The Little Girl Behind The Smile

I have contemplated writing a post like this for some time now.  I’ve even written it four times throughout the year only to delete it.  This post isn’t like the rest.  This is deeply personal to me, but I feel like I need to publish it in hopes to let go.  This might be too personal.  I have to say in warning this is a novel of a blog post.  I won’t take any offense if you don’t read it.  I just need to get it out without editing.

I have always been looked at as a happy girl.  For those who didn’t know my back story, as someone who had everything.  Not true.  I’ve had major heartbreaks.  The biggest heartbreaks of my life didn’t come from a boyfriend.  They came from my parents.

Before I start I need to say that I was raised my by Grammy.  To be honest, I was blessed to have her raise me.  She showed me more love, generosity, and honesty than anyone could have.  She loved me unconditionally and raised me as her own daughter.  She had her hands full with taking care of my handicapped Grandpa and Great-Grandma.  She never once let on to how hard she had to work.  My Grammy showed me exactly how I wanted to be as a parent and as a person. Without her I fear what path I would have gone down.  She will never know how thankful and grateful I am for her.  She’s my rock, my heart, my best friend, and my salvation.

When I was one, my mother became pregnant from my father’s boss and left our family.  Lifetime movie alert.  What I remember of her she wasn’t very attentive or particularly motherly.  I can remember sitting in my playpen in the living room by myself with wrestling on the tv.  The doorbell rang and a strange man, who was not my father, was at the door.  He and my mother kissed and went into her bedroom.  I think that’s the earliest memory I have.  I had to have been around 18 months.  I have had the memory for years, and wasn’t sure if it was something my brain made up or if it was true.  I finally told my Grammy about it, and she told me it might be true because my mother loved watching wrestling.  I still get chills just thinking of it.

My father and her eventually split, and I never saw her again.  She never came to the custody hearing to fight for me.  What mother does that?!  How can someone just leave their child to start a family with someone else?  My whole life I wondered “why don’t I matter?”  “What’s wrong with me?” Even though I always had a sunny disposition, inside I always had hatred in my heart towards her.  I had to grow up too fast for someone who wasn’t even in grade school.  A young child shouldn’t have to feel like they need to lie that their mom died to avoid pity or judgment.

Five or six years ago, she found me on myspace.  Yes, back when myspace was cool.  She sent me an email telling me she has been looking for me my whole life.  That’s funny.  My contact phone number has never changed, and she quit calling me when I was in 2nd grade.  Our phone calls were only 3 minutes.  I never wanted them longer then the mandatory three minutes, but the least she could do was fight for me.  When I was 13, I found pages and pages of legal documents and court transcripts dealing with my custody.  I knew everything and told her that I would give her one chance to tell me the truth.  She lied and said I was kidnapped.  She even showed me papers stating I was kidnapped in Guam.  Too bad I knew the U.S. Navy directed us to leave for the mainland.  I had enough of her lies.  She was offered an all expenses paid trip to visit me several times.  She never took it.  Not even once.  It honestly sickens me.

After hearing her excuses and lies, I told her I never wanted to hear from her again.  She called me her “baby” and I went off.  She pushed my one button.  20 years of rage inside of me exploded.  I called her every single derogatory word you could think of.  I told her to go ___ herself and leave me alone like she did for my whole life.  I needed her growing up not when I was becoming an adult.  She was and is dead to me.  Harsh for some, but true to my life.

In my earliest years my father was attentive and loving.  He had a mean streak that didn’t show itself until I was around 4 or 5.  I loved being a daddy’s girl, but that all changed when he started dating.  I wanted my dad to be happy, and there were a few of the girlfriends that I truly liked.  My third grade teacher being my favorite.  Of course, they never lasted.  He had way too many girlfriends to count.  Anytime he started to get serious with a girlfriend I would be put on the back burner.

I was always made to feel like a burden on his life.  He was extremely two-faced.  To the public, he was a strong Catholic, God fearing man, and a doting dad.  When it was just the two of us, he was often angry, inattentive, and uninterested.

One of his girlfriends didn’t want to feed me dinner and forced me to go to bed at 5 in the afternoon.  Why?  Because she didn’t want to deal with me.  I had to lay on the couch and watch her and her sons eat dinner.  I was starving.  I remember they were eating spaghetti and all I wanted was one bite.  Weird fact: I had a dream an evil woman was going to come into my life a week before I met her.  Creepy.  Another girlfriend’s children, who were around my age, were abused and continued the cycle onto me.  In his defense, I don’t know if he even knew what was happening.  I was too young to know.  Several girlfriends came and went, but no one was as bad as those two until he remarried.

One day, my father told me he wanted me to meet his new girlfriend.  We went over to her house and I immediately got a bad vibe.  Something about this woman was not right.  I could sense it, even before I knew her husband died from cancer only two years earlier, and my father had money at the time. He asked me what I thought about her and I said I wasn’t impressed.  There was just something I couldn’t put my finger on.  He told me I better get used to it because they were engaged.  Umm what?!  Didn’t her three sons and myself get a say?  They didn’t like my dad, and I didn’t like their mom.  I’m sorry but the kids come first.  Period.

They quickly got married and everything went downhill.  I’ll give you one example.  I don’t eat pork.  I haven’t since 3rd grade.  Because I refused to eat the pork she made, or even touch the meat to clean up, I was grounded.  Not any kind of grounded – grounded from seeing my Grammy.  The woman who raised me!  My father didn’t raise me..she did.  I lived with her, she cooked for me, helped me with my homework, I slept there, and she loved me.  She raised me.  Not him.  In the ex-wife’s words she said “We only have to provide shelter and food.  Seeing your Grandma is a privilege.”  Excuse me?!  During that time, I was inside my Grammy’s car in the parking lot instead of socializing and eating lunch with my friends in high school.  It was the only way I could see her. I almost filed for emancipation, but my Grammy talked me out of it.  There were many instances with the ex-wife, but I think that example gives you the gist of it.

They eventually split, and my father and I started to slowly repair our relationship.  It really didn’t get better until I left for college.  He was single and focused on fixing us.  Most of the time I would want to spend time with him and he wouldn’t be up for it.  I’d eat dinner by myself, be left home alone starting at 9/10 years old not knowing how to cook, or watch tv in hopes that he would join me.  He would get in spurts of spending time with me, and then seem to get bored.  That was the majority of my life.

Fast forward to his most recent woman.  When they started dating I loved her.  She was nice, relatable, and he still made an effort to be in my life.  She wasn’t the issue.  My father started to call her daughters his and the grandchild his own.  He quit saying “I love you” to me, and always said it to them.  Was I jealous?  Of course.  Confused?  Who wouldn’t be.  I kept asking him to spend time with me and he didn’t want to.  He found a new family, and what happened to me when I was one was happening all over again.

I was six months pregnant.  Pat was in Boston working, and I wanted to stay in our hometown in WA with my doctor and family until the baby was 6 months old.  I decided to ask my dad why he would show and tell his girlfriend’s daughters (who were 16 and 19 by the way) that he loved them and not me.  I hit a button.  He flipped out, told me to “shut the fuck up,” and get out of the house or all my “shit would be on the front yard.”  That was my breaking point.  I was pregnant, hormonal, and after years of abuse decided I’ll do just that.  I started packing my things and got an apartment with the help of my Grammy.  He denies ever saying those things, but that’s my dad.  He gets angry, scary, blows up, then denies, denies, denies.

The day I gave birth to the coconut I decided to give him another chance.  I called him to tell him the news.  He told me he would come visit me the next day in the hospital.  I was in the hospital for three days.  He never came.

When Damian was one-week-old I got a text from him asking when he could see him.  A text?  Really?    I decided I’ll regret it if I didn’t try.  We met up for lunch once a week for about an hour until Damian was three weeks old.  During the third visit, I told him I started a blog (not this one) where he can see pictures of Damian.  He quit answering my calls and text.  I eventually went to his house, and he said he was sick and didn’t want to be around Damian.  I never saw him again.

Shortly after, I received a friend request from his girlfriend’s daughter.  I told her it was too hard for me to see him treat them like daughters and that it wasn’t personal.  It had nothing to do with her.  It was too hard for me.  Her response?  She wrote all these things about my life that were lies (only to come from my father) saying I was spoiled and got a new car.  I didn’t.  She said the only friends I will have are late night comedy shows because all my friends will bail.  (FYI they didn’t.  My friends rock.) I was baffled.  I’ve only met this chick once or twice.  Who is she to talk about my life, friends, and all these lies?!  I called my father, and he took her side.  He said I started it.  I have still have the message, and everyone I have shown is confused to why she said those things.  That was it.  I officially reached my breaking point.  I was done with him.

I started hearing from other people in town that he saw Damian roll over and was showing pictures.  Impossible.  He was printing the pictures offline pretending to be a Grandpa instead of being in his life?  I also heard from multiple people that he would have to retire, and he was saying I was a bad mom.  He said I would get bored of my son, and he would be left to raise him.  Sorry but I’m not him.  I never will be.  I had to cut all ties with him.  I tried to go to the house and take my dogs, who I would secretly visit when he was at work, but they were gone.  Another heartbreak.  I miss those pups everyday of my life.

I know this post may seem jumbled, but I had to get it out.  I cry to myself a lot.  My whole life I have wondered what is so wrong with me that neither of my parents really want me.  To say that I have daddy issues would be an understatement.  The hardest part of my relationship with my father was that there were glimpses of love.  I just wish that they lasted for more than a few weeks or months.   Maybe it would have been easier if he just left my life like my mother did.  My heart hurts and breaks everyday.  I wish that I could pretend that I don’t care, but I do.  Sometimes I’m tired of being the brave little girl who puts on a happy face.

I look at my son, and I have to be brave for him.  He’s so full of joy and innocence.  I want to show him the love my Grammy gave me.  He has two parents who love him more than he’ll ever know.  I couldn’t imagine ever abandoning him.  That’s what real parents do.  I would never cut him out of my life.  I will fight for him, his dreams, and his ambitions.  I want to give him the mother and father I never had.  I’ll never be able to call someone “mom” or “daddy” but Damian will.  My goal in life isn’t some crazy career aspiration.  My goal in life is to be the best mother I can be.  To be the mother I never had.

Here are two songs that really speak to my heart:


  • Ashley

    I had no idea that you had gone through so and its a miracle you are still the wonderful person you are today. I truly believe that God tests us all and you are a prime explain of overcoming all obstacles. Thank you for sharing your story and being a blessing in my life….xoxo!

  • Sarah Kil

    Andrea~ thank you for sharing your heart. Even though you had a tough time as a kid… Im thankful your grandmother showed you what it means to love!!! Im glad youre being strong for your son and breaking the cycle your parents started. You are so strong and such a wonderful mother. Remember that…

  • Dara

    what a sad story. did you ever consider writing a memoir? you have obviously grown from your experiences and could help other people. I hope you realize something was wrong with your mother to leave you, not the other way around. I know it must be difficult to realize that, but you know most moms don’t just leave their children!

  • Coley

    Thank you for sharing your story. That is heartbreaking how completely selfish both your parents turned out to be. Lots of people talk about how you have to love your family and let them be apart of your life, but I believe that is total bull! The only thing you have to do is whatever is best and healthy for YOU and it sounds like cutting all ties is best.

  • Lauren

    i read every word of this post. you are so strong to have gone through what you have. you are and are going to remain a great mom to your son because of what you have experienced.

  • Shannon

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an amazing, strong lady, and although I only know you from this blog I can tell you are a wonderful mother. Stay beautiful lady, xoxo

  • THE mom

    Heartbreaking…you are a strong beautiful woman :-) thank u so much for sharing. I was raised by my grandparents and attribute the love I know to them. Damian is so lucky to have u. YOU are an awesome person and a great mom!
    You continue what you’re doing. Cut all ties. It has to be done.

    • THE mom

      P.S. my island sister!!! I never knew you were from Guam! Lol ok

  • Lisette @ Northern Belle Diaries

    Andrea, I’m having a hard time finding the right words to say. I read every. Single. Word of this post. Tears welled up in my eyes. I wish I could hug you. Know that your Grammy is always with you. Your son is a very lucky baby. I know you’ll give him all the love he deserves and more. It’s so sad that we, as humans, are often so broken and instead of getting professional help we take it out on the ones who least deserve it. You are beautiful inside and out. Your feelings are only natural. Sometimes it hurts to cut out people you love because they are a poison in your life. Your parents were broken people; there was nothin wrong with you. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s amazing what some people go through. And you’re right. One look at you and you would NEVER guess this. Much love!

  • Natalie

    I too, read every word to this post. I had a similar experience. My biological father is the first one. He left me too. Never returned. I wouldn’t get cards or phone calls. Anything. Then he came back into my life when I was getting married and he promised to walk me down the aisle. Never showed. Now he lives about an hour from me and I want nothing to do with him. He calls me his baby girl everytime. He says he “loves” me. But how can you love someone when you never knew them.

    My stepfather raised me from when I was 5 up until I was 21. When I married at 19, he drove 5 hours to rush to walk me down the aisle (my mom and him divorced the year before). Then, when I divorced my ex husband, he never spoke to me again. He still lives in the house I grew up in. With his new wife and his new son. He is 13 now. He still has the same phone number. I have called and left messages a few time and left my number. Nothing. No return phone call.

    All I have now is my mom and Bills family. And that’s all I care about. I am just thankful that my kids have dads in their life. It was really hard growing up without a dad. And sometimes it still is.

    You are brave for telling your story. And I love you even more now. :)

  • Kristen Van Drie

    Andrea, you are a fabulous mother to Damian and him as well as Pat are so blessed to have your devotion to them. You know my story, and by no means are we in the exact same boat, but we have had similar hardships. The only way that I can cope with the crap is to accept my father as who he is instead of understand why he is who he is. It has really helped my heart heal, as well as give me strength to not be hurt every time he doesn’t live up to my expectations. The thing is, now that we are moms and know the love that comes from it, we will never be able to understand the cowards our parents have become. Seriously!

    I know it’s hard, but try and forgive your parents so that you can heal and move on to the important things and people in your life. You don’t have to apologize TO them (because they definitely aren’t worthy) but if you can apologize for yourself, you will be able to forgive much quicker.

    I love you and am ALWAYS here for you :)

  • Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness

    Aww I’m so sorry to here all of this! You are such a great person and mother. You are an incredible inspiration to anyone going through rough times in life. I know it must have taken so much courage to share your story but I think it will help many people who need to hear that they are not alone going through times like this. Stay strong for you son and enjoy your life! Forgive, heal, and grow!

  • Terra

    Reading this post, I heard my mom’s voice in yours. Your stories are almost identical especially the part about your Grammy. The way you talk about her is the same way my mom talks about her granny, full of love and compassion and strength. My mom is the strongest person I know because of her childhood, and she is my best friend. I think out of terrible, terrible circumstances like you’ve shared, grows beauty, grace, and strength. She could not have done a better job raising my brother and because like you said, her only goal in life was to give us the life that she didn’t have. You are doing a fantastic job, and with your heart, there is no way you can fail.
    Thank you for having the courage it took to write this. You have given me a deeper respect for you, as well as for my mom. You women are beautiful.

  • Cristina

    I understand where you are coming from. I remember in college a friend telling me “I work with your Dad” and said “Who?” like my mom asexually reproduced or something. I hadn’t thought about him in so long. I was outraged that he even said he had a “daughter” as I am no such thing to him and never have been. I remember the exact day we stopped talking. I was little and called him on Fathers Day and he never called me back. Just a couple years ago my mom told me the whole story about him and why she left, which is both sickening and heartbreaking. We all have a story don’t we? But the good news is we have all come out on the other side to tell it!

  • The Cunninghams

    To echo everyone above, I know you will take your experiences and turn them into something positive – being the best mom to Damian and a great wife to Pat. I never knew your whole story, only parts of it, and my heart breaks for you. I hope you do realize what a great gift you’re giving to Damian though. A good mom makes all the difference in life.

  • Kristin @ w/milk and sugar

    My heart breaks reading this. It’s hard to imagine there are people who could be so cold and heartless. Your life shines bright despite your biological parents. What a blessing to have a sweet Grammy. Prayers for you that this post – sharing everything and talking about it – will help you find peace.

  • Andiepants

    Awww lovely girl. Thank you so much for sharing all of this it definitely took a lot of courage to write this. My heart breaks for you. You have definitely gone through a lot in your life. I am so proud and glad that you’ve been able to overcome your past. I sense a lot of pain, however I see how you’ve grown so much from all of this. I am so thankful that you have your Grammy by your side to help and instill in you those wonderful things that make you who you are today, a beautiful person and a kind soul, oh yes, and the best momma to Damien.

    Many times our expectations of others are what lets us down. Maybe because we want them to be the way we want them to be. I know you’ve given them chances, however, just remember you have to protect and take care of yourself too. Only you know how much you can handle. Remember to nurture yourself and listen to your conscience. You have made way to be the best mother for Damien, you also have to take care of you.

    Love you girly…remember “Andrea” means “Courageous, Valiant, Womanly, Beautiful Lady”..which you totally embody :)
    I feel lucky to have met you in the interwebz. Stay strong….sending you many hugs!!!


  • Mia @ The Chronicles of Chaos

    Andrea, thank you for sharing this post. I can imagine how incredibly painful it was to write, but hopefully it was cathartic as well. I went through some similar hardships growing up and never mentioned them to anyone until I met my husband. And telling him my story really helped me to slowly be able to move on. I’ll never forget, because I don’t ever want my boys to think their parents don’t love them! I agree, my biggest goal in life is to be the best mom I can be!! Our kids deserve nothing less! Big hugs to you. Xo

  • Lauren

    I am so so so sorry you have had to go through this. But I admire you for posting this. My mom left me when I was 5 and didn’t want custody either. She is in my life now, but she’s more like a friend. I will never really see her as a Mother. My Gran helped raise me with my Daddy. I hate it that you had to go through a tough life with BOTH parents. But my dad did end up remarrying and she ruined my life. Completely. I can relate to what you have been through and because of it, I strive to be the mother that I needed in my life, too. Hugs, girly! I’m here if you want to talk!

  • Michelle

    Andrea-I so admire the person you are. I have a deep respect for the many people I follow in the blog world, your story hit my heart. My heart goes out to you. I have an even deeper respect for all that you have gone through and how you have managed to continue with a smile on your face.

    Please know that it was never you. It seems your parents weren’t ready to have the responsibility of a child when they had you. They never realized the beautiful gift they were given. Luckily, God places people where they are needed. Thankfully you had your grandmother to show you unconditional love and support.

    Thank you for sharing your story! Continue being the amazing and beautiful person you are!

    “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” unknown

  • Amber

    I can’t even imagine. Good for you for cutting the drama, and trash out of your life. Some people simply cannot be helped. I am so proud of you for breaking the cycle! You recognize that your childhood is not the one you want for your child, and you’ve taken the steps to ensure that he will never know it. I am so sorry that you have had all these terrible things happen to you. You have the support of the whole blogging community, and those in your world that truly matter :) You’re a great mom, and good person and those are really the only two things that matter!

  • Erin

    Sometimes I like to run this quote like a mantra in my head “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”. When times get tough, it really helps me out, and after reading your experience I couldn’t help but thinking this about you! One thing I have learned in the past year is that everything in life is either a lesson or a blessing, so your experience will help you some day in the future. You are an inspiration Andrea, just keep doing what you’re doing and good things will happen for you!


  • Shanay Worthy

    Wow, it’s really something that you had to go through this with your parents. It has helped you to be a great parent to your son. Thank God for your grandmother to be a supporter in your life growing up. Sometimes we never know why we go through things in life, but it does makes us a better person.


  • Sessy@NTSST

    Andrea, you are incredible….I hope you found peace in sharing your journey with us! Know this has made you stronger, and a better mother…. You are an inspiration! Love ya girl!

  • ~Mom Wife Boss Life~

    Wow, I found you on aloha Friday blog hop and found myself completely engaged in your story! You are so strong. I can relate in some ways and while its hard to not speak to your parents it is the best desicion you can make to provide a great life for your son! I am excited to follow your blog! Please check mine out and hopefully we can share stories of motherhood.

    Xx kelly

  • Stephanie

    Good for you for getting your feelings out there. I hope that it helps in healing your pain. God bless. Keep up the great work as a mother to your child.

  • **** April ****

    I truly believe that writing is therapy. It’s a way for you to purge so you can forget…but it’s there in writing, in case you need to remember.

    I often find it strange that people would choose to BE parents… even the ones that just spit out kids like they’re Pez instead of truly loving and doting on the ones that they have.

    Do not EVER put your value in what anyone says or thinks of you. Easy to say, yes, I understand, but once you can do that… truly do that… it’s worth it’s weight in gold! You are a beautiful, successful, wonderful person and it’s a shame they’re missing out.

    I had to sever ties with my sister. At one point, with my mother as well. While I have somewhat repaired that relationship, it will never EVER be what you’d hope to have for a mother/daughter relationship.

    You are right… the most important thing is to be everything you are, and can be, to your son. And you won’t fail him. And you will let him know how loved he is. And you know what… you are going to be okay! :) I just know it…


  • Kelsey Eaton

    I had no idea you had been through so much. I don’t even know what to say. I have a pit in my stomach and my mouth is lost for words. You are an INCREDIBLE woman to turn out how you are. You have overcome so much and for that you should be proud. You are an amazing momma to that sweet little one of yours. That takes incredible courage. You are a divine woman with so much light and potential. It doesn’t matter what ANYBODY says about you.

    wth love,

  • Chelsea Mae Dickson

    Hey girl. Your story was very touching to my heart. I feel no one should ever have to be put through what you did, but believe you are who you are for a reason and life has it’s challenges but you are strong and such a happy outgoing soul. I love reading your posts and videos and truly appreciate what you are sharing with everyone- because people can relate and believe it or not you’re making a difference in other people’s lives through all you do. Id love to meet up with you sometime when you’re back this way. Take care love- stay positive… Sounds like you’re in good hands now w hubby and coconut! Xxo

  • Cassandra Jolliff

    Andrea I had no idea. Thats awful and NO one should ever have to experience that. You are SO strong to be able to open your heart and share your life story. I know there is not much I can say.. I just wanted to express how sorry I was and how much I admire your fight. You are such a strong person. Damian is lucky to have you as his mom :-)

  • gayle t.

    I echo the other comments on here. What an amazing testimony to how God carries us through our lives, sometimes when we don’t even know He is. You are an example of overcoming obstacles and making the world (and your own family) better because of what happened to you. You did not become a victim or a statistic, and that is so awesome. And, how brave to share with all of us! THANK YOU for entrusting your story with us, and for the honor of knowing you so much more deeply. You are wonderful!!!

    Gayle | Grace for Gayle