Episode 127: Daniella DeChristopher, Overcoming Adversity
On this episode, Karen speaks with Daniella DeChristopher, author of Behind Closed Doors A Daughter’s Story, the story of a family from Italy that came to America on vacation and never returned to their homeland. When their youngest unwed daughter became pregnant in 1949, her family disowned her; she was seventeen when she gave birth to her daughter. Daniella is her daughter and this is her story.
From Daniella: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS A Daughter's Story is a true story about my life. It exposes shameful details about my past. They are facts that I have often concealed from even my closest friends. It has taken me a lifetime to find the courage to share my story, but my need to help others outweighs my need to continue to keep my past a secret. I wrote this book with the hope that it will inspire others. If my story could help just one person, then exposing so much of myself would have been worth it. I hope that sharing my story will show others in similar situations that they are not alone. I want everyone to know that just because your story had a bad beginning doesn't mean that it has to have an unhappy ending.
Many of us that have had unstable childhoods worry about what others would think of us if they knew the truth about our past. With certainty, good friends won’t judge us for the life we inherited. If they judge us at all, they will respect us for having the strength and courage to build a better life for ourselves. They will appreciate the person we have become. I am proof that with hard work and perseverance, you can build a meaningful and productive life. You can’t change your past, but you can create a better future.
Intro Voices 00:04
Where do I go? It only happened. I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was out? I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry, can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me?
Karen Ortman 00:30
This is you matter, a podcast for the NYU community developed by the Department of campus safety. Hi, everyone, and welcome back to you matter, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I'm your host Karen Ortman, Associate Vice President of campus safety operations at the Department of campus safety, and a retired law enforcement professional. Today I welcome Daniela DeChristopher, author of behind closed doors, a daughter story, the story of a family from Italy that came to America on vacation and never returned to their homeland. When their youngest unwed daughter became pregnant in 1949. Her family disowned her. She was 17 when she gave birth to her daughter. Daniela is that daughter, and is here to share her story. Daniela, welcome to you matter.
Daniella DeChristopher 01:35
Thank you for having me, Karen. I'm sincerely grateful for the opportunity to speak with you today.
Karen Ortman 01:40
My pleasure. So your book details the trauma of your life and that of your mother. What compelled you to write about it?
Daniella DeChristopher 01:51
I was struggling in my life. My past haunted me. I never really spoke about it with anyone. I was always afraid or ashamed. And it felt me I felt very uncomfortable. So I felt the need to write about it. I wanted to shout out to the world why me. And this was my opportunity to be heard.
Karen Ortman 02:22
Was it cathartic for you to put the words to paper.
Daniella DeChristopher 02:27
It was the greatest thing I've ever done for myself in my life, and helping me move on.
Karen Ortman 02:34
That's great. Describe your mother's life, to the degree that you know about your mother's life, up to the point of her pregnancy at 17 when she gave birth to you.
Daniella DeChristopher 02:49
Sadly, my mother never spoke to me about her past at all. She never shared anything. She was a distant cold issue was very difficult to get her to share anything. The only thing I really knew of my mother is that she dressed beautifully, drove nice Cadillacs provided us provided me with a great home. On the surface, it seemed like we lived a charmed life.
Karen Ortman 03:28
You spoke of living in a beautiful home. However, your experience, living in the same home with your mother was very fragmented and inconsistent.
Daniella DeChristopher 03:45
It was I moved in with my mother when I was around eight years old. She had lost me in a custody battle. And another family had to gain control of me. And visitation rights rights will provide it and there was a lengthy court battle that ensued. But eventually she was able to prove to the court system that she could provide a home for me. And she regained custody and that's when I moved in with her.
Karen Ortman 04:20
And that is the home that I'm speaking about now, what happened up to the age of eight that caused your mother to lose custody of you?
Daniella DeChristopher 04:30
Well, I think it's best described in the baby book that I found. I looked at 21 homes that she documented from the time I was born until she can custody with me. The life was very unstable. I recall she would we would be at home and she would pack my things and put I'm in the car and take me somewhere and we'll be gone for days, weeks, months.
Karen Ortman 05:05
Never a discussion prior to blow dry discussion
Daniella DeChristopher 05:08
all her only answer to me was I have to work. So I recall, it got so bad that I wouldn't get in the car, unless you open the trunk first and prove to me that she wasn't going to take my things and don't use somewhere. But unfortunately, she got wise to that. And she took my things in advance of taking me where she intended to leave me.
Karen Ortman 05:33
Yeah. How did you manage your education up to that point?
Daniella DeChristopher 05:38
Well, I started school. When I was six and a half, seven, I forget. And that was that was very difficult because I was still living in different places. But I was I was taken to school picked up for that year while there was the custody battle during that year.
Karen Ortman 06:03
Well, who was the custody battle amongst
Daniella DeChristopher 06:06
it was amongst the the final family that I live prior to my mother regaining custody. It was they filed charges against her declaring that she was unfit. I guess that's how you describe it. Yeah. And then it was up to the courts to determine whether she was or not. And that went on for some time because she hired an expensive lawyer. And he told her that she needed to provide a home and I would probably be good if she was married, she married her boyfriend at the time, which became my stepfather and bought a little house and the courts eventually ended up awarding me to her
Karen Ortman 06:48
was any part of your childhood stable up until the age of eight. And following your mother regaining custody of you at the age of eight?
Daniella DeChristopher 07:01
Well, for the first eight years of my life, it was extremely unstable. There was nothing stable about it. I live with people that I didn't know. In the end, the last family that attempted to adopt me, my mother left and didn't come back. And that's and she figured out in a phone call that they will fall in for custody of me and shaping beard. From the time I moved in with my mother until I was around 16, I would say that it was it was a fairly stable environment. But it was it was not without challenges. My mother was almost never around. She hired a live in to live with us to care for me. And that included whatever I needed food, clothing, what have you. She didn't have like a mother. She never attended any of my school functions. She never participated in my school activities. She was pretty much not around. No. She went out at night. I recall. I recall her going out. She was always dressed nicely. And she would come back and wee hours of the morning and I would hear her come in. And I was so young. I don't think I don't think I put it together. I didn't understand what that meant. Well, at that time. I didn't know what she was going on. I thought she was just going out with friends or no, you know, go into general what have you I have no clue where she was actually going.
Karen Ortman 08:33
Up until the age of eight. You're with 21 different families. What were those families told as to why you had to stay with them? If you know,
Daniella DeChristopher 08:45
I do not know I was too young. I think she probably told them the same thing. She told me she had to work. And she couldn't care for me. But you know, I knew a lot of children that had mothers that worked and none of them left their child with strangers for extended generational for a week, a day, a month, she would just disappear. And sometimes I think she paid and sometimes I don't think she did. And and because I would hear fights and arguments about money. So So yeah, it was it was a difficult time,
Karen Ortman 09:22
for sure. And you heard the fight about money with your mother or with the families you were staying with
Daniella DeChristopher 09:28
with my mother. Fighting with the families though staying with when she would come back to pick me up. I think sometimes she either came up short or didn't have the money that she promised to pay. And then I would hear the arguments about that. So she was not financially sound from the time I was born. until I was about eight and then something changed.
Karen Ortman 09:50
When you were eight What year was this? It was 1919 58 Okay, yes. Now at some point in time you Who learned what it was your mother was doing? And she had the ability to hire an expensive lawyer to get custody of you. What did you learn that your mother did for a living?
Daniella DeChristopher 10:14
Sorry, okay. I promise her wasn't going to get emotional. It's hard. My mother was prostitute. I learned that I always knew something was wrong, I couldn't quite figure it out. But I always knew it just it was wrong. And during the years, I grew up on my stepfather, he was a decent man. And he was good to me. He had a cousin that he was very friendly with. And he skipped over the house all the time. And I got friendly with him as well. When my mother passed away. There were things that I didn't understand, as I packed up her things. It came to my attention that she didn't make enough money because I saw her IRS, and taxes. And she didn't make enough money for us to live the kind of lifestyle where we're living myself both Thursday and my father's. So I went to my cousin and I, I told him that I knew something was wrong. And nothing was ever right about my life. And what he would tell me, and he told me, I needed to leave it alone, let it go, that my mother never did anything that my father didn't know about. And that I went to see my mother's accountant, which was also a friend. And she was the one that really shared the most, she told me that my mother was a prostitute. And my father knew that. And it came to my attention that we all lived off of the money that my mother got through her. prostitution.
Karen Ortman 11:58
And when you talk about your father, you're talking about your stepfather, stepfather? Yes. So your stepfather was aware?
Daniella DeChristopher 12:06
Yes, he spent the money just like everybody else, like the rest of those. And he allowed her to do it. He fell from grace. When I, on that day, when I discovered that not only did he know, but they had been living off of the money that my mother had been earning, just like I was. So you know, the one person that I learn to love and trust. Let me down.
Karen Ortman 12:34
Did you ever have access to resources? I know this was over 50 years ago now. Did you ever have access to resources when you were younger? And your mother was not present in your life? And it clearly impacted you. But could you ever talk to anybody whether it was in school or friendships that you establish?
Daniella DeChristopher 13:04
Not really, but there, there is. One situation that I recall, I had grown fond of my fourth grade school teacher. And she always gave me attention. And she made me feel like somebody she cared about. And I was acting out. I don't know why. I don't recall the what happened that day. But I picked up a chair and threw it at her. And I don't know if I hurt her. I don't think I did. But we both. I apologize. We both had a good cry. But she begged me to ask to tell her what was wrong. She knew something was wrong. And I just couldn't I didn't understand what was happening to me. I just knew, you know, that my life was not like the other kids in the neighborhood or like my classmates.
Karen Ortman 14:05
How did that make you feel?
Daniella DeChristopher 14:08
Even today, I think about the day I threw that chair at her breaks my heart.
Karen Ortman 14:16
You haven't spoken to her since you were in fourth grade?
Daniella DeChristopher 14:20
No, I did have to get therapy in order to be allowed back in class and went through that therapy and they told me told my mother that I was struggling trusting people that I didn't trust anybody.
Karen Ortman 14:39
What do you know of your biological father?
Daniella DeChristopher 14:43
I never knew my biological father. I did go looking for him at one point in my life, because I again I was struggling, and I thought I had this vision that he was here You love me and my mother was keeping me from him. And it was all her fault. And I went looking for him and I saw him, I met him. And it was the worst thing I ever did in my life, why? I went to visit him. And he made it clear that he didn't want anything to do with me. It didn't have any interest in me in the beginning, and he did now. And that I wasn't to come back there because there was nothing for me there. And then he took steps to make sure I would never reach out to him again.
Karen Ortman 15:41
What steps did he take?
Daniella DeChristopher 15:44
He told me that he, the least he could do is give me some money to help me because I was pretty much homeless at the time I was living, going from front of friends staying with each one for a brief period. And he said that least he could do is give me some money to help me get on my feet. He gave me a check for $4,400 deposited into the bank and the checkouts. Unfortunately, I had written 18 checks on that check before it cleared. I was young and foolish and didn't know I was desperate. And I never occurred to me that he would give me a bad check.
Karen Ortman 16:27
What year was this?
Daniella DeChristopher 16:30
Oh, gosh, I'm gonna say early seven days and come on 100% Sure which year.
Karen Ortman 16:37
So what happened as a result of you depositing a fraudulent check and then writing 18 or so checks on it?
Daniella DeChristopher 16:47
Well, my friends started contacting me and telling me once that I'd stayed with the police had been there looking for me. And it happened enough times that I went to a friend and called him and told him that I got to him. I called him and told him what was going on. And he said, then you need to turn yourself in. And we need to find out what's going on. So we went to, he picked me up and we went and they arrested me. I had to go before a judge. And I had to pay restitution. I worked two jobs. I had to pay back all of the money. And I like tacked on a whole bunch of other charges. And I work to pay it back. Then I had a wonderful judge with a huge arm and expunge the record. After I pay back anything, but it was not a night before I spent two nights in jail. The first night was a few hours actually felt like forever. First night was night they arrested me when I turned myself in the second night was when the judge told me that not in the in in his chambers, that not only was the check that the account had been closed for two years.
Karen Ortman 18:12
Was your father ever confronted about this? Your biological father,
Daniella DeChristopher 18:17
I know that. I found out from the judge that he has spent time in jail for writing bad checks. And he can be kept company with bad people and a whole bunch of other stuff. And the judge actually he was on probation. I think my father at the time he did that. I guess he never, he figured I would never do anything. But he actually sent the judge actually sent him I think it was a telegraph telling them that he would see him in court when they were never going to prosecute because I would have to travel out of state and the judge wasn't going to let me do that because he was afraid of what I might do. He knew what I wanted to do. So really bad feelings. And he put me at a sell that night to make sure I didn't take off and go do something foolish.
Karen Ortman 19:20
How long did it take you to pay back? restitution?
Daniella DeChristopher 19:24
Oh, gosh, you know? I'm gonna say on this two years and a half, almost two years. Besser recall seemed like forever, but I think that's what it was. And the judge used to come to the restaurant that worked a little Italian restaurant is my second job. And the judge used to him and his wife used to come to the restaurant. And they were even if they ordered coffee, he would give me like a $20 tip. And yeah, What a sweetheart he was at and he would tell me stories. And I would sit with him, of course, you know, that the restaurant knew that I was on probation and they knew the circumstances. And they would allow me to sit with him for a little while. And he would always sit and talk to me and give me these heartfelt stories. And he really helped me a lot, you helped me tremendously.
Karen Ortman 20:24
Sounds like a very special person. You mentioned that you stayed with about 21 families up until the age of eight, after the age of eight, were you consistently in your mother's home, regardless of whether she was present or not?
Daniella DeChristopher 20:40
Yes, I was, that was the most stable environment that I had. With, you know, in the house, with with my mother, my stepfather. And the nanny, the nanny is the one that took care of me. She's the one that can, she was my mother.
Karen Ortman 20:57
Yeah. Did the nanny know what your mother was doing?
Daniella DeChristopher 21:02
I don't know. I know that. Just like everybody else in my life, she disappeared. She went home, sometimes on weekends over, you know, a weekend day and she got pregnant and, and eventually left us. And I never saw her again, either.
Karen Ortman 21:22
Did any of the parents in those 21 households know what your mother's occupation was?
Daniella DeChristopher 21:32
I don't know, because I was too young. So they,
Karen Ortman 21:36
they never spoke to you about the reason behind your mother leaving you with them.
Daniella DeChristopher 21:43
I think the one that there were two families actually that I spent more time with an eye, I grew fond of what one was thinking about, she spoke many times about and asked me if I would want to live there if they decided to adopt me, but it never evolved into anything more. The last one actually went through the system. And did she know I don't know what she knew more what they knew about my mother. But I did hear a conversation one time that she had a very serious conversation with my mother telling her that I wasn't very good, telling her that she wasn't a very good mother. And that, you know, just dropping me off there and leaving and never not calling not coming back. Was not being a mother. And she was going to file for adoption and try to have her declared unfit and I believe that's, that's what my mother showed up. And took me out of the hole. Yeah. But I'm
Karen Ortman 22:57
just curious as to how your mother identify identified these 21 families as options for you to in which to live? Where these arrangements are these people she knew in advance were did she already have relationships with these parents had died and find them to to get away with, you know, dropping you off and then just leaving you there?
Daniella DeChristopher 23:25
Right. You know, I can only guess conclude that as you know, I don't know how she found them. But she made the arrangements before she would, you know, take me and all I know is I was dumped there and drop there to me it was dumped. I was dropped there. And sometimes she was supposed to be back and three days I remember that and she wouldn't come and I would sit by the on the porch and wait for her and she never showed up. And that went on for a very long
Karen Ortman 23:57
time. You know, in today's day, if that were to happen, the the parents who were caring for you would typically report this to the police.
Daniella DeChristopher 24:09
Right? Well, you know, what are they put things in place today to help prevent this from happening to others? That's what I think.
Karen Ortman 24:19
What did you learn about your mom's side of the family did you ever establish relationships with with anyone from the from grandparents down to your mother's siblings, two cousins.
Daniella DeChristopher 24:34
My mother grew up in a very religious, Catholic Italian family. And she was the first to ever become pregnant and not be wet. I don't think my grandparents had any idea what she was doing. Although she was climbing out of the bedroom window. I was told at night to go meet what it came my biological father Whether and I understand that they were very wealthy and they came here at World War One broke out, they ended up just becoming laborers and working. The boys went to work. The sons and he had seven. So that helped. And my grandfather when they went to work in a Brickyard, I know that the the girls in the family some of them went to work in factories. I think they they change their room periodically and the others stayed home and helped with the cleaning and the chores around the house. I met my grandparents they when I was about nine, I think it was about nine. They were my mother again cussed me. My was the first time ever. My grandparents came to meet me, because they had thrown her out of the house and she had no contact with them whatsoever. It went well, actually, they it was it was very pleasant. I remember, we went to the beach when they walked along the beach and my mother's talked with them. And then I spoke with them. And it went very well. It was really nice after that. We did go to a few of the family reunions that had family reunions each year we did go to them. There was a one of my mother sisters that I became friendly with at the family, one of the family reunions, and a cousin that I became friendly with them. When my mother passed away. I reached out to both of them to let them know that she had passed away. On there were only three people that went to my mother's funeral. And me. And but I let them know. And that's when they it opened a line of communication with my mother's sister. She told me stories about how rebellious my mother was as a young girl. But in fairness to my grandmother, there were 13 kids and my mother was the last one. I think she was tired. Yeah. So you know, so I don't think they had any control over her. She told me that my mother brothers went to my biological father's house and told him that they he must marry my mother. They got married on March 28. That was born on June 20. Back in those days, I think that was called a shock wedding.
Karen Ortman 27:35
Did there come a time in your adult life where you lost contact with your mother, you're back in her home at the age of eight. She's got custody of you, you grow up, you become an adult. How did the relationship evolve?
Daniella DeChristopher 27:54
Well, in my junior year in high school, keeping in mind that my mother was never around anyway. But in my junior year of high school, my mother and stepfather moved to Canada. So when they moved to Canada, they said I could stay in the house. But it was too difficult. There were too many bills associated with the house and she wanted me to pay for that. So I got an apartment with quite a few people. I think it was four girls, a guy, a cat and a dog. We moved into a one bedroom and bunk beds or whatever. And that's how I took care of myself and finished high school. And then after that, not long after that I got married. I was married for about four years and married one of my sweethearts, of course out of school, and we divorced. And then I decided that I needed to build a life for myself. So I got a job. I worked really, really hard. I went to my employer and let him know that I wanted to further advance myself with my job and climbed the corporate ladder and what did I need to do? And he told me I had some deficiencies and I sent it by go to school and would that, you know, would that help? You said absolutely. I would pay for your classes as long as they benefit you with your job. So that's how that got started. I started doing that at night school. And he paid for the classes that benefited me with my job but the ones that did not that were required courses I had to pay for myself, but I was making decent money I was starting to do well. You know well for that time. And I had one roommate but they narrowed it down to one. And I built a life I started putting every penny I could in the bank. I bought myself a little car and I Um, I've started over. And then I decided that it would be best for me to leave and start fresh. So I were in Florida. I was living in North Florida and I wanted to go to sell, I wanted to go somewhere in him I was I wasn't sure where. And they gave me three opportunities, New York, California, or Miami. And I chose Miami, and they transferred me to Miami, and I went into sales. And I did really well. I did very well. And I started to provide a nice life for myself.
Karen Ortman 30:39
For you. What was your motivation?
Daniella DeChristopher 30:43
My motivation was, I was so unhappy for so long. And I had to find a way to make a new life for myself. Every time I did something good. And it turned out well, I actually, it built my self esteem. And then I started to only allow the nicer people in my life than if they treated me badly. They were gone. I wouldn't tolerate it. I just, I've been through enough. And I couldn't take any more. So I started to build a better life for myself. And the better it got, the better I got, the happier I got, I built myself a little house, I paid it off. And then I got a job as a property manager. And I mean, I did great. You were successful. I was very successful. That's great. And I pretty much move past. You know, the past, but honestly, there's always a day when I think about things. There's some things I mean, I can't tell you the number of times I think about what I did, and my fourth grade teacher, I mean, this silly little things like that. Remember my mother coming home in the middle of the night, my father being at home, and he started put two and two together after you find out things. And then you're going oh, my gosh, I lived in that house. And I was so blind. How could I not know what was going on? But I didn't I was either too young, too naive?
Karen Ortman 32:27
Well, I don't think it's a logical conclusion that a child would come to, I think they ought not to blame yourself. I'm a huge proponent of therapy. And you know, it does wonders even after, you know, all these years when you think you're doing just fine. And when people experience trauma like you did, and you become as successful as you have, that's wonderful. But I would always consider you no therapy as an option.
Daniella DeChristopher 33:03
I did go to therapy once and well, not once for for several sessions. And one day, my therapist sat back and looked at me. And she said, You know what scares me the most was like, know what she said, You're turning out just like your mother, after I pick myself up off the floor and regain my composure, but I was very upset by that
Karen Ortman 33:33
as you should be. And I would just that's the wrong therapist for you.
Daniella DeChristopher 33:38
That was the wrong route. Well, I know what she meant. She wasn't talking about my profession. She was talking that I had built walls, because I wasn't letting people in. I was cold. I started to get Nam. And I was I was in that way I was be that was acquire my mother's traits.
Karen Ortman 34:03
Well, she could have said it in a in a kinder way nicer
Daniella DeChristopher 34:06
wet. Yeah. Right. Well, that was the last session I have.
Karen Ortman 34:10
Okay, well, you know, there's 1000s of others
Daniella DeChristopher 34:13
out there. therapists out there, right.
Karen Ortman 34:17
That's right. So you mentioned that your mom has passed away. How would you characterize your relationship up to the point of her passing?
Daniella DeChristopher 34:32
There were after they came back from Canada. And we communicated off and on. I then went home a few times.
Karen Ortman 34:43
Where's home? Home was Jackson. Okay.
Daniella DeChristopher 34:48
I went home a few times. And but she was never around. I mean, I would call and say I'm coming home. Okay, great. And I wouldn't see her so I stopped doing that. And then over the yours. We just lost contact. Until the day I received a call from her boyfriend, which I knew. And he told me that my mother was dying. And she was asking me,
Karen Ortman 35:15
at what point did your stepfather leave the scene? And this boyfriend came in the picture.
Daniella DeChristopher 35:21
He passed away 10 years prior to my mother.
Karen Ortman 35:25
Okay. How did you feel when you got that phone call?
Daniella DeChristopher 35:30
Um, I had mixed emotions. I mean, I was sorry that she was sick. When he told me she was dying. And I had some unresolved issues. And so I told him like, I'll be there. I'm on my way. So I packed up and I went, and for a year and a half up to Carol. You're especially my mother. We don't get to pick. If our parents love us, we don't get to pick anything. We get what we get. And that's what I got. No, but I still felt it was the right thing for me to do to care for her. I buried her and came back home.
Karen Ortman 36:22
What about your biological father? Where is he today?
Daniella DeChristopher 36:27
He died on Thanksgiving. In 1984. His sister reached out to me and said he wanted to speak with me. And that she was sure he wasn't going to last much longer. I told her to tell him to take it up with the guy upstairs. I had nothing to say to
Karen Ortman 36:47
them. Okay. Fair enough. Do you think they ever experienced happiness in their life? Either one of them?
Daniella DeChristopher 36:59
No, I know. My mother did it. I think my biological father did. In some some. I mean, he was in and out of jail. But he he has three great kids. I think I did speak with my half sister when I got a divorce. I spoke with my half sister and she told me he was actually a decent father to them. So I think he found some happiness in that, but they still didn't. He was still a criminal. And he's always a criminal always going to be a criminal until he died. And then my mother, no, I don't think she ever found true happiness. They called one of her friends called a priest to the house when my mother was dying. And she told him to go away. So I that tells me that she never found peace in her life.
Karen Ortman 37:57
Given your personal story, the disappointments, the rejection, the trauma, and you seem to be in a better place today. Is that a fair
Daniella DeChristopher 38:11
brochure? Absolutely. Yeah, I have the life I've always trumped up.
Karen Ortman 38:16
How did you get there? And what advice can you give listeners who may have experienced similar traumas you?
Daniella DeChristopher 38:23
I didn't want to think and I didn't want what happened to me to control my life. So I worked all the time, sometimes I had two jobs. And, you know, I just tried to not think about it that the education that I got was very helpful. To me, if somebody if my employer offered an example, my employer offered a free computer training for anybody that one or take classes, I took most of them twice. There was over 100 hours logged for me and he was like, wow, okay, well, good for you. But take advantage of every opportunity you can find make opportunities, there are resources out there to help find those resources and maximize them. Nobody's gonna fix your life for you, you have to do it yourself. You have to find a way to make it better. You know, you need if you're, for example, in my situation I was I was in a toxic environment for me. I took myself out of that toxic environment. That was the first major step in my in my improvement, and then working really hard putting money away. And focusing on that instead of my past. Yeah.
Karen Ortman 39:54
Yeah. And it sounds like you You were very good at establishing boundaries. Have people to?
Daniella DeChristopher 40:01
Absolutely yeah. Which is someone that's really important. But you know, that did not come until I became more confident in myself in the beginning. And when I first moved to South Florida, I was, you know, I think that I was not connecting with the right people on I was loving just about anybody into my life, that would give me attention because I was lonely, I was desperate. And I'm sure that came across, and they're their users out there. And you have to be careful of that. And then one day, I just got tired of it. I said to myself enough already. This this is your fault. This isn't their fault, you're letting them in, don't let them in anymore.
Karen Ortman 40:49
Fair enough. In your book, there's so much more regarding your story, the details of your life that are very compelling. I recommend to anybody who wishes to learn more about you and and what your life story is to check out your book. But is there anything that I haven't asked you that you would like to share with listeners
Daniella DeChristopher 41:18
who wrote the book to try to help others that have had difficult childhoods or difficult lives as I have, with the hope that it would inspire others?
Karen Ortman 41:30
I'm sure it will do just that. Danielle, it's it's it's always disturbing to read about somebody who has experienced the trauma that you have, and and came through it to live a peaceful life. So I give you much credit. And I'm very happy that you are where you are today. So thank you, Kara. Thank you very much for joining me today on you matter. I really appreciate it. And thank you to all of our listeners for joining us. If any information presented was triggering or disturbing, please feel free to contact the wellness exchange 212-443-9999 or NY US Department of campus safety and their victim services unit at 212-998-2222. Please share like and subscribe to you matter on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or tune in