{Picture Perfect} - My Messy Beautiful

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

How do you tell a story when you have no idea where to start?  I figure I should just start where the words take me.

I lived in a home that was pretty much picture perfect.  A mother who stayed home to raise her two children and a hard-working father what came home late every night because he was out providing for his family.  It was a family busy with their son's t-ball games every Saturday and family days with grandparents, aunts, and uncles every Sunday.  It was a childhood of sleepovers at grandma's house so the parents could have a night for themselves.  It was trips to see the California poppies bloom or a drive down to Knott's Berry Farm just for a taste of some awesome chicken and a warm rhubarb cup.  Easter Sundays were for looking for eggs and chocolates on grandma's front lawn and in her living room and finding brand new sparkly bikes under her Christmas tree.

From the outside, our family life looked wonderful and in many ways it was.  As a child, I didn't know any other kind of life.  This was my childhood.

Little Nay ~ about 9 years old ~ Los Angeles CA
There were many seasons in my childhood, more often than not, that my mother would work at my grandparents' business when money got tight.  At these times, I would spend my time at my great-grandmother's house - watching cartoons, filling coloring book pages, and eating toast with grape jelly.  Everyday my great-grandmother's son, my great-uncle, would come over to visit her.  Every afternoon, my grandfather would pick me up (and later my brother as well), take us to the office until my mother was done with her work.

It was all pretty much normal.  In my life, when an uncle would visit his mother, he always took his great-niece into a room in the back - where no one could see - and "check me down there".  I thought that everyday little girls all around California and the world were picked up by their grandfathers.  The grandfathers would place them in the front seat, with the oblivious, little brother in the back seat, and drive.  These grandfathers all drove while giving all those granddaughters that special touch in that private place.

This was a typical day from my childhood and my recollection of this type of life starts at around five-years-old.  I didn't see anything wrong with it.  I believed it was normal events for any child.  I did find it odd at times that my father didn't act this way with me.  But, I just thought he was too busy working and tired or didn't love me the special way they did.

Then it happened...Ricky Schroder on a commercial about "that kind of touching".  I remember my dad sitting across from me on the sofa and looking at me, saying, "if anyone does that to you, Renesita, I want to know."  But, he had that mad face when he said it.  I became afraid, thereafter.  I knew if I told him or anyone, I'd get in trouble.  Or worse...my uncle and grandfather would know I said something and they would get in trouble (because now I knew something was wrong).

Years passed and eventually I told on each of them - about my uncle in fifth grade and my grandfather in seventh grade.  (There were other isolated incidents with others in my family, but for some reason, those were the two I had to tell about.) So, all is good in my world again and the happily ever after would start.  Well, one would hope.

The thing is, the happy ending didn't happen immediately.  See, after I told the truth, all hell broke loose.  I was the reason the picture perfect life would crumble.  I was the reason and excuse for a family rocked off its pedestal...why Christmas was different...why we moved again and again...why mom started having emotional issues and "episodes".  

Yes, the family did get back together after my grandfather's death, but I was now a very different person.  I was a teenager and then the black sheep and lost girl in my 20s.  I was the girl any guy had a good time with, used, and then always threw away.  I now knew the difference between loves - or what I thought was love - and the loss of love for myself.  I inherently knew that I was only good for "one thing".

But the silver lining in all of this soon appeared.  

He found me.  

He showed me that I was good for so much more.  He became the man that knew everything about me, everything I did, and still accepted me....with open arms.  He loved me.  Unconditionally.  I never knew a love like this existed.  That I was worthy of a love like this.  A love that knows when I'm fighting my demons, knows how I'm feeling even before I can express it...Real love.  A love that doesn't ask for anything in return and doesn't keep secrets.  A love that only asks for me to be myself and never lie.  I can do those things!

When I hear people say that meeting their special someone was the moment they became a better person?  I believe it and know it deep down in my heart.  My best friend is my husband.  I can say in all honesty that the love my husband has for me, and I for him, is my happily ever after.  The happily ever after ending I deserved when I was younger but God knew what He was doing.

How do you tell a story when you have no idea where to start?
Well, I guess I just did.

This post is dedicated to the child I was - you find your prince charming, my sweet Renesita, my little Nay.  No need to worry.  He'll be there to rescue you soon enough.  I love you.

 photo signature_zps2776e6b8.png


  1. OH this is crushing and so emotional to read. I am heart broken that this happened to you. I want to hug you so hard right now. Thank you so much for sharing this, I know this must be so hard for you.

  2. Tears. You are even more brave and incredible than I already knew. Your truth is so important and I'm so proud of you for sharing. Wish I was closer, I need to hug you!

  3. Your bravery is inspiring, thank you for sharing! Justine

  4. Great big ugly cry tears for you. This was so raw and so beautiful. In may I will hug you with such force your breath will catch. That is a promise.


Post a Comment