I can’t explain how terrified I am to write this. I’m barely hanging on the strength of my blogging friend’s confessions in order to type this out. I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve written it, or on how many different platforms and many different formats (prose, poetry, song, etc) before hitting the delete button, but this time I am going to hang on.. I think.. because I need to stop being so scared.
One thing you need to know before I tell you this story is that when my son was born, in a time when I no longer wanted to live, I gave my life to him. I swore that I would do whatever it took, no matter the sacrifice, to take care of him.
Many years ago I was a single Mom working 50+ hours a week at a gas station making $6.50hr. I had an apartment on assistance that was really nice, my first place, every morning in the bitter cold I would carry or half drag my sleeping 4 year old boy 6 blocks down the street to a babysitter who barely spoke English but she was all I could afford. Some mornings it was too early to take him, so he’d come back to the gas station and sleep on a mat by the mixers while I made donuts. We were always creative with how we lived. Once, I couldn’t afford gas to heat the stove or the water and had to wait for a week until my check, so we bought everything microwaveable that we could to eat and I would boil hot water in the microwave for his bath since our stove was electric. He thought we were playing a game, I always made the worst times as fun as I could.
When things were bad they were really bad though. I was constantly in pain from bad teeth and ovarian cysts. I taught myself how to do minor surgery to my mouth in order to keep abscesses at bay and release the horrid pain that comes with them. I had been in pain so much that I was on a regular regime of Ibuprofen and Tylenol. I even once pulled a small tooth on my own because food was worth more to me for my son than a dentist. I’m a really stubborn person at heart. Anyway.. to move along with this story.. I was given the decision to stay in the life I was living, get married and have someone take care of me or to try and make a new life somewhere else for us.
I chose option 3, packed a few bags, sold what I could sell and left everything else and flew away.
When I arrived on the West Coast I realized things weren’t much different. I was having to sell my blood in order to get food, I just wasn’t the only one doing it. There were days we’d go without food in order for our kids to eat and all the while my heart was raging from one place to another. I had went to stay with a friend a few times that I met online and I saw what life my friends were living. They were so smart and so bright. They never knew what real struggling was, they never knew what “poor” was truly, they were what I called “picket fence” people. The ones that grew up on the right side of the tracks and I realized then what life I wanted for my son. I wanted him to have their life, to be bright and smart and beautiful and never know hunger or need. I was given another choice – to stay where I was and try to pull myself into a life there or move to the city and try to start a life in a world that I felt didn’t accept people like me.
My stubborn heart packed up my son and we drove away, across the bridge to the city that would become our new hope.
One day when it was as if all hope was lost. When no one in my family could help me, I couldn’t get a job and I had very little assistance… I saw this banner ad online for Modeling. Everyone always said I was pretty and this place said that it could offer jobs, so I went and made a profile and within 24 hours I had over 100 job requests for money I could barely imagine. There was just one very small catch…
It required nudity.
I didn’t respond to the emails. I was pretty shocked by how much people wanted to pay for it and mused over it with my friend, but nothing serious. Though that night I stayed up all night thinking… I was here burdening my friend that was taking on the costs of not only himself, but a single mom and a child that were practically strangers. I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have anything but this overwhelming desire to give my son this life that I saw all around me. The next morning I responded to the first email and that began my life as a Model.
I’d like to say that it solved all my problems, but it didn’t. Money was incredible in the beginning, but I was so unused to actual ‘money’ that I had no idea what I was doing and it fled my life as soon as it came in. On the plus side, the modeling I had began with turned into actual modeling – fashion, artsy things and so forth. I met incredible people and those people led me to other people and many of them were my saviors, my angels and who became my family. The wave of my life took me from modeling, to socialite, into the gaming network and many other places. I would have never gotten my career without the confidence it had afforded me in the end, nor the various apartments or the eventual dentistry that took me away from the pain I had lived with since I was a teenager.
Though piece by piece I was fading… for all the fascinating and cool things going on that other people reveled about, I was lost. I felt alone. What had given me the ability to take care of my child was also pulling me away from him and when things almost bottomed out and left me in the tatters of everything I had hoped to build – my husband took my hand and he brought me back home.
He brought us back home.
I’d like to say I made it, but honestly it is really more than my husband had invited me in to a life he already had. He saw through all my shattered pieces, all the ugliness I felt in myself and he saw something still beautiful there and he saved me. But he would have never found me if I had never became a Model.
All things happen for a reason.
I have no regrets for the life I’ve lived as it had not only offered me a way to care for my child, afforded me the experience and knowledge to become the person and the Mother I am today, but also gifted me the most important people in my life; some of which were my photographers. Those of us that grew up from poverty understand that Life doesn’t afford many choices for those on the other side of the tracks. I wanted to give my son a life that had choices, that allowed him choices where I had none and I had to go so far away from home – so far away from myself – to realize that it was here waiting for me.
Anyway… that’s my first confession. I wish I could tell those with higher moral ground that given the choice again I would choose differently, but I wouldn’t. My body is not me, my heart is everything that I am and my heart is my children.
Here are the other stories of brave women writing.