Hello… I haven’t always been a straight “A” student nor a contributor to life. Growing up disturbed, lonely, and afraid led me into a constant cycle of abuse which varied between abuse coming from outside myself and the abuse coming from inside my own beliefs and decisions. I always knew I was meant for something greater than a life in the adult industry, but I never had the enthusiasm and determination it takes to overcome the obstacles I was facing. That is, until I became a single mother and vowed to do whatever it took to learn what it meant to heal and become a healthy, hard-working mama. The love I had for my child gave me the key to my motivation and success. Through showing up for her, I get to heal myself and give her all the things I needed as a child. Love is a powerful thing.
I would say most people do not like to be uncomfortable… the ones who do, get used to being uncomfortable because they have seen the payoffs. Those are the ones truly living. Like Olympic athletes who struggle through every training, push themselves to the edge & triumph in their success after they have reached their goals. They have to learn discipline, dedication, and foster the ability to overcome adversity. I have realized, I am the Olympic athlete of my life.
Ever since I can remember, I have lived with this deep pain in my heart and the overwhelming feeling of not belonging to anyone or any group. I experienced a lot of adversity through multiple layers of abuse that no child should ever experience. I was in so much pain that I had to learn how to survive, not life, but survive my own feelings of discomfort (suffering). I would run, literally, I would hide, and I would self-medicate for over a decade. Until one day, an innocent human life was put in my hands to take care of & I decided to face reality once in for all. Intuitively, I knew that the only way to being capable of mothering a child would be to stop the crap & get ready for battle with my own demons.
Over time the lessons get deeper and more clear. Just recently I transferred to UC Berkeley with a bundle of fears and self-doubt. How can I, an ex-stripper (some would say ex-whore), keep up with the big dogs here in the academic & spiritual world? I have recently won 29 awards for my community service efforts, my club involvement, and advocacy. I am riding on a full-ride scholarship to the best public school in the world. Most people without heavy abuse baggage & decades of self-loathing would be delighted. I, however, went into a terrible depression. All the issues I thought I had already worked on came rearing their ugly faces & for a moment I believed it was who I was. But then, through reaching out to God, to my inner self, to my friends, and my family… I realized this is the lesson. I am allowed to feel. Deeply, truly, for better or for worse & this very torment I was going through, I knew it would soon come to an end & I would be bigger, stronger, and ready for the next level.
The trick is acceptance & non-judgement BUT how can I not judge myself when I am on the kitchen floor crying wanting to give up and feeling so alone? You just have to breath and ride this part of the wave and trust this the path will not abandon you. I chose this! I will practice receiving & soaking up the fruits of my hard work & dedication. This is the hardest part for me… just accept the goodness & let go of everything that I AM NOT. I can testify that when you set out the intention to heal & to reach your fullest potential… WATCH out bc it ain’t no joke! You will have to face the deepest darkest ugliest parts of yourself & the world to emerge on the other side.
All I wanted four years ago, when I became pregnant, was to not party and to heal for this child. I wanted to be a good mama, I wanted no one to ever take this child from me… and I got it! I didn’t know how hard this road would be, but I also had no idea how deeply rewarding it was going to be as well. Just when I think it can’t get any better, it does. And, then it gets bumpy again… but those bumps catapult me into another level of existence with my heart blazing on fire, ready to take on the world & love & be & sing & dance & play & eat & feel. That’s the adventure.
People always tell me “your so inspirational” “how do you do it” “you are so brave”… For me, there’s absolutely no other option anymore. I refuse to live in misery and pain and shame anymore. I have the most precious responsibility to adhere to raising a little girl… I don’t dare give up or back down from that even when everything in me screams to run away. Get comfy with being uncomfy & wonderful things will happen.
If you want to heal, if you want to be free, if you want to learn what it means to live, just ask & get ready. Take your stance.
Robin Rivera, a former worker in the adult industry and abuser of alcohol and drugs for many years, is now an ambassador for the CalWORKs Association (which supports low-income families get out of poverty through education & training). She is also a mentor at MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth) where she works helping many young girls and prevent sexual exploitation of young children through raising awareness, education, and development. Recently Robin was awarded the 2012 Miller Scholar at UC Berkeley as an undergrad and started her curriculum there this August. “All of these involvements have been part of my healing process teaching me one step at a time to love my path and to have self-acceptance. 29 awards later and numerous public speaking engagements, I have accepted that because of my position it is my obligation to give voice to all the people who society can not hear”. You can follow Robin’s personal blog, Crazy Beautiful.