High school Dropout. Young Single Mother. Victim of Emotional and Physical Violence.

-This is how my life started out.

Business Woman. Entrepreneur. Proud Mommy to 2 Awesome Kids. Advocate for Young Mothers.

-This is where I’m at now.

..And my story is just getting started.

Here’s my TEDxWomen talk about “Re-inventing Teen Motherhood”

Back Story:

I got pregnant at 17 by my boyfriend who I’d been with for a couple years. He had been a crappy b/f even in high school and I don’t know why I stayed with him as long as I did. I was insecure back then and I think I felt like I needed to have a boyfriend to “complete me” (which I now know is total B.S.)  He had just graduated high school when I got pregnant and didn’t have any idea what he was going to do so he joined the military.

I had already dropped out of high school and gotten my GED (no reason to stay there after my b/f was gone). I was scheduled to start a 2 year full Cosmetology program but when I realized a little baby was going to pop out of me in 9 months, I switched to the 7 month full time Esthetics program. I had 3 weeks left of school when Angelina was born and went back 6 weeks later to finish the class. (Those 9 hour days while I pumped breast milk and stored it in a cooler in my car were real fun.)

My boyfriend was set to go to boot camp right away so to be able to receive benefits from the military, we decided to get married. My marriage proposal went something along the lines of “So, we should probably get married or something I guess.” “Yeah.” “When do you wanna?” “I dunno, when do you wanna?” “I dunno.. today’s Sunday, I work tomorrow but I’m off Tuesday.” “OK Tuesday’s fine.” So I went to Ross, bought a pink sundress and was officially a “Mrs.” 48 hours later.

My new husband left when Angelina was 8 weeks old to go to boot camp for 6 months. Half way into his boot camp, he received orders to go to Iraq right after for 12 months. He came home right in the middle of our 18 months apart and knocked me up with baby #2. So I found out I was pregnant, I had a 10 month old and had 9 months to go until I would see my husband again.

This time was very hard for me.

I lived in a little 1 bedroom apartment in a really bad neighborhood in Las Vegas, alone with my baby girl and getting more and more pregnant by the day. I had no one to run to the store for me at night when my cravings would hit so most of the local delivery drivers knew me on a first name basis. When it got closer for my husband to come home, I found out that we could get a house on the military base that we were stationed at, Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, but I would have to move there in December, 2 months before he was due back or there wouldn’t be any houses left and we’d have to live off base. So I packed up our stuff and moved to Colorado, with a 1 year old and 8 months pregant, set up our new house and waited for my husband to come back.

1 week before my husband was due home and 2 weeks before the baby was due, I read an e-mail that literally made me sick.

The e-mail confirmed that my husband had had an affair overseas. I immediately threw up and couldn’t keep and food down and was experiencing so much stress that I went into preterm labor. I had Logan a few days later and my husband came home 2 days after that. Needless to say, things on the home front weren’t good. After a lot of investigation (I should seriously be a detective for a living), I found out about more and more women my husband had cheated on me with. I learned that the whole time I was sending him packages and hand written love letters and videos of me and his daughter, he was trotting through the middle east, putting his penis in anything he could.

I was ready for a divorce immediately after finding out about the first but couldn’t leave yet because I had a week old baby and decided to stay there in the house for at least a couple months until Logan wasn’t a newborn anymore. My husband started kissing my ass and buying me all sorts of stupid gifts, most of which I’d throw right back at him or in the trash. (I did accept the car and the computer, though.) Somehow he convinced me to try marriage counseling, which just ended up being me crying and him bringing nothing to the conversation.

So I decided to leave him and one day, on a whim, I packed up the kids and drove the 11 hours back to Vegas with no idea what I was going to do.

I was back home at my dad’s house for about 2 weeks, I didn’t have a job and couldn’t put Logan into daycare yet because he was only 8 weeks old. My ex called me one day and offered me a deal where if I went back to Colorado, I could stay home with the kids during the day while he was at work and I could work at night and save up money for a few months until I was financially ready to leave. He accepted that I didn’t want to be married to him and we would just be “roommates with kids”. This sounded good, so I went back to Colorado.

Turns out he was full of shit.

As soon as I got back, he wanted to get back together, which of course pissed me off ’cause I realized I’d been totally manipulated.

I went to bartending school and became a “certified mixologist” and landed a good job bartending one of the most popular bars in downtown Colorado Springs. During the next couple months after trying to work things out with me, which was met with a big fat NO, my ex started losing it and quickly developed a drinking problem.

He started coming home from work drunk, he would drink in the morning on the weekends, he’d pass out drunk in public.. it was bad. I found out from a neighbor who he picked the kids up from one day when I was at work that he was drunk and had driven them home like that. I quit my job the next day. There went my “way to save money so we could be set up financially”.

The drinking kept getting worse and worse.

He would come home drunk and pick fights with me saying that “I was his F*cking wife and he F*cking loved me and I’d better get over it and stop threatening divorce”. He would trap me against the wall, hold me down, anything he could to show who was in charge. He cut up all of my credit and debit cards thinking that that would make me not able to leave. The first time he put his hands on me was when he came home from work, you guessed it.. drunk, and demanded to work things out. Angelina was in her room and Logan was in his swing, so I went into my room to avoid him. He barged in and grabbed me by the neck and pushed me up against my dresser mirror screaming in my face. “Stop this! Just stop it! What the f*ck’s wrong with you? I f*cking love you!” I was almost to the point of passing out when he let go of me and started crying. He walked to our son in his swing and started saying “I’m sorry.. I’m sorry.” And then he walked out side and sat down in the grass.

I called the cops immediately and they arrested him.

He was let out a few days later and came back. He apologized but a couple days later he was back to his drinking and back to trapping me against a wall or in a room. Weeks past like this until he choked me again and I called the cops again and he was arrested again. Serious de’ javu.

This time he was given a barracks room and a restraining order.

A couple days later, I caught him breaking into the house through my son’s bedroom window. He was arrested again. I knew it was only a matter of time before he got out and I was pissed that his command wasn’t doing more to detain him or protect us so I walked into his sergeants office and said “What’s your name?” He told me and asked why. I said, “Because I’m going to tell my dad the name of the officer who knew the violence that’s going on and when one of us ends up dead-cause that’s where it’s going- They’ll know who to question about it.”

His sergeant immediately got on the phone and within an hour had arranged a moving truck to get us back to Vegas and was setting up an apartment with 2 months free rent for me to get back on my feet. A couple days later, I got a call from his sergeant asking if he was at the house and that he hadn’t shown up for morning formation. I told him I hadn’t seen him and soon after I got another call that they had found him in his barracks room. He had taken a bottle of sleeping pills and drank a half bottle of vodka.

They were able to revive him and he was sent to a mental hospital.

When his family found out about this, they all flew down to Colorado.. and by “all” I mean parents, step parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, 2nd cousins.. They heard that I was planning to leave and they all pitched in and hired an attorney, suing me for him to get custody of the kids. I wasn’t worried in the least about him getting custody but now I had a case open in Colorado and legally couldn’t leave the state.

I was literally trapped there for another 2 months until he ended up getting discharged from the Army for 2 DUIs and not obeying commands. I got a letter that his attorney had dropped his case and I had my car packed and was speeding back to Vegas as fast as I could.

I literally had no money to my name, I think I had about $20 in my pocket and didn’t care.

I had nothing.. no money, no job, no daycare, nowhere to go.. I was literally homeless, but I felt like a weight had lifted from me and I was happier than I’d been in a long time. I had nothing to my name but I had an empty canvas in front of me and I was ready to pick up the paintbrush.

I knew in my heart that a new start was just around the corner.

 

 How I Created My New Life

I ended up moving back in with my dad, which consisted of sleeping with my 2 year old on a pull-out couch with my 6 month old in his playpen. I got a night job waitressing at Joe’s Crab Shack until I landed an Awesome job a few weeks later at the Hard Rock Hotel. (I still can’t believe I got this job, I went to the interview at midnight, straight from work at Joe’s Crab Shack, sweaty and reeking of fish). But I got it!

I started making great money as a Hotel Ambassador and I saved every dollar I made for 2 months and put it down on a deposit and 1st months rent for 3 bedroom apartment. I didn’t have any money saved, I slept on the floor cause I couldn’t afford a bed yet but I still remember thinking that it was all OK, me and my babies were safe and things were going to fall into place for use, even though I didn’t know how.

My ex husband ended up getting discharged from the Army because of the domestic violence charges and some DUIs he got and he moved back to Vegas. We went to court, got a divorce and he was seeing the kids on the weekends.

I got a 2nd job during the day at a spa as an Esthetician and started building my clientelle. From Friday-Sunday, while the kids were at their dad’s I would work both jobs, day and night, pretty much never sleeping. I made a lot of good connections from my job at the Hard Rock and I started doing some promotional modeling.

Then I started landing some commercials and some gigs as a Spokes Model for companies.

Thank God I got into modeling because shortly after, the entire position as a Hotel Ambassador was cut and we all lost our jobs.

I kept working at the spa for a while, juggling modeling jobs and bartending or waitressing private parties.

Then I decided to open my own Skin Care Business.

I bought a bunch of business books and for the next few months, when I wasn’t working or with the kids, I was studying. I didn’t sleep. I just studied everything I could until I finally felt prepared enough.

I opened “Las Vegas Skin Studio” when I was 23.

I poured my heart into this business. I studied Corporations and incorporated myself, I wrote an entire Operations Manual (I had the intention to Franchise), I painted and decorated, I put every dollar I made into starting it and keeping it running. I had a few employees, business was building and then I decided to start learning Online Marketing to get more clients. It was all over then.I realized the full potential the internet had and I realized that I wanted to learn everything I could about it.

I wanted to be able to work from home while Changing Lives. So I started studying Marketing, Web Design, Video Creation, SEO, Photoshop, anything I could learn really.

I ended up closing Las Vegas Skin Studio down and although it felt like a loss on 1 level because of all the work I’d put into it, I also felt once again, like I had huge opportunity ahead of me and absolutely no limits.

I also should mention that during this time, my ex husband decided to start doing Using Drugs.

As soon as I found out that he was using Meth, I stopped the kids’ visitation with him. I filed for an emergency hearing with our Judge and I took him back to court and got full custody of the kids. This was actually a very long and stressful process because the Judge kept trying to give him chances to get clean, which I never understood, but of course he would always go back to drugs.

I acted as my own Attorney and finally got awarded Full Custody of both kids. During this whole time he never paid child support and still doesn’t. He owes over $10,000 now. Not really planning on ever getting it since he can’t keep a job.

After closing my studio and with 2 kids full time, I took different jobs blogging and doing web design for companies all while planning out my Passion Project: Young Moms Club.

My dream of working from home while changing the lives of others has finally happened and I am so grateful for all the hard times I went through to get here because I feel like I can face anything now.

 

To other Young Moms Reading This:

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.

I do it because I know what it’s like to be in this place where:

  • You feel Helpless because you don’t see a clear path to get out of where you are now.

  • You feel Grateful that you have this beautiful baby but..

  • You feel Guilty for having thoughts of how your life could be better without them.

  • You feel Confused because everyone has advice as to how you should live your life and you don’t know what’s right.

  • You just want Support and Nobody really Understands.

Trust me YOU ARE NOT ALONE in feeling any of these ways!

In fact, if you didn’t feel these things then you’d probably be a weirdo!! lol

That’s exactly what Young Moms Club was created for..

To be a safe space where we can all Connect and Empower each other.

Enter Your Name and Email below so that we can stay connected. We want you here!!!

XoXo Danielle 🙂