I grew up in a dysfunctional Latinx household where anything that was dirty, shameful, or ugly was swept under the rug, never to be seen again. I know this sounds as though a sad story is about to take place — to some degree, I suppose it is — but this is a story of resilience.
Having been a victim of sexual abuse as a child by family members who should have paid for their crimes and didn't, I grew up thinking that these types of things must happen in all Latinx families, or that maybe I had done something wrong. I felt that the fault lay with me and not with them.
"I grew up thinking that these types of things must happen in all Latinx families, or that maybe I had done something wrong."
Despite a series of damaging events which led me down a path of homelessness, teen motherhood, a string of verbally and physically abusive relationships, and self-damaging behavior, I was reminded that I had become a statistic — a young Puerto Rican girl who got "knocked up" and ruined her life. During my many trials and tribulations, I had not yet realized that there was a higher purpose for my life.
Early on, the thought of being a strong Latina female who could accomplish anything was not the narrative. As I sit here reflecting, I can smile to myself and look back on my life as a series of experiences that molded me into who I am today. What started as a hobby in the form of a fun DIY blog, turned into a multi-million-dollar business and transformed me from a scared and insecure child into a strong, intelligent businesswoman, mother of four, speaker, host, and teacher, focusing to empower and encourage other women to live beyond their circumstances.
I used to look back at my family with shame and anger, and although my mother and I have a great relationship now, I once blamed her for much of what had happened in my life. I blamed her for not protecting me, for not putting the family that hurt me in jail, for not allowing me to feel safe. I still struggle with some of those feelings, but I have come to understand that we cannot change the past and we cannot judge the path others have had to take along their own journey.
The actions she took to deal with what had happened were kept from me because I think she felt that if I didn't have to think about it, deal with it, or talk about it, I could put it behind me. When I found out as an adult that my mother had gone through similar experiences when she was a child and shaped how she dealt with life's difficult moments, it helped me understand that she could only do as much as she knew how to.
"When I became a single mom, I found myself understanding so much more about the woman who raised me."
I choose to look at all that I have learned from my mother. My mother was a single parent who always provided me with a beautiful home, clean clothes, and food. She worked a full-time job and two part-time jobs to keep us fed, sheltered, and clothed. She wasn't home much and was not always in the most pleasant moods. When I became a single mom, I found myself understanding so much more about the woman who raised me, and a deeper sense of gratitude and forgiveness started to take place. She now and always will be a great source of inspiration to me.
I understood that just like me, she was trying to do the best she could with what little she knew. You see, the beauty of life is that we have the ability to learn and grow from our mistakes, and we have the option to choose how we deal with our pain. I have chosen to turn my pain into a testimony and to always remember that my circumstances, mistakes, and bad choices did not define me as a woman but instead lead to an abundance of healing, growth, and prosperity.