There are many journeys we all take in our lifetime. Many roads leading us to whom we are destined to become or to the life we are destined to live. Her journey had been a long one, sometimes extremely difficult to emotionally or physically survive from.
Her story begins in a different country than she came to know. She was born in Lima, Peru in 1970. She’s the youngest of four girls, the baby of the family. She was very quiet and soft spoken as a child; a very reserved, kind and loving introvert. Her parents were both from affluent families, but especially her mother. Her grandfather was a well-known surgeon in Lima. He had owned a hospital there. Her grandmother, though born in Peru, came from a wealthy family from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was an heiress and her family on both sides were millionaires. The Philadelphia family had created and operated a row of stores and one of the first bathhouses on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey. The Peruvian family had many ventures in both Peru and England that made them very successful, too.
She had been told that in 1933 when The Great Depression was making thousands of people homeless and hungry, her grandmother’s last inheritance was the property in Atlantic City and $3 million dollars. Not only was that a lot of money for that time but also it was a lot of money for someone who was living in Peru. Her grandparent’s house, that still stands today in Lima, is one she can only dream of ever having. After her grandfather’s death in 1959 though, her grandmother, her mother and her mother’s three sisters would never be the same again. Her father married into a family that any man would envy by all accounts, but he never saw that these women’s lives were taking a new path – destruction. Also, her parents could never imagine that their youngest daughter would end up being a high school dropout, would take drugs, drink until she’d blackout and later become a high priced call girl in Hollywood at the age of 21. She’d continue this new path of destruction for her own life. But, she would sometimes think, was it her destiny?
Three years after she was born, her family moved to the United States in an upper middle-class suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. After a few months they bought a 4-bedroom house with her mother’s money. Her father’s work by 1976 had him traveling between the United States, Latin America and South America. Her mother worked off and on.
When she was a young child, she was so distant from her father that her mother would have to always ask her to give him a good-night kiss. This could be attributed to his many business travels and being away often during her early years. And, when he was home, he was dealing with her mother’s ranting and raving. It was almost as if she didn’t have a father and it didn’t really seem to bother her for the most part. There were times though when she had wanted him around. Like on her 8th birthday party. Her father had been away on business. When he finally arrived late that evening her mother and he got into a fight. Her mother was accusing him of having one of his many affairs. Her father was mad because her mother had been drinking and was drunk. Her father ran off and left the house. She was not sure if he was ever going to come back. She remembered staying up until what seemed the middle of the night to make sure that he came back because even though she was never really close to him as young girls should be, she still loved him.
It was unclear when this new path of destruction for her own family really began. She had been told of stories about parties her maternal grandparents would have and her mother would take sips from the drinks that were being served. But, by the 1970’s her mother’s sips had turned into cases of beer and jugs of wine. Her mother raised her and her sisters with a foundation that resembled her own. Ballet, piano lessons, English Horseback Riding lessons, museums, art, fine dining and over indulging in the nicest of clothes. It seemed perfect, but her mother’s drinking and the violence that came with it from both of her parents had begun to destroy whatever possibilities of long-lived happiness her family could have.
In 1979 her family moved to Houston, Texas. Her father owned a valve distribution company for the oil industry. They moved into a 5-bedroom, 2-story, 3-car garage house with a game room and vaulted ceilings. It was about the age of 10 when her eyes began to open. She began to feel that they were different from other families. She couldn’t imagine that every family had physical outbursts like theirs or that when a child goes to bed, they will wonder whether their parents would drive home safely or not. When she was 13, her mother had gotten into a bad car accident that almost cost her her life. She and her sisters had to go through saying their good-byes to their mother because the doctors weren’t sure if she would survive.
Her family’s years in Houston during 1979-1986 were those with ups and downs. Their downs, for her, outplayed the ups. When her family made the move to Houston her parents chose the best schools and a great community. Their life was picturesque. Her father’s business did well for the first five years. Her mother, once again, worked off and on, even though her mom had not been raised to ever work a day in her life! She had been raised to marry someone whom would financially take care of her and continue to give her the life she was accustomed to. Their daily lives consisted of school, work and whichever lessons her mother had them in. When her mother wasn’t on a binge life was easier and sometimes happier, but unfortunately people move on and forget until the next time all hell breaks loose. Her father wasn’t traveling anymore, as he had done prior to living in Houston. When he’d come home from work he would usually make dinner because her mother would be drunk. Typically when her mother would return from work she would have already been drinking. Sometimes when her mother would get in, she’d go straight to bed and pass out. But, then at about 8 or 9p.m. her mother would wake up and start a fight with anybody. Her mother would speak about her father’s infidelities or call him a queer in Spanish. She, even though she had school the next morning after these incidents, would usually go to bed soon after the fighting, but would be kept up most nights depending on how far the fight would go. She’d usually hear her mother screaming or throwing things. When her mother was drunk she would do anything to annoy any one of them. Her mother was vulgar and loud when she drank. If her mother wasn’t throwing a pitcher of ice over her father’s head, she would constantly cut the cable cord to the television so there would be no escape mentally to what was going on around them.
Their life was chaotic and unpredictable, but with a mix of beautiful moments either spending time in the warm Gulf waters with their father or sneaking away shopping with their mother. Over those years, she dealt with domestic violence though that not only came from her mother starting a fight with whomever, but also from her sisters physically tearing one another apart. And, her father’s temperament was usually cool and collective but every few months he’d also explode. He had a tendency to physically exercise his turmoil that came from the stress that her mother’s drinking brought on or the financial issues that they were always dealing with because of her mother’s overspending.
By the time any of her sisters or she had reached puberty they became rebellious against their parents. To this day she never recalls once having any respect for them. She grew up seeing her two older sisters physically fight their father. If he lifted his hand to them, they would do likewise. When she was 13, her two older sisters began going to downtown Houston and wouldn’t show up for a few days. In their home, downtown was known as the place where the drug addicts and homosexuals were. At least this is what her mother would say. Her parents tried to get her sisters to stop going there. The last time this happened which explains how bad her childhood had gotten.
Her sisters were on their way out and her parents were trying to stop them. What she recalls was her mother at the front door, trying to block them. Her father insisted that they weren’t going anywhere. On their way to the door her father went after them. He pulled at one of them. She reacted by throwing her bags at him to hit him. Fists began to fly. She watched one sister being dragged by the hair through the living room. Her sister that is two years older than her, tried to make him leave their two older sisters alone. She even threw a shoe at him, which hit his head but didn’t slow him down from trying to achieve his purpose. Somehow, her two older sisters got away. They ran out the front door with nothing more than their lives. Their purse, bags of clothes for the weekend, and even a shoe one of them was wearing was left behind.
By this time her other sister and she knew to run to their rooms. They knew even though this fight had nothing to do with them that it would affect them. They ran to her bedroom, which was the first room up the stairs. They locked the door. They opened her bedroom window, crying and screaming to their two older sisters that had fled, to not leave them behind. She visually can still see them running down the street, looking back. They looked as if several men had attacked them.
But, just then there was banging at the door. It was her father. She and her sister shut the window. He yelled at them to open the door. He needed to teach them a lesson, which was that they should never follow in their sister’s footsteps. Because he persisted and said not to make it worse for themselves, her sister opened the door and ran down the hallway to her room. He chased her. She shut her door and hid under her bed. She could hear her sister’s screams and cries. After a few minutes, she heard him open her door. When he realized where she was he told her in Spanish that if she didn’t come out right then that when she did he would hit her head between the floor and the bottom of the bed. She came out to receive her punishment, just like many times before. It did not matter to her parents that she had done nothing wrong but watch this spectacle they had created. After he was done hitting her he gathered her sister and she together to go downstairs to apologize to their mother. When they did their mother was in the kitchen, cooking. But, it was not until they apologized that she realized that her mother was drunk. She was apologizing for nothing she had done to a drunken lady.
For a few weeks after that, for the first time in a very long time, she and her sister were scared of their parents. After seeing what she had seen, she was scared for her life! Her two older sisters were not heard from for what seemed ages. Within time her parents let up from their newly-found, strict dominance. But, her life was changed forever. A seed was planted. This life she had known up until now was wrong! She hated it and fought against it. She went through periods of suicide attempts. She escaped in her room dreaming of a life other than hers. Her grades had fallen drastically. From an A/B student she was now failing. At 15, she began her descent of dropping out of school. Her parents were always those types to be too lenient with exception of their well overdue violence, otherwise known to them as discipline. They did plead with her to go to school, but did not force it. They thought she had some type of depression so they would do anything to please her. When she turned 16 she officially dropped out of high school.
The oil industry by this time had plummeted in Houston. Her father’s business had not been doing well and he closed it down. Her mother had to sell off her inheritance (jewelry, silver, crystal) to pawn shops to pay for the utilities and food. Their house was being foreclosed. Her two older sisters had moved to Chicago with some friends from downtown Houston. Her parents and them had reconciled from their vicious fight 2 ½ years earlier. Her father had to move to California to look for work. Some of his family had been living out there and they were willing to help him out. Her mother was to stay behind to wrap things up with the house before they were officially locked out. That Spring her remaining sister graduated from high school. She was moving back to Ohio with a longtime childhood friend of theirs. Her mother was to rent an apartment where they would live.
From May to November 1986 was a dark and lonely time for her. She doesn’t think her parents really discussed were their youngest child was going to end up. Or, maybe they did. Her father’s denial to this day of her mother’s alcoholism is baffling to her. They had hopes for her to return to school, but how could her father think that would ever happen while living with her mother’s drinking? What ended up happening to her was that she searched for a home. In less than a year she had gone from Houston to Chicago, Chicago to Houston, Houston to California, back to Houston, then to California again. Wherever she stayed, with the exception of the airline ticket her father would pay, she had to fend for herself. Everyone in her family was doing the same, but she was just 16 years old.
While in Chicago she lost her virginity, technically. She had begun drinking a year earlier at her 15th birthday party. She drank Bacardi and Coke until she threw up and passed out. She didn’t remember her own birthday celebration. And, even though she would go to the extent she had seen her mother go to and hated it, she was now doing the same. And, while staying with her two older sisters in Chicago, at a get together at a neighbor’s brownstone, she and two of her sisters drank. Supposedly, she got so drunk she began to throw up. One of her sisters stuck her in the neighbor’s bathtub and then later into one of the guy’s bed to sleep it off. But, her sisters left her there. She was blacked out the whole night. But, she does recall a mere moment. The pain of him trying to enter her woke her up or at least woke her up out of her blackout stupor. He was on top of her and she was trying to push him off. She moaned in agony but she just passed out again. In the morning she woke up to find herself half naked. She would later find out that she got a STD. She had her virginity taken from her. She did not have sex again for another year.
After being raped, she returned to Houston. But her mother’s alcoholism was the worst she had ever witnessed. She didn’t tell anyone about what had happened in Chicago. She came back to find her mother making steak dinners with her father’s money to feed a guy that her mother was sleeping with, romancing, keeping company with? She was not sure. He was homeless and living in the woods next to their apartment complex. This woman – her mother, had come from a long line of wealthy, educated, successful family members. She had gone to an exclusive women’s college in New York. Only the wealthiest families from other countries had these privileges at that time. Her mother and her mother’s family had traveled throughout Europe and Japan. They owned properties in the United States and Peru. She, in her eyes though, had hit rock bottom.
In November of 1986, she urged her father to allow her to return to California. She tried to make the best of her life there. She returned to school and was doing well but her mother would eventually move there and after that their lives continued like before. She dropped out of high school again. She would escape through binge drinking. She hung out with drug dealers who later introduced her to Cocaine and Ecstasy. She had already been using LSD from time to time since she moved back to Cali.
In the fall of 1989 something changed though. She began a new quest, to finish her education. She wanted to prove to herself that she could finish a task, unlike how she saw her mother not being able to complete anything she would start. She enrolled at the local community college and did well for years. She went to school and worked full-time.
After the death of a close friend of hers in September 1991, she moved to Los Angeles. She and her friend had been going to the clubs there. She had met someone in L.A. during their trips to the clubs in West Hollywood that would insist on her moving to the City of Angels. She was in shock after her friend’s passing and said, “okay” the evening of her friend’s funeral. He had a place for her to stay, he said. After realizing she wasn’t moving in with him, she thought she would room with a girl he was close to. The day she met her and the girl led her to the apartment, she was so naïve on what was really going on. He was a pimp and the girl she had met was a high priced call girl. The girl led her to the apartment the girls worked out of and that she would for next several months. At the time she thought she had to either do this and could eventually get her own apartment or go back to living with her parents. She viewed it as picking one hell over another. She chose the new hell.
She made lots of money and at least had the refuge of her own place now. She finally had a home of her own but it was at a price. Was this how her life was meant to be? No longer was she a victim of her parents. Now, she had handed the torch over, to herself. She continued with school, she continued with alcohol, and she continued with her depression but she had been in therapy for a few years.
Her therapy had begun because she had read Suzanne Somers’s book Keeping Secrets. Suzanne Somer’s childhood closely resembled her own. And even though Suzanne Somer’s family had all chosen recovery, she could see a glimpse of herself having a different life. She knew she would have to die fighting this disease of alcoholism and violence rather to succumb to it. Over the next few years she struggled with bad choices in her life. She urged her family to help themselves. Her mother didn’t like how she referenced a sitcom star. She continued “the business” for only a little while longer. She added on a new addiction though – spending money. Outside of the business, men continued to take advantage of her. She would somehow pick men that were cheaters, liars and just wanted to use her. They never gave the generous, kind girl a chance. By 1993, she was out of the business of seeing various men. She had stopped seeing a guy she had been with for seven months though she saw him one last time at the end of February 1994, were they conceived her son. Her son would push her forward toward living a life she had only dreamt about.
She went to live in San Diego with her parents when she was pregnant but, when her child was 5 months old she moved back to Los Angeles. She couldn’t live with her mother’s alcoholism anymore. She had been fighting with her while she was pregnant. Her son could not be a part of that.
She found a studio apartment in West Los Angeles. Even though she had the same friends, she now had new priorities. By the time her son was fifteen months old she returned to school. Within 2 ½ years she received her Associates Degree in Business Administration. She chose to no longer be friends with the girls that were chasing ballplayers and going to the clubs. She stopped drinking and continued to work on her personal growth.
It’s now 2008. Her son is 14 years old. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2003. All those years she put herself through school. She stopped taking money from men. She’d only see her family maybe once a year. They were pretty non-existent for the most part. She never received help from her son’s father, physically or financially. Her son does not know him. But her son has his mom’s spirit. He is funny, generous, compassionate and sweet. He is in advanced classes at his school and has never really shown any anger or issues from his situation of not having his father around. She only spanked him once. He never has witnessed violence or alcoholism. They have spoken about it, but he would never believe what his mother has experienced. No one that meets her would.
Her life has been a long journey with lots of lessons. She knows what she wants from life by having experienced what she doesn’t want. If she had not made the choice to have her son, she thinks she may still be a victim. She thinks and hopes she has begun the process of change for a new journey for hopefully many generations to come to live life with humor, peace, happiness, and love. And, this she knows for sure: that she is always evolving and she now knows that she can make it through anything.