of a makeup artist named Alexis Vogel, who was and still is Pamela Anderson's makeup artist.
I wished I could do makeup like that…. glamorous…. so glamorous.
I loved it. I was hooked. But felt hopeless to make it happen.
I wanted to do for women what she did…transform them and make them feel so good about themselves.
She became my idol then and still is to this day my favorite makeup artist.
I knew Michael was addicted to cocaine…but it took me a while to realize I was addicted to Michael, and it took me an even longer time to finally pick myself up and say I wanted a different life and I can’t save him, I can only now try to save myself.
When I turned 46 I reached a point of absolute panic when faced with the reality of getting older and losing my youth.
Realizing I spent 20 years mindlessly doing nothing with my life and reached close to a near nervous breakdown of feeling paralyzed as to wanting change and a new life but what are the first steps and how to go about it?
I wasn't doing coke anymore, but it still took another two years to move forward. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do...leave my friend and tear myself away from a codependent relationship.
At 48 I did finally pick my sad, broken and depressed self up off the floor and realized I had two missions in what was left of my life.
1: To help women feel empowered, beautiful, confident, and believe in themselves.
2: To help abused and abandoned animals that are voiceless and alone.
It wasn’t easy to pick myself up and leave...with only $6,000 to my name, and half of that went to first months rent and security....probably the hardest thing I ever did.
It wasn't easy to now at 48 get over my fear of driving and getting around by myself.
It wasn't easy to start a business with no business or marketing background...or money.
I was still isolated, still suffered from self-doubt and anxiety and had no outside help from other female entrepreneurs. I didn't even know any.
I still had no friends...other than Michael.
I started just as the economy tanked in 2008, going three long years desperately looking for even a part time job, being turned away for being wither over or under qualified, while trying to get my business up and running. I lived off my credit cards and got into some serious credit card debt.
I learned and grew from making very costly mistakes and trying again and again.
One step forward, two steps backward… but I kept picking myself up and moved forward.
I took a leap of faith and grew my wings on the way down.
My ‘story’ isn’t all gloom and doom though as I’m not that person and that’s not my life anymore.
I have a new ‘story’.
I am proud of what I’ve come through and what I have accomplished.
Today, I am a glamour and bridal makeup artist, and educator, and the proud owner of DeeVa Beauty, a mobile makeup service in NJ.
Today, I now give to woman what I always dreamt about when watching those Alexis Vogel infomercials at 4:00 in the morning. Glamour and Confidence!!!!
And when I started my business 12 years ago I wanted to figure out a way I could do what I like and enjoy and make a living at, but to also figure out a way I could help the animals, which is a HUGE passion of mine, so from day one I made a promise to ‘give back’ with a portion of every paid makeup service I do and donate to various animal charities.
Sometimes God gives people a passion to speak up for others who can’t speak up for themselves: the persecuted, the imprisoned, the mistreated, the disadvantaged and those who are denied justice.
Sometimes that passion comes from personally experiencing some tragedy or obstacle in your life such as abuse, addiction, depression, disease, or some other difficulty.
It's hard to understand while you are going through the challenges or pain that usually the worst things that happen to us in life lead us to the best things that will ever happen to us and lead us to our true mission and passion.
I feel deep empathy and compassion towards animals …all animals and I know it is because of my ‘story’…my loneliness, my feeling of helplessness and isolation.
And every unloved animal has a ‘story’ of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Their eyes tell a story of pain, loneliness, and a desire to be loved.
Love is the recognition of yourself in another.
When my best friend died after 28 years together in 2012 from health issues, it was my two rescued poodles, Deeva and Lily, that saved me and got me thru it.
I was devastated, shocked, lost and lonely when I lost my husband and friend, and they gave me a reason to get out of bed every day.
They were my life.... still are.
Animals will save you…and in return we must save ‘them’!!
Though I know better now, at the time I thought I was the only one in the world that had a story like mine and I needed to hide and never speak of it or share it.
I was ashamed of it.
But the truth is that I am who I am today because of it.
My character, my integrity, my loyalty.
Perhaps because I’ve been disappointed and let down so many times I’m now the most reliable and dependable person I know. I hate to disappoint or let down anyone.
I have experienced sadness, depression, lose and loneliness, and if I cannot make these experiences meaningful, then no new experiences will help me.
I understand now that everyone has a ‘story’.
I want to use mine to help and heal.
Motivate and make a difference.
Inspire and bring hope.
Today I am 60 years young, a little less shy, much wiser, more confident, and although still terrified of NYC driving and won't do it, I do drive confidently all over NJ…. and as of this writing, 16 years free from ‘that’ lifestyle.
I like myself and am almost completely out of credit card debt!!
I have finally found my voice and want to use it to help other women find theirs.
I want to help the widowed, the divorced, the empty nester, any woman that feels invisible, helpless, frozen in fear but wants to move forward...wants another shot at life.
Use your story darlings.
Find your voice.
Find your purpose.
Don't Give Up!!
Thank you for listening.
Makeup Artist Finds Calling in Giving Women Confidence & Funding Animal Rescue http://huff.to/2mZHwiL