You Deserve to Feel Great. I’m Here to Help.
I survived an eating disorder and I want you to know that you can too. I hope you find hope in my story.
Coming from a line of family from Los Angeles area.. My Grandparents and Dad were raised in Ventura country California. My Mom moved there as a third grader and met my Dad when she was older working as a waitress at Sambos in Ventura. He would come in and sit at the same spot to see my mom after work, doing camera work for a local television company. They married and had my older sister and moved to Oregon, after kindergarten, with my older Sister. They moved along side my grandparents when they made the move to Oregon after purchasing some large property in Banks, Or. and they built a house on lots of beautiful property. The plan was to build a house for my parents next to them but zoning issues stoped that from happening. Nine years later, after my older sister, I came along in 1983 and a couple years later my younger brother. My parents ended up getting a divorce and we lived the life of divorced parents. (Which is what my song “Upgraded 2.0” was written about) Still seeing my Dad a lot, we went back to California a lot to see my family that still lived in California and that became one of the main trips of my childhood going back to California. A special time of my childhood because it was time with my Dad and it was time with my Dad’s special family that was unlike any other. A huge family bond that we grew up with and always around my Dad’s family. He had 6 sisters and he was the only boy. I grew up with 32 cousins and very close with my Dad’s parents, my Grandpa and Grandma, that have instilled a lot into me today that I now understand as a grown adult with three children of my own.
I always have had an attachment to California as it’s my family’s roots for generations and I will always feel the attachment and it will always feel like home to me for that reason. It’s way more than Los Angeles being the Capitol of the music world and that I’m into music and that’s my calling, it’s my family’s roots that make it the most special place to me. I feel something I only feel there when I’m in California. The best way to explain is when I hear the lyrics “Ventura blvd” of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'”. Those lyrics are some of the most emotional tugs I ever have felt when hearing music, especially when sung by John Mayer, the best musician of all time according to me and my husband. Although we are raising our three kids in Oregon at the moment, California is still the place we go three times a year until California is home to us again. My Mom grew up as a surfer on the Ventura beaches and my dream is to get her back to the beach area again living next to us while she paints and watches her grandkids.. My kids live on the same turf she did growing up. Some day my Dad and Step Mom will join. You have to have faith! What is known now as Griffith Park (the Hollywood sign) and Los Feliz area in Los Angeles area was stolen from the Valencia’s, In a deal gone wrong. Valencia is my family’s last name. Not too long before my great grandparents. All of it is in our family documents from Los Angeles court many many years ago now a part of our family history. Land I plan to get back somehow in someway for my family. A full circle it would be if that was accomplished! That’s how God works! Dont give up your dreams! Dreams are your dreams for a reason. They are apart of God’s calling and God’s will For your life!
My dad is a musician.. a very good one. A very private one. One who told me to never put my lyrics online. You can say I learned my lesson (See my two blog posts about Katy Perry, here and here). He and my step mom are a very musical couple. They always had music around me. My step mom would sing Mariah Carey a lot.. she sounds a lot like her. Mariah Carey was my favorite artist growing up and I would sing along to her as well, not knowing anything, just that I loved to sing along. Amy Grant as well. On our many adventures around town and up to the hill.. my grandparents property he would always be playing music like Neil Young, Cat Stevens, are the ones I remember the most being on. He always had me around music because that was his love and they always had the music equipment and would play the piano. It was annoying to me though cause my dad loved it too much and I didn’t get to see my dad enough already. So besides singing to Mariah Carey I didn’t want anything to do with it.. but it was instilling the love the music in me at the time even if I didn’t realize it… because music ended up being what I always ran to, alone in my room, crying for whatever reason over a boy or through my hard times with my disorder or for reason I don’t even know why but it was always my comfort away from everyone. Lyrics always had a way of pulling me in and touching me so deep. The lyrics are always what I remembered or pulled my heart strings.
What I figured out mostly about me, starting to write songs, is no one told me I could do that. No one told me about songwriting. I figured that out all on my own as I grew up. My love for writing, just became, more specifically, songwriting. The number one thing about that is If I never found God I would have never learned that I could do it and that I was good enough. There is no comparison to learning I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and was one of the most empowering and life changing things I’ve learned, and why its my favorite Bible verse! Our life and my life growing up was always a struggle in many ways and I only learned all the things I couldn’t do or be all my life and for once it was the opposite I learned in the most loving relationship I have ever had and that’s with Jesus.
When I was going into high school I almost died from an eating disorder. “When I grow up I want to be a fitness instructor”, in my room working out dreaming of doing this when I get older. How Fun!!! After eating bowls of cereal and throwing it up in a blanket and hiding it in my closet so my mom did not hear me go in the bathroom again. Trying to maintain a normal life of being a freshman in high school, watching who I was “so in love” with be interested in other girls and not me anymore was hanging over my head. So lost and alone. Living in my clouds of perfection, I would spend hours on my face, never satisfied, never good enough. Shrinking into size 0, hanging out with my friends who knew things were different but still loving me for me. One day, I remember laying on the couch after my friend left, my dad came to take my brother out for a day of fun and as I watched them leave I began to cry. I just wanted to be like them, I wanted a life too, I grabbed my notebook and started writing down pages in my story. I was writing about how I was feeling stuck in this problem, which was my eating disorder. My book was my only true fiend I felt I could open up to.
The next year one morning my mom told me we were going somewhere other than where we were really going. I will never forget that morning drive. The next moment I’m in an eating disorder clinic, thinking at that moment we were going to be doing some counseling which I was familiar with, but I was getting hooked up to an EKG, wires in many different places over my stomach/chest area. Then they told me my heart rate was too low. If I didn’t go to the hospital NOW I was going to die. Now meant NOW. I was so confused, so scared trying to ask If I could please at least go home to get my stuff, please. I needed to digest this, but the answer was no and we walked straight next door to the hospital. The ICU (Intensive Care Unit) area of the hospital.
I don’t remember much of the treatment that was happening, but the oxygen thing’y on my foot I was watching like a hawk cause that light meant if that light was not right I was going to die in my mind. My Mom and Dad by my side through it all, I still have their faces and body posture in my memory from watching them sit there, calm and patient and just being there at my side. I still feel that love to this day. My closet Aunts had sent their love, and I was talking to my Grandpa in my mind, saying “Please help me.” He was the only one I had been very close to that had passed away, but the thought of him carried me through at the hospital where I made some of my greatest friends, an ex-Cowboys football cheerleader was my nurse, and one of my doctors brought me a teddy bear and visited me a lot everyday.
While I laid in my hospital bed I would see the curtain closed and hear Dr’s nearby with a little whisper in their voices, So scared what they were talking about, because it was those Dr’s that would tell me I’m going to die. So I feared those white coats coming in through those curtains, but a very special girl came in trough those curtains I had never met though, just a girl that was planting a seed for the rest of my life. She came in and just talked to me and was so loving and provided encouragement and hope that I could be okay and I could beat this eating disorder. Saving her Anne Green Gables card she wrote in for years to come. She was one of the most important people I would ever meet, little did I know!
In my hospital stay, I was learning how to digest and keep food in my stomach and it hurt really bad!! I was in my room, and got out of my bed and I couldn’t stand up because It hurt so bad, like horrible bloating or something, so I got on my hands and knees crying and crawled to the nurse’s station because I couldn’t walk. I was looking for help and I remember I couldn’t find anyone, it was empty. I was just sitting there in so much pain, I still to this day think, “Why was no one there?”, they probably knew this was something I had to go though and they couldn’t help me.
Eventually I was discharged and sent home but under super supervision and very late into the new school year which was starting a new high school on top of it all! I had to be on a specific eating plan and had to drink ensure for so long to get back to a normal weight. That was the beginning to recovery for a year and a half until I relapsed again senior year after all that, It happened again. Hanging pictures on my wall that said “Stop throwing up!”, I couldn’t, I would just lock myself in my room listening to music, thats how I got though trying to maintain a social life, school, work, and I couldn’t do it all. My life consisted of a controlling eating disorder. I had to answer to that.
I knew there was a God but that was the only degree of that I understood, I understood nothing but that. Did not know who He was or what He was but I knew my grandparents loved him, and my mom would throw nuggets about how she was raised, and my dad took us to Mass sometimes, but thats all I knew. When I was little I would stay at my grandparent’s house and fall asleep looking at a picture of Jesus on the wall, just looking at him in awe thinking, “He must be someone special”, but the very little I knew I cried out screaming “I need help”. Not praying to God, but asking my grandpa to help me, thinking they could talk to each other and God would help my grandpa help me somehow, and asking my grandpa to talk to God and asking him to talk to God for me. Crying to sleep with that going on. I counted on my grandpa helping me with God, because I had believed it was my special grandpa who had saved me from dying in the hospital all those years ago. He was my guardian angel. I did not know I could talk to God directly.
A couple of months later I was introduced to a guy at work though some friends and I was happier and felt excited about things and felt different, my mind was in a different place. I had no desire to throw up, I said “no I’m not doing this anymore…”, “I want to live a life…”, “I’m sick and tired of it, NO MORE!!!” Days and days of sticking to my plan, fighting hard to stick to it, Nothing was going to get me to ever go back to the toilet, EVER again, which became a habit and a stone I was never going to turn again!
A couple of months later I was pregnant and so “in love” with this guy and, it not being in my plans, definitely not what I wanted or saw coming, but it’s what was happening. I was a mother now, responsible for someone else, I loved Madison, forming in my tummy. I was already that protective Mom, I was never going to throw up again because I would never hurt her, and the love for your children surpasses any of your own needs. God knew what he was doing even before I accepted him in my life and started understanding Him and Christianity. He not only sent me one angel he sent me two, Josh, now my husband, and Madison, our first daughter, because with God, He surpasses anything above what we could ever imagine.
Still to this day I’ve never thrown up again, and I’ve been free from it for 15+ years!! Amen!! Im not condoning sex before marriage, because It’s not biblical and I would have loved going into marriage with that blessing, but not even your past failures, mistakes or sins are outside of God’s ability to still use for good. When we later met with a pastor to talk about him marrying us, he introduced the gospel to us and made sure we understood marriage is between us and God and that was the first time we ever heard and received the gospel and we were both saved that day, which was the beginning to a whole new way of life. Now, we’ve been married 16 years and are raising three teenagers while i’ve been working on music, writing and singing hoping to be a blessing to people now and someday.