When I was twenty one I escaped from hell. Yes, hell. I was engaged to a complete and utter psychopath. When we were together he put me down whenever he could. Whether he was telling his friends I was slow, telling his ex- girlfriends about me and asking them to compare us, cheating on me, or everything else in between. Then it was my breasts weren’t big enough. Oh and then there was the ventriloquism. I had to stop that because his friends thought it was weird. Then there was the fact he was willing to kill his mother to get the insurance money to be with me. Oh and there were the two suicide attempts in front of me when I tried to leave.
I like to say my ex is the reason I have no self-esteem when it comes to men or in general. It’s a cop out to say the least but one that I used to use. Truth of the matter is that I had low self-esteem when I met him. After struggling with my weight as an adolescent I had shed some poundage. Of course I was putting my stamp on the NYC comedy scene. Veteran comedians liked my style. But everyone else had a boyfriend and I didn’t. Everytime I looked in the Goddamn mirror I saw the ghost of some fat girl and just remembered junior high where guys asked me out as a joke. Now that I was twenty I wanted more. I had dated two guys my first year of college
One had been a complete disaster and the other took me out once only to ditch me for a girl who put out easily. The worst part was he saw me with his new gal pal and they totally gave me the snub. The second was an Israeli stud muffin who detailed every sexual encounter he ever had. I didn’t know Starbucks Coffee burned when it came up your throat but I soon found out it did.
Beginning of my second year I fell for a guy who ultimately rejected me only to break my heart. Then as I was getting over him he reappeared only to break my heart again. That’s when my ex entered and wanted to be my boyfriend. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that he was clingy, controlling, and would end up in me investing in a separate mailing address.
Relationships have never been easy for me and after that it got even harder. I dated several guys and cheated on them all. Sometimes I felt guilty, sometimes I didn’t. I just felt why be monogamous when you could just have fun? I had been engaged. I had said forever. Now I was saying fuck it. I even tried to get a serious boyfriend which was a disaster. He lied about being cool and I lied about being faithful. Now he dates someone on the edge of my circle, partially because it worked out that way but probably to subconsciously spite me. I know he does. I was pretty mean to him.
At the time though I wasn’t such a big April fan. After putting the puppets away to appease a psychopath I was only picking them up again. I was hesitant to invite boyfriends to shows because my ex assured me that I wasn’t funny unless he was helping me craft my jokes. I would talk about my ex onstage and for the most part got a positive reaction. However, once in a blue moon a male comedian or booker would inform me I was bitter, probably because I touched a nerve. But the irony is, my male comedian friends not only got me to talk about my ex but some even helped me craft a routine which rarely fails. I didn’t think I was pretty nor did I think I deserved to be treated even close to well. So of course I wasn’t going to treat anyone well.
Then in October of 2010 I lost my friend Roger Ferrer. One thing about Roger was that he had the ability to be his own person to the point where you wanted to strangle him which was a large part of his charm. Unfortunately, Roger couldn’t let go of his past nor did he develop a good sense of self or was he willing to. Much like me he gripped hard to his rage and that’s what probably united us, our ability to hold a grudge and to seek revenge. While a relapse on drugs damaged his immune system and ultimately was a factor in his early death, I always believe it was his inability to let go of his anger and to stop blaming others for his self-hate. His death was hard on me but it got me to look at how I was living my life and treating myself. Seeing that during the time we were friends I dated one guy who was technically still married and another who concealed an engagement from me the answer was not good.
I started treating myself better. I began surrounding myself with better people who to my pleasant surprise wanted to be around me and wanted to know more about what I did. I made it my goal to try new things, one being kickboxing. While I had been a martial artist as a kid I hadn’t done it in a while. Sure the class was first thing in the morning but I found myself liking Jeanene our instructor and was very quickly hooked. I found myself losing fifteen pounds and instead of self-destructive diet practices it was the healthy way and I was gaining muscle. I also started swimming too.
My dream had been to be on television and sure I was on a reality show. However I began to go out for more TV and film things and even landed them. I didn’t take it so personally when I didn’t get them. I also got the courage to start recording music and even received some airplay on internet radio. I even began to publish my book, one my friend and set dresser Joe Cannava (RIP) got me to write. Oh and I became a talking head for a website, hosted a talk show, and can sincerely say I for the first time was very happy.
An old friend of mine from way back wrote me after I did one of my music videos and told me that I was breaking in, he was proud of me, how I looked happy and how I never seemed that way to him. It’s because for the first time in my life I said to myself, “April, you’re okay. You are talented and awesome.” Not only did it translate into my personal makeup but it was being seen by those around me.
I also started to take the opportunity to tell young people whenever I could about how important self love was. Yes it was easy to fall into the trap but if I had any sense of self-worth I would have told him to keep walking. I also tell young people not only to follow their dreams but not to be afraid to be themselves and to standup to bullies because everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, religion or personal appearance.
To be honest I didn’t want to pursue the activism route but after receiving lots of letters from young people, especially young women, I felt compelled. For the most part I have received a lot of support not only from my fans but my friends and family. However, one ex friend, when I was talking about my ex stalking me after our hellacious relationship said sarcastically, “Glad to see you got over it so well.”
These days I can say I am a fan of April. I am a good ventriloquist, a good comedian, a good writer, a decent singer and a brave singing telegram delivery person as well as somewhat reluctant former reality tv star. Most importantly, I am not just an activist but a role model. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less, and if I am someone young people can look up to that’s positive that’s all I want. In an era of Kartrashians there are seldom good women role models and perhaps it is time for a new one. Let me be that young woman. Yes I have made my mistakes but it’s not how you fall but how you get back up and keep on trucking.
However it is all easier said than done. This past week I was told by someone who I consider special that I push away those that care and I probably do. I never said that I didn’t have emotional bullet wounds and battle scars. Sometimes I even tell myself I would be better off alone because no one wants me and all anyone will do is hurt me. Of course the trips to Ricky’s where I see the sex toy section make it all no better because I am unpleasantly reminded that I will never be able to please a man. Or seeing pics of the hot chicks on the strip club posters make me remember how my ex fiancé was sleeping his stripper ex who was giving him a thousand dollars every week.
That’s when I hear the nasty words of my ex fiancé, “Hey baby, she got implants. Why don’t you get the number of her surgeon?”
At that moment I curse my fucking ex and blame him for ruining my self-esteem. Then I hear the words of Kat Williams, “It’s called self-esteem bitch.” I realize in his comedy there is a lot of truth. Self-love must come from within and therefore no one has the right to take it away unless you give them that right. Not to mention the only time they can take your self-esteem is if it isn’t there to begin with.
Then I remember a quote from my friend Roger, “Sometimes people are a part of our past because we passed them over. When we look back at them they are right where we left them, doing the same shit and even wearing the same bad clothes.” I remember that when I think of my ex and his idiot posse who harassed me after the breakup. I just know in my heart and in my mind they choke on it whenever they see me on TV and I intend to be on TV more just to see them gag on it.
However in moving on and letting go of that part of my life and that hideous voice of my ex I also let go of the anger and the backstory that put the victim label on me, something Roger could never do when he was alive. I know how hard it is to shed and I know it is even harder to drop the rock.
But when you start to treat that evil, demonic voice more like the boogeyman in childhood nightmares than anything real it becomes easier to shut up. As a result I no longer hide my puppets but bring them out constantly, because hiding my puppets would be hiding one of the best parts of myself. Along with my imagination and the fact I feel deeply without these things I wouldn’t be myself. My ex on the other hand will always be afraid to embrace himself and that is why he feels the inherit need to bully women, because he has found a weaker target.
This is especially hard for me to say because right before Christmas my ex wrote me trying to make amends. He said he was sorry that he wasn’t a better boyfriend, he had anger issues, was overdramatic. I was so angry because these were the understatements of the year. There was not the I’m sorry I made your life so miserable when my ex girlfriends harassed you and cyberbullied you to the point you developed stomach ulcers. There was no apology for telling everyone he wanted me dead and my mother kept his name on the refrigerator in case he decided to make his wish come true. There was no remorse for stalking me to the point where I had running shoes on constantly in case he showed up. At the same time I have come to accept my ex is very sick and from the note it sounded as if he was either working the twelve steps or getting the treatment of a psychologist or clergy person. Nonetheless he is not a safe contact so I blocked him.
I felt disgusted he even contacted me.
When I want to get angry at my ex and all the things that happened I remember I picked him and it took two to tango therefore I have to stop crying like a baby. I also tell myself my time and energy need to be spent better ways, like entertaining my fans and by setting a positive example to those that look up to me, not some ex who didn’t deserve me to begin with.
Then I remember a conversation I had with a fan in Wales. I asked her to write something in Welsh for the hell of it. She typed, “Eich bod yn ysbrydoliaeth i nifer fawr o bobl.” I asked her what that meant. She typed “You are an inspiration to a great many people.”
That’s when I snicker as I say, “Yes Mr. Booeyman Low Self-Esteem, not only do I like myself but I have now not only defeated you in one language but more. And my fans are multiplying around the globe and soon we will be defeating you in many more languages.” Love April
PS. Tune into Confessions this Sunday night on younow.com. This week’s topic is, do you have something you have always wanted to do but are afraid to try? On air you must tell us about it and next week report back whether you did it or are in the steps to doing it.