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Surviving A Year Of Losses

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is going to be filled with honesty and transparency. There are quite a few things I need to get off my chest so here we go!

At the beginning of 2021, I was truly hopeful for the year ahead. I was thriving in my career as a clinic coordinator for a spine surgeon, I was improving as a writer, and I was getting ready to head to nationals for the Miss Plus America pageant. In February, my nightmare began. I had been offered a truly fabulous position with a company as a clinic administrator. Essentially, it was my dream job. I stupidly turned it down due to fear of stepping out of my comfort zone and out of loyalty to the company I worked for. There was a young girl who was expecting to takeover my position and when she realized that I wasn’t going anywhere she decided to seek revenge in the worst way possible. She went to HR with a vicious rumor and due to the sensitivity of the information shared, I did not have a choice but to resign my position. Not only had I just turned down my dream job but I was now unemployed. It was truly a “walls closing in“ moment for me.

In my usual fashion, I refused to be defeated and I quickly began coming up with a Plan B. I decided to seize the opportunity to realize another dream of mine: become a professional hair and make up artist. I’m no fool and I am not blind to the fact that make up artists are a dime a dozen. I wanted a skill set that would differentiate my services from the rest. As such, I became a certified permanent makeup artist specializing in microblading. I knew microblading would be a challenge but I was ready for it! I dug in my heels and gave 1000% into launching my own business, The Glam Gal. I rented office space from a classmate who I had been following for a few years. I had seen his successes and I truly looked up to him so I knew I would be in good hands. And boy, did I turn out to be right! He quickly realized that I was not trained properly and still had a lot to learn. Very graciously, he took me under his wing. He taught me everything I needed to know and offered me extremely valuable business advice. He also became a friend who will forever remain near and dear to my heart. We just clicked from the first moment we met and for whatever reason God knew I needed Gilbert Alvarez in my life. He became my champion, my encourager, and my number one supporter. From March to the beginning of July, everything was great! My business was not where I wanted it to be but it was strong and it was solid. Those were truly some of the most happiest months of my life. I cannot describe how good it feels to be your own boss and to set your own hours. And to be working alongside somebody like Gil, it just made everything all the sweeter.

At the beginning of July, things started to shift unfavorably for me. I had reconnected with a cousin of mine who happens to be like a little sister for me. We grew up very close to one another but the girl is just plain damaged. She has had such a rough life and it has led her to make some questionable decisions. I opted to never judge her and simply be there for her because I know what it’s like to struggle all alone. However, the bomb she had waiting to drop on me was one I never imagined. Our relationship has always been touch and go and she’ll go through months at a time with no contact. This time around, she reached out in a panic because of an open CPS case. As always, I offered to be by her side and help her get through the CPS investigation. It wasn’t that simple. It wasn’t her first case and she grew tired of constantly being under scrutiny and under investigation. She made the very difficult decision to sign away her parental rights to her three children and named myself as their guardian. I wasn’t about to say no. The alternative was the children going into foster care and being split up. It went against my heart to allow that to happen. I agreed to take them in and raise them as my own. In the back of my head, I heard a little voice telling me that I was about to lose everything I had worked so hard to build. I chose to ignore the little voice and told myself everything would be ok. I told myself I could handle three additional children while still continuing to grow my business.

In the midst of taking in my children, it was time to go to nationals. I left to Louisville, Kentucky with the most unbelievable amount of stress on my shoulders. In hindsight, I should have dropped out of the pageant. I had way too much going on and I was definitely the underdog! I went in with the mindset to play on my Latina heritage and culture. The judges didn’t exactly understand what I was doing and my scores suffered as a result. They didn’t relate to me at all. My decision to portray Selena for my state costume completely went over their heads. That was just one of many mistakes I made going in to the pageant. I can admit that I wasn’t fully prepared and quite simply, I got my rear-end handed to me in Kentucky. I didn’t even make the top 15. I do have a lot of unfinished business in the pageant world and my pageant journey isn’t finished here. I do plan on returning to the stage in July 2022. With my tail tucked in between my legs, I returned to San Antonio. Accepting a loss is never easy and I took it hard. I landed back home on August 1 which was coincidentally my grandmother‘s birthday. Due to jet-lag and sheer, emotional exhaustion I crashed as soon as I got home. I never got the chance to celebrate her birthday with her.

The next day, August 2nd, I received word that my grandmother had fallen the night before and was taken to the hospital in an unconscious state. Soon after, I got the call that I needed to go and say my final goodbye. There was a time in my life when my grandmother was everything to me. Growing up, she was the only mother figure I had. Neither one of my parents were very interested in being parents so I was constantly having to rely on my Grandma. As I became an adult my eyes became open to certain family situations and for my own mental health, I had to distance myself from my family. My grandmother included. One of the life lessons I’ve learned is that just because you are blood related doesn’t mean they will treat you kindly or treat you with respect. When it comes to mistreatment, I have a zero tolerance stance. I won’t argue with you nor will I beg you to treat me appropriately, I will simply cut you out of my life and that is what I have had to do with a lot of my family. However, I do regret being estranged from my grandmother and I miss her terribly. Although our relationship wasn’t in the best place, she still loved me enough to fund my entire trip to Kentucky so that I could compete at nationals. She believed in me and for that, I will love her forever.

To this day, I don’t feel that I have allowed myself time to grieve the loss of my grandmother. I went from having one child to four children and they are a handful! I love all of my children and I do not regret welcoming the three into my home and into my heart. I will be honest and say that it has been horrendously difficult. My new children were so severely neglected that they were not accustomed to any sort of structure. They literally had to be taught how to walk, talk, and behave appropriately in common social settings. I had to quickly become accustomed to dealing with children with severe developmental delays. I immediately enrolled them in daycare and the first week, all three of them came down with terrible colds and ear infections. Essentially, they had no immunity to any sort of sickness. Not to mention, CPS was constantly in and out of our home inspecting, asking questions, and laying down ground rules as guardians for the three children. As a result of the craziness, I was unable to spend time in the office and soon I began to fall behind on my business overhead expenses. The voice in the back of my head begin to grow louder telling me that my dream was soon coming to an end. Once my grandmother was buried I attempted to get back into the office and begin work as usual. I still had hope that The Glam Gal would continue to grow and prosper. Reality quickly set in and I knew I was in over my head. I had simply fallen too far behind. All my attention had to go to the children and I wasn’t able to focus on marketing my business to obtain new clients. I knew it was time to close up shop and get back into the workforce. Moving out of my office was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. My small business meant the world to me. It was definitely a hard pill to swallow having to close my doors but it came down to the children. They needed me more and I needed to be able to provide for them. Thankfully, I was able to find work very quickly. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve got 18 years experience in the healthcare industry as a registered medical assistant with a bachelors degree in health science. My current employer snatched me up quickly!

Am I truly happy right now? No. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing has worked out the way I intended it to this year. I have been finding it difficult to remain positive throughout all of the losses I’ve suffered. The only thing that keeps me going is the realization that God is good. Although my own situations tell me differently, I know that God has a plan for me. I don’t understand what it is right now. But I do know that you have to grow through what you go through. There is a lesson to be learned in all of this madness and I am truly thankful to God because he loves me enough to teach me. I know that one day I’m going to look back on this year and laugh. I know I did the best thing for those three children who now call me Mom. Maybe one day I will relaunch my business, maybe not. I do know that my story doesn’t end here.

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2022 be the best year of your lives! Thanks for reading!

Con mucho cariño,

Melissa

Leaving it all on the stage in Louisville, Kentucky,
RIP Esperanza C. Reyna 8/1/44-8/2/21

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