It's terrifying to be in the eye of social media. So many people come to my Facebook page to read my posts, and through me revealing only a little of what I am, and have been going through they find the strength needed to keep pushing forward.
I'm not doing this for glorification. I'm not doing this for pity or gain or whatever else you may think. I'm doing this for those who message/email/write me and let me know about their lives, their deepest darkest secrets, and through that small connection find the strength to continue on.
I'm going to reveal EVERYTHING, and it scares the hell out of me.
I'll start where every story starts, and that's at the very beginning.
My name is Desiree Nicole DeOrto. I was born in Northridge, California, Los Angeles County. At the start, my parents were married, but that didn't last long. My father is a Vietnam Veteran, and through serving his country and almost being killed for it, he became and alcoholic with post-traumatic stress disorder. My mother came from a rather large family, most of which suffer from one form of depression or other psychiatric disorder.
Needless to say, my mom and dad met, fell in 'love', had my brother, then had me. Normally this would be the part where people would talk about how great their childhood was, and how much their parents loved and cared about them. That isn't what happened in my case.
My parents only stayed married for a number of years. My mother didn't turn into an alcoholic until they divorced, but my father was one well before then. I don't remember much about the early years. Maybe its because my brain decided to block a lot of it out to forget, but what I do remember is enough.
I remember the screaming. I remember the yelling, the sobbing. How my mother would always claim that it was everyone else's fault that her life was so f*ed up. I remember the sound, the ferocious base yell of my father as he would call her nothing but a whore.
When they divorced, my mother claimed that my father sexually abused me and my brother. Her family backed it up in court, and while I can't claim whether or not he did, it didn't matter then. Yes, my father was a 'bad man', but I still loved him. He was stripped of almost all parental rights, leaving him with minimal supervised visitation before he finally gave up and moved back to Indiana, leaving my brother and I with our mother, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.
Being free of my father, my mother started drinking, popping pills and quickly became addicted to both and more. She bounced around from man to man, always seeking that ever elusive 'love', until they either didn't want her anymore, or she would up and leave for the 'next-best-thing'. The only problem was that her type of love isn't the normal, safe type.
I almost think that she used to like being hit. That she actually enjoyed having a story to tell, a woe-begone tale of love and abuse, and then everyone would sit around her and say 'poor Susie' and she'd soak it up. So she jumped from bed to bed, from one abusive hand to an even more abusive hand.
When I was six, we lived in a run down apartment complex. My mother and her then-current boyfriend were fighting. About what, I don't know. I watched as he backhanded her into the large dumpster. I remember the sound of her skull hitting the metal, and how he screamed at her, his fists flying. I remember the sound of my brothers voice as he screamed for our mother. And I remember how, even though I knew that I'd be beaten again, that I had to do something.
When the cops came, my mother had a smile on her face, as did her boyfriend. They stood in the doorway with me, their hands digging into my shoulders to the point where I wanted to cry, and how I had to look up at the cops, wanting help, needing them to stop it all, and I had to lie. I had to tell them that they didn't fight. That I just thought they did because he broke my moms necklace. I remember the look in the cops eyes, and how he practically begged me to tell him the truth, but I had to remain silent.
I stayed silent through it all, forced into the perpetual fear that if I spoke up, if I said even one word that it would be worse for me. No one was going to come save me. No one would ever see the truth behind the lies. And no one would care. It went on like that for years.
Finally, my mother married again, this time to a man that, after he quit drinking (which wasn't until years later), I actually loved and considered my dad. He was my best friend in the end, but it didn't start out like that. Bill was a construction worker and a plumber. He had a son named Merle, who was only a little bit older than me. Merle had leukemia, and was in and out of the hospital. We'd get him every other weekend, and I loved those weekends because that was the only time when we wouldn't be hit. It was the only time when my brother wouldn't run away, and would never take me no matter how much I begged him too.
I had to be perfect. In my mind, there was no other way to deal with it all. If I was better, smarter, more beautiful, practiced my singing and my art until my voice and my fingers bled, then maybe my mother would love me. Maybe then she would be the mom, would take care of me instead of Bill having to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning, making me drag my overweight mother to her room to get her dressed while she sang songs that her and my aunts used to sing as a child.
It went on like that for years. Me being silent, being the mother to my mother and my brother. Trying to make sure that everything was clean to my step-fathers ideals in order to not be beaten, but then to know that no matter what he'd always find an issue. He'd always have to 'discipline', and my mother would always be standing there, watching it all with a small smile on her face.
My father began getting visitations with us over the summer. Every summer, my brother and I would fly from California to Indiana and spend almost two months free of it all. Though it never all went away, not always. To say that my father was a 'tough-love' kind of man is like calling a tiger just a cat. There was no half-ways with him. During the day things would be great. We'd be trained to ride equestrian or spend the day from sun-up to sun-down swimming in the local pool. When night came around, the bottle would go up, and I would become my mom in my father's eyes. He never hit me, but sometimes words are the cruelest weapon of all.
I was a whore, a bitch. Just like my mother. No good trash that didn't even deserve the right to breathe. Then he would stumble off to bed, and in the morning we'd both act like nothing ever happened. I stayed silent, and I smiled. I laughed and I played. Pretending to be fine was second nature to me by then, and over time I forgot that I didn't have to be silent.
Years went by much in the same way, until my brother Merle died. That same summer we went to my fathers in Indiana, but we never returned to California.
Bill and my mother separated, and in her drunken brilliance she decided to move to Kansas, where her father lived. When the time came for my brother and I to go 'home', we were driven there to our new 'house', though house isn't what I would use to describe it.
It was run down and filthy with dirty, stained floors, holes in the walls and the unforgettable smell of misuse and decay that almost foretells the sense of hopelessness. I was in fifth grade at the time, and starting a new school. Its not like I wasn't used to it. Through my mothers escapades we had jumped ship so many times that I lost track of how many schools I had actually been too. But Kansas was a lot different from California, so the culture shock of it was something new.
Without my dad to actually keep her somewhat in check, my mom went wild. Binge drinking, partying, drying to 'drown' her sorrows because I didn't know what her life was like and she deserved to drink. She deserved to have that release, and all the while I would have to stay there and take care of her. And by stay there I mean send my brother off to school, and make sure that when my mom upended a bottle of pills, trying in vain to kill herself that I was there to shove my fingers down her throat to make her throw them back up.
After awhile, she started sleeping around. One drunken night she slept with a military man. I don't remember what his name was, but everyone just called him green bean. When the harsh reality of morning came, instead of saying that she was stupid and shouldn't have slept with him, she called rape and had him arrested. She called my father, sobbing on the phone saying that she couldn't take care of my brother and I anymore, that he needed to come and get us, the blizzard that was moving in be damned.
And he did. Right after having teeth surgically removed, bloody gauze still in his mouth, he drove through a blizzard to come get the two of us. When he came up to the door, my mother opened it and punched him right in the face, screaming about how everything was his fault because he abused her back in the day. I don't know if he did anything to her or not at that moment, all I know is that he took my brother and left, leaving me behind. Not even an hour later the cops were at the door, arresting my falling-down-drunk mother while I stood on the sidewalk, freezing in my threadbare clothes and watched it all.
I was taken to the police station where a social worker was waiting for me. My brother was already there, separated from my father. Once my brother and I were in the room together with the social worker, we were given a choice. Either stay in Kansas with my grandparents until my mother was released then go back to California with her, go to Indiana with my father, or be placed into foster homes.
I didn't want to go, but I didn't want to stay. I was almost eleven and I wanted to be free of it all. Except I couldn't be free. I had made a promise to my brother that wherever he went, I would go. We were supposed to protect each other, look out for each other because we didn't have anyone to do it for us. He wanted to go with my father, and nothing I said would change his mind, so I remained silent.
To Indiana we went. The beatings stopped, which was good. We also got to eat our fill, had clean, new clothes for the first time and never had to worry about being eaten by bugs. But that's where the difference stops.
A lot of people don't put much clap into emotional abuse. They say things like 'suck it up' or 'build me a bridge and get the f* over it', but it's never that easy. You can't just STOP caring. You can't just wake up one day and say, 'Oh, you know what? I'll just not give a sh*t about what people say about me, about what my father screams at me.'
That's not how it works. Emotional abuse is a slow poison, silently creeping over your mind until it holds it hostage in its hands. Until the day comes when it's not just people on the outside saying you're fat, stupid, ugly, a whore. It's when those words, so simply cruel, become a part of your thought process. It's when YOU start seeing yourself through the nefarious eyes of others. It's more damaging than being hit, because the effects last longer. Bruises heal, bones nit back together, but the remaining emotional scarring stays with you forever.
Thus began our 'new' life. My brother wasn't really involved with that part. He would go off with his new friends and hang out at different places, leaving me to deal with the downfall. And there was plenty of it. I learned early not to cry around my father. It didn't help, and it made everything worse. So I would stand there, just listening to him. Hearing how much he hated me because I reminded him so much of my mother. He never saw me for me. None of them did. All they saw was a reflection of my mother, even though I was nothing like her.
At that time, when I was going through puberty, is when my manic-depression started to kick in. I was the silent girl, the one easily bullied until I couldn't control my rage anymore. I'd snap, getting into constant fights with guys and girls alike, never being able to control the darkness that was raging within me just below the surface. Uncontrollable, un-tameable. Terrifying.
My father got tired of it, and thought that the problem was because we were in Indianapolis, and thought that we'd be better suited for the country life so moved us down to Southern Indiana.
A new school, a new start. Only some things aren't so easy to sweep under the rug.
My brother started rumors about my. My own brother who I swore to protect, who I had stuck by and saved so many times turned on me because he thought I was my mothers and fathers favorite. He thought that if he told everyone I was a slut, dogged me down until I was nothing more than pond scum beneath his feet that everyone would know that he was the best. That he was far better than his worthless, stupid, ugly fat whore of sister.
I still smiled. Even when I cried I didn't make a sound, and no one could tell the difference. I was 14, and I began self-mutilating.
When I couldn't cry anymore is when it started. The silent tears wouldn't fall. No matter how much I screamed, how much I begged for that numbing emotional relief, release wouldn't come until I made it come. How do you bring tears? With pain.
I started out by beating my legs with a metal pole. The tears would flow, I'd only have a bruise that I could easily dismiss, and I'd feel better for a little while. But it didn't last long. Soon after I began cutting. It didn't matter if it was in school, at home. When the urge for the release came, when I couldn't hold 'it' in anymore I had to cut. It became an obsession, that release. It also became something else to remain silent about, except I wasn't the only one remaining silent. My father and brother remained silent as well. That is, until the day came when my father in his drunken stupor told me that if I was going to kill myself that I shouldn't half-ass it and just cut my throat.
So I went to the kitchen, grabbed a butcher's knife, kissed him softly on his bald spot on my way to my room, and did as he said.
He shipped me off to my mom's, because he couldn't deal with me anymore.
My mom and dad were sober by then. They both found out that they had Hepatitis C, and that drinking would kill them. Wisely, they stopped drinking. But that didn't help my relationship out with my mother. It turned out that drinking actually took the edge off of her worse sickness, her mental sickness. Munchhausen Syndrome.
She had a manic-depressive, suicidal daughter, and it was the perfect topping on her already large pity party to gain the attention and pity that she needed. But it wasn't enough. It was never enough. She started researching different psychological medications, focusing on the side effects. The ones that had the worst, that had the highest rating of teen suicide. And when she found the ones she preferred, she'd find a psychiatrist who was stupid enough to listen to her and prescribe them to me. Over the course of three years, I was hospitalized for suicide twelve times. From the ages of 14-17, I wanted to die.
I didn't want to die because I couldn't 'handle' it anymore. I didn't want to die because I was sad and couldn't get over it, or because I was selfish. I wanted to die because I believed that the world would be better off without me. I believed that everyone I loved, and everyone that I would ever run across in the remainder of my life would be better, happier without my existence. That poison of mental abuse had taken over so much, mixing so perfectly with the PTSD and manic depression that I saw no hope for myself. I saw no hope that I could ever benefit anyone else's life, that I could ever enhance it.
I was toxic. I was poison. I was the reason why my father and mother drank, why my brother hated me, why I was bullied to the point that people put empty pill bottles in my school locker. I was the reason for the suffering of the world, and the world would be a much better place without me.
The psychiatrists and mental institutes eventually caught on to my mother. When I was 17 I committed suicide for the final time by overdosing on 180,000 milligrams of Dilantin. By the time my dad found me in my room, the medicine was so far gone in my system that they couldn't pump my stomach. They couldn't use charcoal because the medicine had infused with my red blood cells.
They hooked me up to life support, and they waited for me to die.
Only, I didn't.
When I woke up from the coma, I couldn't walk. My equilibrium was so messed up that I couldn't even stand up. It took me 2 months to learn how to walk again, and another month in the mental institute until I was declared fit enough to return to society.
When I got home, I quit taking all of my medicine. When I got home, I also left my mother, choosing to go back to my father.
I won't go into vivid detail about the rest of the time from the ages of 17 until now. Those past ten years are too long to cover all in one post, but I will tell you the gist of it all.
When I was 15 I was given the choice of either dropping out of school, or being expelled because there was no such thing as gang violence or bullying in their school. I dropped out and went to an alternative school to keep going for my high school diploma.
While at the alternative school, I was sexually molested by another student. As my mother and I were on the way to the cops, she thought it was a good idea to tell his best friend where we were going. Even though he admitted it to the cops, they couldn't press charges because by the time they got to the school to interview other students, his best friend had already warned them and they concocted a story. He was later arrested for raping a 13 year old.
No longer caring for school, I got my G.E.D. from the state of Missouri. I was 15.
At 18 I decided to join the Army, and beforehand I went to an alternative school here in Indiana and got the 22 credits I needed to graduate in 2 months, proceeded to join the army, then ended up with a lesion in my L4 vertebrae, which lead to a prompt discharge.
I've been raped 8 times. Because of that I have issues with any form of physical touch. Sometimes I can't even hug my children because of it, which makes me feel like the worst mother in the world.
I have had 4 children, and was a stay at home mom for the majority of five years, going to college at 2 different times in between, but never actually being able to graduate.
Last year, I published my first book, and through it I broke free of all the mental barriers that my family and my so-called friends put on me. For the first time in my life, I wasn't useless. I wasn't pathetic. I actually did something for once (for more details, read here).
Last year, I lost everything just when I thought that I had gained everything. In one moment, not only did I lose my home, my kids and my life, but I also lost my identity (for further explanation, read here and here)
But, through losing everything, I've also gained something equally valuable.
I've remembered who I am. I have remembered that I do have a voice and that I don't have to remain silent any longer. I have not only faced myself and my darkest fears, my most horrendous secrets, but I have learned to love myself for all of it. For the scars, the pain, the past that I will never be able to change. Through it all, and because of it all, I have discovered me.
So who am I to be there for everyone, listening to their histories, their pain while hiding behind my wall, my Confetti Queen image and never revealing my true self to you? How could I, in all fairness, not let you see me. The good, the bad, the terrifying.
Because of seeing others strengths, and watching others grow and become unafraid just because they had someone to listen to them, and someone to understand, I have realized that it doesn't matter how scared I am. It doesn't matter how terrified I am of letting everyone in. Through all of your strength, I have found mine too.
So I will tell you my only secret. The only thing that very few know about.
A few months before I became homeless, before this giant challenge of fate started, I found out that I'm sick. When I was pregnant with my youngest, my urinalyses and blood tests kept coming back irregular. It wasn't preeclampsia or anything else that could go wrong during a pregnancy. It was my white blood cells. There was a thousand milligrams per cc. After I had her safely, even if still early, they ran even more tests. With the blood work and my families history, they discovered that I had cancer. That, in essence, I'm dying.
This past August when I admitted myself to the local mental ward of the hospital because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to withstand the constant urge to kill myself, I found out that the cells have tripled. They've increased dramatically in just one years time.
But I refuse to die. I refuse to give in, or give up. Right now, not even two days old, I have just gotten out of being homeless, sharing a two-bedroom, run down apartment. I'm finally on my way. Through all of the tears, the pain, the utter fear and petrifying doubt that living through being homeless has given me, I'm finally succeeding.
So I want to leave you all with this one, simple explanation.
My confetti is the small moments of life that make everything worthwhile. Its the purest form of happiness that is always remembered, but too seldom come by.
I throw my confetti to you, to ALL of you, in the hopes that I can impart some measure of happiness.
Why would I want to spread happiness when seldom happiness was shown to me?
Because I know what it's like to hurt.
I know what its like to look into your future, and to see absolutely nothing staring back at you.
I know what its like to wake up every day, forcing a smile when you have been left to die.
And I know what it's like to feel like you're utterly alone, and like everyone you ever met has become your enemy.
I would never want anyone to even feel an ounce the way that I have through my life. I don't want anyone to suffer, to hurt, to feel the unstoppable, all-consuming pain that mere existence can bring.
So, I throw my confetti to you. I fight for you, along side you, and in the shadows with you.
With love, Always.