1. “THE TATTOOS HELP ME GET THROUGH MY PROBLEMS”
My parents got divorced when I was really young and I think after a while I was a vegetarian and into hard-core, metal music.
I think those things kind of made me not hurt so much, the tattoos and all those kind of things gave me a sense of community. It made me stronger.
My dad used to abuse my mom. My grandparents came and took us from my dad without him ever knowing so my first tattoo is actually of my grandparents. It says lucky, because how lucky we were to have them in our lives.
I keep getting tattoos every time something happens in my life, good or bad. I get a tattoo just to remind myself of that moment. That way it keeps me moving, going through life. The tattoos help me get through my problems or any difficulties. Because I didn’t have a close family that kind of helped me in my teenage years.
It made me realize that you choose your family, your friends can be your family. I had really good friends that kind of guided me in that direction. Of course now I have my own family, I have a husband my son. My teenager years were really rough because my family was so disruptive and disconnected but finding those people and going to shows, finding a purpose is what made me stronger.
2. “HONESTY IS THE TRUEST FORM OF INTIMACY”
I started doing drugs and drinking at a very young age, at 11 years old. Then I started selling drugs at 13 years old. By 19 I was using needles and at 26, last year, it stopped.
Nothing ever did it for me because I never hit rock bottom. But it was really my mother finding out this secret that I kept all to myself,
made me say, this can’t be anymore. There was this obligation, I just had to stop. The relationship to my mom made me strong. They always believed in me. I decided to make that decision to be healthy, to do right.
This past year I really attribute the new me to honesty, not lying. Being able to wake up and not have to lie to someone about my lifestyle or what I’m doing. It makes bonding with people easier, being part of the collective society easier. I feel honesty is the truest form of intimacy.
I had one bear when I was a young boy, his name was Ted. I remember that I loved that bear. I loved that bear to death. I always had him with me.
3. “I WAS TOLD I WAS TOO NICE”
I was in a relationship and once again I was told I was too nice. Nothing like being dumped because you were too nice. But it made me realize that I don’t need anyone else to make me happy. I can make myself happy. And when the time comes and if someone is there for me, great, but if not, I can do it all on my own. I have much more self-confidence, much more strength. I don’t spend my time looking for someone to make me happy. I spend my time looking for ways to make myself happy.
I have a red squishy pillow not a stuffed animal that I take with me always. When I was little I had a pink dog named Scarlet and I still have it. I’m 49 years old and I still have it. It always kept me company.
4. “GETTING MY MASTERS EMPOWERED HIM TO BECOME SOBER”
When I graduated from college I applied for my masters and my family was not very supportive. They wanted me to stop school and start working because we moved here from Mexico so they thought it was time for me to work. They didn’t support me or talk to me for a while so I decided nonetheless to get my masters degree in addiction medicine.
While I was growing up my father really suffered from alcoholism so that is why I decided to work in addiction medicine. That challenge really empowered me. After I got my masters he then became sober so it turned out to be great. My father has been sober for nine years now. Me getting my masters empowered him to become sober.
I had a doll when I was little her name was Rosita. She was a Strawberry Shortcake doll but she was Mexican. I was an only child and she kept me company.
5. “DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE DIFFERENT”
We’re not like everyone else. We don’t dress fashionable, we’re not into fashion, or into the hipster scene. We’re just different and obviously she’s Caucasian and I’m Hispanic and when people look at us and they see us completely different.
I also have two kids that are Caucasian and they are her kids and I have my daughter, obviously Mexican so when we come together we do get the stares and with our tattoos. They look at our kids, we let them body pierce their faces. Our oldest boy who just turned 18 wanted his first tattoo and we took him and he got his first tattoo. Nowadays people see that as a taboo, like how can you take your kid to get a tattoo. We never tell our kids how to dress.
When people see us, they think we are thugs, or gangsters. My kids have been asked, is your dad a cholo? No I’m a plumber, I own my own business. She works for a big company.
We try to teach our kids that different isn’t bad. We don’t let our kids judge other people for their appearance. Never judge a book by its cover, we often are judged. Don’t be afraid to be different.
6. “IT ALLOWS ME TO NAVIGATE THROUGH THE WORLD WITH MORE EMPATHY”
I have a pre-existing mental health condition that some people have attached a stigma to and thought that maybe I wouldn’t succeed as much as I have. I now am a graduate student at UCLA and I have an awesome job and an amazing partner. I just think that in our society that really profits off of our self-doubt just being who we are is the most important form of rebellion and just being out there in the world. I think that is really important.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 17 and I suffer from bouts of really debilitating anxiety and panic. I’m currently getting out of something right now. I just try to know, that it just makes me stronger and it allows me to navigate through the world with more empathy.
I have a little monkey that a friend of mine, when I was in a psychological treatment program, gave to me. I don’t look at it very often. It does have very big eyes and it is very small and it makes me laugh when I see it. It’s cute.
When I was little I had a little lamb I called Lamby and I remember my mom gave it away to some other kid when she thought I was too old for it and I was so devastated she got rid of it and she went back and got it for me. I had Lamby and Oatmeal. Oatmeal was a bear and they were a little pair and I felt sad for Oatmeal when the lamb was’t there anymore. I was very upset and I had her go and get it back.
Then I remember feeling remorse that she got it back because I felt maybe that child wasn’t as privileged as me to have these animals and now I just took it back from them. I remember feeling that sadness for it.
7. “NOW I FEEL LIKE I AM ABLE TO STEP INTO A LIFE PURPOSE”
Unfortunately in 2007 my father’s life was taken and he was a jazz musician. My mother was a singer songwriter. I grew up in this household where there was music every single day. If I wanted to go to bed and get any sleep I would have to wear ear plugs. It was musicians constantly and just like, jazz, jazz, jazz. I came out here to act. I’ve starred in many movies.
Because of some early, I guess trauma, I could not, I was blocked even though I was acting, I was still blocked. As I started to try to do a living amends to my very impossible father, who’s on the other side, who helps me along with this now. He is so unbelievably amazing now that he’s on the other side, I have to say. Out of the living amends to my father I’ve found my voice as a singer and I’m still really working on it. It is developing, the brightness and the light and the synchronicity that happens around it is extremely powerful.
Even though we didn’t have the greatest relationship, now I feel like I am able to step into a life purpose, is what it feels like. I am finding my voice even though there was tragedy. I feel guided by my father and my mother from the other side. I am able to let go, be in tremendous forgiveness. And ferociously and very strongly try to live my life to the best of my ability even though sometimes I feel I should have done this, done that. I kind of just say, well, you know I am here today, I’m alive. I choose to live a visible recovered life.
My dog is my stuffed animal. She really is. I used to have a bear.
I bought one recently when I really started to connect to my inner child. I would go to my meetings and I would hold her. Sometimes people would look at me as an adult, like, what are you doing with a big old bear. I felt so safe and I felt safe enough to be able to communicate some of the early things that blocked me from music, interestingly.
8. “I STARTED NOT BELIEVING WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT OF ME”
Throughout my younger years I used to get rejected a lot by the women. They use to call me ugly, all types of names. And I used that to make me feel that I can do better with myself. And I started not believing what people thought of me but as how I see myself being and making myself happy. Now they see how I make myself. Really, they regret what they did to me.
When I was five years old I got hit in the back of the head with a stick. I went into the ambulance and they gave me a little toy, a little stuffed animal and I still have him. I named him Roosevelt after my dad. My dad wasn’t around when I was younger so I always kept him around.