Who I am today…

Born to a Mexican teenage mother (pregnant at 17, yikes!) who refused to be another “statistic” so she stayed in school. Which means I was mostly raised between my grandma and my mom while she completed school. Enter in the amazing man I still call Daddy, if you haven’t figured it out, he is not my biological father. This man took me into his heart and life as his own and taught me that blood isn’t the most important thing. His love came to teach me so much as an adult that as a child i didn’t realize.

Now, back to the scheduled program…Right before turning 4 yrs.old mom put me into ballet, little did I know ballet would become my life. I began auditioning and was accepted into my  first ballet company at 8 yrs.old and would continue on until I was 28 yrs.old. Here’s the inception of my struggles with food, anxiety, and body image. Living the life of a classically trained ballerina/ dancer requires maintaining your weight and body mass. Even at a very young age I was being weighed in, constantly fitted, and watching my diet. Ballet would create such juxtaposition growing up. As a second generation Mexicana I would help grandma cook daily and loved learning her quirky, non-measuring, mixing un-expected ingredients way of doing everything. We’d make tamales, tortillas, caldos, and one of my favorite things,  arroz con leche (if you haven’t had this, stayed tuned, subscribe and I will share the recipe soon) but these are not the foods that ballerinas eat. I had to focus on staying skinny and fit, this meant sticking to set foods and endless hours of ballet classes and rehearsals. Ballerinas at the time (80’s and 90’s, yeah yeah showing my age)  were also not often brown skinned. At home I was made fun of and treated differently by relatives for living in a “white world” then in my “ballet” world I was treated differently or at times as a “token”. I didn’t feel I had a place or fit in anywhere. I wanted to be pleasing and “enough” for everyone. I wanted to fit this made up role that meant not only was I not truly known by many, but I didn’t even know who I was. This would help me to become who I am today.

Years later I would get involved with a man who I thought cared for me. About 6 months into dating him, he began to beat me. I would get beaten if another man looked at me, if i had any sort of tone he felt disrespected by, or even if I would make a face he felt was directed at him. This then turned into rape. More times then I can share, he would hold his gun to my head and rape me or make me perform fellatio. He would tell me that if i left he would kill me, that I was his, he would find me where ever I was. I lived in constant fear that this would happen, i felt paralyzed. this went on for almost a year. Eventually after he stalked and nearly killed me, he was arrested and placed in jail. It has taken me years and years to get to a point that I can even discuss this. I lived for so long in shame, placing my abuse and rapes on myself. Feeling as if it was all my fault, I put myself in this position, i dated him after all, I should have known better. To this day he is still ever present in my life. Loud noises, quick movements, even an unintentional arm raise to say hello can make me jump out of my skin. This to would help me to become who I am today.

This years Easter will mark 4 yrs. since I was baptized. I was raised Catholic, I even attended catechism and went to confession. As I became older, I realized I was in search of “something” more, something that could cover up this hurt inside, something that could fill the void, something that could help me feel like I was “enough”. I always knew but I didn’t know that “something” pulling on my heart was….. God. I spent Sundays trying out church after church but struggled to find comfort. After months and feeling as though maybe church wasn’t for me, a friend invited me to The Austin Stone Community Church. I was hesitant but accepted. That day was the beginning of my life anew! Soon after that first day I began to serve on the Welcome team and Austin Stone “kids” ministry. I’d always felt a tugging on my heart but now I recognized that tugging as our Father God, I’d always felt a weird gnawing or grumble in my tummy (to be honest I just thought I was hungry) now I recognize that this gnawing is The Holy Spirit. This is who I am today.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans of welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope; Jeremiah 29:11, and praise Jesus, for this hope! In the words of Ann Voskamp “He whispers to your scars, you are my beloved; except his invitation to be his imitation.” I AM a daughter of The King and my story is NO MISTAKE. Your story is NO MISTAKE. We as a people cannot reconcile what we do not recognize and comprehension doesn’t begin without conversation, so here I am starting a conversation with you. I am baring myself to you to help bring healing not only to myself but hopefully my story can bring you or someone you know healing. Maybe my story can bring you understanding or hopefully there’s a pull your feeling to get to know God. I am here for you.

I can look back now and see ballet and dance provided me the opportunity to travel all over and experience different cultures and people, when otherwise I may not have had the opportunity. I can look back now and know that even in my suffering God was with me and if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you (me) , he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you; Romans 8:11. I am a sinner, I am not a perfect example, but I am a living example. I am here to open the door to my less than perfect life to you…