This story is lengthy but good. Hold tight to understand my story and become connected to what is a real life story for us, the St. Michael’s family.
I am telling my whole story this time. I cut off the hard to hear, shocking parts of the St. Michael’s born to be story before to make it easier for me to show face. That’s not who I truly am. I am very transparent and will tell my life to a stranger without hiding any specifics. This sometimes puts me in uncomfortable spots and in this case it may cause some bewilderment in you. But who in the hell cares! It’s a good read and afterward you will either love me or scrutinize me. Either way, it’s raw and will leave you knowing me as well as, if not more than, my neighbor, and I like that.
In December 2015 I had surgery to take off Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) that had grown on my lip. It consumed, ate rather, a very good portion of my mouth and cheek. Over the course of a five and a half hour surgery my life and my family's life was forever changed. My once perfect mouth, lips and smile were no longer. The kiss I once shared with my husband and smooches on my sweet boys' cheeks were forever gone. Soon devastation would grab ahold of my life with a series of traumatic events, each one causing mangled havoc.
A car would drive into our house in the middle of the night hitting my oldest son, my marriage would fall hard breaking into tiny jagged pieces, my health would deteriorate to where I would nearly die, my real estate career would end, religion would be questioned, friendships would vanish and then all good things would soon come to be.
After the surgery, I was left with a deformed drooling mouth that was monster like. The doctor had to remove half my lip and part of my cheek. To close the opening, he had to attach what remained of my upper to the ball of my check, stretching my mouth and nose to one side of my face. If you want a visual, look at my skin cancer Instagram page Burnt Freckle. Throughout the journey I persevered, I overcame, I hid, I faked it, I climbed out of a few dark holes and silently drug my broken spirit around like a sad wet lost puppy. My career as a Real Estate agent in Newport Beach, California was now pointless. Our principal, Tim Smith, of the team I was so proud to be part of, said to me, "No matter what size, shape or looks you have, you can be very successful. It's how you apply yourself." This is a man who is a leader in Real Estate across the world. I hung on to those words, tightly, but with every stare, uncomfortable eye contact and fake comment I slowly dropped into pieces of a broken spirit.
I prayed. Holy Lord did I pray. I didn’t want to leave Real Estate. I loved it. I grew up with my parents buying and selling, renting, flipping houses on the side and LOVED every minute of it! The team I was on is literally a one in a million chance. I cut back to only working with buyers and then only referrals. I was doing good again. But something was missing. I prayed more. After two reconstructive surgeries on my face, I was starting to appear less beastly and more bizarre which is doable with over $1k in Sephora purchases. Life was looking up. However, I constantly had the feeling that something was missing or left undone.
Two years later, December of 2017 as we lay in bed asleep, I heard a sound that woke me. It felt like those unnerving surprises you get that makes you ask, “Is this the end? Is one of the Southwest planes crashing down onto our street? Are we finally having that earthquake like the movie San Andreas?” It was a car that was driving towards our house at an ungodly speed, and it wasn’t stopping. Within seconds it was in our house. The flashing lights of the Porsche was next to my oldest sons head. Not joking, you can get a visual on my Burnt Freckle page as well (I’m not trying to promote my page, I promise!). To give you a breakdown, the car drove up the lawn, caught air on an aloe plant, nose-dived into the garage landing in both boys’ rooms. Most of the car was in my oldest son’s bed! The rest in my youngest son’s closet. The silver Porsche and the gutless driver has reigned heartache in our house still to this day. Witnessing and experiencing the havoc it caused in my family is heart breaking and tough as hell to try and move past. With that, the driver was a competing local Real Estate agent in Orange County.
So I prayed. I prayed a lot. I couldn’t do this anymore. The little pr*ck driving his car into my house made the decision for me to leave Real Estate. There was no way I could be professional around him. One day driving down PCH I prayed for answer once again. Demanded it really. By the time I reached my house a full vision of owning a men’s boutique came to me. I brought the idea to my husband, and he jumped on board. Being a control freak with most things in my life it was not easy for me to do, but I found myself praying a lot and literally giving it to God. So again, I looked to God for what the store name should be and St. Michael’s came to me. He was a well-respected saint in our house growing up. I had called on him in my earlier years for other things that I will keep for another lengthy story. So, without any experience in the retail world, I started St. Michael’s Men’s Apparel with the help and guidance of good friends in the boutique world, my husband, prayer and a lot of crossing my fingers. In November of 2019 we launched St. Michael’s Men’s Apparel… then COVID hit. I had tens of thousands of dollars of inventory and boutique gear sitting in my garage collecting dust and interest.
During all this chaos my marriage fell apart in more ways than I can say. We are good now and stronger now than the day we were married but at the time I questioned my faith more than I had ever before.
I was raised by an angry Catholic. What is an angry Catholic? Well, it can mean many things but in my mom’s case, it was over a Father not baptizing me in the church because of her absence in services for a year during a move to another state they made for my dad to find work. Stupid right? She was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school all her life, baptized my three older sisters in a Catholic church and raised us with the best parts of Catholicism. What did she do? She went down to the church with a bucket. She bought holy water by the gallons and baptized me at home in a clean white porcelain bathtub by herself! That, my friends, is bad ass! Being raised Catholic in my house was different from most Catholic families. It meant relying on Saints to help you with certain things. Praying for or about everything! Making the sign of the cross when you see things that are not of this world like it was an exorcism each time, loving EVERYONE and being gay is as normal as being straight. There are some of us Catholics that are good, I promise. Back to the point, I nearly lost my faith in prayer and in God which I had always relied on.
Next, I got sick. The doctors finally discovered it was the amount of NSAIDs (ibuprofens) I had taken for my chronic neck pain over the years and my organs started to shut down slowly. I learned later on, the doctor told my husband it was possible I wouldn’t make it out of the hospital. One day as I laid there unable to make it to the bathroom and lifeless, I prayed. I spoke directly to God rather than being formal or scripted. I spoke to Him like I am speaking to you now. I yelled at Him, I cursed, I expressed my inner most feelings about Him and my life. In the end, I promised Him that if He guided me and helped me to recover my marriage and health, I would follow and then share His word. The conversation I had with God that day did something to me physically, emotionally and mentally. In a few weeks I had made a full recovery. So much so, the doctors and staff were shocked and even called me a “miracle case.”
I somehow felt different inside of me. I almost need to explain it to you in person so I can use my hands like a mime to explain it. I had hope for everything in my life. With complete confidence I left everything in His hands. Good or bad, I left it with God. I talk to Him now like a friend. I leave out curse words but sometimes slide. I can’t explain it fully to you. I just have a different relationship with God now than I had before. I am a nonjudgmental, gay loving catholic that says Fuck a lot. God loves me and you. My husband said it best, “In the bible it says, Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. Not you or me.”
St. Michael is an Archangel. He cast the devil out of heaven and into hell. We need him and his army of angels daily to fight the good fight. I don’t care what God you believe in or what higher power you pray to. We all need to be fighting the evil we deal with daily. We all need to love more and lift our hearts with happiness. I promised to spread His word, so I am. I will NEVER be a “bible thumper” or knock on doors with pamphlets, but I will add some religious things to my store for those of you who are curious about religion or want to represent it. You can also talk to me about religion without pressure or judgement. I want to spread the word without creating an uproar. So, I will start here with you reading this story. Hopefully you are not turned off or ready to DM me an angry message. I am just stoked you read it this far.
Little tid bits and facts:
Both of my sons have saints for middle names. Saint Demetrius & Saint Michael are both known for being hard core certified bad ass protectors. Each protected in the name of Christianity. St. Michael cast the devil into hell and protected those who needed it and St. Demetrius protected his people, his city and Christianity. Guardians of the good. Loyal and true. Basically, superheroes.
We are still in the middle of a lawsuit with the idiot who drove his stupid car into my poor son’s head.
I am still fighting my skin cancer. Burnt Freckle has become my personal page and a great resource for those experiencing skin cancer in some way. I rely on my followers for support and answers as they do me. My face is still jacked. I still drool, have a lisp with certain words and if I relax my mouth enough, I look like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast (not lying). I laugh at it now; we joke around about it in my house all the time. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Although, I am allowed some breakdowns every so often!
My husband and I now have a marriage you can only dream about. It’s like God took us apart so we could be put back together sealing and correcting all imperfections. We met at a bar in 2000 when he played in a rock ‘n roll band. My roommate tried to steal him, but I won…
If you meet me in person, ask me about my scar! Ask me anything! Give me a hug! I love you, I don’t know who are but I do.